Let’s be real. Parties aside, you’re at SXSW to learn how to be a better filmmaker. These panels will help you do that. We’ve got the basic details below, but you can click on the panel names for more information. The panels are listed in chronological order:
When: Monday, March 16, 11 a..m – 12:00 p.m.
Why: Though the focus here will obviously be on cinematography (and since the panel is sponsored by Canon, there will be a focus on Canon Cinema EOS cameras), the panelists alone make this one a must-attend. Joining award-winning director/producer Ondi Timoner (whose latest documentary “BRAND: A Second Coming” will world premiere at SXSW) will be producer J.M. Logan (“The Manson Family Vacation,” also set to world premiere at SXSW), cinematographer and director Abe Epperson (Cracked.com) and Tim Smith, Senior Advisor, Film and TV Production, Canon U.S.A. The panelists will discuss examples from their own work where cinematic devices and visual cues helped to enhance on-screen laughs. Note: Film, Gold or Platinum badges are required for entry to attend the panel, subject to room capacity, so get there early!
When: Monday, March 16, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Why: With all this talk of how we need more diversity onscreen and behind the camera, female writers and directors are finding new ways to collaborate to bring female narratives to the screen. Started by Leah Meyerhoff (“I Believe in Unicorns”), Film Fatales is a collective of female filmmakers who have written or directed at least one feature narrative or documentary film. At this informal session, successful female feature directors, including Meyerhoff and Kat Candler (“Hellion”) will discuss how they got their films made and what they are doing to close the gender gap in film. Bonus: though we can’t confirm there will be alcohol served, the session is being held at a bar, so there’s a good chance of it.
When: Monday, March 16, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Why: We realize it conflicts with the Femme Fatales session, but you’ll also get a dose of female director power at this “conversation” with award-winning writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Prince-Blythewood will discuss her journey from writing and directing “Love and Basketball” to adapting the best-selling novel “The Secret Life of Bees” before going on to direct HBO’s “Disappearing Acts” and writing and directing “Beyond The Lights.” Specifically, she’ll talk about what she’s learned about audience development, marketing and new media through the marketing, distribution, screenings and responses to each film.
4. DIY Theatrical Distribution for Independent Films
When: Monday, March 16, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Why: If you’re thinking of self-distributing, first you must learn from the pros. The panel will use the theatrical releases of two SXSW 2013 feature films, PJ Raval’s “Before You Know It” and Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews’ “Before You Know It” as how-to case studies for releasing your indie film theatrically. Filmmakers PJ Raval (“Before You Know It), Sara Giustini (producer, “Before You Know It”), Annie Bush (co-producer, “Before You Know It”), Katie Graham (“Zero Charisma”) and Andrew Matthews (“Zero Charisma”) will be on hand to share their experiences with self-distributing, including creating strategies for audience building and budgeting for distribution and outreach.
When: Tuesday, March 17, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Why: Over the past 20 years, Christine Vachon (along with Killer Films partner Pamela Coffer) has produced some of the most celebrated American indie features including Academy Award-winning “Boys Don’t Cry,” Academy Award-nominated “Far from Heaven,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Happiness,” “Velvet Goldmine,” “Safe” and many more. Most recently, she produced “Nasty Baby,” which recently premiered at Sundance 2015 and the Oscar-winning “Still Alice.” Vachon is an Independent Spirit Award and Gotham Award winner whose company has also successfully ventured into television (with “Wilder Pierce” for HBO) and digital ventures. You’ll want to be there to hear this veteran indie producer talk (in conversation with Scott Foundas, Variety’s Chief Film Critic) about what it takes to make it in the indie film world.