Jette Kernion's blog
I'll write more about the Texas Film Hall of Fame awards ceremony later, and my baptism by fire into the world of professional photography. But I'm short on time this morning -- gotta get to the Paramount -- so I'll whet your appetite with one of my favorite photos from last night. Somehow, Morgan Fairchild ended up on the red carpet at the same time as ZZ Top, and they all gathered together happily for group shots. I worried my lens wasn't wide-angle enough, but I just managed to get everyone in the photo. Woo-hoo! Now let SXSW begin.
Several of this year's SXSW documentaries focus on events in other parts of Texas. Austin playwright and filmmaker David Modigliani has been working for some time on a movie about Crawford, Texas, which many of us hadn't heard of until it became known as the home of the Bush ranch. Modigliani showed a rough cut of his film Crawford last year at an Austin Film Society Doc-in-Progress screening, and now the documentary is having its world premiere this week at SXSW. This is producer/director Modigliani's first feature-length film.
I was curious about Crawford, and then I met David on Wednesday night at an AFS pre-SXSW mixer, so I emailed him a few questions. Our discussion follows.
If you're a filmmaker who is bringing a movie to South by Southwest (or any festival) this year, you really ought to read Film Festival Secrets, the website run by frequent Slackerwood contributor Chris Holland. Over the past week, Chris has posted a three-part series of helpful hints that are especially geared toward SXSW.
- Part One focuses on last-minute preparation, and although I'm not a filmmaker I wish I'd read it earlier, because I completely forgot that I wanted a new set of business cards. (And I saw a really snazzy Moo card for Tulia, Texas this week that made me envious.)
- Part Two offers good advice on improving your film's website, which I personally cannot agree with enough. It drives me crazy when I want to write about your film and I can't find any info or stills online. So then I pick another movie's stills to use instead. Get the hint?
- Part Three tells you what to do before you leave for Austin, so go read it right now, before you get on the plane or in the car. Go! Now! He also links to some good guides to local restaurants, which I found helpful myself because I don't eat in that part of downtown very often.
Chris is also planning a Part Four, so keep an eye on his site this week.
The first thing that struck me when I read about Goliath was the cast, which was full of names familiar to Austin film fans. Writer-director David Zellner has one of the lead roles, and his brother, producer Nathan Zellner, is also in the film. In addition, the list of actors includes Wiley Wiggins (who does so many different things that I don't know how to preface his name), actor/filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, local filmmaker John E. Bryant (whose short Loveolution is premiering at SXSW, and who's also a producer on Baghead), animation expert/filmmaker Bob Sabiston in what may be his first feature-film acting gig, and Austin Film Society programmer Chale Nafus. I don't associate most of these people with acting, but they're all part of the local film community.
The choice of cast made me wonder just who these Zellner guys are, anyway. I've seen some of their short films, the last three of which premiered at Sundance in the last three years. And now in 2008, their feature Goliath also premiered at Sundance, and is making its way to SXSW this week. Not only was I intrigued by the filmmakers, but I thought that I'd be accused of some kind of bias if I interviewed the Duplass brothers and not the Zellner brothers. (Aside: Why don't we have any sister acts in indie filmmaking? Hmm.)
So I emailed a few questions to the Zellners, and here's what they had to say about Goliath.
The above photo is from the premiere of Hannah Takes the Stairs at the Paramount during SXSW last year. What's interesting to me is how many of these people will be at SXSW this year. Let's start from the right of the photo and work our way over:
- Kent Osborne is involved in making the new SXSW house ads (Burger Hut?) for this year's festival, and has a role in Nights and Weekends.
- Greta Gerwig co-directed and co-wrote Nights and Weekends, and is starring in the Duplass brothers' movie Baghead.
- Joe Swanberg co-directed and co-wrote Nights and Weekends with Greta Gerwig.
- Mark Duplass co-directed Baghead (with Jay Duplass, who incidentally has a role in Nights and Weekends).
And those are just the ones I know. Andrew Bujalski was also in the cast of Hannah, although he's not in the photo -- you can see him at SXSW this year in Goliath and Registered Sex Offender.
Who else is in this photo that has something going on during SXSW this year? Let us know in the comments.
I vividly remember the screening of The Puffy Chair I attended during SXSW 2005. The brothers who wrote and directed the film, Jay and Mark Duplass -- why did their names sound so familiar? And their mom, who was in the film, handed out buttons with little puffy chairs on them afterwards, and she looked vaguely familiar too. I thought about going to talk to them after the screening, but they were mobbed.
So I called my mom, because I suspected this might be a case of the old familiar "New Orleans has one degree of separation, not six" syndrome. I was right. In fact, my mom had just seen Cindy Duplass over at the grocery store and had heard all about her sons' new movie. Years before, my mom had bugged me over and over again about how I should try to get in touch with one of my little brother's high-school cross-country team buddies who had moved to Austin, but I didn't see why I would want to hang out with one of his bratty, jock-y friends. And now that track-team kid, Jay Duplass, had teamed up with his little brother Mark to make movies, some of which had played Sundance.
I ended up emailing the guys and then meeting them in person in 2006, when they showed The Puffy Chair at St. Edward's University and did a long Q&A about the business of indie filmmaking. We had several things in common: that weird background of both New Orleans and Austin, film geekiness, and a delight in making slightly mean jokes about my brother.
Jay and Mark Duplass will be back in Austin next week for SXSW to show their latest feature, Baghead. The minute I heard the title, I had to wonder if they were inspired by a certain New Orleans sports-based trend that occurred in my childhood. And I was right ... sort of. We did a quick email interview earlier this week about the film.
Note: A 2010 guide to SXSW Film Fest venues is now available.
You might remember Slackerwood's handy SXSW film-fest venue guide from 2007. We've compiled an even handier guide for 2008. The theaters have changed slightly, primarily due to the downtown Alamo Drafthouse location moving to Alamo Ritz. (The old Drafthouse venue is now a trendy nightclub ... where the Facebook Film Garage is being held during SXSW. Very strange.)
These guidelines to Austin theaters playing SXSW movies are intended to help visitors who want to maximize the number of films they see in a day, or who want to make sure they're able to find decent meals between or even during the movies. The most important thing to remember is that you can't walk between all the SXSW venues and you shouldn't try. To get to Alamo on South Lamar or even the Dobie, consider finding a cab, bus, friendly Austinite with a car, or even renting a bicycle to use during your time at the fest.
If you're interested in taking the bus (which costs a whopping 50 cents per trip, or $1/day), Capital Metro's Route 3 can take you from downtown to Alamo South Lamar, and you can take Route 1/101 or the Red Dillo (which is free) from Congress Ave. to the Dobie. I recommend using the Trip Planner to figure out your schedule, and allow plenty of time especially during rush hour.
Here are the six SXSW 2008 theaters, with info on location, nearby food, and nearby wireless access. If I've missed some tips and tricks (or good nearby places with wireless), please add a comment or email me and I'll be happy to update this guide.
When I wrote about SXSW short films recently, I mentioned a film called X that was directed by Josh Brolin. I wasn't sure at the time whether the filmmaker was actor Josh Brolin, who's been in a couple of films shot in Texas: Grindhouse and No Country for Old Men (pictured above).
As usual, SXSW film fest director Matt Dentler has the scoop for us: The director of X is in fact that Josh Brolin, and the Eden Brolin who stars in the film is his daughter. The short will play three times at SXSW, and both Brolins plan to be in attendance at the first screening on Saturday, March 8. (It's playing before the documentary Tulia, Texas and of course you should stay for both.) I notice it's playing at Dobie, which is not a large theater, so if you're a Josh Brolin groupie you should plan to get there early.
Check out the SXSW listing for X for details on its scheduled screenings as well as a trailer for the film.
Everyone's been running around this week predicting Oscars and planning Oscar parties and wondering if Jon Stewart is going to be very funny as this year's host. But that's not the only award show taking place this weekend.
Film Independent's Spirit Awards (which I always call the Indie Spirit awards because I'm lazy) will be held Saturday afternoon, the day before the Oscar broadcast. You can watch the ceremony on IFC starting at 4 pm our time, or tune in early for a red-carpet event beforehand that's televised beginning at 1:30. If you're a Matt Dentler groupie, you're in luck because the SXSW film-fest head is one of this year's red-carpet hosts.
If you don't have cable (like me) or enjoy watching awards with a big group, head over to the Austin Studios screening room on Saturday afternoon for Austin Film Society's viewing party, starting at 4 pm. AFS will have snacks, drinks, and a lot of love for the local filmmakers who are up for awards. A list of Austinites whose films are in the running is on the AFS page. Best of luck!
- The lineup for SXSW Global Doc Days has been announced. This is a new documentary event for SXSW, available to badgeholders with film-fest access. From March 8-11, Global Doc Days will feature screenings of recent nonfiction films from eight countries. It's like a giant buffet for doc lovers. I can't wait.
- Over at Cinematical (where I'm a contributor), Scott Weinberg interviewed SXSW Film Festival head Matt Dentler, pictured at right. Cinematical also has been posting trailers for various SXSW films. Keep an eye on the site's SXSW category this year; at laest five of us will be covering SXSW movies and events, so there should be plenty of interesting writing.
- Speaking of Matt Dentler, if you aren't visiting his blog for your SXSW updates, you're missing all kinds of cool stuff. He'll point you to the SXSW trailers page and the SXSW parties page, plus links to trailers and other news items.
- Over at SpoutBlog, Karina Longworth is doing what I'm hoping you'll start seeing on Slackerwood next week: short e-mail interviews with various SXSW filmmakers. So far she's talked with Brandon Linden (Bootleg Wisconsin), Frank V. Ross (Present Company), and Mary Bronstein (Yeast). Visit the blog's SXSW 2008 category to see the latest previews from the festival.
I'm working on an update of the guide to SXSW movie-theater venues, plus Slackerwood will have lots of other great SXSW stuff. Keep watching our RSS feed, you won't want to miss any of it.