Fun Facts from Sundance Favorites

Some of our favorite independents ran at Sundance Film Festival, so here is a list of some fun facts from 14 of our favorite Sundance darlings.

1. The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
With the film originally in development at Disney, John Lasseter was set to direct and planned to combine traditional hand-drawn animation and computer-generated imagery, making it the first feature to attempt it. Because CGI wasn’t going to cut costs, the project was dropped, Lasseter was fired from Disney (then co-founded Pixar), and the rest of the team produced it independently. Disney eventually bought the film to show on Disney Channel and it became a cult hit. (via IMDB)

2. sex, lies, and videotape (1988)
A year prior to sex, lies, and videotape winning the Audience Award, Steven Soderbergh volunteered as a festival driver. (via

BraveLittleToaster SexLiesVideotape

3. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The final answer print of the film came back from the lab only 3 days before it debuted at Sundance. (via IMDB)

4. Bottle Rocket (1993)
Sundance initially refused the film; however, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, college friends from the University of Texas, completely rewrote and reshot the entire beginning to gain submission into the festival. (via IMDB)

ReservoirDogs BottleRocket

5. Clerks (1994)
Kevin Smith raised the film’s tiny $27,000 budget by selling off his comic collection, borrowing $3,000 from his parents, and maxing out his credit cards. He also worked in the store where they shot the film, clocking in at 6am and finishing at 11pm. Shooting would then take place until 4am. Smith would only get 1-2 hours of sleep before returning to work. (via IMDB)

6. The Brothers McMullen (1995)
The film was shot every weekend over an eight-month period from autumn 1993 to spring 1994. (via IMDB)

Clerks TheBrothersMcMullen

7. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The film cost $22,000 to make and made back $240.5 million. For every $1 spent, $10,931 was made. (via IMDB)

8. Memento (2001)
Although the film screened at major film festivals, including Venice, Toronto, and Sundance, it was difficult to find a distributor. Many passed, including Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, who found the film to be too confusing. Within its first few weeks, the film reached more than 500 theaters and earned a domestic total of $25 million during its box-office run with Newmarket. Weinstein then tried to buy the film from Newmarket. (via The Making of Memento, by James Mottram)

TheBlairWitchProject Memento

9. Garden State (2004)
Although the film’s budget was $2.5 million, Miramax and Fox Searchlight purchased the film at Sundance for $5 million in a joint venture. (via

10. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Jon Heder was paid $1,000 to play the role of Napoleon Dynamite. The movie has grossed over $40 million in the US. (via IMDB)

GardenState NapoleonDynamite

11. Half Nelson (2006)
Despite critically acclaimed performances in Drive, The Ides of March, Blue Valentine, and Lars & the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling’s only Oscar nomination is for his performance in Half Nelson.

12. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
The production had a rule that it would only use buildings that were built before 1950 to give the film a classic look. Similarly, all the phone rings that were used were from old phones, not digital ringtones. (via

HalfNelson 500DaysofSummer

13. Blue Valentine (2010)
Director Derek Cianfrance spent 12 years making the movie. During that process, Cianfrance said he wrote 67 drafts. (via IMDB)

14. The Sessions (2012)
To simulate his character’s posture, John Hawkes used a soccer ball-sized piece of foam which he laid onto the left side of his back in order to curve his spine. Consequently, some of his organs began to migrate and he was told by his chiropractor that now his spine doesn’t have enough movement. (via

BlueValentine TheSessions


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