Journey to Sundance is an off-kilter documentary, done in an unconventional manner.
Julian Starks takes us to Sundance, delving into what an independent movie is. Starks and his team question whether Sundance — a festival that used to be a big break for indie movie teams — has become too much like studios. The five year journey is loaded with interviews Starks made an obvious effort to get. These are interesting and well done interviews, providing many angles and answers to Starks’ questions. He also collects interviews of stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Vin Diesel, who give their two cents on the issue.
Ironically, he is making an indie movie about indie movies, which gives the audience a behind the scenes look into the trials and tribulations of making independent film. Journey to Sundance is an all access pass into the drama that usually remains off screen. The film switches between Sundance and Starks’ crew. While most of the scenes with Starks’ crew is the group planning and working things out, some friction does occur. Two of Starks’ teammates, Bill Jacobson and Jennifer Sorenson, don’t pull their weight at all times.
Starks’ is filmed voicing his disappointment with each and letting them know. Fortunately, this intervention gets Jacobson and Sorenson back into the project, more committed than they started out. Jacobson shows up to the interview Starks needs him at, and Sorenson takes it upon herself to go to Sundance alone, making up for any time she didn’t hold up her end. The documentary also shows the team using their own money for everything — transport, filming, editing, the whole works. Journey to Sundance has no shame and refuses to sweep any of the real issues of making a movie under the carpet. Journey to Sundance itself is the definition of an independent movie.
The only real faults of the movie are a couple poor editing choices and some of the camera work. In some scenes, two or three separate videos are squished (literally) together. In other scenes, the camera does some shoddy zooming.
There are other distractions, though they are just the results of a group of people making their own movie on a small budget. The quality of course is average. Specifically: It’s terrible compared to Blu-ray, but excellent compared to a cell phone video. The aspect ratio is a very odd one, but it doesn’t take away from the movie either.
The film is one of the most interesting documentaries I have ever seen. The subject is enthralling and the interviews keep the viewer’s attention. Julian Starks’ passion for making movies and sheer interest in the industry is clear. Journey to Sundance is journey to the American Dream.