Time Out called it ‘daring’ and Guardian said it ‘is the cinematic equivalent of listening to black metal’, there’s no doubt award-winning Trash Humpers will continue to provoke people’s thoughts.
And here’s your chance to see what it’s all about as the film, which I first encountered in SXSW this year, is coming to Birmingham and there’s a late-night screening at The Electric Cinema this Friday, 2nd July at 11.15pm as part of the cinema’s Cult Film Friday strand.
The film is by controversial writer/director Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, Mr. Lonely) and this is probably one of his most provocative films yet.
So, what’s it about? A film unearthed from the buried landscape of the American nightmare Trash Humpers follows a small group of elderly “peeping toms” through the shadows and margins of an unfamiliar world. Crudely documented by the participants themselves, we follow the debased and shocking actions of a group of true sociopaths the likes of which have never been seen before. Inhabiting a world of broken dreams and beyond the limits of morality, the crash against a torn and frayed America. Bordering on an ode to vandalism, it is a new type of horror – palpable and raw.
Here’s a preview:
Dir: Harmony Korine, USA 2009, 78 mins, cert 18
What others have been saying about it:
‘The gonzo masterpiece that is Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers; a very disturbing ode to vandalism, drunkenness and boredom’ – Filmshaft
‘This return to his roots as a filmmaker is an exciting one’ – BandiniBlog
‘It’s a fearless soul that makes a film like Trash Humpers’ – Little White Lies
It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here in Austin for four days now and that I am writing about Day four already. You know how the saying goes, time flies when you’re enjoying yourself.
Well this morning, in true Brit style, we had rain today to accompany The Great British Breakfast at Paradise Cafe. Gutted I missed it because of the heavy traffic going Downtown, so ended up at Champions at The Marriott instead, which worked out well as I was heading to the MacGruber panel first thing.
Compared to other Universal releases MacGruber was made with a microbudget of $10m. It stars Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer, Will Forte, Seth Meyers, Powers Boothe and Kristin Wiig. The chemistry of the team was apparent especially of Forte, Taccone and Wiig. Here’s the cast recreating the surprised kitten viral video with director Jorma Taccone:
After catching up with some more friends in South Congress (SoCo as it is more commonly known), I headed back to the ACC once more for another panel on the parent/teen divide over social media.
One of the teens in the panel, said that it is important that parents know about their children having social media accounts. However, it transpired that most teens don’t tell their parents that they are on things like Facebook and MySpace. There were two parents in the panel. The less technical out of the two said that she wanted to learn more about social networking in order for her to guide her kids through them.
After this session, I met up with a few more WM delegates. We headed to Latitude, where a Q&A session with Motorhead’s Lemmy took place. He was interviewed by Johnny Doom from Kerrang.
Post Lemmy, we all went to dinner at Geisha and then went back to Latitude for Britbash. Tomorrow is going to be a more relaxed day now that panels are over and looking forward to a what was reported to be a ‘glorious day ahead’.
Friends, you can check out my SXSW photos on Facebook.
Second day here in Austin was a bit more relaxed. As a few fantastic panel sessions were going on at the same time, I was not able to go to ER 2.0, but thanks to Jason Hall (@jasonhall), his notes are really helpful though. They give a good insight into what had been discussed.
I did go to Conversation with Michelle Gondry. It was a packed crossover event but manged to get a good seat. Artist, musician and director Gondry also brought his film “A Thorn in the Heart” to SXSW.
Today was also Tuttle Comes to Texas. Becky and I worked with Twinings to get a selection of British teas over here. Will write about that separately, but very thankful to Twinings for providing the lovely teas.
I then went to the Radisson where Inside the Workings of FunnyOrDie.com took place. Just as a side, as I walked along Congress’ fairly busy street, it was so nice to feel the warmth of the Austin sun and today has just been a glorious day weather-wise.
Anyway, to track the conversation during the FunnyOrDie talk, search for #insidefunnyordie on Twitter. The speakers were Dick Glover – CEO FunnyOrDie – his background is traditional media, mainly ESPN and Andrew Steele – Chief Creative Officer FunnyOrDie– his background is more around the comedy world / television world. I was a bit starstruck because Steele was a head writer for Saturday Night Live, a show that I really like.
Going online is a huge step for them, but proved to be successful. FunnyOrDie has 1.4m Twitter followers. Their videos are riddled with celebs and get millions of views, so now they’ve conquered online and TV, they think that the next natural thing for them is FunnyOrDie making films.
Steele said that they have three strands on FOD – celeb videos, topical videos and just generally funny videos. He said that there is obviously a natural crossover between those three.
They said that the strategy is to get people i.e. celebrities behind the ‘cause’. At this point it was becoming apparent that access is key to the success of FOD. However, although they have all these very high profile people getting involved, big bucks aren’t normally involved. They said that they’re very comfortable workiing with small budgets and the driving force for FOD is creativity.
After that, a bit of chill out time was in order and had iced tea. Went to the SXSW Web Awards Pre-Party. It was at the Hilton, which was nice. Didn’t stay for the main event, but congrats are in order for Channel 4 for their 1066 and Smokescreen victories. Here is a photo of the trophy.
We headed to the beautiful Driskill Hotel. Had breakfast there this morning (French Toast with strawberries and maple syrup) and went for a couple of margaritas before trekking it to the Alamo Draftsman to watch a midnight film Higanjima. It’s a lovely place – very retro and got very amused by the rather kitsch movie trailers and Japanese clips. Here’s a photo from a Japanese clip that they showed.
Tomorrow is going to be an early start – so better sign off now.
Slight regret that I didn’t head to SXSW on Thursday. It meant that I was too jetlagged to find the energy to keep awake for the premiere of Kick Ass starring Nicholas Cage and Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse last night the Paramount. However, having a good night’s sleep (and a fabulous dinner at Moonshine) meant that I had more energy to endure my first day here at SXSW 2010.
So, with the traditional IHOP breakfast, I went to my first panel session called The Powershift: Who Stands Between Creator and Audience. The panel members are below. To find some of the conversations that went on Twitter use #thepowershift.
- Liesl Copland, William Morris Endeavor’s Global Finance & Distribution Group
- Malik Ducard, Paramount
- Tom Quinn, Magnolia Pictures
- Chris Hyams, B-Side Entertainment
- Matt MacNaughton, Musician-Friendly Culture Jam
Although it was focusing mainly on the theatrical side of things, I was interested in the concept of this session because I can see that there has been an apparent “shift” in broadcasting power. When I say broadcasting, I don’t just mean television broadcast, but media as a whole. Basically, it’s not just about the big boys maintaining a strong hold in broadcasting, but the so called little ones are able to broadcast themselves thanks to digital and social media.
The overall message was that the power shift is not completed. It’s still in transition.
Quinn, who is with Magnolia Pictures, stated that the theatrical industry is using more old world marketing, but there have been a lot of innovation with digital marketing. So, he said that he found that they worked with local cable providers and doing promos available via VOD menus that contain extra material and incentivising audience.
Quinn’s company gets support from bloggers and according to him bloggers are the fastest growing audience in the specialised work. He said marketing is peer to peer and this is powerful, which is why blogger support is great. But he added that content is glue to this.
Paramount’s Malik Ducard has the League of Extraordinary Dancers under his belt. He added the fact that innovation is a big contributor to this and Magnolia is doing it well. He said “it’s an industry to break out of standard model which works for a big portion of the content that goes out. It’s our job to press the boundaries of what’s been done and create new approaches that’s outside of the model.” He said that they are workng on creating content that is straight for and produced for digital.
Ducard said that innovation, experimentation and risk taking are the steps to find the right path to go beyond the boundaries.
MacNaughton said it is important to know how to monetise from different models. There is a need to create properties that plug into audiences and use digital and social media. He asked the questions what are the formats that will be of value to adudiences? and what new formats are going to reach audiences?
Hyams then added that there is no magic formula to all these. The key is make sure that there’s a transactional platform that is tied in to the new media stuff. He said that word of mouth is the cheapest and most effective way of marketing and social media effectively allows people / companies to just that.
The best example of power shift they gave was Felicia Day. She produced a series about gamers on YouTube and then cut a deal with Microsoft for exclusive release on the Xbox platform. She was smart to do this because she got a cut in a very generous share. Day has 1.3m Twitter followers, which apparently is more than the New York Times readership. So, she is a content creator who has hold of her audience and the deal she’s cut with MS enabled her to control all IP. But he doesn’t think this is going to be the norm, but still shows the powershift. It’s people who understand social media currency that do quite well.
Ducard added that digital should be interactive and engaging e.g. give audiences a season pass, access to something, which gives them the element of exclusitivity.
After quite a good panel session, I went to the Kick Ass Film Panel. Speakers were:
- John Romita Jr
- Mark Millar
- Aaron Johnson
- Matthew Vaughn
- Chloe Moretz
- Christopher Mitz-Plasse
This was a good session and made me proud as didn’t realise that the write and director are both British – Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn. Had a quick chat with Mark at the end of the session and he was really nice. I suppose my highlight was seeing Chris, who played McLovin in Superbad.
I’ve got a few vids on this, so will be posting those up.
After that, I went around the Trade Show, which was quite nice. Lots of stickers and my personal favourite Mimobot was there. They have released a line of Hello Kitty USB sticks, so I will be purchasing one. Went to visit the Heart of England and Digital Mission stands before embarking on a double chilli dog and rootbeer at Champions opposite the Convention Centre.
Then I ventured to the Hilton where Brand Fiction took place. A very inspiring session and so will be writing about this separately. After this amazing talk, I headed to the Radisson with Ruth (@ruthward) and Sarah (@SarahScreenWM) for a few bevvies before going to Dorkbot. Some really cool stuff at Dorkbot. Here’s a photo I took:
Everyone was famished at the end of Dorkbot, so we all headed to Fogo de Chao for some Brazilian noms. Oh. My. Goodness. It was brilliant. Possibly not ideal for vegetarians (like Becky – @beckycad), but the selection of meat they had in there was fantastic. That with margaritas on the rocks ended the evening perfectly. Oh and here’s a video to cheer you up – it’s a giant hamster we saw by the Convention Centre:
My very first trip to Texas was quite overwhelming and SXSW Film and Interactive has been such a great experience and this is why I am going again. I’m flying from London rather than Birmingham this time around and do watch this space for my 2010 SXSW experiences.
I’m most looking forward to seeing the Midlands crew rocking Austin and meeting up with the rest of the British contingency from London and Bristol over there. Of course, I’m also excited about meeting some very interesting people from around the world, since it feels like almost every country is represented at the festival.
This time, I’m staying longer to get a feel of SXSW Music, so expect margaritas and steak stories from time to time.
Having fought off the jet lag, it was time to pack my bags and return home. The Britbash party the night before meant that I didn’t get back to the hotel until 2am and still had to pack. I was quite worried I would miss the alarm and so I didn’t really get to sleep well, but thought that I have all the time to snooze during the flight back.
I did have all the time to sleep – our flight was so delayed we had missed our connecting flight to Birmingham. All in all it took 24 hours for us to get back and was just shattered. But was all the hassle worth it? Yes, indeed. The experiences I had in Austin were both educational and fun. Going to SXSW was a form of continuing professional development. It was great to meet so many people from different parts of the world and backgrounds. And of course, going to a new place is a great cultural experience. I would definitely miss the IHOP breakfasts, tacos, cheesy guacamole and rootbeer.
Most of all, it was nice to have spent some time with the West Midland contingent, because it was good bonding time. The connections made there, I feel, would just strengthen working relationships further.
I’m already looking forward to my next trip there and hopefully next year, I will be joined by the rest of the gang for some good ‘ol Texan fun!
Day 5 has come so quickly and today has been very busy, so what better way to start the day than to head over to IHOP for breakfast. Ruth (@ruthward) and I were joined by Helga (@helgahenry) before venturing off to the Austin Convention Center for my 10am talk – Quality: The Next Online Video Opportunity, which was with Hulu CTO Eric Feng. He talked about Hulu’s approach and how online video has now become a viable market – online video ads has grown 45 per cent in 2009, so there’s a marketplace for premium content.
I then went on to Building Strong Online Communities. Chaired by Ars Technica’s Editor in Chief, Ken Fisher, the panel consisted of:
- Alexis Ohanian, reddit.com
- Drew Curtis, fark.com
- Erin Kotecki Vest, BlogHer Inc
They discussed ways of maintaining a self-sustaining community as well as lessons learned from their own experiences. The main points I have learnt were:
- Communities are a circle and although you have to listen to them, you need to be a benevolent dictator to be able to implement certain rules
- There should be stringent community guidelines so members feel safe to comment without being harrassed in cyberspace
- Let members of the community know about the changes and get their input, so they feel part of the change.
Without much time for lunch, I just grabbed a giant salad box and water and ate at the Adobe Day Stage Cafe. After that, I went straight to Managing Your Expectations: Indie Film Realities. Speakers were:
- Chris Gore, Chair, Nerdlebrity
- Todd Sklaar, Range Life Entertainment
- Ry Russo-Young, Writer/Director
The main thing that I’ve learnt from this is that you need to put money aside for marketing your film. They couldn’t emphasise how important it is to hire a publicist especially if you’re trying to get the press to write your film a review. They’ve also recognised the importance of engaging the audience beyond the film and this is where a good social media strategy could help or having webisodes / outtakes / podcasts could help sustain interest for your film.
After a bit of a break, the next session was Surviving the Festival Circuit. This had an all-male panel, which consisted of filmmakers and festival programmers:
- Bryan Poyser, Chair, Austin Film Society
- Trevor Groth, Sr Programmer, Sundance/Cinevegas
- Christian Gaines, Dir of Festivals, IMDB.com
- Jeff Nichols, Shotgun Stories
- Alex Holdrige, Midnight Kiss Inc
- Joe Swanberg, Alexander the Last
The panel discussed the ups and downs of today’s film festival circuit. The main point is that don’t lose hope if you get rejected or don’t be too cocky if you get into one either. The most important thing is to persevere and believe in your own projects because there is so much rejection in film in general.
Programmers were advising filmmakers to research who’s who and what’s what before they get to festivals and must have a concise press pack with them. It’s important to know what you want to say about you or your film because you are likely to be interviewed, so that is another issue that needs to be addressed before attending the festival.
And then for my last panel of the conference, Rawking SXSW Year Round: Staying Inspired was about how to continue the buzz and make further links with people from the festival. It was such a fun session because they were chucking sweets at people and had a confetti bazooka, which was going off every 10 minutes or so. It was quite a creative way of getting feedback from attendees and it was a great end to the day. The panelists were:
- Kevin Smokler, Chair, BookTour.com
- Silona Bonewald, League of Technical Voters
- Corey Denis, reapandsow
- Kevin Lawver, Music Intelligence Solutions
- Clarence Smith Jr, Do You KNOW Clarence?
So, after this, I met Becky at the infamous meeting place – the Lego Pit and headed off to Iron Cactus for some food and margarita’s and we partied the night away to celebrate our last night in Austin.
Day 4 was a fairly long day, so I will divide it into several different posts and give some highlights for now.
This morning, Ruth, Becky and I felt more adventurous and went to Magnolia’s in South Congress, which was a nice diner. As usual, we had a ginormous breakfast, which we could hardly finish. Took a taxi back to the Austin Convention Center. Session 1 for me was Shift Happens: Moving from Words to Pictures. The panel consisted of:
- Sunni Brown, graphic designer, Brightspot
- Tom Crawford, CEO, Vizthink
- Dave Gray, Chairman, XPLANE
- Lee LeFever, Principal, Common Craft
- Dan Roam, President, Dan Roam International
This session was all about the importance of visualisation when conveying a message. It was helpful because at work (Aquila TV), we are all about visuals. It was a good set of talks from all the panellists and there were a lot of laughs. A great start to the day, so headed off to the next one: How to Protect Your Brand Without Being a Jerk. The panel consisted of:
- Twanna A Hines, Writer/Editor, Blogger
- Oren Bitan, Attorney, HIQI Media
- Elena Paul, Executive Director, VLA
- Danny O’Brien, eff.org
- Eric Steuer, Creative Director, Creative Commons
It was quite useful but the session really applied more to those who are here in the US. What is interesting though is that if you have your work online, there is definitely a fine line between being overprotective that you have a small reach or too laid back about it that your work is getting ripped off. It definitely made me think about refreshing my knowledge of copyright laws in the UK and Europe.
Had a bit of a gap in between before the Curiosity Marketing talk. Ruth and I thought we would go back to South Congress to have lunch. Ended up asking the cab driver where to go and he said that Threadgill’s was good, so upon his recommendation, we headed there for some chicken fried steak. We got outside and it almost looked like one of those scenes in films like The Hills Have Eyes / Wrong Turn. It looked like we were going to be the only people in there but as we got in, it was huge and had lots of families having a bit of a lunchtime treat.
We sat down and decided we’d share a steak. It was nice and it was yummy. We actually thought we were having chicken when the driver said chicken fried steak but it’s actually steak fried like fried chicken. Very unusual but nice. With lunch washed down with a glass of cold rootbeer, we visited a couple of shops and then headed back downtown.
Ruth and I went into this dinky room packed with people. We were there for a good few minutes (enough time to make Ruth’s leg to fall asleep) when I decided to ask the girl beside me the title of the session we are in. It was not the right one and so upon realising that, Ruth subtly tried to wake her sleeping leg up and we squeezed past people (including the speaker) to leave. It turned out that the talk we wanted to get to was full, so we quickly decided to go to another talk. We both agreed we’d go to Social Media Sustainability. It was about your carbon footprint in relation to your social media strategy. Not quite what we thought it was i.e. we understood it as something that was about maintaining the strategy.
At this point, the day was not going according to plan, so we made our way to the Mozilla Party, which had lots of food and drink. I was feeling rather unadventurous and went for water. It was a very hot day, so it was just nice to quench that thirst after walking under the Texan heat.
I’ve really looked forward to The BBC, Six To Start and ARG: Bringing TV to the Web session. It has a few people I know in the panel:
Claire (@minkette), Dan (@danhon) and Adrian (@adrianhon), who are all from Six To Start. The rest of the panellists were Roo Reynolds and Jo Twist, who are both from BBC Vision.
Dan made a good point about how TV online is done now and we just need to move on to the next one. He emphasised that although there is no solid means of monetising online projects, the potential is huge.
Off to the next session, which was a talk SXSW Year Round, which was run by Alex Jones from Refresh Austin. It was useful in a sense that it confirmed that what we are doing is right and also picked up an idea or two that I think are quite fresh. It was all about maintaining that SXSW buzz out of Austin and how to organise group meetings.
I was off to Roy’s to meet the rest of the WM posse and had really good sushi and BBQ wings. Got given a virgin margarita, which was nice but a bit on the sour side. The partying started at a rather packed The Shakespeare pub where most of the Brits congregated, then across to Maggie Mae’s and then the night was finished with a giant slice of pizza.