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2023 Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival will take place from 19 to 29 January, 2023.


Sundance and other Park City Festivals news, past and future.   #sundance @sundancefest


Sundance Interview with the team behind First Date

Sundance 2021 Interview by Emmanuel Itier with  FIRST DATE Director Manuel Crosby, Producer-Actor Brandon Kraus and actors: Tyson Brown and Shelby Duclos.

FIRST DATE, played in the NEXT category at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival: After being conned into buying a shady '65 Chrysler, Mike's first date plans with girl-next-door Kelsey implode as he finds himself targeted by criminals, cops, and a crazy cat lady.


Q: How did this film come together, tell me about the inspiration and the challenges to make it happen?


Manuel: It all started one morning when I was having car problems and having breakfast with my co-director and co-writer, Darren Knapp. And I was complaining to him about the nightmare of buying a used car and not knowing who had it before and the way they treated it. And the idea for the film came to us. The story of a kid who wants to take a girl on a date and he needs to buy a used car. And, of course, he buys the sketchiest car ever! From there he is going to have the craziest night full of adventures. And we decided to shoot the film in Darren and I home-town of Valley Spring. We also wanted to cast the film with local actors and so we did.


Shelby: I’m so glad their plan worked. My challenge was to learn the boxing aspect of my character. I’m kind of athletic but this was a challenge to another level. The choreography of fighting was quite intense. But I know how to do it and it was lots of fun.


Tyson: Probably, for me, the trickiest scene to shoot was one of the last one of the movie when I have to diffuse a situation I’m in. It took a little bit of me, mentally. Finding the root to the true emotion and let it happen wasn’t so simple. I didn’t want to force it and let things happen organically.


Brandon: I had two hats on this film, acting and producing. As an actor playing the part of “Chet”, there is comedic scene that Manuel and Darren wrote about this anti jock. And my sister was there laughing at me and it was so hard for me to pull that scene off. On top of this we were in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of cows that wouldn’t stop mooing! As a producer who was, in part, in charge of finding the financing this was quite a challenge. It’s not easy to find people to trust you with their money. But I overcame the challenge as well as the daily operations to keep the filming moving forward. It was quite intense doing all of these jobs at the same time and managing lots of people. But it was very rewarding, and it was great working with Manuel and Darren.


Manuel: For me, the biggest challenge was to schedule everybody. We had quite a large cast and everyone, for the most part, had day jobs. So, it was quite tricky to figure it out. Not so simple to get 20 people for 5 days in the same scene. But we made it work.


Q: How is it to be part of Sundance?


Manuel: It was quite a surprise. The Sundance team called us on zoom to tell us there was a problem with our application but, actually, it was to tell us our film was selected! I think we were all speechless. It’s really cool to be part of the festival because the movie is available to so many more people being streamed. I love also the app they created to be virtually part of the festival. Truly this is such a gift to have our film in Sundance.


Q: What is the movie about for you, what are the themes explored?


Shelby: For me this is the perfect movie to escape and I hope people will have a good time watching it. There are so many avenues that the movie goes through. There is comedy, romance and adventure. There is so much going in the world right now and I hope people can take a break from that and spend a good moment watching our movie and get some relief.


Tyson: I think the movie is all about: “believing in yourself”. This is quite a strong message in the movie. My character is learning how to believe in himself and as an actor it did help me believe into my acting. So this was a great opportunity to be part of this film.


Brandon: It’s all about stepping up to the plate and to the occasion for “Mike”, played by Tyson. And I think lots of people can identify to that. It’s all about personal growth which not so simple during these difficult times of the pandemic. Overall, it’s purely an entertaining film and I hope people will have a good time watching it.


Manuel: There is a lot of love in this film and I hope people will realize how much we must love people who are around us for as long as we can. You don’t know how long that will be for, sometimes. Especially during these strange times. The final message is: be careful when you buy a sketchy used car!







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Ambiance from Park City Sundance film Festival January 20 - 30, 2022.

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