[Editor's note: On Thursday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m., The Belcourt will host a special screening of Andrew Dosunmu's drama Mother of George, starring Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) and Isaach De Bankole (best known for Casino Royale, but a familiar face to fans of Jim Jarmusch, Claire Denis and Lars von Trier). The event is part of the Sundance Film Festival USA program, which gives select arthouses across the country a film from the just-concluded festival, accompanied by the filmmakers.
Thursday night, along with director Dosunmu, the movie will be represented by its producer Matt Parker, a Nashville native whose growing roster of credits includes this year's Best Picture nominee Beasts of the Southern Wild and the Kirsten Dunst comedy Bachelorette. We asked Parker what it was like to shepherd a film through the meat market of one of the world's highest-profile film festivals. He responded by sending us this festival diary.]
4 p.m. Land in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was traveling with my producing partner, Carly Hugo, and we go straight into baggage claim, which is traditionally a mess with Sundance travelers. Actors, directors and movie fans all wait for bags in the jam-packed Salt Lake City airport.
4:10 p.m. We learn that our director, Andrew Dosunmu, has missed his flight and is scrambling to get onto another flight so that he doesn't miss our premiere tomorrow at 2:30 on Friday. We also learn that his luggage somehow made it to SLC without him, so I quickly go grab it.
4:45 p.m. Board shuttle van for Park City.
5:30 p.m. We get dropped at our condo and check in.
6:15 p.m. Our film's writer, Darci Picoult, arrives at the condo that the three of us are sharing.
6:45 p.m. Our co-producers on the film have sent their assistant over in a car to take us to the grocery. This is an annual ritual of Sundance, "the first-day grocery run." The first year I went, I found myself shopping next to Jennifer Tilly in the bread aisle.
10 p.m. After retuning from the grocery, eating and talking about the premiere the next day, Carly and I go to the mountainside rental home of our co-producers on Mother of George, Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen from Parts and Labor. We join the director and producers of their other film in the festival, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, in some food and booze as we all settle into the idea of the crazy week ahead. I seem to remember a lot of oregano shots that people were taking in the name of good health. We also learn that Andrew has found a flight and will arrive soon.
1:30 a.m. Arrive home via cab and go to sleep.
8 a.m. Wake up on my paper-thin sofa-bed mattress.
10 a.m. Realize that my Smartwool socks have major holes in them and run across the street to a ski shop to buy new ones. Good move.
11 a.m. Walk from our condo to Main Street. It had just snowed the day before we arrived and there is a beautiful layer of snow over everything on our walk up to Main.
11:30 a.m. Arrive at a pre-premiere sales strategy meeting with our film sales agents from Paradigm. Also joining was our awesome attorney, Andre Des Rochers.
1 p.m. Sneak back home to change into my lucky Sundance suit. I've worn it to every Sundance premiere I've had in the past three years and am not about to stop this year.
1:30 p.m. Darci and I walk up to the Library Theater for our premiere of Mother of George.
1:45 p.m. We meet up with our team and friends outside the theater. It feels like a warm family reunion. Many of our friends have come out for the screening. I manage to hold two tickets for Cindy Wall and Allison Inman from The Belcourt in Nashville. So happy they made it.
2:30 p.m. Screening begins. Carly and I sit in the very back with the cast and crew. Directly to my left is our actor and producer Tony Okungbowa, who is also the DJ from the Ellen DeGeneres show.
3:30 p.m. I leave the theater because I'm getting too tense and find producer Lars Knudsen and director Andrew Dosunmu outside too. We break the tension with a few jokes and Lars informs me of the agency attention heating up around Andrew. That is good.
4:30 p.m. The film ends to much applause. Andrew begins the Q&A by calling the cast and crew down to the front. Many smart questions and few bad ones. I end up walking out of the theater, I find myself next to one of our lead actors, the wonderful Isaach De Bankole. I realize that this is the first time he's seen the film since we shot it in the summer of 2011. He seems a little shaken. I ask him what he thought, and he says, "I'm still taking it in. I'm moved."
4:50 p.m. I sneak back to the condo and make a sandwich and decompress. I think it was a good screening ...
5:30 p.m. I arrive at the intimate Mother of George afterparty at the Sky Bar on Main Street. As I get to the door, Andrew, the director, walks up behind me and realizes that he forgot his ID and the strict Utah bouncer will not let him in. I find Carly (my producing partner) and she finds the manager who lets Andrew in. While all this is going on, a woman behind us falls on the metal stairs and I run up to her and make sure she is OK and help her down to the party. All of our friends are there, and it's really a blur speaking to all of them about their reactions and well-wishes for the film.
8 p.m. Our team wanders the street buzzed on booze and premiering the film. We run into friends and try to find a restaurant that can seat seven. I find a minute to call my girlfriend and tell her about the day.
10:30 p.m. We end up at some out-of-the-way restaurant and I get into a weird exchange with the waiter and owner about asparagus.
12:30 a.m. Arrive home and talk about the day with Darci and Carly and then fall quickly asleep.
10 a.m. Wake up and Carly and I go to Sundance Festival HQ to see if we can get some filmmaker tickets. Not surprisingly, most are sold out.
12:30 p.m. After hanging around Sundance HQ and running into friends and colleagues, I meet Jason Berman, a producer I am going to be working with on a film called Ad Inexplorata. We take a stab at finalizing the financing contract in hopes of locking in the deal. We came close but will still have to meet again to finalize.
3 p.m. I arrive at the Yarrow Theater to see director Matt Porterfield's I Used to Be Darker premiere. Run into Jade Healy (production designer of Ain't Them Bodies Saints) and sit with her during the screening.
5:30 p.m. Quick meeting with Mark Elijah Rosenberg, director of Ad Inexplorata. I update him on my contract meeting earlier in the day. He tells me Computer Chess is his favorite movie so far.
6:15 p.m. I arrive back on Main Street and run into Bandits to catch up with production designer Chad Keith (Take Shelter) and Chris Carroll (our first AD on Beasts of the Southern Wild).
6:30 p.m. Meet up with Darci, Carly, and Mobolaji Dawodu, our costume designer on Mother of George. We jump in a cab to go out to Deer Valley to our friend's birthday party. Carly slams Darci's finger in the door by accident. Darci toughs it out. On the ride Darci tells us that at the Mother of George SLC screening, a woman tried to run to the Q&A, fell, and broke her ribs. As the paramedics take her away, she tells them that Mother of George is an important movie and that they must see it.
7 p.m. Arrive at Claude Dal Farra's (producer, Bachelorette) birthday party. I get to meet Bob Berney, the distribution legend behind The Passion of the Christ.
12:30 a.m. After many failed attempts to get a cab to take us back to town, we get picked up.
1 a.m. Arrive at Parts and Labor Film's house party. Very fun.
3 a.m. Home. Sleep.
10 a.m. Darci and I speed-walk two miles to our 8:30 a.m. screening's Q&A. Very receptive crowd. I run into Josh Penn (producer, Beasts of the Southern Wild) who I am also producing Ad Inexplorata with. We catch up about the contract. I run into a stuntman that I used on a film in Seattle last spring. Carly and I help Isaach De Bankole find somewhere to watch soccer.
11:30 a.m. Sundance Institute Producer's Brunch. Great event to catch up with all the producers at the festival and meet new ones. Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (producers, Little Miss Sunshine) give the keynote address. Friends and colleagues Toby Halbrooks and James Johnston (Ain't Them Bodies Saints) win the Indian Paintbrush Producers Award. They thank me in their acceptance speech for the pickup shoot I helped them with in Texas. Great guys.
12:30 p.m. We have a meeting with all the parties of Ad Inexplorata (producers, director, financier) at Sundance HQ. We work through a number of things and all leave the meeting excited about the partnership.
4 p.m. Meet up with friends for drinks and discuss the festival. Everyone is talking about Fruitvale.
7 p.m. Home for a few hours to rest and work.
10 p.m. Arrive at the Cinereach party. The guys at Cinereach are great guys and executive-produced Beasts of the Southern Wild. Great party, everyone's having fun.
1 a.m. I walk over to the William Morris Endeavour party.
1:10 a.m. See Pauly Shore at the WME party.
1:20 a.m. Arrive back at the Cinereach party.
2:15 a.m. There is speculation that I stopped at 7-11 for taquitos and Gatorade, but I don't believe it.
2:30 a.m. Sleep.
10 a.m. Carly and I go to the Producer's Guild brunch and watch the inauguration and hear Harvey Weinstein speak about the state of the industry. Very cool. We end up meeting Jason Blum (producer, Paranormal Activity). We also meet a woman who is trying to help bring movies to the Dominican Republic, and we tell her about the movie that we're trying to make there. She thinks she might know some financiers that would be interested. We leave happy.
12:30 p.m. We had a pass that got us a free lunch at the Stella Artois lounge. They had brought in the chef from this hot restaurant in L.A. called Animal. It was probably the best thing I ate all festival. We meet Michael B. Jordan, the star of Fruitvale, which is becoming the buzz film of the festival. On our way out, Nicole Kidman is whisked in front of us into another super-tight-security private restaurant. I consider saying something about a Nashville connection but the lady next to me yells, "You're beautiful, Nicole!" which makes her smile. Nicole is in Park City to support Stoker, which was filmed in Nashville.
3 p.m. We arrive back at Sundance HQ to get tickets and I run into Stephanie Silverman form the Belcourt, who gives me a ticket to Computer Chess later that day. We talk about the Mother of George screening for Sundance USA the next week in Nashville and we both think people will like it.
5 p.m. Back to Main Street, where we run into Jeff Dowd. Jeff is a film sales rep as well as the Coen brothers' inspiration for The Dude in The Big Lebowski. He tells us about his new film festival, The Louisiana International Film Festival, and a parade he has planned later on Main Street.
5:10 p.m. I run into the Film Independent party and talk quickly with Steven Schardt (producer, Touchy Feely) about our experiences shooting in Seattle.
5:30 p.m. Arrive at the Library Theater for Computer Chess. I see former Sundance head Geoff Gilmore in the back of the theater scouting for films for his new job as head of the Tribeca Film Festival.
8:30 p.m. One of the generous supporters of Mother of George, The Ford Foundation, hosts a very nice dinner at 350 Main. We discuss ideas about screening Mother of George in Nigeria with them and we all say farewell to the head of the Ford Foundation's film initiative as he switches gears and returns to filmmaking.
11 p.m. Party for our friend's competition documentary, Narco Cultura.
12:30 a.m. Sleep.
9 a.m. I spend the morning at the condo catching up on work.
12 noon Another meeting about the contract for Ad Inexplorata. We're very close to closing.
3 p.m. I meet up with Carly and we go to our screening of Mother of George at the Eccles Theater, which seats 1,100 people and has a huge screen. I sit backstage with Andrew, our director, and make some phone calls. We do a great Q&A and when we return to get out coats from the green room, we find Jamie Lee Curtis sitting in there. We laugh and she is confused as we grab our things. On the way out, I see my friend, actor Boyd Holbrook (Hatfields and McCoys). I can't get his attention, so I take his picture and text it to him. He finds it funny.
6 p.m. Carly and I eat dinner with friends and frequent collaborators Parry Creedon and Mike Sledd (Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Dallas Buyers Club). The Sundance Jury (including Ed Burns) comes in and sits at the table next to us. We joke about ways to drop hints about our movie. Then we quickly realize what a bad idea that would be and quietly leave.
9:45 p.m. I meet casting director Paul Schnee (casting director, The Help) to see Lovelace that he cast. The film is about the 1970s' first mainstream porn star and later feminist, Linda Lovelace. The acting is strong and I don't even realize that Sharon Stone is in the film until the end. Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard are outstanding as well. Paul tells me that Linda's co-star in Deep Throat, Harry Reems, is now a retired realtor and lives in Park City. We both wonder if he's at the screening.
11:30 p.m. I take a shuttle bus over to Main Street and pop into the Lovelace afterparty. It's really fun but I choose to go down the street and end the night with a quiet drink with some friends at Butcher's.
1 a.m. Sleep.
10 a.m. Meeting with MOG team about sales. We feel like today will be a string day.
11 a.m. Carly and I have a meeting with Michele Turnure-Salleo from the San Francisco Film Society. Michele is great and SFFS was a big sponsor of Fruitvale and Beasts of the Southern Wild.
12:15 p.m. Carly and I run to the Eccles Theater to see Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes. Great performance by newcomer Kaya Scodelario.
2:30 p.m. Meet with our Canadian producer on a film called Incognito that we're trying to shoot in India in 2013. We talk about how we can access Canadian soft money for the film.
3 p.m. Another meeting for Ad Inexplorata. We close the deal.
7 p.m. Sundance Feature Film Dinner. Really nice event where all the Class of 2013 filmmakers gather and have the opportunity to meet each other and all of the Sundance staff. The buzz around the party surrounds a doc at the festival called Manhunt, which details the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The talk centers around the fact that the woman who found OBN (the real Maya from Zero Dark Thirty) is at the party. She looks remarkably like Jessica Chastain. I grab my coat and find myself walking behind her group all the way up Main Street. I overhear her say, "Someone in that party asked me if I felt in danger now because of what happened, and I told her that I had a better chance of getting hit by a car. Then my friend reminded me that I did get hit by a car in college!" She laughed.
11 p.m. I meet up with some friends on Main Street and go to a condo party and then take a van up to Deer Valley for the WME party. It's packed and I finally hit a wall. I say hey to a few friends and sneak home in a cab.
2 a.m. Sleep.
9 a.m. One of the difficulties of staying more than 7 days at Sundance is that condo rental periods run out and a number of people have to find new living arrangements. Luckily, a fellow producer had extra rooms open in a house right off Main Street. Carly, Darci and I spend the morning packing and cleaning.
11 a.m. I attend the Sundance Technology Meets Business brunch. This is a super nice event that was attended by the governor of Utah, Gary Herbert. Gov. Herbert spoke about Utah and the festival for a while, followed by Jerusha Hess, who directed a film at the festival called Austenland that was produced by Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight.
1 p.m. Move from one condo to another.
2:30 p.m. We take a few meetings with some agents and filmmakers that we haven't been able to see throughout the week. The town is starting to feel very small by this point in the week, as most festivalgoers have left town. We start to hear things about a plane sliding off the airway in Salt Lake and huge delays caused by the ice down there. I'm thankful I wasn't trying to fly out that day.
6 p.m. The Mother of George team arrives at our Patron's Circle cocktail event before our screening. During the screening we eat dinner with the amazing Anne Lai, Producer in Residence of the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Program. We all realize this is our first civilized sit-down meal of the festival. After dinner we run over to the Q&A and grab a cab back to Main Street.
11 p.m. We have a few drinks on Main Street with some friends and reminisce about the week prior.
12:30 a.m. Sleep.
11 a.m. Brunch meeting with some financiers.
2 p.m. I jump in a shuttle to go to the Salt Lake City airport. The driver explains that Salt Lake suffers from "inversion," where the polluted air gets trapped over Salt Lake by the mountains and causes such bad air quality that schools have indoor recess.
5:20 p.m. Fly to Nashville.
9:45 p.m. I land and see the news that we closed the deal and that Ad Inexplorata was green-lit has hit the trades.
10 p.m. I arrive at my parents' house in Nashville
10:15 p.m. My mom irons the suit from our premiere so I can wear it to the following day's Producers Guild Awards in Los Angeles.
10:45 p.m. The Mother of George team gets on a call with Oscilloscope Laboratories to discuss a potential distribution deal for Mother of George.
12 midnight Sleep.
4:30 a.m. My dad takes me back to the airport. My convoluted travel was caused by three events happening in an order that caused me to end up traveling from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles via Nashville.
6:20 a.m. Take off.
8:30 a.m. Layover in Chicago.
9:30 a.m. Take off.
11:40 a.m. Land in Los Angeles. I'm picked up by Pascal Leister, a director that we're working with on the film that will shoot in the Dominican Republic. We catch up over lunch and he drops me off at the hotel.
2 p.m. I find Michael Gottwald and Josh Penn, Academy Award-nominated producers of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Josh and I catch up over coffee at the pool and celebrate closing the Ad Inexplorata deal.
4 p.m. The news of the Mother of George deal with Oscilloscope comes out in the trades. We are all very happy about it.
5 p.m. Change into suit and get ready for the Producers Guild Awards.
5:30 p.m. We're picked up and driven to the Beverly Hilton for the awards show. There's a quick cocktail hour and then we're ushered to our table. The awards show is surreal. J.J. Abrams, who was chosen to direct the new Star Wars by Disney, started his lifetime achievement speech by saying, "Just a normal week." There were too many highlights to mention them all, but the most significant for me was Robert De Niro introducing Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who both gave speeches about Bob and Harvey Weinstein for the Lifetime Achievement Award. The sweetest part was when Bob Weinstein thanked his parents Miriam and Max, whom they named their legendary company Miramax after.
11 p.m. Argo wins Best Picture and Ben Affleck accepts his award.
11:30 p.m. The Beasts team travels over to the Chateau Marmont for the Entertainment Weekly afterparty. This was even more surreal. Living in New York, I'm somewhat used to seeing famous people, but at events in L.A., the famous people outnumber the non-famous people. We ended the night talking to Rory Cochrane (Argo) about how we all loved him as Slater in Dazed and Confused. It turned out that he had watched Beasts of the Southern Wild the night before and loved it. We traded stories about Beasts and Argo for a while and then had a nightcap next door at the Marmont Bar.
3 a.m. Arrive at the hotel and sleep.
10 a.m. We all got up and went to the Four Seasons Hotel for brunch. It was pretty much the most amazing spread of breakfast food I've ever seen. There was even sushi. For brunch.
11:30 a.m. I catch a cab for the airport.
1:30 p.m. Take off for Nashville. Sitting across from me on the plane is director Peter Bogdanovich (Paper Moon). I'm actually watching him read Harper's as I type. A nice end to a crazy week.
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