The Sundance Film Festival is coming up and hearing about it reminds me of a funny story from 2004.
MTV News sent me to the festival with the primary objective of interviewing Haylie Duff, who at that time, was Hilary's "unknown" sister. The idea was to get some kind of introductory "getting to know the 'other' Duff" fluff piece. I was sent to Park City, solo, armed with a DV camera and a trusty MTV News mic cube for a mere two and a half days.
**I have to point out that I came back with pieces on at least 4 movies, whereas, the year before, MTV News paid to put up a VP, an on-air 'reporter,' and a 'producer' in Sundance for a week and they returned without a SINGLE airable news piece or even web item (although they did try to edit one piece together -- something about all the sweet free swag they scored, which the smart people in management rejected).
Which isn't too dissimilar from when I begged and pleaded to cover San Diego ComiCon, was told I could have a reporter and a beta crew, which then became myself and another producer, and finally just moi with a DV camera (you know, it was just "some geeky event") and I came back with Halle Berry, Kate Becksinale, Elijah Wood and Rob Zombie interviews.
Covering ComiCon for MSNBC in 2004 was a lot more fun (though I did have fun there in 2004) because, as an on-air reporter myself, I could interact with the diehard fans. What wasn't fun was doing the "Stealth" junket the same weekend.
ANYWAY: I was stoked to be going to Sundance, alone or not -- especially about covering the press conference for Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster," which was truly a blast and well worth the flights to and from, and the cold.
The elder Duff-ster had a bit part in some very, very small movie that had no distributor. In order to 'nab the interview, we had to (as is customary) agree to interview the leads from her film. So I blew through a couple of quick interviews with the guy who starred in the film and the girl who played his love interest. Then I talked to the "other" Duff and went on my way.
The film's producers were tres excited to have MTV covering them; so much so that when I ran into some of them the next day, we ended up having some long conversations. Turned out one of the producers was a HUGE comic fan. We bonded over all kinds of Marvel funny books and got to talking about the possiblity of me writing a screenplay for him.
Back in LA, this guy called me and set up two different lunches. I ended up having to blow each of them off, at the last minute no less, due to work obligations (and a general lack of enthusiasm about sitting in traffic, etc.)
I never actually saw the guy's movie. I missed the screening at Sudance because MTV had flown me in a day late (and a dollar short), sort of like the time they sent me to interview Metallica at a gig but scheduled it so my flight left before they actually went onstage; Kirk was kind enough to suggest that I lie to my bosses and say they were rockstars and insisted on doing their interview after the gig, but, I just can't lie. Ironically, MTV Films ended up grabbing the movie, and released it several months later.
The name of the movie?
Needless to say, the producer in question didn't return MY calls after that. ;) Although I think I still have the "Vote for Pedro" button he gave me at Sundance somewhere...
- Ryan J. Downey
- I'm a longtime contributor to MTV, Billboard, Alternative Press and MovieWeb. I've worked as on-air reporter, host, writer and producer for MTV, MSNBC and E!. I have provided opinion and commentary to programs on VH1, IFC, G4, Fuse, Current and Oxygen. I have written for Huffington Post, Premiere, OC Weekly, SFGate.com, NextMovie.com, MTV's television and movie blogs and other publications. I am the founder of Superhero Productions, providing broadcast, online and aftermarket content for a number of clients including Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. I personally handle artist management for a handful of bands. "Ryan Downey has established a history of breaking some good scoops in the last few years, and you could certainly do worse than bookmark [him] to check in on." -- Ain't It Cool