The 10 Commandments of Getting a Film into Sundance

Ten Commandments

And it came to pass that Redford did go up into a high mountain, and the Lord did speak to him, and did give unto him the 10 commandments of Sundance.

And behold, Redford did proclaim these commandments throughout the land, that makers of independent films might know which path they must take to enter into the gates of Sundance.

The 10 Commandments of Getting a Film into Sundance

1. Thou shalt remember thine editor, to keep him nourished with stimulants, so that he may edit thy film like unto a music video.

2. Thou shalt write thy teenage protagonists to be smart like unto adults; and behold, they shall call their parents and teachers by their first names, and observe strange hobbies, and listen to vinyl; yea, and all their ways shall be Quirky.

3. Thou shalt not depict a family that hath two parents which are married to each other unless it shall be that one despiseth the other, or that one is a pedophile, or that the mother decideth halfway through that lo, she is a lesbian.

4. Thou shalt not use a tripod.

5. Thy male characters between the ages of twenty and five and forty shall be without direction or purpose; and lo, unkempt shall be their beards, and frequent shall be their marijuana usage; and behold, they shall spend the film in search of direction and purpose; and behold, if they shall find it, it shall be with the help of a cute brunette.

6. Thou shalt honor Tilda Swinton and Patricia Clarkson and keep them employed.

7. Thou shalt tell inspiring stories of persons who overcome addictions, but thou shalt ordain and ensure that such persons experience a relapse at the 70-minute mark, for behold, this is good drama.

8. Thou shalt make documentaries which detaileth the most horrific of subjects, or else thou shalt make documentaries which are about “Sesame Street.” In the middle ground shalt thou not tread.

9. Thou shalt not feature religious characters in thy film, except it shall be that they are crazy.

10. Thou shalt mumble.



[ Some of the lines in this piece are recycled from a Snide Remarks column I wrote nine years earlier. I’m allowed to do that. ]