Debbie Cerda's blog

SXSW 2012 Guides: Balancing Film and Interactive


Al Franken by Amy Price

Every year, South by Southwest (SXSW) Festivals and Conferences offers an overwhelming amount of amazing content from film to interactive to music. If you are like me and enjoy the full spectrum SXSW offers, striking a balance between these interests can be challenging. The Film and Interactive conferences take place at the same time, from Friday, March 9 through Tuesday, March 13. The film festival starts on Friday too, and continues through Saturday, March 17. And that's not all -- SXSW 2012 also includes a dedicated SXSW Comedy program spotlighting stand-up comics, SXSWedu on March 6 - 8 featuring content for educational innovation, and the first-ever Tech Career @ SXSW March 9-10, open to those seeking careers in the tech and interactive media sectors.

This guide will hopefully help you balance both Film and Interactive successfully, whether you have a badge for either conference or the Gold or Platinum badges that provide you access to both. 

Here are some personal tips and "lessons learned" on balancing the film and interactive portions of SXSW 2012:

  • Be prepared -- Read our upcoming SXSW 2012 guides.
  • Plan ahead -- SXSW has made major improvements to the SX Schedule, although I haven't found an export feature. (Let us know if you have.) Check out the official mobile app SXSW GO app, which should allow you to view and build your schedule, including a map of what’s happening and how to get there, navigate the tradeshow, and stay connected to SXSocial registered attendees.

Film on Tap: Where to Drink at SXSW


Davis Tucker of NXNW and Brian Peters of Uncle Billy's

Every year we feature a "How to Drink Like an Austinite" guide for Fantastic Fest with recommendations on the favorite watering holes near film venues. SXSW Film Festival attendees looking for a change of pace from the "Miller Lite Taste Nation" will definitely want to venture out to bars offering craft beers beyond American light lager and great spirits. You can find award-winning beers from local breweries and brewpubs that will be sure to please any hophead or malt bomb lovers, as well as margaritas and great Texas wines from local wineries.

What is the best way to find great local beer in Austin? Arm yourself with information from Taplister as well the Austin Beer Guide. This collaborative effort between Beertown Austin and Craft Austin features information on craft breweries in Central Texas and where to find it -- unlike other states, in Texas it has been illegal for the breweries themselves to promote their retail locations although a recent lawsuit has changed that policy. The Austin Beer Guide maps are extremely useful to anyone not familiar with downtown and south Austin. Also follow the SXSW beer-drinking action on beer mobile apps including BrewskiMe, Untappd, and Tap Hunter -- if you are a beer geek with a SXSW Gold or Platinum badge, be sure to check out the SXSW Interactive Panel "Social + Location + Mobile = The Perfect Beer".

Rather than just share my own recommendations, this year I've asked local experts, i.e., beer bloggers as well as a couple seasoned SXSW volunteers to share their favorite bars and tips on drinking during SXSW. Find out after the jump where they think you should be enjoying fine craft beer and libations.

Interview: Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler, 'Everyday Sunshine'


Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone Filmmakers with Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore of Fishbone, all rights reserved

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone originally screened at SXSW in 2011, and the filmmakers and the band were back in town last October to support Austin Film Society with a special screening and Q&A, as well as a sold-out show at Emo's Austin. I thoroughly enjoyed this compelling and dynamic tale of punk rock pioneers Fishbone and their rise, fall and subsequent revival -- read my review. The documentary was released on DVD this week, and is available for purchase on the Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone website. Bonus features include deleted scenes, band commentary, interview outtakes, and rare concert footage sure to please any Fishbone fan. 

During their October movie-and-music tour, I spoke with band members and frontmen Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore -- listen to the podcast interview -- as well as filmmakers Chris Metzler and Lev Anderson. Find out how Metzler and Anderson used a variety of visual storytelling techniques to portray the story of one of the most influential punk rock bands of the last 20 years and the social and personal issues surrounding them after the jump.

Last Call to Submit Films for AFS ShortCase at SXSW


SXSW FilmThe Austin Film Society is providing a chance for AFS member filmmakers to get their short films screened during the SXSW Film Festival next month. ShortCase, a 70- to 90-minute special screening of short films, is confirmed for Saturday, March 10, 11 am, at the Canon Screening Room at the Long Center (aka the Rollins).

I am especially excited this year as I am officially curating the ShortCase film series on behalf of AFS. Our long-term goal is to expand the frequency of the ShortCase screening events, as well as provide constructive feedback to filmmakers whose work is not accepted into the screening lineup. We sincerely hope AFS filmmakers take advantage of the wealth of resources provided through AFS Artists Services, including the Texas Filmmaker Production Fund and Moviemaker Dialogues. AFS members interested in film-festival information should consider attending the upcoming "Maximizing Your Film Festival Experience" on February 29 with Kat Candler, Clay Liford and Geoff Marslett (and moderated by Slackerwood editor Jette Kernion).

To be considered for the AFS ShortCase screening at SXSW Film Festival, entries are due into the AFS offices no later than Wednesday, February 22, at 6 pm -- that's today, yes, and note that it's not the postmark-by date. They must be in DVD or Blu-ray format and should be clearly labeled . Films can be documentary, narrative, experimental, animation, music videos, etc. as long as they are under 30 minutes and completed -- no works-in-progress. Films should have been completed in the last 2 - 3 years (2010 to 2012). Older films can be submitted, but newer films will have preference. This will be a showcase for work that is not already playing at SXSW this year or has played in previous years. Find out more details here.

Austin at SXSW 2012: All the Features



The plethora of films at SXSW Film Festival this year includes a good selection of Austin-based features even without the Lone Star States category of movies. The quality and buzz for local films is high, and I predict a couple of these features are destined to win audience awards at SXSW.

Here's the best list we've been able to compile of Austin connections in SXSW films this year. If we missed your movie, please let us know in the comments and we will update the list as needed. Stay tuned for Elizabeth Stoddard's feature on other Texas films at SXSW.

A note to filmmakers: If your movie has some link to Austin, we would love to interview you about it and see the film. Please drop us a line ASAP so we can set something up before the fest begins.

Ready, Set, Fund: From Roky Erickson to Anthony Burgess


Two Headed Dog with Roky Erickson

"Ready, Set, Fund," is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

With SXSW looming on the horizon to take over Austin for 11 days next month, it seems an appropriate time to feature crowdfunding for local film projects centered around music and performance. One such project, Two-Headed Dog, is seeking funding on IndieGoGo through February 22. This documentary centers around local rock legend Roky Erickson, who is about to embark on a tour for the first time ever through Australia and New Zealand with his son Jegar Erickson and his band. (Local film fans who like cable access might remember Jegar's Austin Movie Show, which ran 2004-2007.)

Local filmmaker Mike Mann, who premiered his short doc Brewed at SXSW 2011, has been invited to document Erickson's tour Down Under. However, Mann is in need of funds to cover his travel expenses as well as production costs at Erickson's live shows.

If you aren't familiar with Erickson's story, I highly recommend watching the powerfully moving 2005 documentary You're Gonna Miss Me, about Erickson's struggles with mental health, drug use and poverty as well as his underground success as a gifted psychedelic rock pioneer. Expect Two-Headed Dog to provide Erickson fans with insight into his progress dealing with his mental health issues and further establishing himself as a rock icon in Austin and beyond.

Check out more Austin film projects featuring local musicians and performers after the jump.

Inconceivable? Alamo's 'Princess Bride' Event and Signature Wines


Princess Bride Feast

The Alamo Drafthouse has combined several of their signature events -- a quote-along, a feast, and Sommelier Cinema -- and taken them to a new level with "The Princess Bride Feast," taking place on February 14 and 15 in Drafthouse locations around Texas. In addition, they're also launching yet another business endeavor -- this time involving wine.

If the special sneak preview that Austin press were treated to recently was any indication, the Princess Bride feast is sure to be the hottest ticket item for food, film and wine lovers this Valentine's Day. Tickets for the Feb. 14 event sold out so quickly that additional screenings were added for the following day. Personally, I prefer to avoid the busiest romantic day of the year and recommend you buy tickets for the available February 15 screenings.

Be advised that for this signature event you are not only allowed but encouraged to talk during the screening (if it's related to the film, of course). The Alamo Drafthouse's Action Pack has added subtitles to their favorite Princess Bride lines in key places, but you can quote along for as much or little of the movie as you like. The Action Pack has other special surprises to make the Princess Bride a date night to remember.

Review: The Woman in Black


Woman in Black

I've mentioned before Stephen King's nonfiction Danse Macabre, in which he delineates three levels of the horror genre: terror, horror and revulsion. He states that terror is the "finest element," the suspenseful moment before the actual monster is revealed -- horror occurs when we actually see the monster. He equates revulsion with the gag reflex, a bottom level that he considers a cheap gimmick. With films like Human Centipede and other visceral gory films pushing the boundaries of revulsion, fans of the classic horror of H.P. Lovecraft are welcoming the latest film in the horror genre, The Woman in Black, based on the novel by Susan Hill.

Opening with the death of three young girls, The Woman in Black is one tragedy after another for the entirety of the movie. Young and nearly penniless lawyer and widower Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) reluctantly leaves his four-year-old son with his nanny in London to travel to an isolated village to settle the estate of a deceased recluse. Kipps learns quite quickly that his presence is not welcome in the village, and despite warnings he travels to the remote estate surrounded by the sea during high tide.

While at the estate, he learns of the death of a young boy who was trapped in the family carriage during a rising tide. Kipps spots a mysterious woman dressed in black, and upon his return to the village a young girl dies after intentionally drinking lye. Local superstition believes that whenever the woman is seen, a child's death will soon follow.

Review: Albert Nobbs


Albert Nobbs

Academy Award nominations were announced earlier this week, and the gender-bending period film Albert Nobbs garnered multiple nominations including the Best Actress category for Glenn Close. Close won an Obie in 1982 for her off-Broadway performance as Albert Nobbs, and had worked since then to bring the character to life onscreen. She was so passionate about this role that she also co-produced, co-wrote the screenplay, and wrote the lyrics for the movie's main theme music, an Irish lullaby "Lay Your Head Down."

In one of the most challenging roles of her career, Close plays a woman who for 30 years represented herself as a man in order to have a "life of decency" in 19th-century Ireland. Albert Nobbs survives by working as a servant in a hotel, nearly invisible to the upper-class guests and thought of as an odd and curious fellow by co-workers. Albert is so distanced from others in her attempt to fade into the woodwork, that she lacks intimate contact with others.

Albert finally decides to marry and settle down, setting her dreams on opening a tobacconist shop with chambermaid Helen (Mia Wasikowska) as counter-girl and "wife." However, Helen has her heart set on another, the handsome but rough boilerman Joe Macken (Aaron Johnson). Joe has intentions for Albert as well -- as the means to escape to America when he realizes that Albert must have a small fortune tucked away. Joe convinces Helen to go along with the courtship to pilfer money from Albert, but complications occur that thwart everyone's well-laid plans.

Ready, Set, Fund: Festival Time


Jump Cut Film Festival

"Ready, Set, Fund," is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

The 2012 film festival season has officially kicked off with Sundance going strong and reports flowing in from local filmmakers making the rounds in Park City, Utah. Meanwhile, preparations for SXSW Film Festival in March are also going strong. New to the festival circuit this year is ATX: A Television Festival, organized by film and television industry professionals Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson. The pair are raising funds through February 21 for this nonprofit event through a Kickstarter project featuring levels that act as badge pre-sales. Funds raised will go towards programming and other needs.

Another local festival seeking funds is the Jump Cut Film Festival, which showcases works by student filmmakers along with Q&A panels with industry professionals who will help judge this year's competition. Funds raised through the IndieGoGo flexible fundraising campaign will cover this year's submissions fees as well as improvements for the festival, which takes place April 21.

Find out about more Austin film-related projects after the jump.

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