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'Napoleon Dynamite' filmmakers know how tough Sundance can be

Published January 19, 2012 5:01 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When "Napoleon Dynamite" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2004, filmmakers Jared and Jerusha Hess were not exactly industry insiders. They were, in fact, still students at BYU.

"We didn't even know how to valet a car," Jerusha said. "I remember doing that and having no idea what we were doing. We were just poor students.

"And then to be wined and dined by all these agents was just unreal."

The Hesses, who have turned "Napoleon" into a Fox animated series, feel for the filmmakers at Sundance this year. They know how nerve-wracking a premiere can be.

"We were crying during our screening," said Jerusha, who was 23 at the time. "It was that emotional for us."

"I was dry-heaving," said Jared, then 24. "I was so nervous. I knew that it would either be the beginning of the career, of the end of one."

— Scott D. Pierce