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Parties and SWAG In Park City

Walking down Main Street you'll see the "who's who" of tinsel town By Keiko Beatie

Movie madness hits Park City at the Sundance Film Festival once a year and the town becomes the Hollywood Blvd. of the Rockies in this eleven-day event. In most cases the city has year round residents of 7,400, but during the last two weeks in January it swells to more than 50,000 visitors. For most intents and purposes people are here to immerse themselves with watching, reading, thinking, making, eating, and sleeping everything about films. Walking down Main Street you'll see the "who's who" of tinsel town and the rest of the film industry having cappuccinos, window shopping and making deals over lunch at a Park City sushi bar.  A secret to the world and now to be revealed. . .  they're really here for the PARTIES!

With a half a dozen other smaller film festivals taking place in Park City during the same time, each group is putting together a list of party events to where your Ugg Boots will become your most utilized dancing shoes.  The parties of Park City are infamous to those who are in the know.  That's just it, you do have to know someone or they have to know of you.  Guest list are complied by each Studio, PR Firm, Agency, Filmmaker, Screenwriter and Distribution Company with a physiological and scientific precision.  Who you have come to your party can benefit you for the next 12 months.  Plus, what gifts you give at your party are at times even more important.  The allure of a hot party invite can be whipped into frenzy, as usually normal people are demanding entrance because they heard there is a cool Gucci Cosmetic Bag in store for guests. 

This is S.W.A.G.!!!  While filmmakers and skiing entice film industry members to come to Park City, one insider's underlining factor is "The SWAG."  What is SWAG?  Some say it stands for Super Wonderful Advertising Gifts, or Selected Winners Awesome Giveaways, what ever it is, to some it is all important and a driving force as to why everyone will scurry to get on any guest list for the multitude of parties held during the festival.   Not to sign the next Open Water, Napoleon Dynamite, or Garden State, it's the cute container of mints or the cashmere underwear (last year's cool SWAG) that will have even the most jaded industry types exchange RSVP info for another if it has a hot gift bag of S.W.A.G. 

Pam Dion is a longtime event planner who resides in Park City year round.  Married to a gaffer (Movie Lighting Technician), she fell into this role when a party planner dropped out of an event and Pam and her company PC Style stepped in to help out.  Now she plans some of the biggest and costliest events in the city. With a list of clients such as; Screen Visions, Innovation Film, FotoKem, Fuij Film, plus other agencies, studios and private filmmakers, Pam is able to meet the needs and create exactly what the client ordered. 
So the parties are instrumental as many foundations of movie business are laid out around the buffet table or on the balcony off the ballroom of a ski resort while Macy Gray is playing inside. 
Dion states "Do understand that this is a small town and the things you find in LA are not available here in Park City.  So we need to at times, to build props to be creative with what some of these big party goers are used to in New York, LA or Cannes." So the romance of the S.W.A.G. can be the deciding factor where to go to, because the person you want to connect with maybe after that Dolce and Gabana Scarf.  Top parties from the past have been: Gen Art, Fuji Film, Variety, Slamdance both Opening and Closing Nights, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Sundance Channel as well as Studio Parties, United Artist, Miramax, Paramount and Sony just to name a few.  Gift bags at one party event Pam's working on for 2005 has S.W.A.G from Burton Snowboards, Kargol, Overland Briefcases, CD's, T-shirts and much more. 

Interestingly enough is that Sundance, now in its 23rd year has not had the best of soirees.  Descriptions of last years Opening Night for Stacey Peralta's Riding Giants was boring and way too laid back for a movie about surfers who ride 50-foot waves for fun.  This party had the potential to light a fire for guests and media not only about the film but also for the magic of cinema for the Sundance Film Festival.  It was noted that toward the end of 2004, Sundance was in the process of hiring an event coordinator to plan the parties of Sundance.  We'll look forward to what will be in store for this year 2005.

If timed properly you can attend 4 to 6 events with success in a night.  Hopefully they'll have a coat check area so you can park your S.W.A.G. bags collected during the evening. This does take stamina and why not, who wants to make movies with people who don't have any endurance?  If you're at the right place, business contacts may feel that, hey they're here so they must be a great negotiator and should be on my next project. 

Village at the Lift is a prime location at the bottom of Main St and every night a party takes place there. One night Lions Gate Entertainment had apery for Happy Endings that was the Opening Night film. With most of the stars in attendance, Women In Film took this opportunity to award the three staring female stars recognition to the industry. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lisa Kudrow and Laura Dern were recognized at the event.  While Don Roos, Tom Arnold and the tops executives at Lions Gate looked on. The Party had the right mix of stars, industry and free gifts to give-away to make it the party of the evening.

One up and coming party is XDance Closing Night Party at HarryO's.  XDance is the Extreme Film Festival consisting of surfing, snowboarding, motocross, etc.  This crowd is hot, edged, likes to dance and party, just what any extreme sports fan would imagine.  So the crowds are the people in these sports and the energy to dance all night long!   XDance had DJ's, live bands, hot looking women, buff and cute guys, but one thing that may be holding them back from being one of the best parties is that they had NO S.W.A.G.  

The venue owners that these parties take place at are just as inventive as well.  For every ski lodge ballroom is booked and most any restaurant with a banquet room is in demand for the festivals.  So much so, that reportedly one restaurant makes on renting out their room enough to carry them throughout the year.  A prime venue on Main St goes for $50,000 a night, no discounts.  In fact prices at various restaurants had a Sundance price and a regular year round price list.   By the way the $50,000 location is booked every night of the Festival, that's over a half a million dollars.  But, in a town of 7,400 this is their big cash cow moment of the year and with the festival and guest prepared to spend, Park City and its residents are ready to welcome them.

 The Sundance Film Festival takes place in Park City, Utah and runs from January 20-30, 2005.   For more information please view the website at

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