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2013 Sundance Film Festival Wrap-up


Another Sundance Film Festival has come and gone and this year’s festival did not disappoint. Once again the Utah Film Commission presented THE HUB, a hospitality lounge where film festival participants and attendees could drop in and learn more about Utah.

Located right on Main Street, it was important that THE HUB reflected Utah as a destination – a great place to do business, an excellent place to visit and impressive place to have film productions.

There were several elements that had to be tied together from identifying brands to showing off the local filmmaking community. To do this, it was important that we began with people that were invested in Utah’s film industry. It started with those who supported us last year, Art Institute of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Community College and Cast Crew Entertainment Services. More support came from our principal partners, FilmUtah and Adnews Magazine. Their involvement was integral to making sure that we could create a high quality space during the Film Festival.

With support intact, we then needed a venue where we could hold THE HUB. We decided to use the same location as in 2012, the District Gallery. The gallery is owned and operated by Karen Alvarez, who by the way was a former local location manager and line producer.

Next, we wanted someone that would be willing to manage all the volunteers and the daily routines of the venue. Kathy Jarvis, graciously stepped into that role. Many of you know that Kathy is a professional stunt woman/coordinator with such credits as G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA, GUNS, GIRLS AND GAMBLING and GOOD LUCK CHARLIE, IT’S CHRISTMAS!.

Kathy formed a great team of volunteers that included Kami Coleman, Dan Larsen, Shan Simpkins, Jill Smith and others. The volunteer team was very important because for Kathy, duty called. She was hired as the stunt coordinator for Salty Pictures’ production of CLOUD NINE, which ultimately gave her little time to manage THE HUB. However, Kami was able to take on the role just prior to our opening.

Being ready for the Festival meant that we needed someone to design a space where people could come in and experience Utah. Diane Millett, a production designer whose credits include TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, EVERWOOD, and the Sundance Channel HQ, came onboard and put together all the concepts and ideas we had – and then she hung it all up on the walls.

The result was a homage to Utah not only as a destination, but for making movies as well. The main focal point was a wall covered collage of posters of films made in Utah. Then Diane placed a large graphic of Monument Valley that literally served as a backdrop for photo opportunities. She also created a small gallery area that was dedicated to the local film crew of Utah.

hitRECord, Joseph Gordon Leavitt’s (INCEPTION, LOOPER, DARK KNIGHT RISES) open- collaborative production company needed a place they could call home during the Festival. The spot chosen was THE HUB. The hitRECord team built the ‘RECroom,’ a full service-video and audio recording studio in the back room of the gallery. The ‘RECroom’ gave the Festival community the capability to collaborate with hitRECord’s world-wide community of 150,000 artists on a wide-array of multi-media art-projects.

A major portion of activity and involvment were the panels held at THE HUB. The Art Institute of Salt Lake City held “Navigating the Independent Film World” with Robert Jayne Actor/Producer – RJC Partners, Brad Johnson Actor/Producer - Six Foot Films, John Murphy Executive Producer - Cosmic Pictures.

The panelists discussed their personal experiences on independent filmmaking; From getting a production started to getting a finished film distributed.

The Utah Film Commission held two other panels. One on the Motion Picture Incentive Program (MPIP) and the second with Utah film critics.

All the film producers on the MPIP panel which included, Adam Abel, John Hegeman, Nate Rogers and David Wulf have been awarded a Utah film incentive. Rounding out the panel was Joe Bessacini, the vice president of film & TV incentives with Cast & Crew Entertainment Services. Cast & Crew is payroll services company for Motion Picture, Television and Commercial Industries.

In the latter half of the festival, we presented the “Utah Film Critics Association” panel where the critics spoke about films over the past year as well as talking about this year’s crop of Sundance films. On the panel was Jimmy Martin, Sean Means, Scott Renshaw, and Jeff Vice with Patrick Hubley of the Utah Film Center moderating.

The Festival saw the return of the annual Utah Film Commission Filmmakers Brunch, held at the Sundance House, where our office invited Sundance filmmakers and participants along with local film industry professionals. The event was co-hosted by Southwest Air Lines with additional support given by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) and the Park City Film Commission.

Among those that spoke at the event were, Spencer Eccles executive director of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Vicki Varela managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding, Kevin Clark executive director of the AFCI, Whitney Eichinger senior manager of communications – Southwest Airlines and John Hegemen of QED International speaking on behalf of the filmed in Utah production HAUNT.