Saturday, January 26, 2013

MY ADVENTURES AT THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL, DAY THREE


FRIDAY, JANUARY 25

(NOTE: My apologies for the lateness of this post. I had a devil of a time with Wi-Fi my entire time in Park City, Utah. It's a wonderful town, but their Internet leaves a lot to be desired.)


Here it was! The big day and the table read of my screenplay THE SCOUNDRELS CLUB. As I mentioned in my previous diary entry, I’ve read my script out loud to myself a number of times but now I’d get the chance to hear others give their interpretation of it - real actors and actresses bringing this writer’s characters and words to life.
My view from the table read of THE SCOUNDRELS CLUB at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City, Utah.
Screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez (MACHETE) would be the narrator or my script today and give me notes on my work afterwards. It was going to be a learning experience on a number of levels. And I was looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. 

The table read started at 10 AM at the Waldorf Hotel. It's exactly the kind of posh resort that you’d expect the rich and famous to stay in while catching a 4-day ski vacation. And yet during my time in Park City I had seen few celebs. The only real star sighting I experienced was seeing veteran character actor Stephen Root at Flanagan’s pub yesterday. He starred in the NBC-TV series NEWS RADIO a decade ago. And since then he’s played everything from the insecure Milton obsessing over his Redline stapler in OFFICE SPACE to the man who hired both Javier Bardem and Woody Harrelson to kill Josh Brolin in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

I may not have seen many big stars but at least all actors scheduled to appear at the table read made it into town. The weather had broken and Salt Lake City's airport was open for business again, so we had the full crew for the event. Three of the most interesting actors I met at the read were Felicity Wren and Misha Crosby, a British couple working in Hollywood, and Ryan Patrick Moguffey, an Irish filmmaker-actor-producer. (Lots of hyphenates in the world of entertainment, natch.) 


The actors and their author at the table read on Friday.
The read started and it was quite a kick in the head to hear 11 different actors bring it to life. Their take on my material was similar to how I'd written and read it out loud many times. However, they gave the lines interesting pauses, hesitations and emphasis that added more to the text. That made even the most familiar of my lines seems fresh and new. And suddenly my characters seemed more like flesh and blood. I know, I know - duh, right? But it is interesting when a script goes from you hearing it in your head to hearing it by a varied troupe of performers. 


It was also good to know that the lines that I hoped would be funny actually were. It was especially gratifying to hear fellow budding screenwriter DC Sayre who won the animation/fantasy category and attended the read, laugh as hard as he did at some of them. It was his first time hearing the story and I was relieved to know that the lines just weren't amusing to me. 

When it was all done, I exchanged numbers with a number of the actors and made some fast friends too. Then Alvaro and I went to lunch where he gave me his professional ‘notes’ on the script. He was very enthusiastic about it but still had some excellent suggestions for ways to improve it. Writing, as they say, is really rewriting. Most businesses, even the arts, are collaborative, and you only learn from people whose opinions differ from yours.
Actors Felicity Wren and Misha Crosby on the main drag of Park City.
Friday night in Park City during Sundance is one humongous party. It's like spring break for the entertainment industry. A number of us from the table read celebrated by bar-hopping and I can't tell you the last time I did that! We went to the Sundance Channel bash and I got the chance to pitch some of my scripts to a few intrigued producers I met there. They not only asked me to send them THE SCOUNDRELS CLUB but also my screenplay FIEND that won the best thriller at the table read at Sundance last year. (BTW...here is the business card I was handing out to everyone, made especially for my trip. 100 cards, only 20 bucks from Zazzle. Oh, and on the back of the card was THE SCOUNDRELS CLUB poster that you've seen here at my blog already.) 
My special business card made up for Sundance. The poster is on the back!


I really enjoyed my time with the Table Read people, Alvaro, and Felicity & Misha during the Friday night festivities. I'd made some very good contacts all day and felt that my chances in this business were continuing to expand with these valuable new connections. It was an extraordinary experience all-in-all, a terrific day, and at midnight I was rather exhausted and ready for bed. 

There was still one more day left in my Sundance adventure before flying home to Chicago. So tune in again tomorrow for my final diary entry of my adventures in 'movieland'!



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