The Sundance Kids

For alumni of America's most prestigious film festival, winning is less than half the battle

All of which is irrelevant if you can't get your film made in the first place. "I have a wonderful script that both Laura Dern and Treat Williams want to do with me," says Joyce Chopra of a potential reunion project for her Smooth Talk stars. "So I guess I'm producing it, but I'm having a heck of a time finding the funding, as is everybody else I know." Like many who came up through the indie film scene of the '80s and '90s, Chopra laments the loss of American Playhouse, the PBS anthology series that produced Smooth Talk and Waiting for the Moon and was one of several notable financial wellsprings for indie filmmakers (including the RCA/Columbia home-video subdivision responsible for sex, lies and videotape and Carl Franklin's One False Move) that have since run dry.

For her part, Godmilow, who's in postproduction on a new nonfiction film, seems happy to be shaping the filmmakers of tomorrow rather than putting in grueling hours on the set. "I'm too tired, I think," she says with a tinge of resignation. "It's for young people. I know what it means to stand up there for 60 days on no sleep and hold a film in your head and try to make it happen. It's the hardest thing in the world. The Buñuels and the Kurosawas -- how people are doing this in their 80s, I don't know."

Walkow, meanwhile, is living proof that where there's a moviemaking will, there's a way. In between projects, he has supported himself as a photographer, a novelist, and even a videogame developer. And in an industry where there are few certainties, it's a safe bet that, upon his return from Slamdance, Walkow will be back in his Santa Monica office with his legal pad and his stopwatch. "I think it was Marcel Duchamp who said he liked to create a work of art every day," he says. "He had a piece of rope he would drop on the ground, and that was his work of art. And I'm like that: I have my pieces of rope, I drop them, and that's OK."

Opening night of the 1989 "Sundance" Film Festival
Sandria Miller
Opening night of the 1989 "Sundance" Film Festival
Main Street and the Egyptian Theater at Sundance, circa 
1991
Sandria Miller
Main Street and the Egyptian Theater at Sundance, circa 1991

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