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Questions That Go A Little Deeper: Umrika Filmmakers Reflect On Sundance Film Forward
Questions That Go A Little Deeper: Umrika Filmmakers Reflect On Sundance Film Forward
Questions That Go A Little Deeper: Umrika Filmmakers Reflect On Sundance Film Forward

Questions That Go A Little Deeper: Umrika Filmmakers Reflect On Sundance Film Forward

After more than a year on the festival circuit, the unfortunate truth is that post-screening Q&A sessions can often lose some of the magic they once had. You know the questions inside out, you’ve answered them so many times, it’s all pretty routine. By now, you’re prepared.

But with the students of Screenwriting 101 at Savannah College of Art & Design in Atlanta, what we had imagined would be a simple discussion about screenwriting and our experiences making our film turned into a deeply personal and intimate conversation that covered our fears, sacrifices, regrets, dreams and all the varied emotions and challenges that accompany a life in filmmaking. 

  • “How do I know if I’m good enough?”
  • “I’ve changed majors four times. I like filmmaking but I can’t seem to decide what I should do with my life. Should I be worried?”
  • “How do you make your characters real?”
  • “When is a story worth telling?”
  • “Would anyone be interested in what I have to say?”

These were students from diverse backgrounds – some had grown up in Japan or Germany while others were Atlanta natives. Intended majors ranged from design to animation to screenwriting with almost everything in between. But each and every one of them shared a common concern: “What does the future hold for me?” 

We were confronted by questions that forced us to take stock of the last ten years of our lives. That forced us to look back on our experiences and summarize them – turn all those anecdotes into something of value that we could share with this group of much younger storytellers. The students very generously welcomed us into their world and embraced us with their trust and, by doing so, allowed us to dig deep and answer with a frankness that took even us by surprise.

In a best case scenario, you hope that you end a Q&A session giving people at least one or two things of value that they can take away with them. In this case, it was we who came away with something invaluable: a chance to look back at the path that brought us to where we are and to be granted a brief window within which to reflect with distance and new perspective on the role that filmmaking really plays in our lives.

Interacting with WonderRoot – a creative collective in Atlanta  - was incredibly inspiring and made us wish there were more initiatives like this across the world – places where artists of all disciplines can come together, support each other and create together. 

We feel like a part of the Sundance family and always will for more reasons than one, and were not surprised to see how committed Bethany and Jackie were towards the program. They facilitated the process in the most seamless and constructive manner. Also, it was great to have Kevin Brooks along who is a Fellow of the Sundance Ignite program. It never ceases to amaze us how Sundance Institute manages to spot and find the "Sundance gene" in this big wide world and adopt its carriers into their family. 

We are also immensely grateful to our local collaborators, Gabe and Paula, for their energy and warmth and commitment to the program. And for making us feel at home in Atlanta and a part of its vibrant filmmaking community.  

Thank you, Sundance Institute and the President's Committee for the Arts and Humanities, for an unforgettable experience, and here’s hoping Film Forward continues to make an impact on students, communities, and the very fortunate filmmakers chosen to participate.

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