The Sundance Film Festival is known for celebrating independent films.
Robert Redford founded the festival, which has been responsible for launching the careers of directors like Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Lee Daniels and Fruitvale Station helmer Ryan Coogler.
Hollywood flocks to the annual fest in Park City to discover the next great movie and rub elbows with celebrities. This year the list of Hollywood heavyweights who will be in town promoting movies is impressive. Keira Knightley, Amy Poehler, Michael Fassbender, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Chloe Moretz are some of the A list talents who are debuting films in 2014.
We decided to get a sneak preview of the 2014 festival by chatting with the man who helps with the events and curates a party list that keeps everyone buzzing about the hottest things to do in Park City. In fact the list has become so valuable that fake Twitter accounts and Craigslist ads try to sell it to party hungry festivalgoers.
Examiner: You're called the "Party King of Sundance". Why did you decide to compile a list of the best parties at the festival?
Christopher Ryan: It was out of frustration because there were all these lists floating around in 2006. Just different party lists with just half of the information and I started taking them all and compiling them into one master list. It just seemed to work. People thought it was a good idea. And then event producers figured out that I was sharing it with the right people. Film publicists and the talent publicists and the press outlets that they started to send me the stuff directly, which was a great idea because it helped them on press rangling and talent rangling without having to pay for it. So it really assisted their efforts really well. So that's how it started in 2006. And I've been doing it every year since.
Your coveted list now has a new name and is called the "Power and Industry Party List". Can you describe your new partnership with Daniel Thompson?
CR: Power and Industry is a production company. They talked to us about bringing people on board as title sponsors. We have had title sponsors before but they wanted the prestige of being the title of the list. So it worked out really well. They just came on board last week. But they are already excited about it.
What were some of your favorite events or parties that you remember during your tenure at the festival?
CR: The Levi's House was good. The Motorola parties were always great. There is a good HBO party that happens every year. It’s happening this year at the Miami Lounge. So that will be cool. I’m really big on the intimate cast dinners because those are really fun. There is one thing I really like Village at the Lift has the Stella Artois Cafe. Last year, they had a restaurant from LA called Animal cater it. That was probably the best breakfast I have ever had. I’m a huge fan of Animal now.
What are some of the events you are looking forward to this year at the festival?
CR:This year the Udi Gluten Free Table, The Miami Lounge, Village at the Lift is always great. Tao is phenomenal. I'm staying with The Collective. The Collective has a unique approach to events. They actually package your invites and everything with housing. And you get invites to all of the events that they do. So it's part of a package deal. It's actually a really good idea.
Can you describe your job and talk about your company?
CR: Sure. Two things I do. I do talent management. I manage some writers and tv producers. And then I work in brand marketing. So I work with brands on events, much like celebrity related events and high profile pr events. But also some custom experiential stuff as well… so management and brand marketing.
I kind of work in two worlds in the entertainment world.
Sundance is also famous for it's gifting or celebrity "swag" suites. Are there any suites that you think will stand out this year?
CR: There's some good stuff at TR Suites. They already told me what they have. Altec Lansing Bluetooth music speakers and headphones. A few other great sponsors are Cat Footwear (boots for the snow) and Sean John (winter coats for the cold). Those are two cool swag items. There is the Eddie Bauer summer lodge where you can get all dolled up in Eddie Bauer stuff. It's a ton of Eddie Bauer products. A couple of times I have left Sundance with an entire separate bag full of stuff. It should be really cool.
Last year Samsung was giving out Galaxy notes. But I didn't get one.
I'm more into services if they have massages at a VIP lounge then I'm down for that. The other thing is that I actually go see movies on Tuesday and Wednesday because I can get tickets then. The first weekend is alway busy.
Do you also recommend that people stay hydrated during the festival? Some people are affected by the altitude.
CR: Yes. It’s Park City. You’re in the mountains. Stay hydrated. Brita is an official sponsor and they have little water stations at all of the official venues.
What advice do you give to newcomers who are attending the festival?
CR: To get into parties? Be nice people and be talkative. You never know who you might meet on a shuttle bus…or in line for a film. And they may have an extra invite. They might have a plus one. I know that if you are really nice to people then sometimes they will do that…You meet people and network. That is kind of the key. If you have a film in the festival…of course. Ask your publicist and he or she will rsvp you for parties.
This year there is a lot more security. We're using Sched as our backbone. Now the party list, which used to be just a pdf file. Before that it was a word file. Now it is password protected, it’s very mobile friendly. People can import it into their outlets. So there is a lot of tech stuff that we are doing this year. It also makes it a lot more secure. It makes it very difficult to share. One of the biggest problems I have with people sharing the list with people who shouldn't have the list. It makes it really difficult for event producers to keep a handle on rsvps. Figuring out who needs to be at the party. We throw a few fake parties on the list to monitor what goes on when people are rsvping. If we start seeing a bunch of rsvps from people who shouldn't be on the list. We take care of that. We change up the list.