Here it is: The SXSW Film Fest Omnibus Survival Guide. Slackerwood has been publishing SXSW insider's guides for years, but this year I decided it was everyone else's turn. This guide is essentially a collection of all the guides and tips I could find that would help SXSW filmgoers. I also threw in our own guides from this year and when still relevant, previous years. It is truly One Guide to Rule Them All.
And if this isn't enough guidance, bring your questions to the SXSW Film Conference panel "A Beginner's Guide to SXSW Film" on Friday at 2 pm at ACC. Agnes Varnum, Yen Tan, David Modigliani, Kimberley Jones and I will attempt to answer them and if we can't, probably someone in the audience can.
Speaking of David Modigliani, let's kick things off with the "SXSW 2013: Do It Like a Local" video from Flow Nonfiction, where he's Creative Director. David's the guy on the left of local chef/restaurant owner Paul Qui. The advice is geared toward Music but there's a lot of universal tips in here (plus, it's fun).
The SXSW Film Pass, a longtime favorite for Austinites wanting to see fest movies, is no more. Instead, the second-tier theater access pass is now the SXSW Film Festival Wristband, mirroring the music fest's access. I don't have a picture of the wristband yet, so enjoy the above photo of the now-obsolete pass that Austin frequent-filmgoer David Roland Strong is holding. Great pass number, you'll notice.
If you don't have one and want one, get them now before they run out (which they do) at Waterloo Records, Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter and Alamo Drafthouse Village. You are actually buying a wristband voucher, which you then have to redeem for a physical wristband at a SXSW venue when the festival starts.
I'm faced with the problem of what to call people who are wearing the wristband, since I can't say "passholder" anymore. "Bandwearer"? "Wristband holder"? I favor "wristbandito" myself. I'll try some variations as we go along, you tell me which one you like.
Quite a bit has changed over the last year in the Austin drinking scene -- thankfully more changes for the good than the bad. Sadly, the downtown Lovejoy's Taproom and Brewery closed and the Austin Ginger Man has transitioned to a more corporate model, but plenty of new watering holes are around to satisfy patrons, especially in the growing Rainey Street bar district. One of those is Craft Pride, a craft beer bar serving only Texas beer with regularly rotating selection on 54 taps and two cask engines, as seen above. The bar is introducing the "Texas-sized pints," with most beers served in 20-ounce pint glasses to allow appropriate head for proper presentation -- a novel concept created by owners J.T. and Brandi Egli, who are also local homebrewers. Step out back into the ample beer garden for tasty grub from the Bacon Truck.
In addition to the newest Austin breweries Rogness Brewing Company and South Austin Brewing Company, on the more diverse tap walls across town you can find Texas craft beer Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Lakewood Brewing out of Dallas and Guadalupe Brewing Company from New Braunfels. From hoppy ales with citrus and floral characteristics to barrel-aged milk stouts, these breweries are delivering beers worth trying.
Several well respected breweries from other states have taken notice of the explosive growth in Texas and have moved into the Texas market. Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Lagunitas Brewing are the latest and greatest to offer their award-winning beers here. Be sure to try the Fusion Series beer made exclusively for SXSW 2013, a hoppy ale created by local homebrewers Keith Bradley of the Austin Zealots and Bob Kapusinski of the Texas Carboys that they brewed with Lagunitas head brewer Jeremy Marshall.
This year's SXSW Community Screening: Austin Film Society ShortCase will be held Sunday, March 10 at 4 pm in Boyd Vance Theater at the Carver Museum, and will feature short films by Central Texas filmmakers ranging from science fiction to history, comedy to documentary. The screening is open to the general public (and free), but seating is limited so I suggest arriving early.
This year over 65 entries were submitted by AFS filmmakers. AFS Program and Operations Manager Ryan Long, AFS Marketing and Events Coordinator Austin Culp and I worked together to select the seven best films to fill the 90-minute screening time. We saw a lot of creative content representing the talent of AFS filmmakers, and we hope the SXSW audience will enjoy these films as much as we do.
For filmmakers who didn't make the cut, we hope that you'll submit films for future ShortCase events and take advantage of the programs available to the AFS filmmaker members.
Without further ado, here are this year's SXSW ShortCase films:
Austin-based audio and visual post-production company Stuck On On worked on six films set to screen at SXSW 2013:
- Matthew McConaughey-fronted Mud (Debbie's review)
- Local filmmakers Richard Linklater's Before Midnight (Debbie's review)
- Emily Hagins' feature Grow Up, Tony Phillips
- Former AFS Artist Services Director Bryan Poyser's The Bounceback (Elizabeth's interview)
- PJ Raval's documentary Before You Know It
- Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews' Austin-shot movie Zero Charisma
The record-setting year marks the award-winning company's five-year anniversary, when founders Lyman Hardy, Parke Gregg and Allison Turrell (along with a silent partner) opened its doors in the Eastside with the mission to support and solidify Texas film's street cred. Before Stuck On On was a company, it was an experience Hardy had with a dining-room chandelier that refused to turn off.
And Turrell was stuck on post production after studying video art as a graduate student. She joined forces with Hardy and Gregg, who previously met through work in the film industry, during the summer of 2007. Shortly after, the trio worked on the LBJ documentary The Great Society, which is on permanent display at the LBJ Library and Museum, as well as Unconventional: The Story of Barnett Shale, which screened in 2008 on PBS.
Slackerwood: What has been Stuck On On's relationship with SXSW in the past?
Allison Turrell: Our relationship with SXSW is evolving. Lyman Hardy, our chief audio engineer and composer, has played SXSW in many bands (Ed Hall, Pong and Total Unicorn) over the years, so he's participated in the music portion. This year, Parke Gregg, our lead colorist, is leading a workshop: "Color Story: Adding Character in Post," with the makers of our color correction and finishing system, Assimilate. And I was a documentary screener a few years back, and that was super fun. We always participate, and at least two or three films we've worked on have screened every year since 2009.
Sean Gallagher's full-length feature directing debut, Good Night, is premiering at SXSW on Monday, March 11 at the Rollins Theatre (screening info). This intimate drama depicts a dinner party in which the young hostess reveals some difficult news to her friends. The cast includes local actors Adriene Mishler, Jonny Mars, Chris Doubek and sometimes-Austinite Alex Karpovsky, as well as University of Texas alum Todd Berger.
Gallagher lives in Austin, and not only directed this film (which he shot here), but wrote and produced it as well. He's written and directed two shorts as well, Fuck and Out of Water. During his time at UT, he was the first recipient of the Samuel Fuller Award for Cinematic Intransigence.
He answered a few questions (via email) about his new film, improvisation and inspirations.
Slackerwood: What was the filmmaking process like for Good Night? How long were you working on it (conception to final edit)?
Sean Gallagher: There are two different types of pieces within Good Night -- there is a party, which is the bulk of it, and there are several, what I call, movements. The party was shot in two weeks in the middle of the summer. The movements were shot in short increments over the course of two years.
Austin-based actress Heather Kafka shows up in features Pit Stop, The Bounceback, Loves Her Gun, When Angels Sing, and short Black Metal which are all screening at SXSW next month. Let's just say that if you see a film with local ties during the festival, there's about a 75% chance that Kafka will be in it. You might have seen her previously in locally made movies like Lovers of Hate, Saturday Morning Massacre, Slacker 2011 (pictured above) ... and she's the woman trying to buy from the Carl's Jr. kiosk in Idiocracy.
Kafka took some time to talk to us (via email) about working in the friendly Austin film community and taking on roles that her grandma shouldn't see.
Slackerwood: You appear in a number of the films showing at SXSW this year. How did you become involved with these film projects?
Heather Kafka: Sometimes I'm lucky. When I came back home to Austin in 2007, it wasn't long before I was doing Lovers of Hate with Bryan Poyser. I simultaneously began that tempestuous relationship with Facebook and suddenly all these film people were sending friend requests. Then we were in the same room singing karaoke, at the same parties, meeting at SXSW or screenings. I met Bob Ray and Geoff Marslett, Bob Byington and the Zellners. Clay Liford moved from Dallas to Austin. I met Eric Steele, Frank Mosley, James Johnston; a whole Fort Worth contingent.
SXSW Film Festival and Conference kicks off two weeks from TODAY, on March 8. I can hardly believe it myself. Here are a few reminders and bits of news you might have missed ... plus one panel I'm sure you won't want to miss. If I missed something critical, don't hesitate to mention it in the comments.
- I'm happy to announce that once again, I'll be on the opening SXSW Film panel: "A Beginner's Guide to SXSW Film," moderated by Agnes Varnum. We have a lot of fun and also share valuable tips about having the best fest experience possible. Hope you'll join us on Friday, March 8 at 2 pm in Room 16AB of the Austin Convention Center. Other panelists include Kimberley Jones, the Screens editor at the Austin Chronicle; and filmmaker Yen Tan, whose feature Pit Stop is screening at SXSW.
- Of course you'll probably want to attend more panels and watch a few movies. You can now get the full SXSW Film schedule online. Apps are available for iPhone and Android. I'd love to hear your tips about how to plan and keep track of a screening schedule now that we no longer have B-side or Festival Genius (sniff).
Bryan Poyser isn't exactly a new face on the Austin film scene, but we realized that we hadn't yet interviewed him on this site (although he has been mentioned in a Holiday Favorites post)! Thankfully we were able to rectify this, as he answered my questions via email about his latest film, The Bounceback (pictured at top). This comedy follows two former couples as they fight (and make up?) amongst Austin's nightlife. The film will have its world premiere at SXSW on Saturday, March 9 at 2 pm (screening info).
Poyser's other film work includes Dear Pillow and Lovers of Hate. He's been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards for these films. The writer/director formerly worked as Director of Artist Services at the Austin Film Society, and now serves on the AFS Board of Directors.
Slackerwood: How are you feeling about the upcoming premiere of The Bounceback (at the Paramount during SXSW)?
Bryan Poyser: I really can't wait. I know I'm gonna be gut-wrenchingly nervous right before the show, but I'm so happy that so many of our out-of-town cast members are going to be there for it. They're all really proud of the movie, as are the folks behind the camera, and so I think we're all just really excited to finally share it with an audience.
Filmmaker Chris Eska's new feature The Retrieval will be premiering at SXSW next month. The movie's first screening is set for 1:45 pm on Monday, March 11 at Alamo Ritz, with encores on Tuesday and Saturday. The Austin filmmaker's previous feature was August Evening in 2007, which won the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.
According to the slim summary on the SXSW site, the plot of The Retrieval focuses on a boy sent north "on the outskirts of the Civil War" to search for a fugitive. Eska remained quiet about any further story details, but answered the following questions for us via email.
Slackerwood: What drew you to make The Retrieval?
Chris Eska: All my films originate from themes that are important in my life, and then I search for the setting and characters that will most highlight the emotions. My Japanese-language film [Doki-Doki] was about isolation in Los Angeles, my Spanish-language film [August Evening] was about changing families in Texas and Japan, etc. With this film, I initially considered setting the story on the Texas border or in southern India before realizing that this historical rural setting would best draw out the emotions.