We attended the Sun Valley Film Festival about two months ago, but it still feels like yesterday. Our party, which included seven of us, left Boise at 7:30am on Thursday, March 14th and arrived in Sun Valley at about 10am. Our first stop was Head Quarters to pick up our festival passes and schedules. As soon as we had our badges in hand, we were whisked away to a private corner in the VIP lounge for an interview with Michael Guillen. I’d say we started the weekend off the right way. It was wonderful chatting with him about our music video, When Frida Became, and going into detail about how the project was born, created, and executed. Everyone on our team got “face time,” and had the opportunity to indulge and tell their side of the story. This interview took us all by surprise and made us feel welcome and accepted at our first ever film festival.
When I talk about us, I’m talking about Gene and I; the man behind the music, Jared Hallock of Project 213;Ben Hamill, our animator; and Erin Westfall, our lead actress/dancer. We also had in tow, Katie Preston the directing genius behind our other music video Everybody Masturbate, and Erin’s husband, Alfonso. And us all stuck together the entire weekend. We shared a condo in Elkhorn Village, which was about a 10-15 minute drive from the heart of the Sun Valley Film Festival. We shared food, booze, laughter, and deep conversations. Friendships were strengthened and understood to a degree that none of us thought possible. This weekend of film and friendship surpassed our wildest imaginations.
After our interview with Michael, we grabbed lunch at a local coffee shop that also served mimosas (we had to start this weekend off the right way), then headed to the condo to unpack our overly stuffed vehicles and pick our rooms. Gene and I shared the living room with Ben, in front of the fireplace and next to the kitchen – it was perfect.
After we unpacked, we rushed to the screenwriter’s workshop with Will McCormack, writer and actor in Celeste & Jesse Forever. He had a table read of a television pilot that he has written with local actors, then opened the workshop up to questions about writing for film and television. He was real and shared the nitty-gritty of filmmaking with us all. He didn’t sugar coat it, and still left us all wanting to pursue this finicky career. This was our first brush with a celebrity at the Sun Valley Film Festival and we were already in love with the entire event. There was a whiskey reception in which some of us had to choke down whiskey, forgetting that we don’t like the flavor without a mixer, and some of us had more than one shot enjoying the fire as it dribbled down our throat.
From there, we headed to Sun Valley Lodge to await the first movie showing, Running From Crazy, a documentary starring Mariel Hemingway, about her personal journey regarding her family history of suicide. This movie made us cry buckets of tears as we watched and sympathized with Mariel, understanding the effects that suicide can have on family members and friends who have lost a loved one. After the film, Mariel, along with director Barbara Kopple, opened for Q&A, answering questions about Mariel’s life and the process of creating this moving documentary.
After the film, and a brief respite at the condo, we journeyed back to town for the opening night party at a bar called Casino. It was a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place, packed from door, to wall, to pool table. We all ordered a drink and stood hellishly close to each other trying not to bump passers-by or get hit by a pool cue. It felt like a high school party, where everyone thought they recognized everyone, but everyone just stayed in their tight-knit group. The act of networking hadn’t quite made its way into anyone’s system. Once we were decently drunk, we decided it was time to finish the party at our condo. So, we stumbled into the night (with the exception of myself, of course, the ever faithful DD) to find some grub and head to our weekend-home. Our first night as film festival attendees was a beautiful success.
Peace out Film Lovers,
Stephanie Michelle Lokelani