By Nick Hansen, Staff Writer
The 2018 South By Southwest Film Festival was another epic spectacle of film, music, and entertainment. Several Institute of Production and Recording (IPR) students along with Associate Campus Director, Trey Wodele, attended the festival. The goal was to learn from and engage with one of the most creative atmospheres in the country. The festival, held annually in Austin, TX, was a voyage of discovery for the students.
There were hundreds of films shown and over 1000 official music showcasing acts this year. The music and film festivals are the big focal points at SXSW. However, there is also comedy, gaming, and virtual reality experiences along with conferences and keynotes.
Some Highlights from Trey Wodele:
The opening night launch party at Robert Rodriguez’s film studios: Rodriguez bought the Austin Airport site when it expanded and moved outside of town. It is a massive studio and is unique to have a studio of this stature outside of LA. The party was an experience of a lifetime. It was held on the set for Rodriguez’s upcoming film Alita: Battle Angel, which was built on the back parking lot of the studio.
Alita is a futuristic film, set in a multi-cultural slum; the set was an entire neighborhood built with an incredible attention to detail. According to Rodriguez, he loved the it so much, he couldn’t get himself to tear it down. When SXSW requested a spot for the party, he knew that it was perfect.
The world premiere of All Square: A feature film produced by Minnesota filmmaker Jordan Foley. Jordan is a friend and although he was not able to attend, I was able to visit to with his father and mingle with the cast and crew in the theater before and after the film.
The film starred Michael Kelly (House of Cards) and many of the cast and crew attended. All Square ended up receiving the Audience Choice award at the fest. The students had other the plans on the night of its screening, but I convinced some of them to check out a later screening of the film.
The world premiere of The Good Exorcist: Minnesota filmmaker and animator Josh Stifter’s feature film . Josh is part of the group of pros who help out around IPR and a longtime colleague of IPR Instructor Andrew Hunt and former Digital Video and Media Production Lab Engineer Eric Chan.
Josh offered me two seats to this invite-only event. His film was part of the El Rey Network’s reality show Rebel without a Crew. Contestants were given $7000 to shoot a feature film, and the show documented the production. The film was great and it was great catching up with Josh and I was even asked to do an on-camera interview for the show. The series is available to watch on the El Rey Network and can be streamed on Go90.com.
IPR Student Experiences
Students were eager to watch the film Thunder Road. It is a feature based on a short film that had a great deal of success in festivals a few years ago. (As a part of their coursework, students study short film and watch a lot of short films on the internet). They were excited to see that the feature adaptation was going to play at SXSW and most of the video students attended the screening. Thunder Road ended up claiming the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW this year, so I felt like we did pretty well when researching our films. Two for two!
Live Sound and Show Production student Victor Guerrero networking at the Dirty Dog: Victor had a great experience at a local venue. In our classroom sessions, we talk a lot about networking at these events. The students are required to create and bring business cards with them. I always urge Live Sound students to talk to the sound crew at events. Victor had success at a bar called the Dirty Dog. He struck up a conversation with the Sound tech, who asked him to come by the next day and help out. So, one of our students even got to do a little work at the festival!
The business and product expo at SXSW. Major media companies, start-ups and even countries from all over the world are on hand featuring their newest products in the fields of interactive, film & video, and music. The students spent time examining cameras and other products – also collecting a great deal of swag from the vendors.
Digital Video student Parker Gorecki and I spent 45 minutes at one booth. We talked to a young entrepreneur about an amazingly durable and lightweight LED light that he developed. Parker is sort of an evil genius, so he understood much more of the technology than I did, but it was an interesting product nonetheless. I also spent time talking to the Texas Film Board, the Florida Film Board, and other regional film organizations. I also demoed a new Google product for educators called the Jam Board. It’s a pretty cool product that I’d like to look at for some of our classrooms.
A day at the Rodeo: IPR student Jaki Velez spent one day at an off-festival event. When she heard there was a real Texas rodeo in town and it was only $12 to attend, she went to the rodeo grounds to check it out. I was totally in support of it… Rodeo is entertainment, right?
Student Thoughts on SXSW 2018:
“The trip was awesome and I’m so glad I went. The panels I went to were very informative and one panel on men’s mental health made me want to get more involved in bringing awareness to the issue. It’s hard to not fall in love with a city like Austin.
“Aside from a few crazy drivers everybody was really friendly and welcoming. I made some friends at Dirty Dog and they consider me a regular there. If I decide to move to Austin there is definitely room for me on their staff. Everyone in Austin made me feel welcome. Like I was at home.
“I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to but that just gives me more of a reason to go back. I do plan on visiting Austin again. Before this trip I was playing with the idea of moving there and after this trip it seems very likely that’s what will happen. I definitely think this trip is beneficial to all students, and all who can should take advantage.”
Victor Guerrero, LSSP Student
“SX was an awesome place to get exposure to creative jobs. Film and Music students had the chance to mingle with individuals who were also beginning their careers in those industries and also with individuals who are already established in the field. As a bilingual student, I was able to mingle with a ton of Spanish speakers. There were so many people from Latin America. It was awesome!”
Jaki Velez, MEB Student
“Day 6 was full of panels and shows. I started the day by going to a Music Supervision panel. I followed that by a D.I.Y. musician talk, and my favorite, the “Co-Write’ song writing panel. After attending these three panels, I had a sort of awakening on what I wanted to do and what steps I need to take to get there. Later that day I met up with some friends that were in town from Radio K and we went to a show featuring headliner Gus Dapperton. I came across this Canadian artist Ryan Playground, and she absolutely blew my mind. Playing three instruments at once, her music created this sort of sad, energetic energy which really woke me up and got me through the rest of the late night shows I was attending.”
Nic Grooms, MEB student
SXSW Website: https://www.sxsw.com/