SXSW 2011 officially started on March 11th, but for some of us, it started much earlier as we started reviewing films early in anticipation of interviews during the forthcoming SXSW 2011 Film Conference and Festival.
There is quite an energy in the air, as this is the 25th anniversary of SXSW. The event started as a regional music festival in Austin, Texas and has since known expanded to film and then an Interactive conference and festival with a myriad of activities to suit many tastes. SXSW is host to local, national and international talent and is known worldwide.
In case someone is not familiar with all the history of SXSW, I highly recommend the film documentary, 'Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW', an ARTS+LABOR Film and directed by co-founder, Alan Berg from Austin. The World Premiere will be at the Paramount Theater on Wednesday, March 16th and will screen one more time during the festival.
I have had an amazing time from the start, even on Thursday (March 10th) when I was at the Austin Convention Center picking up my badge. I met two gentlemen from Monterrey, Mexico who were picking up their badges for the Interactive Conference and they were very excited to be in Austin. We discussed how there was going to be very interesting panels relating to the international community, including Mexico.
On Friday, I did not have the opportunity to be on the red carpet for photos of the talent from 'The Source Code' movie, so I missed seeing Jake G. in the flesh, especially after his performance in another film released in Fall 2010.
The bright spot of the beginning of SXSW on Friday (11th) was covering the red carpet at the Alamo Drafthouse South for 'Girl Walks into A Bar'. The director/writer, Sebastian Gutierrez, along with cast, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson and Carla Gugino were extremely pleasant to talk to and they provided loads of information on the film that is now available for the public to view on the Internet. Gutierrez did the same for the SXSW 2010 film, Electralux, so there were many questions from fellow press members about his decision to release the films online instead of theatrically.
I am very disappointed that I did not have a seat available in the actual screening of this film that evening, since I was a press member who covered this red carpet. I was told they were at maximum seating capacity. I wanted to see the film on the big screen, not just on a computer. That has never happened to me when I have covered red carpets before, so I am not sure where the breakdown was. At that point, it mattered not that I had a SXSW press credential and everyone saw that I had been there since 5pm! I know better for next time and will try to ensure I am left out again!!
I happily left the theater and raced back to the Paramount Theater area to be ready for the World Premiere of 'blacktino' by director Aaron Burns, son of Elizabeth Avellan. Make sure not to miss this spunky film during the other two screenings of the film in two different theaters during SXSW. The film features Austin Marshall, in his debut acting performance. Marshall hails from the Austin/Round Rock area.
Saturday the 12th was a totally busy day, starting at 9am with interviews with the director, writer and producer for 'Insidious' that is screening during SXSW. It has screened once, but there are a couple of more screenings available for fans of this genre. Like Patrick Wilson's performances? If so, here is your shot to see him in this indie flick. Despite a disclaimer from James (director) and Lee (actor/writer) at the start of their interviews that their energy level was quite low from a long, long night in Austin, they were both very animated and energetic in sharing information with the press members in my interview. Lee had his shades, so I wore my shades during the interview too to keep him company. He said it was a very acceptable thing to do in California, but since we are in Texas, he was not quite sure how cool it was here.
I then ran off to the Austin Convention Center area for a press event hosted by Filemaker. I had a good opportunity to network over brunch with local press I know, as well as meeting a great freelance journalist from Amsterdam. We had a great time connecting over professional and personal challenges and felt more empowered to have a good and productive time during SXSW 2011. The presentation that we received from the Filemaker staff was very impressive and we look forward to using the product in the near future.
Next, my journey led me to the location of the former Kyoto Restaurant on South Congress for my interview opportunities with the director and cast of 'blacktino' that screened the previous night. Great energy and information for me on the 2nd floor venue with the great people and very welcoming Ivette Rodriguez who flew in from California to coordinate the publicity activities. What a buzz!!
I took some time to chill and get my battery charged (not just the cell phone), before the evening screenings at the Paramount, 'The Innkeepers' and 'Super'. Both films were very well attended and I had a great time in the badge line for a couple of hours. Bystanders and festival attendees were treated to ice cream by Pee Wee Herman himself. He had a handheld video device and scanned the audience participants, pausing momentarily in front of me to take some footage. I hope I do not end up on the Internet or something, but in today's world, our activities are online with the push of a button and before we know it!
Although I did not do the red carpet coverage for 'The Innkeepers' or 'Super', the cast and crew for each of the films was present for a Q&A after each film. They were both very entertaining and informative. Sara Paxton looked elegant in a black strapless dress and high heels. Ellen Page is petite and cute, wearing a black hat and all black sportswear attire for the evening.
Even though I was up late for the second night in a row, I was back downtown at the Alamo Ritz at 10am this morning for a press screening of 'You Instead'. I have been offered an opportunity to interview the director and two cast members tomorrow, so I am certainly looking forward to this pleasant surprise. I love music and I believe other music and festival attendees will enjoy this film. I will tell you more soon. If readers are not badge holders, not to worry, there are some tickets sold individually if the theater is not at maximum capacity.
I have to run off to the next event, so catch up with you all soon!