One of the many aspects of my job, is speaking to groups unfamiliar with SXSW. Typically, though, these are groups comprised of filmmakers, film industry, or film fans. For Wednesday night, I was invited to speak about SXSW to a different kind of group: a weekly meeting of “underprivileged youths” in East Austin. It was a sorta “career night” for the teen-aged gathering. And, while I tried my best to stay focused on the nitty gritty (e.g. what we do at SXSW, how to be a part of it, how I started working there, etc.), there was obviously one major thing on their minds: “What celebrities have you met?”
The group leader did his best to steer the conversation back to wholesome subjects like “how to balance college and work,” but most of the kids weren’t having it. Which was kind of refreshing. It was sort of nice to talk to a group that was more interested in hearing about the time I met Tom Cruise, than how many submissions we receive each year. Our premiere policy? Screening formats? They could care less. If it hadn’t been for the free T-shirts I brought with me, they likely wouldn’t have allowed me to stop insisting I’ve never met Tony Romo or Chris Brown.