Sundance: How to Bring Your Nanny to the Festival

How to Bring Your Nanny to the Festival-Illustration by Zohar Lazar-H 2017
Illustration By Zohar Lazar

A guide to fees, tipping and getting the best performance out of (and experience for) Mommy's and Daddy's helper.

Long hours and unusually close quarters at Sundance make it a more challenging fest than most for families. "It's not your typical working vacation where there is any sort of schedule," says Scott Quintavalle, who attended as a manny/assistant with a couple who worked on an Oscar-winning documentary. All-hour screenings and late-night dinners can bring a hefty price tag for full-time help. "I was expected to be on and with the kids 24/7," says Quintavalle. Katie Provinziano, managing director of L.A.-based Westside Nannies, says parents should plan to shell out $400 to $600 a day on childcare, depending on the nanny's level of experience and the number of children.

For many, the benefits of bringing the family outweigh the cost. Electric City Entertainment producer Lynette Howell Taylor hit the fest in 2016 with her two children, including a 6-month-old, to promote Captain Fantastic. "It was nice to know that, just like at home, my kids were in great hands," she says of employing her nanny while she and her husband, WME's Graham Taylor, worked the fest, adding, "There was no way I was leaving my kids at home for a week." UTA's Rena Ronson, whose now-teenage daughter traveled with her for years, didn't hire a nanny but brought family members with her. She adds, "Coming and going is tough, but there is nothing like having your child with you."

Suitable lodging is critical. "For your nanny to be the best version of themselves, that means having your own room," says Alyssa Berry Ross, who works full time for a Pacific Palisades-based family with twin boys and travels to festivals such as Cannes. Lisa Gache, CEO of Beverly Hills Manners, also advises setting boundaries for downtime. "Parents should absolutely offer a few hours for some rejuvenation," she says, adding that tipping is inappropriate but perks like a spa treatment are a "gracious way" to give extra thanks.

It's not uncommon for a nanny to watch over another brood for a few hours while all the parents do business over dinner. "It's not out of the norm to share," says Provinziano, adding that most nannies are comfortable looking after multiple kids. "Hopefully, the request comes from the family employing the nanny," having acquired his or her consent beforehand, says Gache; the other family should offer to match the hourly or day rate, depending on how long the nanny is with their kids.

Children should be left behind if invitations to dinners and events aren't clearly marked otherwise. Says Ronson, "You may be putting your child to bed and then going out again. That was my routine, and it worked." On the off chance the whole family is welcome, it doesn't mean the nanny is. "Unless you are outnumbered by your children, it's overkill to bring the nanny if both parents are attending," says Gache.

For social situations, Quintavalle notes it's understood that "the parents definitely want [the nanny] to stay in the background. They will give you the eye or the wave when it is a good time to scoot the kids up for introductions, and then you stay within earshot." A simple first and last name introduction is best, says Gache, as ignoring the nanny's presence can be awkward.

Ski school is unsurprisingly popular, and parents' No. 1 request for Sundance is that a nanny be able to ski with their kids, says Provinziano. But it's also a nanny's job to research other attractions. "The biggest challenge in traveling is finding creative ways to keep the kids entertained, but a good nanny is always prepared," says Ross.

Many of Provinziano's clients stay at Montage Deer Valley (9100 Marsac Ave., rooms from $4,790 during the festival), which has sleigh rides and nightly s'more making, and visit the Utah Olympic Park museum (3419 Olympic Parkway). Ronson says her daughter loved "riding the trolley up Main Street." Sums up Howell: "If you have a place to stay and don't mind the effort of packing, Sundance can be great for kids; there is a bunch of stuff to do." And despite the hours, nannies can have a good time ("I'd do it all again in a heartbeat," says Quintavalle), but, notes Provinziano: "We always tell our nannies, 'This is not your vacation, don't expect it to be.'"

This story first appeared in the Jan. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.