I've finally made it: Sundance Film Festival! A snow-covered movie haven I've only dreamed of attending, Sundance is in full force, with its 2015 slate already impressing critics. With dozens of movies highlighted in fat booklets, an array of faux-fur accessories and a can-do attitude, I was ready to demolish the 11-day festival in high-gear. But if life continues to prove anything, it's that things don't always turn out the way you planned them. Parka-equipped and planner filled to the brim, I figured I had every detail mapped out. But after my first few days in Park City, I quickly realized how ill-equipped for the shit(and snow) storm I truly am. Sure, I've heard of the Festival Flu and I know how important it is to wear layers, but nothing can truly prepare first-timers for the festival unless they've experienced it first hand.
Here's a few tips for those who have never been, because while I'm hardly an expert, I did pick up a few Sundance truths I wish I'd known before jumping on the plane from sunny Los Angeles to frigid Park City.
I don't mean kinda-sorta cold, but really, down-to-the-bone, freeze-your-face-off cold. You truly cannot bring enough warm clothes, and even if you're wearing a massive parka, two pairs of gloves, and three long-sleeved layers, you will feel every small gust of cold weather wind. Walking through the cold, I found myself inventing new ways to be warm: A nose cozy? A million tiny coats for your eyelashes? Insanity is also a side effect of the frigid temperatures.
It might be the coldest place you've ever been, but it's also the brightest. While it's what makes the scenery so beautiful, it will also blind you with brightness. Sun reflecting on snow is a painful sight for hungover eyes.
The Altitude Will Make You Get Drunk Quicker
While scientifically speaking, a drink in Park City isn't any more potent than a drink in The Valley, you'll feel it faster. Due to being dehydrated, and symptoms of altitude sickness, it might feel like you're getting drunk faster. A common symptom of altitude sickness is feeling dizzy, so dizzy + dizziness from a few drinks will make you the sloppy drunk who passes out in front of James Franco. JUST SAYIN'.
Bring Durable Shoes
I'm about to make my father very proud when I say: Bring durable shoes! Honestly, bring durable everything, but shoes are the biggest necessity. I went the wrong route and brought some not-so-durable combat boots (From Forever 21, so you know they're about to fall apart the minute they come off the shelf), and a pair of cute, but useless, heeled boots. Unless you're asking for an icy face-plant, leave heels at home!
Even If You're Not Sick, Behave Like You Are
What I mean by this is simple: preventative care. Drink tons and tons of liquids, take a multi-vitamin everyday, and add an Emergen-C or Airborne to your water bottle even if you feel one hundred percent. Festival Flu is a real thing, and the few hours of sleep you'll be getting every night will slowly eat away at your immune system. Also, while the public buses are great, they are also giant germ capsules. Purell is a must.
Packing ten pairs of socks in a suitcase seems like an excessive waste of space in your single carryon, but I promise, it's a necessity. You'll be wearing them on top of eachother, you'll be sleeping in them, and you'll be dirtying them quicker than you realize. Gross, but true.
Schedule Times To Eat
If you're like me, the thrill of being in a town centered around movies will have you planning your schedule unrealistically. You can't watch 4 movies a day and eat 3 solid meals. Protein bars and snacks like almonds are a great idea in a pinch, but you'll drive yourself nutty (like I did) if you don't give yourself at least an hour between screenings.
Partying Is Just As Important As Seeing Movies
Another thing I wish I would have realized, is having a social life (outside of the conversations you have on the Park City buses) is paramount. Industry professionals — from actors and directors to publicists and producers — will be letting off steam in the wee hours of the morning. A lot of parties are hosted by celebrities, and there's always a bevvy of free booze. You've traveled X amount of miles to be here, so crack open a cold one and enjoy the scenery.
You Can't Do Everything You Want To
It's impossible, truly impossible to do everything you want to on your Sundance bucket list in 10 days. With too many promising films to see, panels to attend, parties to mingle at, and art shows to admire, there simply isn't enough hours in the day. Luckily, there's always next year.
Images: Tumblr; Giphy