More from those crazy Nickelodeon guys -- Andy and Isaac

Read on to hear our final thoughts on the festival and to  enter to win the official Sundance Film Festival bag!
After a week to decompress from the festival, Andy and I had the chance to finish the final day out strong seeing films like Magic Magic (also w/ Michael Cera).  Looking back at the festival, we wish would could have eaten better things than granola bars, and had more sleep, but the real reason was to see films so we could help bring better options to the Nickelodeon. 
Andy and I both agreed with the Sundance Jury in that Fruitvale needed to win an award for its brutal honesty, and dynamic storytelling. In the end  it won the coveted U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, and we know we will be seeing this film at the Nickelodeon sometime later this year.
One of the great surprises of this year’s festival was Chad Hartigan’s This is Martin Bonner, Andy mentioned it earlier in a post, but we loved the film, and audiences agreed.  The film took home the Audience Award in the “Best of NEXT” category.  Again, if you have a chance to see his first film, Luke and Brie are on a First Date, we recommend it highly. It played at Indie Grits, and the film also features the wonderful Ronnie Gunter (briefly). 
If we had to guess other films that should eventually make their way to our screen, we would guess In A World..., Crystal Fairy, Afternoon Delight, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Spectacular Now. Of course, we are in the transitional limbo where films are being bought and distribution being set before we know what we will be available to bring to Columbia and when these films will arise.
Thanks for reading our blog, and as an added bonus, if you share this article with your friends on Facebook or Twitter and tag the Nick AND Jasper (@nicktheatre , @jasperadvises) you’ll be automatically entered into winning the Sundance Festival bag filled with the Sundance program, water bottle and other postcards!
We’ll see you at the movies, Andy and Isaac

More from Andy at Sundance

Yesterday the Convergence wrapped up and it always feels like the last day of camp. Kind of. You're all kind of exhausted, do a few more panels, get your picture taken and then pile on to a bus. But, the fun part is most of the delegates head over to Park City for Sundance. It's about a 30-minute drive to Park City and then we were dropped off at festival headquarters. Talk about a big shift in pace. From the quiet solitude of the Zermatt resort where the Convergence is held, the festival headquarters is always bustling. It took us a little while to get our credentials and then make our way to the condo. We're sharing a place this year with Landee and Cory from Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah, KY and Lawren from Aperture Cinema in Winston-Salem.
After unpacking we made the 20-minute trek down to the Yarrow Hotel to see how bad the walk will be.  It basically involves a crossing a snowy golf course without clearly marked paths. We were too late to catch the first film of the evening so we headed down to Park City's Main Street where we ate at one of our favorite festival spots, the Wasatch Brewery.
After a quick meal we took the shuttle back up to the holiday cinema which is where most of the press and industry screenings are held to catch our first film of the festival : Crystal Fairy and the Magic Cactus and 2012.
The film features Michael Cera as a 20-something American on an extended drug vacation in Chile. His mission to try a hallucinative cactus leads to arid trip with three Chilean brothers and an over-the-top new age American hippie named Crystal Fairy (played by Gaby Hoffman). Directed by Sebastian Silva (whose last film The Maid played the Nick a few years ago), the film is filled with terribly awkward moments (not a big surprise for a Michael Cera movie). Overall it seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

More from The Nick's Andy Smith blogging for us from Sundance Film Festival


I started this morning by participating in a panel put together by Gary Meyer, one of the cofounders ofLandmark Theatres and one of the directors of the Telluride Film Festival. Together with folks from the Alamo Drafthouse, LA's Cinefamily, and Miami's O Cinema, we all talked about how we pay attention to customer service in our theaters particularly with an eye towards creating a special experience. I was able to talk a lot about the Nick's special place in Columbia, serving as much more than just a movie theater, but also as a place where people have gathered for decades to share ideas and passions.

Next, Isaac and I went to a panel on repertory programming, featuring last year's Indie Grits juror Sarah Finklea (of Janus Films) and Seattle's Clinton McClung (the guy who started the sing-along craze years ago by coming up with the Buffy sing-alongs. We are really excited about launching more rep programming at the Nick and getting to hear some of the really great ideas our peers are implementing around the country is really inspiring. (And by the way, our "And I Feel Fine" series got a shout out from one of the panelists as a creative approach to rep programming).

Guest Blogger Andy Smith Keeps Us Posted from Sundance

It was by all accounts a full afternoon.  After lunch, we were treated to a great keynote by David Bordwell, who provided a really interesting historical perspective on the digital transition. I read a lot of Bordwell in college, and it's pretty cool to get to meet him in person. His interest in our field is really great.
It was a bit of a surprise but after talking to Ava DuVernay this morning, she asked if I'd be willing to sit on her panel on Race and the Art House this afternoon (one of the panelists had flight problems). The panel ended up being really great. There are some clear issues with diversity within the art house world and Ava's story of frustration as a film maker was really revealing. As an exhibitor, I spoke of some of the traditional excuses used to avoid showing work by filmmakers of color and stressed the importance of taking a more wholistic and genuine approach to diversifying our audiences. It was a real honor to get to sit next to Ava and look forward to working with her more in the future (by the way, I told Ava the price of me joining her panel was her agreeing to record a short video for the nick pushing her film. If you haven't seen it, it's on our Facebook page.
Following our panel was a really great session with Tim League from Alamo Drafthouse. They've become the leaders in the commercial art house world and are expanding their theaters at an impressive rate. The session focused on useful metrics and I found myself drooling throughout, wishing we could implement these measurements at the Nick (I know, this probably sounds dreadfully boring to most folks).
Dinner was a big highlight tonight. The chicken was surprisingly tasty and moist and some guy named Robert Redford spoke. He seemed pretty cool. I sat next to Gary Meyer at dinner, founder of the Telluride Film Festival, who has organized a panel in the morning on customer service that I'll also be sitting on. After dinner, we were treated to a special performance by Cripsin Glover. Crispin has been doing these performances at different art houses around the country, and Isaac and I are pretty convinced we need to bring him to Columbia. Lots more to come tomorrow...

The Nick's Andy Smith Guest Blogs from Sundance Film Festival - Part 1

Andy Smith, executive director, of our very own Nickelodeon Theatre is sending dispatches from Sundance Film Festival for the next few days. It's not his first trip to Sundance, but each time he comes back with ideas and initiatives that not only enhance our experiences at the Nick, but also the Indie Grits Festival experience.
First up, Andy's posting about Art House Convergence's 2013 conference, which brings leaders of art house theaters from around the country together, always just before Sundance kicks off. Want to know even more? Follow Andy on Twitter: @andysmithsc, Isaac Calvage, the Nick's marketing director: @calvage, and of course, the Nick: @nicktheatre.
From Andy: 

I simply love the Art House Convergence . It's an incredible opportunity to have a little "check-in" with the field, learn from peers across the country and share our accomplishments (and occasional failures) from the past year. The past few years have really seen the prominence of the Nick shoot up, and when we first attended this conference we saw ourselves as maybe a bit behind the curve. We are now often seen as leaders due to our successful Move the Nick capital campaign, the opening of the new theater and the transition to digital.

With last night things kicked off with your typical conference socializing and catching up with friends from across the country, and things really got going this morning.  Russ Collins, from the  Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor, MI, welcomed all of the delegates this morning showcasing the theme of this year’s Convergence: The Brave New American Art House. Stressing the importance of being community focused, mission driven theaters Russ spoke enthusiastically about our roll as community builders. The cinema, he said, can no longer be seen as a new art form, but the specialness of the theatrical experience, seeing films on a big screen, is still a great experience. It's up to us to continue to provide that.

Juliet Goodfriend, from the Bryn Mawr Film Institue presented one of my favorite parts of each Convergence - the unveiling of survey data collected from attending theaters. The Nick was singled out as being one of only a handful of theaters to have participated in the survey every year (yes, we try to do our homework).  The data covers everything from ticket sales, revenue breakdowns, seating capacity, programming offerings and more.  My favorite statistic is always how much ticket sales increase with the adding of additional screens.  The big take away again this year is that we should all plan to add additional screens, not additional seats, to generate more revenue. It all just makes us so excited about the eventual opening of our second screen.  Other data of note is that the Nick’s per capita concessions sales figures are about on par with our peers and our ticket revenue for only a single screen is also near the national average.

Ava DeVernay with members of the cast of Middle of Nowhere.

I just had the chance to chat with Ava DuVernay, director of  Middle of Nowhere (playing at the Nick through Thursday). I'm really excited that she's here at the Convergence this year and am looking forward to her panel on race and the art house.