This is one in a series of posts for the HuffPost Culture series "The Sundance Diaries," a month-long multimedia diary kept by the international filmmakers whose 64 short films were selected for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Ed.: A junior at Sarah Lawrence College, "The Arm" director Jessie Ennis, along with her co-writers and directors Brie Larson and Sarah Ramos, is part of one of the youngest teams ever to compete at Sundance.
This whole Sundance thing has made me more attractive. I think. Sure, it could be coincidental timing, because I'm at an age where I'm nervously trying to understand dating and sex and thus feel more open to unwarranted exchanges with strangers. But it's likely that getting a short film into Sundance has made me a more legitimized person radiating a newfound confidence. Then again, I think it's also because I try to casually work Sundance into conversation with boys while flirting. Whatever the reason, I sense I'm a good deal more interesting to the male species lately. And I'm pretty sure it's because the hounds smell success and want a piece.
I recently had my heart broken by my best guy friend... y'know when he informed me that we'd always be platonic best friends, exclusively, and that he was in the process of hooking up with one of my only female friends... whoops. I felt unattractive, idiotic, and everything else bad. I was listening to a mix called "nothing is good, give up" and slitting my wrists (not really, my wrists are intact... sorry if the fact that I wasn't actually cutting myself offends you... but hey, get over it; mental health should be celebrated). Things felt terrible but I did my best to act as if I didn't care at all... except I cared a lot and was still spending all my time around the two of them. Let's call them Jack and Jill.
Then I was fast asleep in my bed, in my dorm room, in London, at 4 in the morning, when I couldn't help but notice that my phone had been vibrating without pause for minutes. "CALL ME NOW" isn't something I'm used to reading from my best friend -- and co-director -- Brie [Larson], but it's what she had texted multiple times and what I did immediately upon reading it. "Dude, we got into Sundance." I don't remember much else from that conversation. I'm pretty sure we kept chanting that opening line like a mantra: "into Sundance, into Sundance." Soon enough I was on the phone with our other co-director, Sarah [Ramos], who sang me the first few lines of Taylor Swift's "Long Live" and brought tears to my eyes (TAYLOR SWIFT, IF YOU'RE READING THIS: I LOVE YOU, PLEASE NOTICE ME). I didn't actually cry, I just wrote that for dramatic effect in case Taylor sees this; sure, Taylor applauds excessive emotion, but I don't leak tears easily, I swear. Not even boy-who-shall-not-be-named/Jack squeezed 'em out of me. Well, at least not many.
Anyway, I called Mom and Dad, they were proud, and then my roommate came into the living room to ask me to shut up because it was 4 a.m. and told me I was being a self-centered, self-obsessed, loud-ass bitch. So I recommitted myself to my shitty dorm room bed and tossed around for a few more hours waiting for the sun to rise so I could go tell Jack the news. Sun rose, I ran to his room, no Jack, too bad. Who else can I tell? OH! My BFF, Jill! Ran to her room, "Jill?" I called and got a response of frantic movement and "fuck, murmur-murmur, shit," then a crack in the doorway that produced Jill who "genuinely tried" not to let me see into her room where Jack lay naked. I didn't care, I pushed the door open, walked into their sex lair and announced my well-practiced mantra, "Dude, we got into Sundance!"
Somehow the dagger I had been stabbing repeatedly into my gut disintegrated, and I no longer cared about Jack and Jill and their future aborted daughter, Jillian. That's a lie, I still care (JACK, IF YOU'RE READING THIS: I LOVE YOU, PLEASE NOTICE ME).
Searching for justification and for someone to legitimize me is something I've found easy to do. "Why would/how could/when will I be good enough?" is not original thinking. I know there are mobs of phenomenal people who love to hate themselves: it's FUN! I hoped Jack would do the trick for me, but it looks like Sundance is my boyfriend now.
And though getting in hasn't eliminated my social anxiety or lack of poise, it did shift my focus to bigger things. What's next? How do I stay riding this train?
I guess The Point is: feel terrible about yourself, care a lot about someone who doesn't care back, make a film, submit it to Sundance, get in, tell Jack, feel legitimized by his approval, move on. Also, don't forget to slip the news into flirtatious conversation -- it goes a looooong way.
WATCH a preview for Ennis' "The Arm," a short about love and texting, at prescreen.com.