SXSW 2014: Starting with 'Space Station 76'

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 Cast and Crew of Space Station 76

My SXSW Film schedule has kept me moving around a lot more this year than usual. My first day involved a trip to Austin Convention Center for check-in, then to the Mondo Gallery for their Disney exhibition "Nothing's Impossible," back downtown for interviews with the cast of Premature, and then across the river to shoot red-carpet photos for Bad Words.

I thought it would be a good time to try out Car2Go, so I found one of their ubiquitous little cars and checked in for my very first trip. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that when downtown during the fest, you can save a lot of money and shave off a lot of time by walking a couple of extra blocks instead of grabbing the nearest Car2Go. I managed to land in a one-way traffic hell as I was forced to circle the convention center garage in a trip that took over 30 minutes to move a single block. Otherwise, I found the Car2Go service was novel and would have been terrificly convenient under normal traffic circumstances.

My red carpet photos from Bad Words as well as those from "Nothing's Impossible" are already up on the Slackerwood Flickr along with additional sets from Joe (Nicolas Cage!) and the first film I saw, Space Station 76.

Described by writer/director Jack Plotnick as something like The Ice Storm meets The Brady Bunch set in space, his first feature Space Station 76 is a campy ode to 1970s modernism, ambitious in its goals but somewhat rough around the edges. Patrick Wilson leads a cast of stars including Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, Jerry O'Connell, Marisa Coughlan, and Kali Rocha, as the closeted captain of a space habitat populated by young adults in corduroy jumpsuits as they experiment with drugs and with each other while waiting for transfers to a better life on a bigger station.

Gleaming production design brings back the feeling of the 1970's when they were new and sets up a number of comic gags set against Neil Sedaka to create a lighthearted mood which can't be sustained as the tensions build between characters to the breaking point. Plotnick recaptures the 70's aesthetic as remembered through his childhood eyes but covers topics that were largely taboo in the TV world of the time, such as drug use, divorce, and homosexuality. The result is charming and a little weird, fun and slightly dark, but not deep. 

Space Station 76 screens again at SXSW on Friday, March 14 at 9:30 pm at Stateside, and on Saturday, March 15, at 1:30 pm at Stateside.