This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of indieWIRE, the beloved film news Web site that also hosts this blog. As much as indieWIRE has become a part of my daily life today, that wasn’t the case about six years ago. That’s when I was promoted to programmer and office assistant at SXSW. One of my first days working in the office, my fellow SXSW programmer and officemate Bryan Poyser (who would later direct the film Dear Pillow) suggested I check out the site for daily news. I was used to the “conventional” outlets, like Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and even Austin’s own Aint It Cool News. So, I checked it out, and within days became totally hooked. indieWIRE would become one of my most-trafficked Web sites to this day, full of updates on what was happening within the world of indie-film production, film festivals, and more. In short, it was a terrific resource for someone in my position in the world. The gang at indieWIRE would have occasional coverage of SXSW events, often using a local stringer like Marc Savlov or native Texan Jacque Lynn Schiller.
It wasn’t until January 2003 when I was at a party in Sundance for the film, Milk and Honey, that I ran into indieWIRE editor-in-chief Eugene Hernandez. We met, exchanged pleasantries, and that was that. I wouldn’t see the indieWIRE gang until about a year later, at Sundance 2004. At the annual Gen Art party, film producer Melissa Balin introduced Jarod and I to Eugene, J.D. Ashcraft, and Brian Brooks. I knew Brian’s name as the man behind iPOP. When I mentioned that I loved iPOP, Brian snapped a photo of Jarod, Melissa, and I. A few days later, the iW guys invited us to their condo for end-of-the-festival drinks. Jarod and I were sitting back and hanging with folks like Brian Newman, Ian Bricke, and David Koh. The conversations were primarily about “Who’s gonna buy Super Size Me?” and “Can you believe Primer won the jury award?” It was not only nice to connect with the iW guys on a business level, but also wonderful to establish a bond and create what would become a great friendship.
Later that March, Eugene would attend SXSW for the first time. And, shortly after that, he invited me to participate in what was a kinda foreign idea at the time: hosting my own blog on indieWIRE. I jumped at that chance, and have to say, it’s something that I’m proud to be a part of. Pretty soon, my experience at film festivals would change because I was now friends with not only the iW staff, but the extended family as well. Folks like Jonny Leahan, Mark Rabinowitz, Brian Clark, Jimmy Israel, Mike Jones, etc. etc. would take in this young Texan with an eager vibe and show me around. Beyond just contacts and introductions, the gang at iW gave me that one thing that’s hard to find in this business: my first festival friends. (When I compare the amount of fun I had at Toronto 2005 versus Toronto 2003, it’s crystal clear.)
But one of the best things about iW is its integrity. While SXSW has been very lucky to receive great coverage from the site, we have to wait in line just like everyone else. And I appreciate that. Rarely in this business are friends able to flip the switch between work and play, as well as I think I’ve been able to do with indieWIRE. This says more about indieWIRE as a whole. In my nine years in this industry, I can’t recall an ill word ever said about indieWIRE. Maybe it’s due to the fact that the site truly is in its own league, with “competitors” that are hard to identify. There are people that hate me, plenty of them. But I’ve never met someone who hated iW. And that, is a true accomplishment. They survived the dot-com crash. They survived the changing tides of the indie film biz. And, they just keep getting stronger and stronger. I’m happy to know them, and thrilled to have this blog on their site. Happy birthday, indieWIRE, you’re about to enter puberty.
(In the same weekend, Harper Cummings turns 3.)