2015 February SXSWorld


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3 2 S X S W o r l d | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 5 | S X S W. C O M t first glance, film festivals seem to be all about high-profile pre- mieres splashed across silver screens and heralded on theater marquees. However, there is always a very different world of creation, collaboration and education going on far from the lights and hustle ... even if the results of the same won't be seen until subsequent years. This is all part of a process of possibili- ties that SXSW Film Producer and Senior Programmer Jarod Neece calls "craft film." This is not just as an analogy to "craft beer," with small, dedicated brewers trying to brew smarter and stronger than the big con- glomerates that distribute aluminum cans of the same product in huge quantities from coast-to-coast. The term also works in the general sense of "craft" as something that is as much a function of work as it is of creative genius, and is a product of education from others as much as it represents the products of individual vision and effort. For example, many of this year's slated workshops at SXSW are not about abstrac- tions such as truth or beauty, but instead focus on more practical matters. "The Film Score Workshop" does not look at past works, but rather, offers a blunt how-to, with scoring a scene as part of the actual work- shop. There is a veritable banquet of other workshops, including a coalition of law yers and advocates from New York, Texas and California who hope to point filmmakers towards free legal counsel for such vital, invisible parts of filmmaking as forming your own company and understanding acquisitions. This year's panels, meanwhile, include discussions on topics as pragmatic as they are diverse. Panels will include a host of film- makers and professionals eager to share hard-won real-world wisdom, on subjects ranging from what it is that makes a "Midnight Movie" to case studies of indie films that have succeeded and how. If you doubt how these sessions can inform attendees, note this remembrance from director Emily Hagins of My Sucky Teen Romance and Grow Up, Tony Phillips!: "I volunteered on the film panels crew for two years before submitting My Sucky Teen Romance; I've learned so much each year I've attended, volunteered, judged, been on a panel or had a movie play. SXSW has really shaped my filmmaking sensibilities." Producer Travis Stevens of Snowfort Pictures (Jodorowsky's Dune, Starry Eyes), who will host the aforementioned indie films case studies panel, has noticed that whether formally speaking in panels or informally chatting in line, moviemakers enjoy the sense of community: "The film component of SXSW seems dedicated to the filmmakers and their experience more than the 'business' that sur- rounds filmmaking. Don't get me wrong -- there are still plenty of distributors, sales agents and talent reps in town, but the festival doesn't cater to them. They want the people who worked their fin- gers to the bone making the films to have a more relaxed experience. Each visit, we come away with creative part- nerships based on seeing films and having a chance to hang out with the artists in a casual environment." SXSW also offers mentoring—in areas as diverse as Festival Programming, Artist Support and Sales & Acquisitions—where volunteers with experience sit down for one-to-one, face-to-face discussions of the difference between theory and practice. Short filmmaker Lily Baldwin (Sea Meadow, Sleepover LA) found that the energy of what she learned brought her back to it every year like a comet looping around the sun: "SXSW also surrounded me with some incredibly hard working, curious makers— people that want to push boundaries and aren't lazy about it; people that understand cinema can and needs to take risks in order to thrive and reach audiences." Filmmaker Lauren Wolkstein (Cigarette Candy) found that SXSW was integral to turning her 2010 short into a 2012 feature —and, along the way, met the people who would make her next films possible: "When I attended SXSW in 2010, I met many of my future collaborators, such as David Call (Tiny Furniture). David starred in my next short film, The Strange Ones, which also screened at SXSW. I also met Anna Margaret Hollyman, now my longtime collaborator, and lead actress in my latest film Social Butterfly, and I met all of my future cinema- tographers at SXSW as well. Come to think of it, every single crew member I work with I met at SXSW at one time or another ..." The wide-ranging forms of "craft film" stewardship happening at SXSW are, for some festival-goers, just as important or even more so than debuts and screenings — even if they can be a little less show y and trickier to find. Stevens also noted that there's more going on at SXSW than a quick glance can show, even for a seeming veteran like him: "Each visit grows richer as the topography of the festival's many activities becomes more familiar ... and my discipline improves—more movies, and less bourbon." Panel or workshop, mentoring session or casual meeting in line, the craft behind the art of filmmaking is why the biggest and best results from SXSW 2015 may not actu- ally be on-screen until 2016 and beyond. See for the complete SXSW Film 2015 schedule. Craft Film: Some of SXSW's Biggest Payoffs Have Long Fuses by James rocchi Tr a v i s Steve n s 20 14 M e e t t h e I n s i d e r s s es s io n w i t h ( L- R): d i re c- to r s J o r d a n Vo g t- Ro b e r t s , Ry a n C o o g le r, D es t in D a niel Cre t to n, a n d journ a l i s t Steve Pro ko p y A M AT T H E W C A B A L L E R O C O U R T E S Y O F PA S T E M A G A Z I N E

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