Behind the Scenes at Sundance 2015


They say the third time is a charm, and that couldn’t be more true about year three working one of the private venues in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival. The sheer excitement of being in contact with a whirlwind of actors, musicians, filmmakers, business owners, publicists, you name it, was enough to have me counting down the days until next year's festival. 

A fascination with “the biz” seems to be ingrained in my family history: beginning with my great grandmother Margene Harding, who was head of the makeup department for Warner Brothers Studios, and my uncle Gary Liddiard, who happens to be Robert Redford’s personal makeup artist. My cousin, Denny Liddiard, has received a 2015 Oscar nomination for makeup on the film “Foxcatcher” and my cousin Maika Taylor has worked on over 30 films. Needless to say, it wasn't hard for me to catch the industry bug. 

In 2013, I landed a job volunteering for the Music Lodge after responding to a casting call from my agent, having little idea exactly what I was getting myself into. I knew I was fascinated by the way the industry worked, and I had already spent a significant amount of time studying film at Chapman University and the University of Utah. What better way to learn than to dive head first in the midst of all the buzz?

(My first year Sundancing with the sweet Hannah M.)

Upon showing up for my first day, I knew immediately that I would not be coasting; there was always work to be done, whether it was helping sponsors supply food for guests, guarding the door, or picking up trash. If there's one bit of survival advice I can give to potential volunteers, it's to remain in motion at all times - what I mean by that is, help out in ANY way you can. I remember wanting to be caught up in the glamour of meeting celebrities and filmmakers, but spending most of my time picking up empty chocolate wrappers. Turns out, choosing chocolate over celebrities was the right direction for me - I ended up impressing one of the staff members, who recommended me to my soon-to-be boss for a promotion. 

My next year was much more intense - I ended up being hired for a full time paid position to help prep for the event, and eventually was promoted to Event Coordinator. One thing I've learned from my film festival experience is that sleep and Sundance do not mesh well together, especially if you're in the thick of planning and excecuting an event. Luckily, the adrenaline rush from helping to manage the lounge kept me awake (albeit a bit delusionally so). In that year, I remember seeing celebrities like Michael C. Hall, Anne Hathaway, and Paris Hiltonand suddenly losing my ability to form words. By the end, I was completley drained and exhiliarated all at once, and unable to stop thinking about how lucky I was to be doing what I was doing. 


10940545_10206374732187525_1887205889870820680_n(Me and the lovely Tara Starling)

This year turned out to be quite different for me in a lot of ways. First, I was only able to help at the lounge for one week (last night's Slamdance private party was the final stretch for the year), so I had reserved enough energy to experience Sundance at its best. Second, the individuals I was fortunate enough to work with this year turned out to be too wonderful for words, and I've developed some amazing friendships with people from all over the world. Third, I was able to gain enough perspective to see what my part was in the grand scheme of the event, and see the part everyone else played. Having recently been appointed Social Media Director at Got Beauty, I started this season with a much greater sense of who I was, and was more sure of what I could contribute to each event. As I continued to meet new inviduals from every aspect of "The Biz", I was able to form collaborative relationships in ways I have never dreamed of. For instance, I got to talking business and life with the beautiful inside-and-out makeup artist Tara Starling (spoiler alert: we may be joining forces very soon, stay tuned...!). And...on a completely serious and important note, I should mention that I witnessed Jack Black try to crack a human pistachio (seen here), and my life is changed forever. 

At the end of this year's festival, I can only look forward to next year with hopes that it will be even an ounce as extraordinary. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I get to take part in so many brilliant organizations like the Music Lodge and Got Beautythat make my work feel like play, and my coworkers feel like family. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog covering our interview with my cousin Denny on his Oscar nominated film work, you won't want to miss it...!


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Posted by Sadie Upwall

Project Manager and Editor for the best little beauty business in town.



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