If you’re interested in film you should probably know what the Sundance Film Festival is. And if you don’t, well, you will now. There’s no going back.  You’re reading from Raindance; you should know that we’re kinda like their awkward kid brother that hides in the clouds as Sundance shines their way through life. We love them, though. And they love us… we think.

Every year in January, independent filmmakers from all over the world walk out into the cold and dance under the sun as they witness their indie film get the attention it deserves. The Sundance Film Festival provides hopefuls and their crews with an opportunity to get these new creations known. Sundance is where films learn to fly.

There’s always doors opening and topics on the table at the festival, and this year that definitely hasn’t changed. From female domination to cinematography debates, here are 5 highlights of 2014’s Sundace Film Festival.

1. Anyone can have a hit movie at Sundance.

Sundance newbs, Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman threw their film “The Skeleton Twins” into the festival expecting it to not do as well as it had, but little did they know that it would literally blow the minds of the audience (okay, maybe not literally). Premiering on Saturday the 18th, it was instantly picked up by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, and Sony Pictures on the arriving Tuesday. Everyone who was involved in that film didn’t expect it to explode so big- its been a week and they’re probably still peeing their pants. Johnson and Heyman were in great shock. It’s not that they didn’t have faith in their film, it’s that they never allowed themselves to believe in it. That’s something a lot of creative beings face, especially filmmakers. The success of these creators can tell you that anyone can achieve their goals as long as you work hard enough.

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2. Marriage equality is strong with this one.

With Sundance being held in the state of Utah, LGBT movies had an extra motivation behind them due to the current legal battles over marriage equality going on within the state. Many artists, including George Takei, made heart wrenching and empowering films on the topic of LGBT issues and marriage. These creators made the films for their voices to be heard by a broader audience to have their request for marriage equality heard, acknowledged and completed. A good lesson to learn from this is that if you have a voice, you can scream it at the top of your lungs through film. One of the LGBT films that ran in the film festival was picked up by HBO and will run in June. These people have gotten a chance to spread their message, and if you try, you may be able to as well.

3. The shift from Film to Digital cameras isn’t as big of a deal as we thought.

A handful of cinematographers at Sundance were asked whether or not the shift from film to digital was good or bad. Many were indifferent, many were optimistic, many said they didn’t give a crap. There really wasn’t much hatred towards the change. They found that digital opened more doors to experiment and express storytelling, and allowed the realm of cinematography to be more interesting. But the main point that was made was that this debate has been going on for too long and the change is inevitable. So cinematographers, choose whichever method works for you. Don’t kill your digital camera just because the big guys may be working with film.

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4. Who runs the world (of film)? Girls!

Ladies, this is our year. With Sundance having a collection of totally bad ass female movies, it has to be our year. The women that marched into the festival are, to quote, “Brave, bold, eccentric, decisive, bawdy, humble, confident, hilarious and provocative. Their films will make you laugh, cry and actually give a damn”, but there weren’t enough of them. There have been many discussions on how the film industry is lacking the female flame, and we’ve got to change that.

5. Other Film Festivals exist?!

With over 10,000 films submitted and 118 screened, it’s a choice few who make it to the top of what many consider ‘Filmmaker Mecca’. Sure, Sundance is up there, but  you’ve got to consider  your film’s unique  tone when deciding which festivals to submit to. Do some research; don’t throw away hundreds of dollars submitting to every festival under the sun. If you have a horror film, submit to a horror festival like Toronto After Dark.  Got a Sci Fi? Submit to the Phillip K. Dick Festival. You get the idea. And hey, we’re also taking submissions for the 2014 Raindance Film Festival. Hint hint. Nudge Nudge. So give the other festivals a little lovin’, mkay?

This years Sundance Film Festival had a good run, here’s hoping we’ll learn something better at 2015’s.