“I’m making a film. I’m taking it to Sundance, and I know it’s going to win. How hard can it be? Everyone’s doing it these days.” When John Viener (played by John Viener), the affable but deluded protagonist of Bret Stern’s larkish Road to Park City, announces his ambition to his girlfriend, she drops him on the spot.
An Indiewood spoof that’s more winning than anyone who wasn’t a close friend of the director could possibly expect, R2PC satirizes not only wannabe auteurs but also that overworked genre, the faux documentary, while functioning as a credible study guide for Filmmaking 101. John’s desire to become the toast of Sundance (although he has no idea of how to make a film, let alone what film he wants to make) takes him on a journey through New York’s indie-film infrastructure—from equipment-rental houses to labs to the offices of the Screen Actors Guild. Part of the fun of the movie is that the people he meets are behind-the-scenes legends, like cinematographers’ rep Tom Turley, who, having exhibited considerable forbearance, finally growls at John, “I know you want to direct and I know you’ve made coffee, but in between, there’s a whole gamut.”
Unlike his ignorant hero, Stern (who’s also the cinematographer) has a sophisticated eye and a talent for parodying a variety of styles from new wave to kitchen sink. At its best moments, R2PC is deftly self-reflexive; at its worst, it’s a film-school in-joke.