Jeff Vespa, the official photographer of the Sundance Film Festival since 2003, on Wednesday unveiled his Verge List of emerging talent with movies at this month’s festival in Park City, Utah.
Haley Lu Richardson, Josh O’Connor and Trevor Jackson are among this year’s selections, featured in the new issue of Vespa’s digital magazine, Verge. O’Connor and Harris Dickinson are two actors hailing from the U.K., which Vespa says gives the list a broader range.
“This actually was one of the easiest years for choices,” he told TheWrap. “Every year, this is my favorite story to do. Meeting every actor and knowing this is just the beginning for them. It is fun to be a part of all of that. That is why I like doing this before the festival. Most of them have never been, and I can kind of give them some guidance on what to expect. They are in for a wild ride.”
He also shot Rebecca Ferguson long before she landed the lead opposite Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.” Boyega used one of Vespa’s shots on his various social media accounts for years.
“I started this magazine to support emerging talent, and wanted to do something that wasn’t being done.” Vespa told TheWrap last year. “The idea is to really find these people before the festival starts, and to be a resource to people in the industry to say, ‘Here are the people you should be paying attention to at the festival.”
See Vespa’s 2017 list of up-and-coming talent below.
Danielle MacDonald, “Patti Cake$”
“I play a girl called Patti in the film, ‘Patti CakeS’ and she’s a girl from New Jersey and she dreams of being a famous rapper,” MacDonald said. “There is a lot of music in it — all kinds — there’s blues, there’s rapping, there’s a bit of pop, a bit of ’80s classic.”
Haley Lu Richardson, “Columbus”‘
“I literally don’t know how to describe this film,” Richardson said with a shrug. “My character’s name is Casey.”
“Columbus” will feature Richardson alongside “Star Trek” actor John Cho in a drama that marks the feature directorial debut of visual artist :: kogonada (not a typo), whom Richardson calls a “cinematic genius.”
Harris Dickinson, “Beach Rats”
“My character from the movie ‘Beach Rats’ by Eliza Hittman is a troubled and tortured conflicted teenager lived in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn,” Dickinson said. “It was a shot on 35 mm film. A lot of it was street-cast, there’s a lot of non-actors which is exciting and brings more energy to it.”
O’Connor described his character, Johnny Saxby, as “a miserable young boy with troubles in his life, and then he meets the love of his life and it changes him.” He described “God’s Own Country” as a film with a “European” and “naturalistic” style.
Stanfield said that his character in “Crown Heights” goes “from Point A to Point B” in a movie “about people who love each other.”
Margaret Qualley, “Novitiate” and “Sidney Hall”
Qualley was also very to the point when describing her “holy” film, “Novitiate,” simply describing her character as “a young nun in love.”
Morgan described her character, Annette, as “a very well-intentioned, opinionated, sometimes irritating, adorable person who is often misunderstood.” She hopes that “L.A. Times,” which she also wrote and directed, is seen as “a fun, fresh take on Los Angeles” that highlights the “people and things you don’t normally see in a movie about Los Angeles.”
“Heartfelt, hardworking, and selfless I feel are [my character’s] key attributes,” said Jackson. “I feel that there have been a lot of fraternity films throughout the years, but none of them have been this raw and show the hardships of being in a fraternity.”
Photographer and magazine founder Jeff Vespa unveils eight artists to watch at this year’s Sundance Film Festival