SXSW Interview: David Lowery, 'St. Nick'

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One of the most intriguing trailers I've seen for SXSW this year has been for St. Nick, the feature from writer-director David Lowery that will premiere at the festival. I've attached the trailer after the jump so you can see for yourself.

David has a great blog called Drifting: A Director's Log where he often writes about the projects he's working on. His short films have screened at Slamdance, SXSW, and Austin Film Festival.

I recently conducted the following email interview with Lowery about St. Nick. If you're a vegetarian, you especially want to read to the end of this interview (why? you'll find out). St. Nick is playing during SXSW three times, each time at Alamo Ritz: Sunday, March 15 at noon, Tuesday, March 17 at 2:30 pm, and Friday, March 20 at 12:30 pm.


ST. NICK trailer from ST NICK on Vimeo.

Describe your film for us, in a quick and dirty paragraph. ST NICK is 87 minutes long. It is very nearly dialogue-free. It is about two runaway children and their attempts at autonomy. It's an adventure movie. It's about childhood, and the end of childhood, and everything that goes on in your head when you realize that period of your life is slipping away.

How long have you been working on the film? If we were to get down to brass tacks, the answer would be exactly two years: the project began life as a web series, and I shot footage for the second episode the morning before I drove down to SXSW in 2007. I never finished that iteration of the project - shortly after SXSW that year, I realized I'd rather explore these concepts in feature film form, and so I started over from scratch. I got a grant from the Austin Film Society in August of 2007, at which point I actively started pre-production. So yeah, two years, give or take.

What are the "Austin connections" in this film? Will Austinites recognize any particular locations? Well, a lot our financing came from Austin. The Austin Film Society and artistic director Bryan Poyser were a tremendous help every step of the way. Some of our crew came from Austin. I personally spend quite a lot of time in Austin, and hope to settle down here soon. I was living in LA at the time I got the grant, but came back to Texas to make the movie and haven't quite managed to settle down anywhere since then. Hopefully I can remedy that soon.

What are some of your most/least favorite things about filming in Austin? We shot the film in Fort Worth, TX, which shares the one attribute I like least about making movies in Austin: the heat. Which is why we made the movie in February, when it's freezing! Hooray for Texas winter. I miss it already.

What are your future plans for this film? Heck, I just want people to see it and like it. I'd especially like to show it internationally; I think it would play well overseas. Of course, distribution would be awesome, but I'm as aware of the current state of the independent film business as everyone else. We shall see. I remain cautious in my optimism.

Tell us one thing about this film that is going to make it impossible for people to resist seeing it at SXSW. At SXSW in particular? Well, aside from whatever qualities the film itself might have, I think the fact that the kids will be at the Q&A is going to make the screenings pretty memorable...

What are you looking forward to doing during SXSW? When you're attending with a film of your own, watching other movies actually becomes something of a luxury; so I'm looking forward to finding the time to do that. There are a lot of pictures I'm really excited about. I also look forward to being fashionably late to all the great parties.

What one place to visit/eat/drink would you recommend to out-of-towners here for SXSW? A lot of people get excited about the BBQ in Austin -- but I'm vegan, so my recommendations skew towards all the wonderful vegetarian options the city provides. For the very health conscious, Casa De Luz is a really wonderful macrobiotic buffet; the food there will make your body very, very happy. Then there is Mother's, which is notable solely for having the Best Veggie Burger ever; everything else on the menu is pretty much filler, but this burger is delish.

Then there's my true favorite, Bouldin Creek Cafe, which moreso than any of the other joints just mentioned really FEELS like Austin. In a perfect world, I'd have breakfast there every day. The El Tipico, a Morning Glory Muffin, a cup of coffee and a good book. Heaven.