Sundance wants you! A how-to guide.

Ever wondered what going to the festival entails? Read on for a how-to guide.

It’s a little shocking to actually write this out… but this year was my 12th year at Sundance! I’ve been going with my friend Tammy and a bunch of our friends for over a decade. Suffice it to say, the festival has changed a ton. It used to be that you could walk into any movie you wanted, pay $8 at the door and enjoy, but since Paris Hilton started coming, it’s been a whole bunch of crazy–albeit still manageable. You just need to plan a looooong way ahead of time, which is why I’m posting this now!

–Rent a house now. I’m lucky enough that my parents have a place in Park City, which is how we’ve been able to do the festival for so many years. But even if you’re not so lucky, renting a house or condo is definitely the way to go with a group… you’ll be able to cook your own food and hang there, which will save an arm and a leg, plus be more cozy generally. Now that we’re a little older and more mature, I think everyone agrees that hanging fireside and discussing the flicks we just saw over some nice wine and yummy food is the best part of the weekend!

–Register in September. We usually have a large group… anywhere from 12 to 25 people and I make everyone (yes, drill sergeant over here… if you don’t register, you aren’t coming) register for tickets. It’s free and takes 2 minutes. If your group is smaller, I suggest having your siblings and other randoms register for you, but be sure if you do this that you check the option to have the tickets delivered to your address (not theirs) as you’ll otherwise be required to pick-up the tickets with ID in person. I put the odds at 1 in 7 that you’ll get a good enough time to get the package you want.

–Buy ticket packages in October. Unless you can swing a festival pass for $3 grand getting you (and only you) into every movie you want to see, you’ll end up going for an A or B package for the first or second weekends. There are advantages to both weekends; the first weekend you’ll see way more celebs, but it’s also way more crowded and difficult to get into movies. The second weekend is a lot more chill… and some movies don’t premiere until later in the festival.

–Select actual tickets in early January. Besides actually compiling lists of all the movies your friends want to see (we always use a shared Google Doc for this), I make sure that movies are at times people will actually get their butts in gear to go see. No one ever goes to midnight showings… no matter how gung-ho they think they are, they would always rather sleep or have a few more beeers. 8am movies also have a very low no-show rate. While you can only get four tickets to a screening per package, it helps to combine packages so you have lots of tickets to the same movie. This creates group momentum and doesn’t leave people stranded without transportation.

-GO! Enjoy the movies–especially the Q&A’s after with the actors and director, the ‘scene’ downtown, the snow–it almost always snows this time of year, and the skiing–everyone is at the movies so the three resorts in town (Park City, Deer Valley, and the Canyons) are literally EMPTY. Oh and don’t forget that even after all of the above tix hassle, that you have to be at the theatre 30 mins before the start time or they’ll give your seat away!

Tomorrow I’ll tackle large group hostessing logistics!!

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