SXSW 2011 Filmmaker Spotlight - Michael Langan


Film Title: Heliotropes

Category: At SX, it's a narrative short; at Ottawa it would be an animated short; at most festivals it's an experimental short; but I consider it a documentary short.

Your name: Michael Langan

Your relationship to the film: Director

The elevator pitch: "Heliotropes" is based on a non-fiction poem by a friend of mine, Brian Christian-- Brian rocked The Daily Show on Tuesday night promoting his new book on AI, The Most Human Human. The poem is a scientific/philosophical look at the relationship between sunflowers, airlines, migratory birds and human beings at large; namely, how they all follow the sun in elegant and sometimes incredibly elaborate ways. The film takes this idea and runs with it in a series of crisp, surreal vignettes reminiscent of my SXSW '08 film, "Doxology." Pair that with the Voice of God, and you've got "Heliotropes."

Previous festival experience: I got rolling in 2006 with a one-minute film that premiered at Ann Arbor, and I've been addicted ever since. I make films as much for the excuse to go to festivals as anything else. "Heliotropes" will be my fourth festival film as of its premiere this Saturday.

As a submitting filmmaker, what has surprised you about the film festival process? I leapt into festival submissions and got lucky, hitting about 100 fests with my second film, "Doxology." What I didn't expect to discover on that tour is how small the indie film world is, even on a global scale. I get such joy out of seeing the same filmmakers and programmers at different festivals... It's like a mobile, beer-soaked summer camp for adults.

What attracted you to SXSW and what excites you most about having your film selected to play there? It's a hell of a party. I keep hearing about how great it is to live in Austin, and SX does a great job of letting that spirit shine through. And despite the directors' anxiety induced by waiters dashing through a screening room, the Alamo theaters are an amazing way to watch movies.

Screenings for "Heliotropes:"

Alamo Lamar A
Sat 3/12 2:00 pm

Mon 3/14 11:00 am

Thu 3/17 1:30 pm

Official SXSW page

What's next for you and your film? "Heliotropes" is on to Ann Arbor Film Festival next. Meanwhile, I'm working on two longer films with Harvard professor Terah Maher, involving taxidermy, modern dance, and thirty-two duplicates of an actress.