As part of our yearlong series on Sundance filmmakers, The Independents, we asked participants to keep a diary of one day in their working life and submit an accompanying self-portrait. Today’s diary is from Erica Tremblay, who reflects on what she’d do with even a fraction of “Killers of the Flower Moon’s” marketing budget for her “Fancy Dance,” which like Martin Scorsese’s film stars Lily Gladstone.
Read yesterday’s diary: How filmmaker Kristen Lovell solves the ‘puzzle’ of pre-production
12:30 p.m. — Wake Up
It’s only 9:30 a.m. in L.A. so the day is just getting started.
12:31 p.m. — Check Instagram
Oh s—, yeah. “Fancy Dance” won two more festival awards. I really wish we had a marketing budget, but sharing these accolades on my poorly designed Instagram stories will have to do.
12:35 p.m. — Switch Apps
I add the new wins to the festival spreadsheet that I share with my producers and sales agents. Since premiering at Sundance, we are up to 18 festival awards. That means juries and audiences like the film, right?
12:45 p.m. — Check Email
Blah, blah, blah. Archive, archive, archive. Oh, this one is interesting: A studio wants to show “Fancy Dance” for Native American Heritage Month. They are sad to say they can’t buy the film, but they would love to sponsor a screening for their employees in November.
F—. Are these gatekeepers going to trap “Fancy Dance” inside the month of November, only to trot it out every Thanksgiving to absolve the industry’s century-long legacy of redface and Native erasure?
If months were geography, November would be the reservation. Thirty square days contained by a fence of diversity panels and a $500 stipend. It does say free lunch though, so maybe…
1:30 p.m. — Eat Breakfast
I don’t like to cook, so I mostly eat the same things every day. It makes grocery shopping easier and it takes the labor out of having to decide. Today and every day, I eat a peanut butter and chocolate Zone bar for breakfast.
1:45 p.m. — Write with Miciana Alise
Miciana and I co-wrote “Fancy Dance” and are now working on a sexy thriller feature. Think “Single White Female” but with a Native protagonist whose life and identity gets co-opted by a white co-worker. Miciana and I meet on Zoom to break the film’s set piece at the top of the third act. What’s the best descriptor for a bone breaking? “Snap” or “crack”? We’ve been waiting to get to the fun stuff.
After the session, Miciana asks, “Are there any updates on selling ‘Fancy Dance’?” No, there are not.
3 p.m. — Check the Mail
I open the box and cycle through the envelopes. I wonder if I’ll ever get to make another movie if “Fancy Dance” doesn’t sell. Maybe we’d get more traction if we had a real poster that actually showed Lily Gladstone’s face.
I text Ryan Redcorn, an Osage artist I worked with on “Reservation Dogs”: “Do you have five minutes to chat?”
3:20 p.m. — Call with Ryan Redcorn
I’m making my bed when Ryan calls. We have a quick chat about Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which is opening this weekend. I ask him if he can help me put together a poster for “Fancy Dance” with all of our festival laurels. He tells me a story about designing posters for bands at the House of Blues and agrees to help.
4 p.m. — Admin Work
I gather all of our laurels and organize everything into a folder on my desktop.
I Google the “Killers of the Flower Moon” poster to confirm that Lily Gladstone’s face is very present next to Leo’s. I wonder how much Apple is spending to market this $200 million movie.
What is a half of a percentage point of $200 million? If someone valued “Fancy Dance” at even a half of a percentage point, we could probably get our film out there.
5:30 p.m. — Eat Lunch
I have an egg salad sandwich. The family group chat pings. It’s my 10-year-old niece sending a poem she has written to her mother, her siblings and me. It reads,
As she picks the growing flower
She stops the cycle
Of herself, and everything
I cry. How can a child write something so beautifully accurate? I text the poem to my friend and favorite poet, Tommy Pico. He responds, “She’s been here before. I feel like this is my first go round, but this baby isn’t new.” I cry again.
6:07 p.m. — Check More Emails
Dang, I’m gonna be late.
7 p.m. — Family Time
I meet my sister and nieces at the movie theater to watch Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” movie on the big screen. The 13-year-old is all decked out in plastic bracelets and a Sharpie-drawn fan T-shirt.
As Taylor comes onto the screen, my niece weeps. It’s a deep and guttural type of crying that surprises me and also moves me to tears. The beauty of a teenage girl feeling free and safe to have and express emotions is a striking sight to behold.
11 p.m. — Language Studies
I ate popcorn at the theater, so I can skip dinner tonight and go straight to studying. I’ve been learning my Indigenous language, Cayuga, for five years. It’s taken me nearly a month to work my way through an old text of my tribe’s creation story. Tonight, Sky Woman is giving birth to her daughter and to civilization.
Midnight to 4 a.m. — Write More
Here, in the early a.m., is where I do my best work. I reserve this time for whatever I’m currently finding the most inspiring, or whatever is on deadline. Tonight, I am doing scene work on a grounded horror feature. It takes the creation story I’ve been studying and grounds it in a modern setting. What if Sky Woman returns and is unhappy with how we’ve treated her creation?
5 a.m. — Time for Bed
I’m really tired now. I turn the lights off and pick a random movie to fall asleep to. The opening credits of “Legends of the Fall” starts to play.
I wonder how big their marketing budget was?