For filmmakers, getting into Sundance is exciting – and scary

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Sundance kicked off today in Park City, Utah. Just getting into one of the world’s premiere film festivals is a big deal. This year, only 113 of more than 12,000 submissions were accepted. But for many independent filmmakers, the thrill of getting in quickly turns to panic.

sundance pic - 2013 logoRight after Thanksgiving, director Francesca Gregorini got a call from a programmer at Sundance, telling her her film, “Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes,” had been accepted.

“It’s such a long journey and you put so much of yourself and your time and effort,” Gregorini said, “and it’s just a nod of recognition that the vision you had four years ago is actually going to be seen.”

Suddenly, there’s a lot to do in a really short amount of time. Especially since a lot of films submitted to Sundance aren’t done. And then of course, getting it done doesn’t mean it’s done. There’s still post-production.

sundance pic - francesca gregorini
Director Francesca Gregorini (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

It’s even more terrifying if you’ve run out of money before you even get to post. That’s what happened to first-time feature director Shaka King, who used Kickstarter to finish his film “Newlyweeds.”

Even when money isn’t an issue, time can be. Since this is the indie world, many directors have day jobs. Liz W. Garcia found out her film got into Sundance six weeks ago, while she was finishing writing two network pilots with her husband, actor and producer Joshua Harto.

Even once a film is done, an indie director’s work is far from over. There’s the process of cutting a trailer, designing and printing posters, giving out screening passes – as Francesca Gregorini put it, “those demands, they sound dilly or easy to do, but the logistics of them, for whatever reason, are mindboggling.”

The next ten days will be a flurry of meetings, interviews, photo-ops, negotiations, and hopefully, a deal.