SXSWORLD February 2013


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PHOTO JESSE KNISH / WIRE IMAGE "SXSW is a really happy place for me," says Swanberg, quietly reflecting back on the last eight years of his life ... "It's such a big part of the reason I have a career. The festival really changed my life." ... It is a few weeks before Drinking Buddies premieres at SXSW 2013, and there is still work to do. "We're still working on the edit and then there's some sound mixing and color timing stuff to be done …" Swanberg says, trailing off. "First impressions count as much with films as they do with people. I'm really nervous." Swanberg may have done the SXSW premiere before, but Drinking Buddies is an evolutionary leap forward. He is not the same director he was back in 2005, but at the same time he hasn't really changed at all. Ross sums it up succinctly: "The game is the game. If you can play you can play. And Joe can fucking play." In the seven years since the Kissing on the Mouth premiere, Swanberg has attended every SXSW, bringing a new movie to most of them. "SXSW is a really happy place for me," says Swanberg, quietly reflecting back on the last eight years of his life. "It's such a big part of the reason P H O T O C O U R T S E Y O F S I LV E R B U L L E T S "I wanted the actors to challenge themselves to do new things," explains Swanberg, adding that while the film is drawn from many of his own experiences (it takes place in the world of craft beer brewing, which amateur brewmaster Swanberg is quite familiar with), he wanted the material to be theirs too. "I wanted to make it personal for them." Swanberg would have conversations with his actors (including Ron Livingston and New Girl star Jake Johnson), giving them brief instructions on the structure of a scene but more importantly just talking about their characters. It is the old Swanberg method, but he is now painting on a much larger canvas. It started back in November of 2011, when Swanberg signed with CAA, a move he says he "didn't think would ever happen." An agent connected him to Oscar-nominee Kendrick and TRON star Olivia Wilde, who signed on despite the fact that there was no script for the PHOTO COURTSEY OF KISSING ON THE MOUTH Swanberg (left) with Ti West on the red carpet during SXSW 2011 SILVER BULLETS project. That cast meant a bigger budget than he had ever worked with before. But why would Swanberg, who was having success with his films, seek out big actors, a larger budget and newfound financial responsibilities? "I wanted to make a film that was accessible," says Swanberg, which might sound surprising coming from a director who, by his own admission, has had a "very punk rock attitude" towards filmmaking. But working on Drinking Buddies and the desire to connect with a much larger audience didn't quell that: "I still did things exactly the way I wanted. No compromise." Kissing on the Mouth I have a career. The festival really changed my life." The 2005 Joe Swanberg wondered where he could possibly go after his big SXSW premiere. As 2013 Joe Swanberg prepares to unveil Drinking Buddies to the SXSW audience, he might already be looking forward to 2014. "Hopefully I'll have a new film to show next year … " he says. Wildest dreams achieved.■ For more information about film screenings at SXSW 2013, visit SXSWORLD / FEBRUARY 2013 33

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