While I planned to blog like a mofo, it just didn’t happen. But, in a half exhausted/half drunken stupor I will now attempt to replay my Austin Film Festival experience…
Firstly….I totally, totally slacked on screenings. Remember my last blog, when I said I saw “The TV Set.” That was, and that will be, the only movie I saw here. Things just got away from me as they usually do at film festivals but usually I’m unable to do fun stuff because I’m seeing and reviewing films. This time, I was trying to be social while also trying to maintain the fine line of constant drinking and being alert. It’s a fine line indeed. I will say, when you’re eating BBQ 2 of 3 meals, it makes the alcohol have a lesser effect. I hope.
Anyway…since we last spoke, I went to an incredible panel, best I’ve ever seen…since “Film Threat Sucks” at last years SXSW. It was a panel on adapting books to the bigscreen and the panel consisted of Brian Helgeland (!), Richard Linklater (!), Lawrence Kasdan (!!) and the dude who did “Lonesome Dove” and “The Black Stallion.” It was fun, insightful and very inspiring. After that I really started to feel sick about my screening. Either that or 2 days of drinking mixed with lack of sleep kicked in. I was incredibly nervous though.
I just felt funky. My wife was coming in as were my aunt, my mom and my partner John but at this point, I was flying solo. I felt antsy and barfy. When my family arrived, it helped but when my partner John Beck got in, I was at ease. The guy just don’t give a shit. He grabbed me and shook me and said “We’re fucking filmmakers at a fucking festival dude!” and I was set straight. He was right. Then we drank some beers, went to a great Festival BBQ (free food/free beer!) and headed into town for our screening.
STRINGERS played at The Hideout which is a tiny coffee shop that has a smallish sized screening room. I saw this great guy named Gabe who I met at the party I mentioned in the last blog and he said he was going to be the projectionist. Ahhh…whatta total relief. Someone I halfway know and trust is behnd the scenes. The shorts program rolled and I just sat back waiting for the all too familiar crackle of police scanners that signified STRINGERS. I really have to be honest, when our title page came up, I just started smiling uncontrollably. It was like I was on a roller coaster and we were climbing up and up to the point of showing. Then….WHHHHEheeeeeee!
The whole docs shorts program was great. Really diverse, fun and engaging. Programmer John Merriman deserves big props. He managed to watch hundreds of doc shorts and make an entertaining program from them. He’s a bad ass. After the screening, there was a party that me and John Beck went to. It was a bummer because my wife and sister couldn’t get in. I have a habit of getting snippy when I don’t get what I want and I snipped at the lady. Then, five mins later, I realized it was technically my birthday so I had a good excuse to exercise some executive power and it worked! But they were already halfway home. We hung out and I watched the amazing drunkard John go from Dos Equis to Bombay, back to Dos Equis and then finally, to two fisting it with one of each. Pretty BADASS! I tried to maintain as I had plans to meet up with FILM THREATS own Pete Vonder Haar and celebrate my bday and screening the next day.
We went to the BEST BBQ place in Austin for my bday…Iron Works. That was after I slept in and got roped into “Batman Begins” on HBO. After that I met John down on 6th street and we drank. Alot. Then I grabbed my wife and sister and headed to dinner at Magnolia Cafe and then, off to The Ginger Man for beers. Pete rolled in around 8 and we turned it up a notch. Pete’s the fucking man. Although he’s a better writer than me and has more useless info about shit films than I ever hope to, we connect on alot of stuff. Mostly music but also on how hot Mark Bells ass is. Oh, and how much Spielbergs “War of the Worlds” kicks ass. We had to call Mike Ferraro around 2 a.m. his time to remind him. Pussy didn’t pick up. At nights end Pete had dissaapeared and John, my wife, my sister and myself dragged ourselves back to the hotel.
John’s a big Tom Waits fan so during the 6 block walk home, we started singing like Tom Waits. Songs like…”Build me up Buttercup” or “Peggy Sue” and other non-Waits songs. I started singing Wilco as Waits and some random guy walking by goes, “Hey, are you singing Wilco!?!?” He and I locked arms and sang Wilco for a block or so until he turned. Then we got back to the hotel and headed upstairs. The elevator dings and we started stumbling to our room, laughing our asses off. Then, we caught a waft of something *funky* (if you know what I mean) and just as we got in front of the room across the hall…Michael Rappaport comes walking out! I go “Hey! You’re Michael Rappaport!” He goes, “Uhhh…yeah.” I say, “dude, you were fucking awesome in “Beautiful Girls” man!” He said thanks and then I chatted him up and said I really, really want to see his new indie flick “Special,” but that we here at Film Threat had already covered it. He brought me back to the room he came from and introduced me to either the director or the producer. I dunno. I’m going to try to set up an interview later in the month.
As we started going to sleep, my cell started ringing and my aunt and mom wanted to know why we hadn’t evacuated the hotel? We looked out the window and saw probably 200 people milling around! We called the front desk and they said it was a false alarm. ZZZZzzzzz.
Then Sunday we had another screening and the Q&A was lively. There was one guy at Fridays screening who was really into the film and asked alot of questions. Yet Sundays screening was alot better with all kinds of questions that were realy good and insightful. Nice to know people are paying attention. Plus, Nathan Zellner came! The Zellners rule! That night I had totally planned on seeing the new Werner Herzog/Christian Bale movie “Rescue Dawn” but awaiting our screenings, drinking, only eating beef and sausage for three days coupled with a generous heaping of laziness kept me out of it. Instead my family and I watched the bats leave from under the Town Lake bridge. There’s like….3 million bats that go out for food….pretty surreal. After that and after a stressful few days I retired to the room with my wife to watch the World Series. I was toast.
So that’s my festival. I did spend alot of time chatting people up, puttingup and handing out fliers and being gregarious. But I am bummed I didn’t see more, but what a great time. The festival staff here really, reaally takes care of the filmmakers and I think everyone in attendance was blown away. The Austin Film Fest is small, but it respects writers and treats everyone great. Now I’m off to Stubbs to see Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins and then tomorrow…back to reality. Reality sucks, expecially when your reality isn;t in Austin Texas…the greatest city in the States. Thanks for reading!
Posted on October 23, 2006 in Blogs by Don R. Lewis
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- THE AUSTIN FILM COMMUNITY
- THE FINAL COUNTDOWN…
- FILM THREAT RIDES INTO SXSW 2005
- THE PLANE… THE PLANE.
- DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS:
FILM THREAT AT THE 2007 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL
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