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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tips on South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival

Had lunch today in Park City with Jarod Neece, one of the organizers of the South by Southwest Film Fest in Austin.


He offered a few tips on going to the festival - and trying to get your film into it (he screens documentaries). I haven't been before - so I was curious.


  • He says March 11th through 14th are probably the best days to be there
  • Midnight screenings tend to sell out. Jarod says they're the most fun - especially at the Alamo Drafthouse - and that "South by" (that's how those in-the-know refer to it) has added a second midnight screening each night for 2006.
  • Jarod recommends the film badge (it gets you into everything film-related) for $275. You're guaranteed admittance to films, and you get into festival parties, too. Badge holders get seating priority over those who've just got the $70 "Film Pass." You can sometimes buy individual tickets to screenings 15-45 mins before the show starts.
  • The Hilton bar, Jarod says, is the place for the big schmooze
  • Don't rent a car - use the festival bus
  • They've got about 40 world premieres lined up this year
  • Jarod says what makes SXSW different from, say Sundance, is that there are no velvet ropes or private rooms - VIPs mingle with the rabble. Sounds great.
  • From the organizers' perspective, he says SXSW is really concerned about "screener leakage" - what happens if advance DVD screeners of movies that have been sent to the fest get pirated, or wind up for sale on eBay. (Jarod emphasizes that this hasn't happened in the past at SXSW... but has happened to other fests.) They're taking lots of precautions.
  • His advice on getting your film into the fest: make a great movie that surprises viewers, and make sure it's not a minute longer than it needs to be. Don't make 20-minute long shorts, or three-hour documentaries, he said. "We can show five 5 shorts instead of one 20-minute short," he said. The fest will often get three-hour documentaries that should be 60 minutes long - and sometimes (only sometimes), they offer the director a chance to cut it down and still be accepted in the fest. But Jarod advises getting it to a reasonable length before you submit it. He also suggests showing it to plenty of people before you send it in, rather than waiting until the day before the submission deadline to finish the film.
  • I'm gonna be moderating a panel on the impact of blogging on the film world at SXSW this March, with a murderer's row of great speakers: Karina Longworth from Cinematical, David Hudson from Greencine, Cindi Greening from Cinema Minima, David Poland from Movie City News, and Joe Swanberg, director of "Kissing on the Mouth." It'll be on Monday, March 13th at 3 PM - so come!

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