This week, Sundance is the place for filmmakers to be, and Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television is there.
In what’s become an annual trip, nine LMU students and recent graduates are in Park City, Utah, along with SFTV Dean Stephen Duncan and several faculty members. They’re taking in as many independent films and – more important – meeting as many industry insiders as they can.
“We’re not going just to watch films, because let’s face it, the lines stretch around the block,” said film student Rod Lundgren. “We’re going to meet people in our field and network with other professionals. It’s such an amazing opportunity for us, and we’ve all got our business cards ready.”
This is the first year that undergraduate students have accompanied faculty, graduate students and recent graduates on the trip, which LMU has sponsored for several years. “You never know what could come from a trip like this,” said Rebecca Christian, a theological studies and screenwriting double major who graduates this year. “I could meet my next employer.”
Erik Stiller finished his M.F.A. in screenwriting last spring, and is attending Sundance for the second time, through SFTV’s Transition After Graduation program.
Seeing films at Sundance “informs my decisions as a filmmaker, and it also shows me what types of films are being made around the world,” said Stiller, who works with the writing staff at the CBS drama “Criminal Minds.” “As a writer, I’m always trying to get projects off the ground. But I don’t want to be tied into one medium or genre. Instead, I want to do interesting projects with unique characters and twisted concepts.”
Mayank Gupta, who helped organize the trip for SFTV, is attending Sundance for the second time. Though he appreciated being able to meet people who “usually, you just read their names in Variety,” Sundance also gave him the opportunity to talk with younger filmmakers and hear about their struggles and successes when starting out in the industry.
“A lot of film students are making our final projects or will go on to make features right out of school,” Gupta said. “It’s great to see the young filmmakers who are there with their personal movies, and talk about what you do to get into Sundance, and what to do if you get in, and what to do next.”