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Indiewire Went to SXSW to See Movies and Left With a Mission. Here’s Why.

Indiewire Went to SXSW to See Movies and Left With a Mission. Here's Why.

SXSW could give anyone a complex. The crowds, the pedicabs, the hucksters on every corner — but what really does your head in is the sheer volume of information and the utter impossibility of processing it. You can’t take refuge in the signal-to-noise ratio. Not to say that there aren’t a lot of gewgaws that you and the rest of the world could do without (another T-shirt emblazoned with a random new Google app, anyone?), but with the hundreds (thousands?) of panels, screenings and events, there’s no way to take it all in and in one way or another, you are missing out.

And if you’re here for SXSW Film, it’s even worse. As I heard from more than one snide SXSW Interactive registrant: “Oh, there’s a film festival here?” Har. 

READ MORE: All of Indiewire’s SXSW Film 2013 coverage

Granted: SXSW Film, while a vital event on the festival calendar, is a tiny portion of the cultural juggernaut SXSW as a whole has become. SXSW Film may have achieved, for better or worse, some additional scale this year with the influx of TV (A&E’s “Bates Motel” received a special screening at the festival and served as the opening night sponsor), but TV Everywhere seemed to be the event’s unofficial mantra with the “Game of Thrones” thrones and sponsored “activations” ranging from NBC to The Weather Channel. 

So yes, SXSW is huge and has outstripped all expectations of scalability, is now Burning Man With Clothes, Comic-Con Without the Furries, the unofficial launching pad for Everything and Anything That Wants To Be Deemed Cool. 

Fine. We all have better things to worry about than a convention’s overactive pituitary gland. However, the sheer bludgeoning scale of SXSW 2013 — and SXSW Film’s place in it — set me on a mission. When I wasn’t screening films as a member of the SXSW Film 2013 jury for narrative features, I was asking everyone I met who I should hire to cover the ever-ballooning intersection of film and interactive for Indiewire. 

(What follows is a fairly shameless attempt at a large-scale job posting, so caveat emptor etc.)

It’s not that Indiewire doesn’t cover this area already; you can’t find a day where we don’t write about crowdfunding or VOD. And we’ve written about the interactive impact on content creation in areas ranging from financing (hey, Slated!) to distribution (yo, Tugg). And then there’s the new kinds of content that this technology is creating, including podcasts and webisodes, not to mention apps and websites. And short films have a new currency thanks to the outlets afforded through Vimeo and YouTube.

However, this missionary fervor doesn’t stem from hitting my head in the Iron Works BBQ line and waking with a case of oh, hai Internet! It’s from my belief that every indie filmmaking team is also made up of entrepreneurs, just as much as it is storytellers. To some degree, that’s always been the case — but today, with economic pressures and the ability to do so much more outside the system, the only question is if they’re good at both.

Money fuels the runaway energy of SXSW; in the film world, much of that comes from the building of new studio-like corporations like Netflix and Hulu, but the nature of interactive is perfectly aligned to the energies of indie filmmaking. Online and social is another way of saying DIY, but we’ve crossed the point where technology gives indie filmmakers the option of controlling their work; it’s now an obligation. 

If you’re a great writer and at least two kinds of geek, this is the best job in the world. So, do you know someone who would be perfect for helping us make Indiewire the single best resource for helping us create this Film-Interactive Venn diagram? For sorting the essential wheat from the vaporware chaff? Ping me at dana@indiewire.com.

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