Hollywood life lessons! Honesty in film criticism! Industry secrets pried from the minds of experts under the influence of alcohol! These are only a few of the topics that could be up for discussion at South by Southwest 2011, and YOU can help decide which panel ideas make the cut.
That's one of the great things about the annual SXSW Festival held in Austin, TX; the public gets to vote on which panels are chosen for the Film, Interactive, and Music confabs. And since you have only days to get your votes in for 2011's SXSW panel line-up (DAYS, people - voting closes on
(Vote, vote, vote! It takes ten seconds to register, and you can vote for as many Panel Picker proposals as you like.)
WRITERS ON WRITING ABOUT FILM
The Blogger Centipede: How Content is Eroding Credibility (Click for URL to vote)
William Goss, writer for -- hey, Cinematical! -- explores the notion of content consumption and regurgitation in the blogosphere, plagiarism in the age of Google, running rumors as news, and other issues at hand for online journalists and bloggers these days. Extra points for using the most graphically evocative film title of the year to make his point.
Sample question answered: "What does "exclusive" even mean anymore?"
You Are Not a Publicist: Criticism vs. Advertising
Pajiba's Daniel Carlson goes inside baseball with his proposed discussion of what critics (he specifically targets online critics, curiously) must do to avoid being swayed by the evil temptations of the studio machine, whether through "swag, trips, and favors" or online ad sponsorship. It's a hot button issue in the film journalism world, sure to yield some interesting finger-wagging debate.
Sample question answered: "How can I tell if a critic is merely acting as a promotional tool for a studio?"
From the Sausage Factory: Inside the Film Press
If you're hungry, you're in luck: MSN columnist James Rocchi is going to show us how to make sausage! Film journalist sausage, that is. Featuring an eclectic variety of writers from all types and sizes of outlets on the web, this convo will cover the ins and outs of working as a professional entertainment journalist in today's changing environment -- handy for aspiring writers, filmmakers, and film critic groupies alike.
Sample question answered: "What are the worst trends in the field of film writing at this time?"
ON MAKING FILMS (AND MAKING IT WHILE MAKING FILMS)
Hollywood Lessons: What Film School Didn't Teach Me
Film school grads John Lang and Nick Robinson (Rough & Tumble Films) are joined by their fellow gainfully employed entertainment professionals to rub in said gainful employment and tell you how they broke into the industry. After all, you can only live blithely in the world of film studies academia for so long; hear what lessons these folks didn't learn in school, their advice on getting entry level positions in the real world, and more.
Sample question answered: "Do I have to move to NYC/LA to make it in the film industry?"
Regional Filmmaking: Revenge of the Flyover States
Not all filmmakers can up and move to Los Angeles or New York to make a living; some even live in -- gasp! -- TEXAS. Like Chris Holland, co-organizer (with Jesse Trussell) of this guide to funding and producing regional films. Holland is the author of "Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers," so he knows of what he speaks.
Sample question answered: "What are some of the mechanics of filmmaking (permits, etc) that are different outside of LA/NY?"
Your Baby Is Ugly: Evaluating Your Film Honestly
Real talk, filmmakers: it's possible to be too close to evaluate a project clearly. So says Nic Baisley of Film Snobbery, who offers to single-handedly walk you through the process of giving your movie baby some much needed tough love. Personally, I'm not of the mind that a filmmaker should craft their art based on the expectations of the audience/critics, and I this panel would benefit from having more than one expert voice representing the critical mass. But if you're a filmmaker in need of guidance, it's probably better to ask an expert instead of your mom for feedback.
Sample questions answered: "Am I making a movie for me? Or for an audience?"
From Criticism to Filmmaking: Leaping the Void
Godfrey Cheshire's film criticism had appeared in publications including The New York Times, Variety, Film Comment, The Village Voice, and the New York Press when he lost his gig. Then, like Godard and Truffaut (and Chabrol, Rohmer, Bogdanovich, etc.) before him, Cheshire went from analyzing films to making them. In his unique proposed panel, Cheshire will discuss his career transition, what critiquing skills came in handy as a filmmaker, how other critics reacted to the shift, and more.
Sample question answered: "Are most critics frustrated filmmakers?"
ON MOVIE TRENDS AND NICHE CINEMA
Where Is The New Queer Cinema?
Movieline's Kyle Buchanan wonders where the strong gay films have gone in the "post-Will and Grace era," especially as the most prominent gay-themed films of late have come from studios vs. independent filmmakers.
Sample question asked: "Are documentaries the only gay films worth watching these days?"
Is Karaoke Culture Killing the Film Industry?
The Blogger Centipede could make fine back-to-back programming with HitFix writer Drew McWeeny's panel proposal, which one might dub "The Hollywood Centipede." Here, he asks what many of us think every time a generic studio offering does boffo box office with a remake/adaptation/homage/spoof: How did we get to this low creative point and what do we do now?
Sample question answered: "How can Hollywood encourage new voices without giving up the perceived safety net of the remake business model?"
Motion Paintings, Visual Storytelling and Deaf Film
I'd never heard of deaf cinema until I read Robyn Girard's fascinating panel proposal on "motion paintings," a film-based visual art form developed by deaf artists. SXSWers interested in the emerging subgenre/subculture should vote for a chance to learn more through Girard's 101 Things That Unite and Divide..., a series of motion painting vignettes depicting "the unique life experiences of Deaf individuals."
Sample question answered: "What does the world look like through a completely visual perspective?"
Beyond 3D: How Interactive Screenings Will Save Cinema
Henri Mazza thinks "interactive" film screenings are the future - the kind with sing-alongs and quote-alongs, and those Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight affairs where folks dress up like Transylvanians and heckle the virgins. I'd bet the future of cinema would be saved if every movie theater in the world offered Guinness milkshakes like they do at the Alamo Drafthouse, where Mazza is Creative Director. But I digress; Mazza's got a point. Can specialty screenings add enough value to catch on significantly with audiences and bring them in droves to see revival programs?
Sample question answered: "What steps can a filmmaker take to try to keep their movie in theaters for decades?"
IF YOU ONLY VOTE FOR ONE PANEL PICKER IDEA, MAKE IT THIS ONE
Tim League has demonstrated his genius countless times before (choose between founding the Alamo Drafthouse, creating a bar/bowling alley/karaoke joint next door, or boxing Uwe Boll), but this panel picker idea just about trumps all. (Tom Quinn shares credit, apparently, for conceiving the idea of the decade.) Essentially, it comes down to this: what crazy stories and industry secrets will a panel of filmmakers/execs/writers/journalists/experts spill if you get them drunk beforehand? It's pretty much the best panel proposal ever. If this doesn't make the cut, the world will be a sadder place for us all.
Sample question answered: "Will chaos reign?"
For the full list of SXSW 2011 Panel Picker proposals, click here. And remember, voting closes on Friday!