SCA @ Sundance: Photo Gallery

This year, a wealth of SCA alums, student, faculty, staff and friends visited the Sundance Film Festival, resulting in an unforgettable time in Park City. Check out some of their photos below; click on any to see in full view.


These USC alumni filmmakers show school pride at Sundance with a big “Fight On!”

USC Alumni Filmmakers at the Riverhorse Tavern during the SCA Filmmaker Party

SCA Head of Alumni Relations Justin Wilson, SCA Associate Director Kristi Patton, USC Associate Director of Alumni Clubs and Communities Erin Jabovy, SCA Student Industry Relations (SIR) Office Manager Ali Sarafoglou and SIR Director of Professional Development Bonnie Chi

Jeff Kehe, Landen Michael White, David Minnihan, Jared Lewis

Tyler Stevens and Bonnie Chi

Jason Berman, Chris Ridenhaur, Justin Wilson

Corey and Jessica Bodeh-Creed, Aaron Marshall

Reza Safinia, John Burr, Ashley Avis, Jonathan Fuhrman

Jose Tamayo, Kara Duncan, Alex Kattan

Sarah Malkin, Doug Blush, Emily Barclay, Alex Buono

The team behind the Award-Winning Fruitvale: Co-Producer Sev Ohanian, Editor Michael Shawver ‘12, Writer/Director Ryan Coogler ‘11 and Composer Ludwig Goransson

George Klippel and Justin Wilson

Efraim Walker, Kimberly Rosenblum, Jennifer Cohen, Andy Tan, Justin Goldberg, Mike Hartman

Navigating the Dance: Tarik Jackson, in his Own Words

After years of reading about the legends of the winter I finally decided to make the 12 hour drive from Los Angeles to the mountains of Utah to attend the 2013 Sundance film festival. Motivated by the priemere of Fruitvale myself, Lori Webster and Jamari Perry set out to witness Sundance for the first time and boy were we surprised.

We left Friday morning with no tickets, no passes and no experience at the festival.  If we were going to have a good time we had to learn quick. The first order of business at the dance is getting into screenings.  What they don’t tell you about Sundance before you get there is that all of theaters are spread throughout Park City, and there’s only one theatre located on Main street.  Main street is the center of the festival where most festival goers occupy throughout the day looking for fun activities to attend.  So if your not attending a screening at the Egyptian on Main Street you must take a bus to one of the many theaters that Park City offers.  If you are without a ticket or your a non pass holder of the film you wish to see you must show up two hours before the screening in order to get a spot in the wait list line.  The wait list is a system where you wait in line hoping there are extra seats in the screening, so that you can view the film.  If there are no extra seats you don’t get to see the film.   If you don’t get to see the film of your choice your day is basically done because by the time you travel to another theatre you will miss the wait list for the next film.

We were lucky to not only get into the premeire of Fruitvale, but also a screening of Newlyweeds directed by recent NYU grad Chaka King.  We were also able to see Stoker the new Chan-wook Park film (Old Boy) starring Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska.

Fruitvale premiered to an audience of Sundance attendees who wept so loud during the pivotal scenes that you couldn’t hear what was on the screen.  The film was magnificent and Ryan Coogler has become the model of success that all SCA students aspire to when they arrive here.  Seeing recent grads like Ryan, Sev, Gerard, Mike and Claudia premiere a film at Sundance was truly inspirational and gives us all hope that we can make pivotal features once leaving SCA.

Though our time at Sundance was short, the impact of the trip is everlasting.  Being the biggest American festival I’m sure we’ll be back, but next time we’ll be more prepared to take on the festival!

– Tarik Jackson, SCA Production MFA ’13


We’re winding down.

I was about five minutes too late to get a volunteer ticket to David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a film that has been getting a lot of excitement.  Saints and the surrealist neo-noir drama, Escape From Tomorrow, are my two biggest regrets for films I missed at Sundance.  Escape From Tomorrow was shot in Disney World without permits, and so has dubious speculation as to whether or not it will get distribution as it squares legal matters with Walt Disney.

After helping the Creative Services department in the morning with miscellaneous errands (including an odyssey to a hardware store), I eventually met up with my Creative Services comrades for an evening of bonding and watching David Andalman’s MilkshakeMilkshake is a coming of age story that follows a white teen in the 1990s as he strives to excel on his school’s varsity basketball team and fit in with the minorities of his community.  The film has a (sometimes annoyingly) self-aware spirit, and owes a lot to the films of Todd Solondz in establishing tone and the kinds of characters it presents.  I thought the casting was excellent, and there are moments that are socially progressive and laugh-out-loud funny, but as a feature narrative, Milkshake never took off.

Today we will prepare for streaming the awards program before dispersing tomorrow.

A Creative Services volunteer relaxes before David Andalman’s Milkshake

Playing Catch Up

Since Sunday, I have been swamped with a number of things to do.  Quickly, I’ll play catch up.

On Monday, I was fortunate enough to PA for an interview with director Park Chan-wook, whose new film Stoker is playing the festival.  In the evening, I gripped for a Sea Wolf concert at the Music Café.  I saw Giorgio Diritti’s There Will Come a Day about an Italian woman working for social change in Brazil.

Tuesday, I saw Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, a film with a lot of buzz.  This is Carruth’s first film since 2004’s Primer, and to me it was a wholly unique cinematic experience, one that I felt lucky to be able to see at Sundance.

Wednesday found me PA-ing for a live stream of a discussion with actors Juno Temple and Robin Weigert, both of whom have films at the festival.  They were intelligent, poised, and individuals who seemed capable of great artistic achievement.  That evening, I saw Shaka King’s Newlyweeds, one of the “Next” films (meaning it was made for little to no money).  Newlyweeds had some of the best-written moments of the festival, and hit a great tonal balance of funny comedy and lingering dramatic pathos.

Finally, Thursday was a day of helping prepare to ship equipment back to Los Angeles and celebrating my volunteer coordinator’s birthday.  I saw The Rambler, a midnight film by Calvin Lee Reeder, and was wholly won over by the experience.

Today, I face exhaustion and another opportunity to enjoy Sundance 2013.

The Rambler

Alumna Yana Gorskaya: In her own words

Editor: Alum Yana Gorskaya isa prolific editor in both documentary and feature films. She took time out of her busy schedule with the 2013 Sundance film Valentine Road to talk to students about her experience.

I had the pleasure of coming to Sundance this year as consulting editor on the moving and tremendous first feature documentary by Marta Cunningham, Valentine Road. The film examines the middle school shooting of Lawrence “Larry” King the day after he asked his murderer to be his valentine. The shooter, 14 year old Brandon McInerney, was tried as an adult.

HBO lunch in honor of Valentine Road

Marta set out to make the film some four and a half years ago, driven by a passionate need to understand how something like this could ever happen in Oxnard, CA.

She received a standing ovation at our Sundance Premiere, and I’m glad I forgot my makeup bag in LA –because I would have been a mascara stained mess by the end of it all. Viewing the film with Marta, editor and fellow USC alum Tchavdar Georgiev, and mentor, friend and documentary goddess Kate Amend was unforgettable.

With director Marta Cunningham and editor Tchavdar Georgiev

Tchavdar had the bizarre experience of trying to explain the film to some fest-goers on a bus. They assured him “don’t worry, we keep our guns away from our children.” So did Brandon’s family, by all accounts.

The fabulous folks at HBO picked up Valentine Road based on an early version of the film. Their faith had everything to do with getting us to the finish line, and they treated us with loads of TLC at the fest.

Perhaps the most surreal Sundance moment for me this year was catching up with filmmaker Martha Shane of After Tiller. Martha was my editorial intern once upon a time, and everywhere I went people were raving about her fantastic, sensitive documentary feature. Having known her as a college student just starting out, I’m completely unsurprised. You can catch a glimpse of Judith Helfand’s arm in this photo of us — another documentary fairy godmother. Judith co-hosted the Chicken & Egg party, honoring Sundance documentaries they co-funded and supported — including Valentine Road and After Tiller. It was a marvelous group of folks and I left thoroughly inspired. 

Now back to the real world.

With Martha Shane of After Tiller

Five tips for Sundance survival…

Doug Blush from TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM here in the 2013 Documentary Competition, with some hard won tips bought at a high price over many years of Sundance attendance!  These are but five of the dozens of things that become part of your survival in this strange, cold, beautiful but potentially deadly land (sorry, I actually lifted that from some promo material about Werner Herzog’s ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD or something…)

1)  Drink your own body mass in water.  Every day.  This will offset the equal body mass of free Stellas and vodka that will be force-fed on you.

2)  DON’T BUY TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME!  This may sound ridiculous, but the bottom line is that you won’t know what you’re doing day to day here until the actual days.  Amazing interactions will happen that are much more interesting than the ticket you have pulled for Saturday at 7:30…and you’ll end up giving it away and rightly going off to have some great adventure in the real world.  Save your money, wait until Tuesday or so  if you can to see films and just start getting in wait lines!

3)  SEE THE BIGGER FESTIVAL…two of the best venues here are the New Frontiers art instillation space and the ASCAP Music Cafe downtown.  You could just do these two things and you’d have a great time here.  Also look for panels at the Filmmakers Lounge.

4)  NEVER, EVER pay for a meal here.  Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a point of pride for a young filmmaker to take advantage of the massive amount of food that’s free all over Park City and save money for tickets and other things.  If you’re paying for food…you’re doing it wrong.  Pro tip if needing a cheap meal, however…beware the Main Street Pizza and Noodle Co…it’s fine but $$$, and Davanza’a Pizza, Tacos and beer on Park Ave near Heber is cheaper and more fun.

5)  About getting into parties and events… a) always seem to be entirely supposed to be there – don’t sheepishly peek around  b) be slightly incredulous and baffled, in a good-natured way that you’re not on the list, and c) DO NOT be an a**hole to the front door check-in folk if they refuse…humor them, be charming, talk about your film and hope for the best!  And d)  TIP YOUR SERVERS, folks!

Stay warm and away from the wrong bus,

Yr. pal Doug


Andrew Bird Live Stream and Everything That Came Before…

Sunday was an early morning for the Creative Services department.  I helped to PA an interview at Zoom Café for a “Morning After” conversation with director Drake Doremus, some of his key creative collaborators, and Sundance film festival director John Cooper.  Doremus’s Like Crazy played at Sundance in 2011, and his new film Breathe In premiered at this year’s festival.  He talked about the best ways to create spaces to elicit comfortable, effective performances from actors.

After the morning, I found myself with a rare patch of free time, so I decided to head to a venue I had yet to see for a screening. While waiting in the volunteer line for one of twenty free tickets, I bought some extravagantly overpriced food and made friends with a fellow Sundance volunteer.  The film was Linmania, a documentary about the explosive basketball career of Palo Alto native and Harvard alumnus Jeremy Lin.  I don’t follow sports, and seemed to be the only person in the audience who was unfamiliar with Jeremy Lin before the screening started.  I enjoyed learning about Lin’s incredible success and his charismatic yet humble persona.  The documentary itself seemed somewhat stale: there were a number of repetitive dramatic beats, and the film seemed to strain to amp up drama that appeared to be non-existent.  Still, I enjoyed the experience.

I lost my two hats, which is frustrating, because it leaves me with fewer options for clothes I can lose during the last week of the festival.

On Sunday evening, I gripped for a roving camera that was filming a live stream of a Lili Haydn and Andrew Bird concert at the Music Café on Main Street.  There were three cameras hooked into a tricaster with a team communicating via walkie talkies and ear pieces.  It was fascinating to watch the Creative Services department pull off the technical feat of a three camera live stream.  The concert was pretty good, too.

The Creative Services department prepares for a “Morning After” conversation with director Andrew Doremus

Andrew Bird performs a sound check before his jam-packed concert at the Music Cafe