Friday, March 18, 2011

My 2011 SXSW

SXSW officially runs for one more day (film) and two more days (music), but my film life has hit the wall of real life as of today and my SXSW is over. Here's what I managed to catch in one week, with time spent at the day job and time spent icing and elevating the cartoonishly swollen ankle. All that considering, I don't think I did too badly. I'm ready to buy next year's badge already--I LOVE this festival.

Day One
Texas Shorts

Day Two
Panel: Drama from Distance--cross-continent theater performance incorporating Skype
Documentary: Better This World (two protesters charged with domestic terrorism during 2008RNC)
Documentary: Incendiary (fire science and the execution of Cunningham in Texas)
IAWTV (International Academy of Web Television) private party

Day Three--Recovery
Documentary: El Bulli--Cooking in Progress

Day Four
Mentor session with Liz Atherton of TAG Talent
Narrative: Small, Beautifully Moving Parts
Panel: Pimp My Movie: Online Marketing Campaigns
Party: Actor Meet-up hosted by Beckinfield
Narrative: Win Win
Party: SAG (crashed the tail end of it)
Out on the town: Driskill, Bikinis

Day Five--Work
Narrative: The Beginners

Day Six--Work/Play
Narrative: Blacktino
Trade Show
Narrative: The Beaver

Day Seven--Work/Play
Documentary: Page One: Inside the NY Times
Documentary: Senna

Day Eight--Work/Play
Documentary: Kumare, Audience Favorite
Narrative: Natural Selection, Audience and Jury Narrative Winner

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Film girl through and through

Hey guys! Man, has it been a great SXSW so far! I'm meeting a bunch of great people, seeing a lot of wonderful films and stumbling serendipitously into new cool things every single day.

A quick set-up. When I was in junior high and, honestly, even into high school, besides a long-term boyfriend with amazing foresight, one week in the summer was the only time during the year I was anything but the good girl who looks like Olive Oyl. For that and other reasons, the week after that week was the worst time of the year for my entire family. When I came home again, I was so bummed to be back in the real world, that I single-handedly made our house a broiling hell of pique and depression.

I have matured slightly since then, but I can already feel the malaise. It's so funny--for much of the town, SXSW is just gearing up, but I see people leaving, and the panels are finished, and there are fewer attendees for the films, and the streets are overtaken with music badges, and I know we're almost done for another year. All you cool people who headed into Austin are headed back again--most of you having loved it here.

And god, we love it here too. We know it's a great place. But we're so thankful that when you come to join us, you adopt the spirit of our town, the friendliness that might feel foreign, the conversation and collaboration that can be too uncommon in more competitive locales, the laid back nature of what was once a small Texas city.

All we film people? We're like a small Texas city too. And it won't feel the same until y'all come home again. See you in 2012--or in the still plentiful screenings over the next four days!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

#SXSW Better This World

All you SXSW attendees! You still have two more screenings to catch this it.

So why is SXSW a completely unique experience? Part of it is location. Jake Gyllenhaal noted that this was one of the only festivals where everyone was kind. It's true. Here's what happens in a world where people are accustomed to chatting easily and naturally inclined to help:

Yesterday, I'm standing in line waiting for Better This World which happened to be at a place I was already scheduled to be at a time when I had an hour and a half to kill, so getting in line was more of a 'why not' than a purposeful decision. A sweet woman in front of me held my spot and pointed me to the bathroom. A sweet couple behind me seemed lost.

I explained to the couple how the lines work (there are three of them, it is confusing). Asked them the standard 'get to know you' question at SXSWFilm--so, what have you seen? Found out they're only here for this movie. They'd driven in from a small town about 45 minutes outside Austin. Why? The proud husband told me his lovely wife was in it.

Since Better This World is a documentary, I imagined she was one of the townspeople filmmakers found to flesh out the story. Not exactly.

Better This World is about two idealistic best friends from Midland--Brad Crowder and David McKay--who were charged with domestic terrorism during the 2008 Republican National Convention. 

The woman was Brad's mother, Twila Crowder, and the man her new husband, as of one month ago. They had never seen the film.

As it came time to enter the theater, they still didn't have the passes they needed to get in to see her son's story. I found a SXSW employee, explained to him who they were, and he rushed off to find out what he could do, helping them at the head of the line and getting them into the theatre.

(A Note: These two would never, NEVER have pulled the 'do you know who I am' card. They play by the rules, and the rules say they need a pass.)

They sat right behind me. As we waited, I looked at their wedding photos on his phone--he told me all about the wedding. He told me his politics are in polar opposite to Brad's, but he loves this woman dearly, and so he's here. And I thought about how good these people are--she taught her son to stand up for what he believes in. And while politics were never something she felt passionate about, she loved her son. She knew he was good. And her husband knew he loved this woman dearly. So here they sat together, and watched a room full of strangers watch their personal hell.

There's no way to explain watching this film with this new-found connection to three strangers. I could feel the charge in the air. The husband, the wife, the son. (Brad came to the screening.) Watching his story. Deciding if they liked the way it was told. Hitched breathing when Twila was shown crying on screen, as they relived all the emotion of that time.

We hugged when the movie was finished. I passed a note to Brad. And as I trembled, literally, from the emotion I felt from this family, this good, proud West Texas husband wished me luck. On my acting career.

Forced Convalescence

Planned for a 9:30 am panel (may I say first that day three of SXSW is TERRIBLE timing for daylight savings), but my ankle has other plans. Got home from the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) party last night to find it doubled in size. Monday's a big day--mentor-session, must-see panels, movies galore and an actor meet-up, so I'm thinking as much as it pains me (and god the emotional, driven, gotta-get-there, gotta-get-there! pain is so much worse than anything in my leg), today discretion is the better part of valor.

A little somewhat related side note. From an article about Bradley Cooper in the NY Times this morning: "He used to take his dogs, Samson and Charlotte, for pre-sunrise runs in the Hollywood Hills, but a torn hamstring incurred on the set of "The A-Team"...made running impossible."

I hadn't heard that. It's not like he's been running around (ha), all woe is me. And yeah, he's making some coin. But this injury has changed his life. All you filmmakers out there, think about that for a second. A dedicated actor will do just about anything you ask of him or her, happily. But injuries can have significant impact on an actor's life long after your film is completed. Just be as safe and as conscious as you can be next time you're preparing for that shot. 

Oh! And having technical difficulties! Can't figure out how to post pictures on here to liven these up right now--promise to have some up soon!