Posted by mikehedge on March 25, 2010

I decided very last minute to head to Austin, Texas for SXSW, because a couple friends were premiering their films there. I also wanted to visit with my grandma and family in Texas after the festival. I decided to make a huge roadtrip out of it, and I actually headed out to the east coast afterward. I wrote a huge blog about the whole trip here:  March/April/Jumping Book Tour

Once in Austin, I had a great adventure with my Austin friends around Hamilton Pool. It was great seeing everyone! I then headed into the Austin Convention Center and got my SXSW Gold badge. This badge allowed me to see any of the films as well as attend any of the interactive events and seminars.


While at SXSW I saw many great documentaries:

I was at the premiere of Jeff’s film 11/4/08 which was made from a ton of footage shot on that day (Election Day) it was shot by 15 people, and Jeff edited it all together. It has some super low-resolution footage, bad sound, and bad camera work. But what was great to see, was that the story of that day in history, and the stories of the people, were able to still get across to the audience. They had subtitles when the audio was bad. So it proves the “content is king” or the “story story story” idea. If the story is compelling enough, then the audience is still involved. Jeff calls it a participatory documentary, and is letting people add their own footage from that day. I believe Jeff plans on making the film available for remix, like how Brett’s film did. The film is now released in theatres!

A great film called Pelada was one of my favorites. It’s shot all over the world and follows the game of soccer. They shot the film over 3 years. I cried. Genius film. I got to hang out with the filmmakers.

I saw Dirty Pictures which is a film about the chemist/scientist Dr. Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin who invented MDMA (Ecstasy.) It was a very well-edited film, and very interesting. They showed both the science/lab research, a bunch of stuff about his actual life, and also the people that use the drug, and why/how. They had a couple shots of Burning Man in it, but focused on the people who are fans of the scientist’s work, and books, and drug. The film was sold out.

I got to see Hood to Coast, which was shot in Oregon in 2008. They had a pretty nice budget, and the film followed 4 teams competing in the race. It was great to watch and I loved the various filmmaking styles. They continually cut between the 4 teams. Since it was a race, you always had that feeling like the finish line was just ahead. The film was entertaining and inspiring to watch.


I also got to see Gondry’s film, The Thorn in the Heart. It was a great personal doc about Gondry’s family. He followed his aunt, and got to find out about her family, who she was, and also a bit of who Gondry was growing up. The film has a few great animations and reenactments. Here’s the trailer.

I got to attend a great panel with Scott Kirsner and Gary Hustwit (documentary director of great films like Helvetica, and Objectified.) I loved the discussion, and the various ideas and tips that Gary shared about making documentary films. I also got to see Gary Vaynerchuk speak as the keynote speaker for the interactive part of SXSW. Always great to see him speak. Inspiring guy.

I met up with several of the great people on the Burning Man media team. Marian Goodell was part of a neat discussion about the similarities between SXSW and Burning Man. She was interviewed by Daniel Terdiman from CNET. It was great seeing her, Heather Gallagher, and Andie Grace. Proud to be working with them for my documentary As The Dust Settles.

I saw a bunch of short films including a film which premiered at SXSW called Depth of Phil, which was directed by my friend Jack Daniel Stanley (one of the actors in UYUNI) It’s always fun to see short films. An amazing amount of time and money goes into making them.


SXSW this year I got to meet up with a bunch of friends including: Micki Krimmel, Brian Chirls, Brian Shaler, Slava and Danae from IndieGoGo, Paul Stamatiou, Liz and Scott from Evil Twin Booking, and many many others. Great seeing everyone!


At SXSW, part of the week is focused on music. Many bands from all over the world come to Austin to perform as part of the SXSW lineup. Every night there are also many venues with live bands playing. I got to see Todd Sapio perform with his band Language Room. I also got to see the lovely Jenny Owen Youngs, as well as the lovely Matt and Anna-Lynne from Trespassers William. It was so great seeing them perform.


During the week, I also met up with a bunch of film festival programmers, including ones from Sundance, SilverDocs, and True/False. I talked with a couple about other documentary fests like CPH Dox, HotDocs, Sheffield, IFDA and several others. I also met up with several Board of Advisors for ATDS. It was great talking about ideas and the progress of the documentary. After watching all the documentaries at Sundance and SXSW, I am still certain that we really do have something that will truly inspire people. Deeply grateful for the privilege that we have to craft a documentary. Exciting times ahead!

Here’s my whole flickr set from SXSW including a bunch of jumpshots I did for my Jumping Book. Here’s an average evening in Austin at SXSW:

6th street at SXSW 2010

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