Editors Note: Jonathon Trent is an up-and-coming actor in
Hollywood. Though young, he has had leading roles in seven feature
films and supporting roles in several others in 2005 alone. The
varied characters he plays include, the drug addicted, hopelessly in
love teen in “Love is the Drug.” He was the homeless drifter in
“Making Change.” He plays the misunderstood poet in “Smile,” a
feature shot in Mainland China. He had the role of the flamboyantly
gay club kid in “Boy Culture.” In “Pray for Morning,” he was a high
school sleuth. In “Delusion” (2004) he was the movie idol,
psychopath. TV Audiences have seen him as the star of “The Inside”.
This former high school football captain, a California native, was
born to a Finnish father and half Japanese mother and spent his
youth excelling at a variety of sports including football,
wrestling, track, tennis and surfing.
Mr. Trent currently resides in Los Angeles.
The following is his personal view of his recent visit to Sundance/Slamdance,
the annual film festival in Utah.
A film I worked on, called “Love is the Drug,” was in a festival
called Slamdance. Slamdance and Sundance happen at exactly the same
time and place. Needless to say, I had a Sundance experience.
Over the 3 or 4 years of my career as an actor, I have acquired an
extremely solid corner. I have a manager who is more a friend and
companion than a business partner, an agent who I cherish, and a
recent alliance with a publicist that has secured all doubts about
These people, along with myself, have and are continuing to groom me
into what I am to become. The help that they have given me will be
shown and validated in this dissertation about my first experience
I was very skeptical about attending this festival. My feelings were
that Sundance was going to be about business. That it would have no
art. That it was something that you had to do; a game you had to
play. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it work. I was even
more worried that I would.
Here's where it gets deeper. My manager and I went on the trip
together. We drove. We drove because we wanted to. We stopped in Las
Vegas for a night. I mention this because in Vegas we started the
real journey that was "our Sundance". We sat in our room and talked
for hours about what we were going to do there, and what we wanted
to accomplish. We talked about the way we wanted people to perceive
us. We used our intent to help try to create an experience that
would be significant. We felt, that what was necessary for us to do
was to show up. We were going to say, "yes" to every, and any
"thing" that came into our space. We would step into the weird alien
planet that is Sundance, and have a free tour. And with the support
and planning we had going into this, we felt armed and charged.
We arrived at night and immediately met with the group where we were
staying. It started a bond with a few particulars that involved
little sleep, magical conversation, and plenty of altering
The next morning we walked on Main Street. I'm sorry, let me
rephrase: We walked the one street in Utah that, for two weeks out
of the year, is a compact and dense version of "New Hollywood" (New
York and Hollywood). I remember that first day very well. I felt
judged. Dismissed. As we walked up and down Main Street, I could
feel eyes looking at me. Looking to see who I was. If I was someone.
I was not.
The cast of my film had a couple interviews. These are all the same.
Cameras on. Live. In the moment. Questions asked. A heightened
meeting between two strangers.
like interviews, though they are difficult. There is a format. A way
to do it. I don't know this format very well. But it sure is fun. It
is an extremely important part of being a successful actor. Actors
give interviews. They speak from their gut and let people into their
crazy world. They voice their opinions. And people want this. They
want to hear from them. To tell them what life is like in their
shoes. It was cool to get a chance, a venue, to be the actor who
gives interviews even if it was only for a moment. Where I was able
to talk about how I felt about this thing or that. It was a great
The next couple of days I spent working. "Work" is a strange word to
use for what we had to do. But it is work. It's not something I
would do for the sheer pleasure of it. Sundance, from what I gather,
is the only festival that has this ritual. Everyone calls the ritual
"swag acquisition". Many companies, brands and businesses come to
Sundance to advertise. They set up booths in lounges created by
Publicity firms and herd in actors of all types and calibers. Then
they give their merchandise away. They give it to you in exchange
for a picture and promise to wear it, or sport it, or use it. All of
this comes down to one thing -- are you on the list? Being on the
list means everything. If you're on it, consider yourself equal to
John Malkovich, or Matt Dillon. If you aren't on the list, you
aren't even good enough to come inside, out of the cold, to warm
your feet. I was fortunate to warm my feet, and to have this weird
experience of getting "star" treatment. Now, "star" might sound
silly. But it's no exaggeration. When I walked into the VW Lounge,
they treated me like royalty. When I was in the Levi Lounge, where
they were fitting me for my new free clothes I was right next to
I can see where someone might ask how this relates to work. Let me
tell you, it's hard and tense work to go around to these vendors and
receive the gifts they are giving. It's not as easy as one might
think. It is a big responsibility to show up and truly accept a gift
without being "gross". Allow me to explain further. I saw people
"getting free stuff". That's what they were there to do and all they
wanted. Picture, I mean imagine, Paris Hilton in your mind. I
mention that name because every one can see her in their mind doing
something to this extent. Note: I did not see Paris Hilton at
Unfortunately, she just happens to be the perfect visual
representation of what I am trying to explain. Imagine you see Paris
in the VW Lounge. Now, watch as Paris moves from table to table,
from vendor to vendor collecting everything free. She is saying "Hi"
to people, looking at the free thing that is being offered to her
and deciding whether she likes it or not. Getting excited over the
really cool new purse she is about to get, or being very dismissive
towards the body shaver she will never use. Let me tell you what the
imagined Paris is not doing. She is not connecting to the people
giving this stuff away. She is not genuinely interested in what
these people are doing with their lives, why they are there, who
they are. There is no human connection. That makes this transaction
"gross". That is why I call it "work". It would be easy to walk
around mindlessly grabbing free things. It is another thing to meet
these cool people who want you to have their things. It takes
energy, time and respect.
I could tell you the names of the places I went to and whom I saw.
That would be boring for me. Instead, I'll tell you about some of
the people I connected with and why they are cool. Take this lady
named Valerie Downs. She is from Chicago and owns her own jewelry
line. Everything she makes is a one of a kind piece. She gave me a
wicked cool ring that is a black opal with metal wire coiled all
around it. I liked her.
I saw this guy from my high school. Well, actually I saw three
people from my high school. It was a nice reflection. I saw how
their lives were starting to take shape. One of them is launching a
clothing line. The others are working in public relations.
I also have to tell you about Mr. Ed, this normal guy from Maryland.
He was an investor in my recent film. He's maybe in his early 70's.
He doesn't know much about Hollywood, but he is one hell of a guy.
There is Kim and Emily. We worked with Kim and Emily. They are the
publicists that represented the movie (not the publicist that I was
talking about earlier). The cool part about meeting them was being
able to watch our bond grow. When we met, we were strangers. By the
last night, we were like a bunch of sappy schoolgirls. It was almost
pathetic. In a good way.
One person will always stand out. He is John Patrick. He is also in
the movie. The movie is kind of about him. I knew him because I
worked with him. J.P. is a talented, smart, deep human being. And my
manager and I got the chance to really get to know him. In a certain
way. We all stayed at the same condo and every night we would stay
up until like three or four. We would just talk. I listened a whole
bunch. I like to listen. The conversations that we were having were
awesome. It all related to acting. It was creative and inspiring and
made me feel like I was charged like a cell phone.
I don't really know what to say about my movie. First, I did not see
any other movies. I went to Sundance/Slamdance and did not see one
movie aside from mine. Pathetic, I know. But we were that busy. The
two screenings of “Love is the Drug” . . . I don't know exactly what
to say. It's hard to be objective. It's hard to watch yourself in a
public arena. It's hard to talk to people afterwards. I enjoyed the
experience. I really did. But it was hard. That's all I want to say.
To sum up. This trip was a journey. We started at one end and
finished on another plane. A tangible evolution took place. In the
midst of the madness, we succeeded in finding many people willing to
connect. There was hope, passion and inspiration. There was a goal
that we met. A simple path that we followed. "Yes" became our way of
life. It empowered us to transcend normal reality. This became a
heightened experience, a dynamic out of normal context and turn out
to be something a little more magical. A little more pure. I feel
confident in saying all this. And I truly hope more experiences,
like this one, present themselves in the future. Oh, wait . . . they