This year marks my first time attending the world-renowned South By Southwest Festival, which features film, interactive and music events. Did I have a good time? Of course I did!
But my overall experience at SXSW came in a close second to some of the other, more film-centric festivals I have attending over the past ten years as an independent filmmaker.
But speaking from the perspective of the manager for film, web and video projects at Indiegogo, here are my top five things I did (and didn’t) get a chance to do while cruising 6th Street and getting lost inside the Austin Convention Center.
There were two films that I wanted to see at SXSW but didn’t get a chance to because when you’re actually at a festival of SX magnitude, you’re really there to build relationships. Well, that and I lined up a little late, I suppose. Why would these missed movies be on a “Best of” list? Well, both movies, Loves Her Gun, directed by Geoff Marslett, and Zero Charisma, directed by Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews, were not only were successfully funded Indiegogo, but also took home awards.
Katie Graham got a special mention in the Chicken and Egg Emergent Narrative Woman Director for Zero Charisma and Loves Her Gun won the prestigious Louis Black “Lone Star” Award.
Good Ol’ Freda and Animated Shorts
So what did I get to see during my four days at SXSW? I watched the majority of Good Ol’ Freda, a poignant documentary that told the story of Freda Kelly, who was The Beatles’ secretary for the duration of the rock band’s career.
Luckily, I made it out of the Convention Center and made it out to the Sate Theater on my final day in Austin to catch a screening of some animated shorts as partial research for an upcoming trip to Denmark in April for Cartoon CINE, a training seminar for feature-length animated films from concept (and now crowdfunding) through distribution.
I saw a few good shorts, though Oh Willy, which was the winner in the Animated Shorts category, didn’t really impress me too much, story-wise, but it was put together very well. The Blue Umbrella, Disney/Pixar’s contribution to SXSW, was cute, as most Disney/Pixar films are, but that’s about all she wrote. I’m just glad I got to see more films at SXSW than I did at Cannes back in 2011.
John Trigonis Photobombs James Franco
One of the films I did have a chance to see was the new Harmony Korine picture Spring Breakers. My partner Brad Wyman and I attended this screening, and I have to be honest here, prior to Spring Breakers, I’d never see a Harmony Korine movie before, though I’d heard of Kids, of course.
Suffice it to say I won’t be delving into a Harmony Korine movie-watching phase anytime soon. However, James Franco’s performance as a rap star drug addict busting four girls and taking them under his wing for a life of spring break criminal activity was stellar.
After the premiere, Brad and I hurried off to the after party, where I inadvertently photo-bombed an otherwise lovely group shot of Harmony and Rachel Korine, James Franco, Selena Gomez, which found its way onto the People.com and other sites.
Indiegogo Pitch Fest and Party
This was Indiegogo’s main event, and man, was it successful! We held a pitch fest, in which crowdfunding hopefuls sign up ahead of time to pitch their ideas to a panel of Gogo-celebrity judges, including myself as author of Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, and two of Indiegogo’s most successful campaigners — Sean Keenan, who raised $325,327 for his production of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, and Hannah Hart and Pearl Wible, who recently brought in $222,957 to take their hit YouTube show My Drunk Kitchen on the road.
Brad moderated, folks pitched, we offered advice, and tons of fun was had. And afterward, there was a grand soiree at the TechZulu Lounge where lots of hands were shaken, ideas shared, and even a few Indiegogo campaigns were further developed.
Meeting and Mingling
As I mentioned earlier, when you’re attending a massive event like SXSW and representing a company like Indiegogo, you’re primary objective is to meet people. Most would call this networking, but I call it building relationships, and that’s exactly what I did.
I had the privilege of meeting people I’ve been conversing with for years on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook like Lauren Modery (@Hipstercrite), who wrote and produced Loves Her Gun, and Timothy Schwader, better known to the #indiefilm community as @TheImpalerSpeaks, who day in and day out helps musicians and filmmakers spread the word about their campaign through his social sites as well as on his blog.
Aside from meeting Gogo-supporters we’ve known and appreciated for years, Brad and I also met with a ton of future crowdfunders who’ll be setting up some pretty amazing film, web and video campaigns on Indiegogo very soon, such as Selena Scola, who’ll be raising funds for her web series Vegan Kitchen, and Kristen Wallace, a writer and actress who’s presently getting a head start on her promotion for her upcoming Indiegogo campaign by learning the ins and outs of Twitter and Facebook.
And I also got to hobnob with a bunch of other, very wonderful people, from Maria Grund, who was at SXSW representing The Smalls, one of Indiegogo’s partners, Adam Rifkin, director, screenwriter and star of Reality Show, which screened at SXSW, and Emily Best, the founder of Seed & Spark, with whom I’ve had the privilege of speaking on a couple panels about crowdfunding indie films. Relationships –– this is, by far, the best part of any festival experience, whether a filmmaker, crowdfunder, or supporter.
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John T. Trigonis is the Vertical Manager of Film at Indiegogo, a published poet, writer and storyteller, DIY filmmaker, freelance professor, and author of Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign. Additionally he is a cat lover, coffee aficionado, wine enthusiast, and comic book geek.