indieWIRE is hosting a series of talks on the Next Stage inside the SXSW trade show at the Austin Convention Center. Here’s the highlights from Tuesday, February 15.
Interviews: “The Future” filmmaker Miranda July, “Silver Bullets” director Joe Swanberg and star Ti West, FilmBuff head Matt Dentler, Film Society of Lincoln Center digital strategy director Eugene Hernandez
Emcees: iW editor in chief Dana Harris, managing editor Brian Brooks and film critic Eric Kohn
— “The Future” details a couple’s reaction to a struggling relationship which, for star July, includes starting a sort-of affair with YouTube and uploading dance-performance videos. “We made YouTube because we had the feeling of wanting to be watched,” July said. “It’s sort of a form of depression, but the great hope is that if you’re watched all the time, or if there’s a sense of someone always looking, you almost don’t have to exist. You don’t have to be the one driving the car or feeling the feelings. It’s more that than wanting to show off. [Uploading videos of yourself] is a form of depression of not wanting to be there at all.”
— Dentler recounted stories from Monday night’s “drunk panel” at La Zona Rosa, in which participants met up prior for Happy Hour before the event. The intent was to produce uninhibited gossip and dirt, but instead Fantastic Fest director Tim League tried to crowdsurf and a woman climbed onstage to make out with Roadside Attractions’ Dusty Smith.
–Per Hernandez: “Weekend’ is the best narrative film I’ve seen at this year’s SXSW.”
Kohn led a conversation with “Silver Bullets” director Joe Swanberg and cast member Ti West (who also directed SXSW entry “The Innkeepers”):
indieWIRE: How did you all meet?
Ti West: We met here at SXSW in 2005. I was the guy with the bat movie, and he was the guy with the naked movie. I sent you [speaking to Swanberg] an email about cameras.
Joe Swanberg: You came back to SX next year…
TW: I got back the next year and Joe had another movie. How is he so prolific? What am I doing wrong? That competition drove me.
[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect accuracy at the “Drunk Panel.”]
iW: “Silver Bullets” seems like an extension of how this relationship has evolved. There’s a scene where you [Swanberg] are talking to film studients about making a movie and you [West] are a filmmaker as well.
JS: What allowed us to stay friends is that our films are catered to two different audiences. If he was making indie romantic films or if I was making horror films, there’d be more competition. We’re not fighting for the same audience.
TW: There’s a desire not to repeat yourself. What “Silver Bullets” is about is feeling like you’re making the same movie and repeating yourself. So [with “The Innkeepers”] I found a way to make this screwball horror movie.
iW: You both started having movies at SXSW at a time when it was really coming into its own and inspiring a certain kind of filmmaker. The guys who made “Weekend” said they were inspired by the kinds of movies that come out of SXSW to make their film. How do you feel about having the kind of impact you can have on people t?
JS: 2005 seems like a watershed year for SXSW. There was a lot of really talented people who happened to be here that year who I happened to collaboraet with. I’m not trying to make inspirational movies. I’m trying to make movies that are achievable. You get people sitting on ideas because they’re waiting to make films, wait for their government boards to dole out movies. As far as the “Weekend” guys, I went to a baseball game and drank beers with them at a festival. We shared stories there. That kind of stuff is more impacting than watching all my films and seeing what I did.
TW: You end up collaborating with these people. You always see the special thanks and that could be a number of things. Because Joe is associated with the mumblecore thing, there’s more inspiration there. I’ve made these horror movies that are a little bit left of center. The horror movies that come out aren’t that good.
iW: Your movies haven’t been picked up by a distributor yet. What are your plans for these new films?
JS: My relationship [with the past few films] with IFC is amazing and allows me to keep making work. I think VOD is something that people are trying out. It seems to be working well for some movies and not so well for others. It’s just not that important for me to have a theatrical release, and so far VOD is the thing that allows my films to be the most accessible to the most homes and people. I have so many movies right now that I need to release them in a number of different ways so that they don’t cannibalize others.
TW: The people who financed my movie is a distributor. It is important for me to have a theatrical release because I spend so much time doing the sound and the picture. More people than through any other method have seen my movie on VOD than they ever have on any other format.
iW: I think someone should make a movie called “Joe Swanberg; Can’t Stop.”
JS: I made these other movies so fast that I’m actually not working that much. I’m making movies so quickly. I appear busier than I actually am. A lot of people are working 15-hour days on just one film. I think it’s like a compulsion. I really crave being on set and being around actors. I just finished shooting… I have three doing festival rounds.
TW: I think I have a science-fiction movie that I wrote. It’s a little bit more money, so you never know.
(Audience question) Do you have any advice for young filmmakers who haven’t gotten into the festival?
JS: I think if this was my first year that I submitted to SXSW, I wouldn’t get in. If I was making my first feature now, I’d put it up on Vimeo for free. We’re in a new territory where any body of work is more important than any one film could have. My first movie got rejected everywhere. A lot of people that rejected the first one accepted the second one; a lot of people that rejected the second one accepted the third one.
TW: Some people love some movies and some people don’t like other movies. If you get rejected, it doesn’t really mean anything except that it wasn’t the programmer’s taste.
iW: Do you read your own reviews?
JS: When David Foster Wallace died, I rewatched that Charlie Rose interview and it was difficult seeing how he coped with success. I was just sprialing into a terrible dark place. I just had a baby, so I don’t have time to sit around the computer like I used to. This is just gonna lead you to a really bad place, so you’re gonna stop making work and kill yourself. It was incredible to see how much I changed not reading the reviews. All these things that I stopped doing. I don’t read any of it anymore. I don’t waste that time anymore. I read a lot more books now. I see friends more often. I feel a lot better.