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Filmmakers invited to Sundance

Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims to screen ‘Thompson’

Posted: January 20, 2010 8:27 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Left to right, Matt Thompson, Jason Tippet and Ryan Andres on the red carpet at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

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They will be the youngest filmmakers at this year's prestigious Sundance Film Festival which opens today in Park City, Utah and runs through Jan. 31.

Director Jason Tippet, 23, and producer Elizabeth Mims, 21, were invited to one of the world's most prestigious film festivals after receiving a positive response to their short documentary, "Thompson," at other film festivals.

"We're just thrilled," said Mims. "We just recently found out we're the youngest filmmakers at Sundance."

"Thompson," which runs just 10 minutes long, was named the winner of the Short Film Jury Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, last March.

Tippet is a June 2008 graduate of the film school at California Institute of the Arts. Mims is scheduled to graduate from the CalArts film school this June.

The couple left Wednesday for Sundance where their film is scheduled to be screened six times during the 11 days of the festival.

The film will also be available for viewing on the Internet beginning today at www.youtube.com/user/ytscreeningroom.

"Thompson" has screened at nearly 15 festivals in the United States and abroad, estimated Tippet. The BFI in London and the Los Angeles Film Festival are among the more prestigious festivals that have invited "Thompson" to screen.

Tippet said he was surprised by the invitation to Sundance.

"I thought (a chance to screen at Sundance) was going to take years," he said. "Last year we didn't submit because we didn't think we would have a chance."

However, after the film won an award at South by Southwest, officials from Sundance contacted Tippet and asked for a screener.

"They said they had heard about ‘Thompson,'" he said. "A few months later they e-mailed us and said they wanted to show the film at Sundance."

The success of "Thompson" has caught Tippet and Mims by surprise.

"It's all happened really fast," Tippet said.

The Sundance Film Festival began in 1978 as a showcase for small budget, independent films.

Tippet and Mims said they've received hundreds of e-mails inviting them to parties, interviews and meetings with distributors at Sundance.
"It's kind of daunting to keep track of everywhere we are supposed to be," he said.

Tippet grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley and Mims is from Austin, Texas.

The couple met at CalArts and started work on "Thompson" in the spring of 2008.

"We shot for seven months and then edited for two months," said Tippet.

"Thompson" stars Santa Clarita Valley residents Matt Thompson and Ryan Andres.

"Ryan and Matt crashed a party that my sister threw at my parents' house," said Tippet.

From that chance meeting Tippet conceived "Thompson," which follows the Newhall teens through their last days of high school and their shared love of "go-carts, dirt bikes and RC cars."

"I enjoy making these kinds of films," said Tippet. "I grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley and I was always making film portraits on people in Valencia. You find a lot of kids who are kind of outcasts doing their own things in the SCV. I like finding out what goes on in their lives and making their story heard."

Tippet said he is looking forward to his time at Sundance, but doubts he will "hit the slopes."

I'm terrible at snowboarding," he said. "We have this amazing condo and we got set up with a hot tub on the deck. All the people who made the movie are coming, so it should be a good time."

Tippet also wants to see as many of the other films screening at Sundance as he can fit into his schedule.

"That's what everyone talks about after the festival, all the great films they saw," he said.

Mims and Tippet have finished two other films together and are hoping to start work soon on their first feature-length film.

"It's been a great trip so far," said Tippet.

"Thompson" will be available for viewing beginning today and for two weeks in a limited distribution through www.youtube.com/user/ytscreeningroom. The "Thompson" Web site is http://thompsonmovie.wordpress.com and the "Thompson" Facebook fan page is www.facebook.com/pagesThompson/130743552781?ref=ts.

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