Essays

SXSW Blog: The Long Road into Texas

From Columbus, Ohio to Austin, Texas to movies to party… It was a long day 1 (alright, days 1-3, but who’s counting).
By  · Published on March 8th, 2008

It began, in the true fashion of the Film School Rejects, a little late — our trip to Texas for the South by Southwest Film Festival was supposed to begin sometime in the early afternoon on Wednesday (that’s two days ago at this point). But thanks to some procrastination and our need to make sandwiches for the road we didn’t get going until the sun had already dropped below the horizon. Thankfully though, we were still on pace to miss rush hour in every major city between Columbus, Ohio and Austin, Texas — or so we thought.

For almost 19 hours straight, yours truly and FSR Associate Editor Brian Gibson braved the rolling (read: boring) plains of southern Ohio, traversed the dangerous terrain of Sparta! (Kentucky) and nearly slept our way through the desolate (and mostly smelly) state of Arkansas — our apologies to our readers in Arkansas, we really wanted to like your state, but the rest stops along I-40 and I-30 South need some attention.

But alas, despite the slinkiness of Arkansas we made it to Texas, where is was rainy and cold. And as my partner in crime would say, it is like Ohio, just with bigger belt buckles. Eventually (and I do mean eventually) we made it down to Austin, a beautiful and character-filled city. Instantly I was in love with the aesthetic of this town and the denizens that make it so unique.

We arrived to the house in Austin around 6 p.m. local time, just in time to grab dinner with our housemates Peter Sciretta (Slashfilm.com), Alex Billington (FirstShowing.net) and Kevin Kelly (i09.com). We took in a burger at Hut’s Hamburgers — which were absolutely fantastic, especially after 19 hours of PB&J — before calling it a night. Needless to say, there wasn’t much that was exciting about our trip, except that we learned that in Texas, it is still called The Texas Roadhouse. Amazing.

The next morning brought the official day one of the SXSW Film Festival. After spending most of the morning in the kitchen of our fantastic rented house researching Jonathan Brandis — who once auditioned for the role of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, did you know that? — we headed down to the Austin Convention Center to pick up our badges. The lines were long, but we paid no mind, it was clear immediately that we were in the Mecca of Geekdom, the intersection of technology, music and film. Much different than Sundance or Comic-Con, SXSW brings together not only movie geeks, but fans of technology and pop culture in general. It is here that we are truly home — now if only we can find and accost Kevin Rose.

Alamo Draft House, We Drink Your Milkshake!

Badge pickup, lunch and then off to see a special press screening Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay at the Alamo Draft House. Although, thanks to some wayward directions from Kevin Kelly and then some confused looks from SXSW programming director Matt Dentler, we realized that we were at the wrong Alamo Draft House, so we scampered across town to the other Alamo Draft House (they are so awesome, they needed 2). Thanks to Quint from Ain’t It Cool News, we scored seats and saw the flick — and ultimately it was pretty good. As Peter will tell you, it isn’t as clever as the first film, but it works. Keep an eye out for Brian’s full review of the film later today.

Our night finished with the world premiere of Second Skin (which was awesome, review forthcoming) and the official SXSW Film opening night party at Buffalo Billiards. There we met John Campea from The Movie Blog, Scott Weinberg and Erik Davis from Cinematical, among others. As you can see from our Twitter stream, we had a great time. Alex had the best time, hands down.

And that brings us up to date — this morning brings an opportunity to get some work done (reviews, reviews, reviews) before we head on over to see We Are Wizards, a doc about Harry Potter inspired bands. We are also taking in Reformat the Planet, which is all the more exciting as we got a chance to hang with the filmmakers last night. Besides that, who knows. Keep an eye on Twitter for the up-to-the-minute updates and on Flickr for the latest photos.

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A Blogger’s Day Always Ends with Booze. From left: Neil (FSR), Alex (First Showing), Kevin (i09), John (The Movie Blog) and Brian (FSR)

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the upcoming One Perfect Shot TV show (HBO Max, 2021) and the co-host of The Storm: A LOST Rewatch podcast. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)