SXSW 2011 Filmmaker Spotlight: Dustin Guy Defa

Bad Fever

Film Title: Bad Fever

Category: Emerging Visions (narrative feature)

Your name: Dustin Guy Defa

Your relationship to the film: director, producer and writer

The elevator pitch: Bad Fever is about a very lonely guy who lives with his mother.  He thinks he can become a stand-up comedian but it's a completely hopeless dream.  For one thing, he doesn't have a funny bone in his body.  He meets a drifter at a gas station.  She's bad news, somebody who is manipulative and somewhat abusive.  But because of his desperation to be friends with somebody, he attempts to befriend her, and the main thrust of the film is his plan for his debut as a stand-up comedian, and to get her to come to the comedy club to see it.

Previous festival experience: I've been around but I've never been to SXSW.  This feels huge for me and mainly because I love the film so much and I want other people to love it too.  I'm super anxious about our first screening.

As a submitting filmmaker, what has surprised you about the film festival process? If you mean the actual submission process, sometimes it's grueling.  You don't have any money and so you can't really send the film to all the festivals you'd like to.  It's painful sometimes.   And then waiting to hear back can be tense, especially if you're looking for a place to premiere.  But I guess it's worth it, because attending a good festival can change your life.  I had a short film at the Maryland Film Festival a few years back, and meeting other filmmakers and seeing their films in that environment inspired me.  It's helpful to have the support of other filmmakers who are willing to look at your work and give you guidance and share their work with you too.

What attracted you to SXSW and what excites you most about having your film selected to play there? SXSW is obviously a great place to play.  A lot of independent filmmakers have premiered there, and the festival seems to have supported them throughout the beginning of their careers.  So to be premiering there is special for us.  And I imagine that the audiences there are sitting in those seats because they want to be excited by a film.  That's the sort of environment you always want to be involved in.  The programmers too, they seem to be into the films and sincerely care about the filmmakers.

When and where does your film play at SXSW? We're playing opening night.  Our screening dates and times are Friday March 11 8:45PM @ Alamo Lamar B; Monday March 14 4:00PM @ Alamo Ritz 2; and Thursday March 17 3:00 PM @ Rollins Theater.

What's next for you and your film? I don't know what's next for the film.  A lot of that might depend on the response at this festival.  I'd like to see a small theatrical run, some VOD and I'd like to see it get a good DVD distribution.  And we're looking ahead to an international premiere, don't know where that's going to be yet.  I imagine that this will be a film with a good European response.  I'm just ramping up for this year of doing the festival circuit, and writing my next feature.