Kathi and I just got in from SXSW. It was… I’m not sure what it was, exactly. We met some interesting people, but almost none of them were film people. We loved the locals, we loved the musicians, and we had fun meeting some cool people. They just weren’t filmmakers. Maybe that’s OK. Maybe we fit in with the musicians better, since we’re both musicians too.
Highpoints of SXSW for me:
We got to see Daniel Lanois’ movie (http://www.daniellanois.com/hereiswhatis). I’d been a fan of his work since forever, and when I saw it on the schedule I knew Kathi and I had to go. It was a music documentary, and we both loved it. What’s best- Daniel was there and he was pretty cool in person, too. The film is about creativity, not just musicianship. It’s about being an artist. And it resonated with me.
The shorts program was a lot of fun, too. Sure, there was a bunch of stuff I did not love, but there were some really great films… including one that really touched me. I’ll post the link to that one once I know its title. I know, sad. But it all went by so quickly.
We liked the trailer panel a lot. Part of the reason was we’d just worked together to cut a trailer for our show. But the panelists were good.
Billy Bob Thornton’s panel was really the best part of the festival for us. The cat is cool, and we were both very impressed with his openness regarding politics in the industry. For me, the best moment of the festival was when he was riffing on success. He mentioned a conversation with Billy Wilder, and he said Billy told him, in effect, that the only way to succeed was to be who you really are, not some weird Hollywood-ized version of what you think “they” want you to be. I know it seems obvious, but living here in LA you get exposed to so many people who are full of crap that it’s easy to lose track of what’s important. I like that Billy Bob Thornton made it on his own terms. It gives me hope.
He also mentioned something that went along with the message in the Daniel Lanois film- basically, that an artist is an artist no matter what the medium. As a musician who is also a writer-director, this made me feel good, too.Â I don’t think we celebrate creativity enough, at least, I think a lot of people I’m around- including myself at times- don’t.
Oh yeah, and Kathi and I shared a plane with Billy Bob on the way back. So, we talked with him a bit. He’s a gracious guy. Of course, he was trapped in an aluminum tube that was going to be 30,000 feet in the air. We almost gave him a card, but instead promised to come see his band the next time they play LA.Â
We were also lucky enough to meet up with some old friends who shall remain nameless who I hadn’t seen since my running days. That was awesome.
Finally, Harvey Weinstein bought me a beer. Well, to be fair, he bought about 200 people a beer- the entire theater, actually- through the generosity of director Morgan Spurlock at the screening of his movie Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden? The projector messed up, because of the storm raging outside the theater. And you know, the movie’s damn good too.
Speaking of weather, I loved an early morning thunderstorm we got to enjoy one day. Funny how a thing like weather can be so awesome, when you don’t get much weather where you live.
Other movies I enjoyed enough to remember after the rush of films we saw: Run, Fatboy, Run! (the director turned out to be pretty cool, too), Secrecy (wow, excellent documentary), and I thought Shuttle was disturbing and good. The movies I didn’t like? Nah. Thing is, except for one huge Hollywood movie that stunk and deserves to be kicked in the nuts, I respected every movie I saw. Some of them needed some work, but anyone who can get a movie together should be respected for that. It’s a huge deal, putting together a movie. Especially when your budget is 1/1000th that of a big Hollywood movie.
And that’s something I’d know quite a lot about, coming off Couch Cases. So, hats off to all the filmmakers and I’m grateful I got to see so many movies I probably wouldn’t ever see, otherwise.Â Â Â
And now for what I didn’t dig about the festival:
Again, all this is colored by who I happened to bump into at the festival. It’s a HUGE fest, so my sample size isn’t statistically relevant. But it felt to me like a lot of the people there who I happened to meet were a bit pretentious, desperate, and fake.
Here’s what they’d do: they’d walk up (or you’d walk up to them), and you’d smile at them. Then, before smiling back, they’d “badge” you. They’d actually look at your badge and see if you were with Warner’s or Sony or whatever who could help them get their movie made or distributed. If you weren’t (I wasn’t, obviously), they would avert their eyes, not smile back and they’d walk by you as fast as they could.
And that’s bullshit.
I got to see what happened if you did have a badge from a big distributor, too. Those poor people got mobbed. Sometimes it’s better to fly under the radar. And that’s all I have to say about that.
We love Austin, Kathi’s a Texan so it’s coming home for her. And it feels like home to me, too. Yee haw!