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Honeytrap producer's birds eye view of SXSW

Producer Sarah Sulick celebrates Honeytrap's SXSW premiere

March 2015

London-based producer Sarah Sulick went to SXSW in Austin, Texas, this week with Rebecca Johnson's Honeytrap. In the second of two blogs from the festival, Sarah discovers the ten things that happen in SXSW which would never happen in Cannes

Sarah writes:

Can’t quite believe it’s already my final full day at SXSW.  A big night of tequilas and live music on 6th Street has left team Honeytrap a bit fragile this morning – we all ended up dancing pogo-style at the Thirsty Nickle ‘til the wee hours.

What’s special about SXSW is that concurrently with the film festival there is a proper film conference going on in the Austin Convention Centre (where you log 10 miles per day wandering around) and I have been attending some fantastic seminars.  The Mark Duplass keynote was a highlight.  His golden filmmaking nugget: “accept that the cavalry is not coming and make yourself into the cavalry”.  Which was basically our ethos when making Honeytrap so it really strikes a chord.

Also enjoyed anecdotes from showrunner/writer Beau Willimon of “House of Cards”. Back in 2011 when negotiating with Netflix, he and David Fincher insisted on “no pilot, you must commission the entire first series or there’s no deal”, to which Netflix replied, “well actually you have to commit to 2 series because we need the content”.  His screenwriting nugget: “Out of 1000 ideas, 2 might be original. Ride the wave until you hit something that goes to the gut”.  However, achieving this takes 100 hours per week/50 weeks per year in the writer’s room.

In terms of films, Jamie Babbit’s Fresno is outrageous and makes me fall in love with Judy Greer all over again: she has one particularly hilarious scene that rivals Meg Ryan’s deli display in When Harry Met Sally.  Also have fallen in love with Claressa Shields, the 19-year-old US Olympic gold medal winner for middle-weight boxing, who is the subject of documentary T-Rex.  Austin-set 6 Years showcases the startling Taissa Farmiga (Vera Farmiga’s sister) in a low-fi story of a crumbling relationship. And Seven Chinese Brothers gives us an intimate portrait of Jason Schwartzman’s very close bond with his (actual) dog, Arrow.

Another inspiring talk back at the ACC is “Music Makes Movies”. Music Supervisor Randall Poster discusses working with Wes Anderson, Todd Haynes and Richard Linklater, showing a string of clips including the Rushmore montage to The Who’s “You are Forgiven”, reminding me how much I love that movie (and Bill Murray).  I nip off to a quick catch-up meeting with my US rep at the Driskell (which seems to be the best hotel by a country mile as it’s not a massive faceless chain), where we discuss good early reviews for HONEYTRAP in and, and she summarizes buyer screening status. I round the day off with the panel “Boyhood Post-Production: 13th year of a 12-year movie”.  Producers take heart: when they found out they got into Sundance in late December, none of the music had been cleared (and still wasn’t a month later).

In the evening, Gia Coppola and Dazed Magazine host a ‘Females First’ dinner at Soho House Austin to launch their new scheme funding shorts and videos from up-and-coming women filmmakers. The pop-up club is located deep in East Austin’s back of beyond but has the usual Soho House flair – and the food is truly divine.  But it’s back to Blighty after the final screening of Honeytrap in the morning, so here’s my blog wrap-up.

Ten things that happen in SXSW which would never happen in Cannes:

1)      You eat at least one taco per day, usually for breakfast.

2)      The ticketing system is incomprehensible but you still manage to get into all screenings.

3)      There is loads of free stuff given away freely (beer, massages, popcorn, sunglasses, freshly squeezed juices etc).

4)      You are inspired by speakers/panellists about the filmmaking process.

5)      Everyone is friendly – even (or especially) when inebriated.

6)      You watch three films set in Austin in the same number of days.

7)      You cycle everywhere.

8)      You listen to live music every day (even at the airport) and the standard is high.

9)      You feel like you’re part of a filmmaking community.

10)   You never want to leave and you can’t wait to come back.

Read Sarah's first blog from SWSW here

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