I’m up early. I’m not the greatest sleeper in the world and last night was just one of those nights where it doesn’t happen for me. I got up at 515 after lying in bed for an hour and pretending that I was gonna fall back asleep. This will, in no uncertain terms wind up biting me in the ass today in the form of grumpiness that almost brings me to tears sometime around 2 when these kids should be napping, but mercilessly decide not to. That, however, is neither here nor there right now as I’m awake and very comfortable. I’ve just done some exercise and now I’m drinking coffee and chatting with you turds. So, what’s on the docket today?
Well, since I’ve been home from SXSW film, a bunch of people have asked me different versions of the question “what’s the difference between the music festival and the film festival? Which one do you like better?”
Well, they’re definitely different. For one thing, there are just WAY more people slithering around during the music festival. Everywhere you look there’s some group of filthy mongos with guitars, playing on the sidewalk, washing their balls w a water bottle right there on the street shielded only by the open shotgun-door of their van, staggering drunkenly all over the place and generally being the human equivalent of piss stains. I’ve been this guy more than a couple of times down at SXSW, and it’s been pretty fun, but it’s one of those things that I’d liken to being at your local hipster bar.
Namely, at your hipster bar, you look around and you see a bunch of people that you think are ridiculous, who look like they listen to terrible music, who are making lame fashion choices and acting aloof to the whole stupid thing going on around them, which can be defined in no uncertain terms as them and their ilk making an already lame place lamer by their lame existence, appearance and attitudes. BUT, don’t you see what’s really going on? They’re looking at you the same way! You’re part of the crowd to them. YOU ARE ACTING ALOOF!!!! RIGHT NOW! UNAWARE THAT YOU’RE PART OF IT! JUST! LIKE! THEM!
Yeah, that’s what the music part of SXSW has always been like to me. I’ve always kind of walked around thinking to myself, “look at all these dumbasses. Don’t they realize that this festival isn’t gonna do shit for them? They’re just gross wastoids stumbling around, Peter Panning their way through one of their only moments of being ‘on tour’ before they go home to their crappy, dull lives,” blissfully unaware that I was every bit the dildo I was describing to myself.
I guess there’s one difference between me and my presumptuous vision of everyone else, and it’s not insignificant. There was NEVER a point upon me attending SXSW or CMJ (the new york version of SXSW. For those of you who don’t know anything about either of these acronyms, essentially both are ‘discovery zones’ where zillions of bands and a bunch of tastemakers completely take over a city and play/go to as many shows as possible over the course of a week in hopes of becoming/finding the ‘next big thing.’ I’m sure that both festivals have hearty and impressive resumes of the artists discovered therein, but I don’t know/care what they are) where I had any thoughts of being “discovered” or signed or anything like that.
We actually never played any shows anywhere with that in mind. I guess that I always felt that our records were better than our shows when we started out (yipes!) and if anything was gonna get us signed, it would be those, and by the time we got good live, we were on Fat, so for better or for worse, I guess we were truly the WORST kinds of musicians at SXSW: unnecessarily filling up space, not concerned with playing well, happy to just stay in the Omni and get free beer and eat at Stubbs.
So, in closing, the music festival was always a FABULOUS time. No pressure, no worries, nice hotel, free beer, packed show, no expectations, on to the next town armed with a warm feeling of unwarranted, smug superiority.
The film festival is probably like that too if you’re a filmmaker in the festival, but if you’re a guy with a plane ticket, no badge, no place to stay, no friends and a bag full of your movie’s trailer on DVD, it’s a whole different scene. It’s daunting. Everyone gives you the once over and then decides to ignore you (something that happens at the music festival too, but since I always qualified as ‘someone’ [if only in delusion] I never paid it any mind). When people asked me why I was there, my answers ranged from pathetic (just down here with a bag of trailers to see what happens) to bald faced lies (I’m covering the festival for Vice/Rolling Stone) depending on how desperately I was trying to get into whatever was going on. I ate free food that software companies were giving away on the street and I slept on floors, took the bus and had to stand next to a clown named Thwappy who constantly screeched through a megaphone just so I was able to drink his company’s free beer beneath the merciless Texas sun. I don’t recall going to the bathroom even once on the trip. I definitely never took off my shoes.
I watched two movies, one great, one not so great, under vastly different circumstances. The great one I had a VIP ticket for. The not so great one, I literally ran into when the ticket taker went to the bathroom. I also met some really, really cool people and kind of got to immerse myself in a completely new world. I used subterfuge and what would be called ‘charm’ on someone who was actually charming in order to get to know some people that I would never have otherwise met, and who I’m excited to attempt to stay in contact with and work with.
Fuck, at one point, I found out I had scored a meeting across town that I wasn’t expecting to get, so I left the bar I was in, tab open, card behind the bar, cheeseburger already ordered but not yet arrived, and sprinted ten blocks, hit the meeting, and then came back an hour and a half later, found my freezing cheeseburger and carried on, thanking the dude next to me for saving my stool/only meal of the day.
The shit was super exciting and nerve wracking and fun and vaguely dangerous, which is always cool.
At the music festival, I had no expectations or aspirations and I met them with ease, without ever even thinking about it. With the film festival, I had no expectations but my aspirations were through the roof, and that, to me, makes the film festival more fun, if only this time.
Hell, in a few years, when I’m back in the Omni, I’ll probably be back to unwarranted smug superiority. Til then though, um…yeeha? Yeah. That’ll do.