SXSW 2013: The Celebrity Experience 'At Any Price'

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At Any Price red carpet at SXSW

By Kayla Lee

It all started on the red carpet, just before the screening of director Ramin Bahrani's (Goodbye Solo, Chop Shop) new film At Any Price on the last day of SXSW 2013. The stars of the film, Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, graced the streets of downtown Austin with their friendly humor and welcoming smiles. The screening, which took place at the Paramount Theatre, had a great turnout. The crowd was ecstatic when Janet Pierson welcomed the director and stars onto the stage to brief the crowd before the movie started. 

An exhilarating atmosphere filled the room as Quaid and Efron greeted the guests with their down-to-earth swag and demeanor. After their brief introductions, it was time for the show. It was exciting to see Quaid (who sometimes lives in Austin) looking to the crowd for approval throughout the film from the balcony. Judging by the laughter from the audience and his constant smiling down into the crowd, I believe all were pleased. 

After the screening, Bahrani, Quaid and Efron opened the floor for a Q&A. Hands waved fiercely throughout the air as guests pleaded to be called on. Lucky guest number one asked Bahrani if he had originally planned to cast Quaid and Efron for their characters in At Any Price. As the giggles and snickering erupted amongst the three men on stage, it was clear that there was more of a story behind the casting of the film. 

At Any Price Q&A at SXSW

Efron explained that he, indeed, was attracted to the script and some previous works of the director, which led him to take the initiative of contacting Bahrani first. He said Bahrani "played his cards to the vest, he didn't show anything," in explaining his anticipation to whether or not Bahrani would decide to cast him. Quaid, on the other hand, met with Bahrani in Austin and found that he was immediately drawn to the At Any Price script after reading it. He went on to explain how he admires the characters that Bahrani produces because they are relatable to real people. Bahrani told the audience he did not originally write the script with Quaid and Efron in mind but that he later found that the two were perfect for the darkness of the characters.

When asked what he was going for at the end of the movie, Bahrani responded by saying that he "never ends by tying all loose ends because the most definitive ending in life is death." Quaid added to this statement by admiring Bahrani’s work for his tendency to never put a period at the end of his films, but instead a question mark. Bahrani did, however, suggest that he wanted his audience to question reality and to ask themselves, "Are people really getting away with the types of things presented in the film?" The silence made it clear that the audience understood the power of the storyline and the fact that it could be closer to reality than imagined. 

At Any Price red carpet at SXSW, Ramin Bahrani

Yet, in the current reality of that theatre, some of the women in the audience couldn't help but focus on the fact that Efron was closer in proximity than they had ever imagined! When asked if he would take one young lady to prom (because her boyfriend had recently been deployed), Efron gave way to his charm and light-hearted humor. Ultimately, he said he would think about it. 

In the grand scheme, At Any Price was a great film, with a wonderful Q&A session with the director and stars. They kept the crowd laughing and answered everyone's questions beautifully. It was definitely an evening to be remembered and I'm excited to see their upcoming work.

Kayla Lee is an intern at the Austin Film Society.

[Photo credit: Dinkins / De Jong for Slackerwood, all rights reserved.]

At Any Price

Dennis Quaid, I never knew you could give such a riveting performance.
You're on fire. The emotional content is exhilarating.
As for the the movie itself, I think it's a thriller, like Hitchcock.
Great, great movie!!