One of the delightful things about the film fest world is that over the last few years, it’s become more and more inclusive of television — whether it be independently financed and produced series looking to network their way to audiences, or established series in search of the prestige that comes with a festival premiere. At this year’s SXSW, there are plenty of exciting opportunities for those intrigued by the episodic scene — including panels, screenings, installations and all of the SXSW Film keynotes.
Here’s what we’re most excited about this year.
The five series below represent SXSW’s official line-up of television programming, which will compete for the Episodics section. In 2015, it was won by USA’s "Mr. Robot," which did pretty well for itself in the months that followed. So keep your eyes on the below. (Descriptions provided by SXSW.)
Director: Adam Wingard, Screenwriter: Robert Kirkman, Showrunner: Chris Black
"Outcast," based on the Skybound/Image comic title by creator Robert Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta, follows Kyle Barnes, a young man who has been plagued by demonic possession all his life. Cast: Patrick Fugit, Philip Glenister, Wrenn Schmidt, Reg E. Cathey, David Denman (World Premiere)
Producers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Screenwriter: Sam Catlin
"Preacher" is a supernatural, twisted, and darkly comedic drama that follows a West Texas preacher named Jesse Custer, who – along with his ex-girlfriend Tulip and an Irish vagabond named Cassidy – is thrust into a crazy world, much bigger than he is. Cast: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Ian Colletti, W. Earl Brown, Lucy Griffiths (World Premiere)
Directors/Screenwriters: Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers
"Search Party" is a dark comedy about four self-absorbed twenty-somethings who become entangled in an ominous mystery when a former college acquaintance suddenly disappears. Cast: Alia Shawkat, John Early, John Reynolds, Meredith Hagner (World Premiere)
Directors: Jody Hill, David Gordon Green, Screenwriters: Danny McBride, Jody Hill
A dark comedy series that tells the story of a high school and the two people who almost run it, the vice principals, who are engaged in an epic power struggle for the top spot. Cast: Danny McBride, Walton Goggins, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Georgia King, Busy Philipps, Shea Whigham, Sheaun McKinney (World Premiere)
"You Me Her"
Director: Nisha Ganatra, Screenwriter/Showrunner: John Scott Shepherd
An impulsive "date" between suburbanite Jack and escort Izzy spins into a three-way affair including Jack’s wife Emma, posing the question: What if your truest, happiest life looked nothing like you imagined? Would you be brave enough to live it? Cast: Greg Poehler, Rachel Blanchard, Priscilla Faia, Jarod Joseph, Melanie Papalia (World Premiere)
Ellen Page and Ian Daniel
Saturday, March 12, 11:00 AM | Vimeo Theater
Ellen Page is, of course, better known for her film work, but the VICELAND documentary series "Gaycation" features the young actress at her most personal, as she travels with Ian Daniel to explore international LGBTQ communities.
Sunday, March 13, 11:00AM – 12:00PM | Austin Convention Center, Vimeo Theater
Author Nelson George comes more from the music side of things, which explains his next big project: Working as a writer/producer on the upcoming Netflix drama "The Get Down," the Baz Luhrman-created drama about the rise of 1970s hip-hop. That’s going to be one to watch, and maybe George will drop some tidbits during his talk.
Monday, March 14, 11:00 AM | Vimeo Theater
A longstanding member of the independent film world, Joe Swanberg for years wrote and directed the digital series "Young American Bodies," and also recently directed episodes of "Love" and "Looking." Swanberg’s bound to have a fascinating perspective on the current blend of film, television and digital.
Gale Anne Hurd
Tuesday, March 15, 11:00 AM | Vimeo Theater
After decades producing film mega-blockbusters, Gale Anne Hurd dove into the television world with "The Walking Dead," and that seems to have worked out pretty well for her. The producer has a new series, "Hunters," coming soon to Syfy, thus building her TV empire even further.
Here are just a few select panels that might be of interest to Indiewire readers At this year’s SXSW, there are plenty of exciting opportunities for those intrigued by the episodic scene — those who are passionate about TV, and those who are passionate about making it themselves…
Social Media: The New TV Show Launchpad
Saturday, March 12, 5:00PM – 6:00PM | Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
How can social media help make sure your TV show is a success before you ever premiere? Whether you’re the showrunner of a cable hit or an indie creator prepping for a YouTube launch, this panel should come in handy.
Coding on Camera: MR. ROBOT and Authenticity on TV
Sunday, March 13, 12:30PM – 1:30PM | Austin Convention Center, Ballroom EFG
Speaking of the Golden Globes winner… "Mr. Robot" creator Sam Esmail and stars Christian Slater and Rami Malek will appear to discuss how, exactly, to make hacking look authentic on television.
"Con Man": The Fan Revolt 13 Years in The Making
Monday, March 14, 3:30PM – 4:30PM | Four Seasons, Ballroom CD
One year ago, "Firefly" stars Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund an independent series about what it’s like to have starred on a tragically canceled but beloved sci-fi series (yeah, like "Firefly"). Today, the first season has been warmly received by fans following a record-setting crowdfunding campaign and a Vimeo VOD release, and Tudyk and others will be on hand to reveal how.
Breaking into TV in the Digital Age
Saturday, March 12, 3:30PM – 4:30PM | Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Breaking Down Borders Between TV and Online Video
Monday, March 14, 2:00PM – 3:00PM | Four Seasons, Ballroom CD
We’ve grouped these two panels together because they represent two different angles on the same idea — the line between television and digital production is smudgy at best. As success stories like Rooster Teeth and "Broad City" grow in number, the time is now to see what strategy might work best for you.