Today's Guest Artist is Dixon White. Dixon is a talented actor who I've been working with over the last year. This past January, Dixon made his first pilgrimage to The Sundance Film Festival as a cast member of the festival darling, "Casting JonBenet". I asked Dixon to write a bit about his experience for WAG and he graciously agreed.
The great news is that Netflix picked up distribution for "Casting JonBenet" and it premieres on April 28. There are a ton of local actors featured. Hope you'll mark your calendars and look for Dixon's performance as John Mark Karr in addition to supporting many other local actors in this Colorado film.
Park City was experiencing record snowfall and it was my first time there and at The Sundance Film Festival. As cold as it was, I was dancing in the sun.
The atmosphere was alive with the talk of film, and by the grace of a brilliant director named Kitty Green, our Colorado cast was able to attend the World Premiere of Casting JonBenet. The Sundance 2017 program was comprised of 121 feature films, 68 short films, 17 VR pieces and 11 art exhibits. The streets were filled with everything from famous actors and top named producers, to sales agents, to the “famous-in-their-own-minds” YouTube stars. I had attended the TriBeca Film Festival in 2005, but the energy here was different. Even with the external forces of commerce and business competing for control with the narrative art, the well-known people were down to earth and approachable.
As easy as it could have been to get lost in the limelight and glitter, I could tell that almost everyone was there for business. Every party I attended, I had the chance to gather business cards from some of the entertainment industry’s greatest gurus. I soaked up information left and right; what the key elements are that a distributer looks for in a film before making an offer to purchase rights; demographics are sometimes weighted more than gross revenue; never be afraid to start a conversation with just about anyone, on the bus, standing in line for coffee, in the theatre lobby; word of mouth can sometimes truly make or break a film, especially from the lips of the critics in town; but most importantly…network, network, network!
And when at last I sat, in the Temple Theatre, waiting to watch Casting JonBenet, I realized I had been waiting for this exact moment as a professional actor for twenty-three years. Some years were amazing. Other years were very, very lean. But I never gave up on my ability, no matter how much others advised me to. And I think the main reason was because I know that I love to create and move audiences, and I also know that 95% of what we do is running our careers as a business.
And then it happened. The last credit scrolled up the screen at the end of our film, the theatre was dark, and the air was still. It was a moment in time that I will never forget for as long as God allows me to grace this planet. The applause, the cheers, the standing ovation.
Our film, it turns out, was a festival hit. And as I stood there taking it all in, I smiled ear-to-ear knowing that my life has changed forever. Twenty-three years is a long time to work and wait for a moment like that. It makes me think of every single person, from every walk of life, who has attended Sundance through the years. All of their ambitions started with a dream, no matter how big or small, just like mine did so long ago. So dream on big dreamer. Never give up believing just how much your acting abilities will move your audience. But also remember how your business acumen will help get you there. And I promise, you too, will someday be dancing in the sun.