Critics Resources

Tips for Freelancers from African American Film Critics Association President Gil Robertson

Gil Robertson says planning, pacing, and packing for the weather are keys to success at Sundance.

by | January 22, 2019 | Comments

Rotten Tomatoes recently held its first Rotten Tomatoes Critics Workshop, designed to help freelance critics and journalists navigate festivals, develop industry contacts, and get their stories placed. We asked the industry professionals who spoke at our workshops to provide their top tips for freelancers; the below come from President of the African American Film Critics Association, Gil Robertson.

Covering Sundance is an entertainment writer’s dream. As one of the industry’s most important festivals, it attracts the world’s biggest entertainers and decision makers. I’ve had the privilege of attending the festival for over a decade now as both a film critic and film advocate. Over the years, I have developed a few strategies that help me get the most out of each visit that I am now sharing with you. Check out some of my best practices below to help you get the most out of this incredible opportunity!

1. Purpose

Sundance fosters a very “open” and inclusionary environment with films, installations and panel discussions that reflect the industry’s global diversity. New faces are plentiful and welcomed even, so make sure you have your game plan intact to meet your goals and get the most out of your experience. The festival is a tremendous opportunity to connect and network with those who can truly help grow your career and help you make a mark in this industry.

2. Plan

Plan: The best way to get what you need attending Sundance is to come pre-prepared. Study the program and be sure to sign up for all alerts. Send intro letters to PR professionals or points of contact for screenings and events that outline the coverage that you plan to provide. Also give yourself options with multiple events on your itinerary. Remember to be persistent, but not overbearing.

3. Wardrobe

It gets very cold in Park City, so dress warmly and layer well because you absolutely will spend a lot of time in long lines.

4. Pacing

It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the glamour and fan fair at Sundance. There will be a lot of receptions, parties, premieres and even impromptu gatherings that will leave you exhausted and can throw you off track. Don’t lose your head! Enjoy everything, but remember to stay focused on your goals to manage your time wisely.

5. Responsibility

Getting Sundance media credentials is a huge opportunity and privilege and you should treat it as such. Make sure to show up to screenings and press opportunities on time. It’s also very important to file your reviews and articles covering the festival promptly so that they have the greatest impact. Doing this will ensure that you get invited back and will also provide you with entry to be invited to other film festivals.

Gil Robertson is a journalist, author, and producer. He’s the president and co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter @gilrobertson

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