Come see the "Short Film Secrets" talk at South by Southwest 2010

SXSWIf you're coming to the South By Southwest film festival this weekend, you'll have the chance to see me speak during the Short Film Secrets panel on Tuesday, March 16th at 2:00 p.m. The official description from the SXSW guide: There's more out there for shorts than just YouTube, despite apparently limited sales and distribution avenues. Learn to make the most of festivals, the red flags that might keep you out, how to get away with breaking the rules, and what to do with that opus afterwards.

Joining me will be:

A SXSW Film, Gold, or Platinum badge is required to attend this event.

RSVP on Facebook or just show up!

I will also be serving on the Texas Short Film jury at the festival, and you'll be able to buy copies of Film Festival Secrets in the bookshop on the expo floor.

SXSW Panel Picker - it's time to vote.

PanelPicker Since 2007 the South by Southwest Film Festival (and its sister Music and Interactive events) have allowed attendees to suggest panel ideas and then vote on them using a web site called the PanelPicker. It's not the only method by which the SXSW team selects what panels to present, but it formalizes the process of gauging audience interest in particular topics. They've continued to use the PanelPicker since its inception, so I'm guessing it's a fairly useful tool for the programmers and it certainly makes the target audience feel included.

The PanelPicker for 2010 is currently open for audience voting, and for the first time I've submitted a panel idea: Short Film Secrets. I get a lot of questions from the creators of short films asking how the concepts in Film Festival Secrets apply to short films in particular. There are also a ton of questions out there about the distribution potential for short films, how they can be used to give your career a boost, and which festivals are best for short filmmakers. So that's the panel I think SXSW should host, and I hope you like it well enough to vote for it.

Some other notable panel ideas include:

  • Crawford filmmaker David Modigliani's "Adventures in Distribution: Innovative Filmmakers' Risks and Rewards"
  • Cinekink festival director Lisa Vandever's "The Porn Police are STILL at the door"
  • Atlanta Film Festival director Gabe Wardell's "Premiere status: saving it for 'marriage?'"
  • Toronto Film Fest's Jane Schoettle suggests "Festival Strategies for Independent Film"

    Voting ends in about a week on September 4th, so get in there to vote early and often!

  • SXSW 2009 wrap-up - better late than never.

    For those of us who live in Austin, Texas, few phrases strike such simultaneous dread and delight in our hearts as the three little words "South by Southwest." For the better part of the month of March, this celebration of music, film, and technology turns Austin upside-down. Thousands of people flood into the city to snarl traffic, invade Austin's bars and restaurants, and generally make merry with their fellow hipsters. For a few days, it's great to see everyone. Then it's great to see you all go home again. If you're not in the film or music industry or living on the bleeding edge of internet technology, you may not even have heard of South By Southwest (hereafter printed as "SXSW" and known colloquially as "South-By"). But for those who work in one of the industries served by this three-headed monster of an event, SXSW looms increasingly large on the professional travel calendar.


    What is SXSW?

    Simply put, SXSW is a combination trade conference and festival with three overlapping areas of interest: music, film, and interactive technology. While it's possible to purchase admission into the events for just one area of interest, many attendees take advantage of the fact that they can indulge multiple passions in one convenient trip. For years, SXSW has been the place to see emerging musical acts and legends side-by-side regardless of genre. The interactive conference (the fastest growing segment of the event) has become the de facto annual reunion of people who only know one another through their internet occupations. Finally the nine-day film festival (which was added in 1994 along with the interactive conference) plays over 100 films – both features and shorts, including docs and narratives – and hosts a series of film conference panels, workshops, and mentoring sessions as well. What makes SXSW different from other film festivals?

    • The music and interactive conferences that play alongside the film fest make SXSW an event unlike most other film festivals. Festival attendees are thrown into a throng of people who may or may not have any interest in the film festival aspect of the proceedings. Personally I find this makes things more interesting – people from many different backgrounds end up at the same party, so the person next to you at the bar could be a fellow filmmaker or the founder of your favorite internet startup. You won't know which until you start a conversation.
    • SXSW is a for-profit entity. Unlike many (probably most) festivals which establish themselves as non-profit tax-exempt entities, SXSW runs itself as a for-profit company. The event still relies on hundreds (thousands?) of volunteers to make things happen, but the company's need to make money to survive often affects their decision-making process.


    • Location, location, location. It's rare that a conversation about SXSW won't include some mention of the fact that Austin is a very cool town. It's difficult to envision an event like SXSW taking place in a city that didn't have the critical mass of technology workers, the vibrant boot-strap filmmaking scene, or a reputation as the live music capital of the world. Not to mention a world-class party district downtown, tons of awesome restaurants, and extremely pleasant weather in March, when most of the rest of the country is still suffering the woes of winter. Even if the idea of Texas doesn't appeal to you much, Austin is a great escape early in the year.

    Why is it important?

    South by Southwest is seen by many in the industry as the first important post-Sundance festival of the year. Sundance kicks off the festival year in January with the movies that they regard as the best in independent film but there's a lot of great stuff that gets left on the metaphorical cutting room floor once Sundance has made its picks. Those films tend to be less polished, edgier films from younger filmmakers, but there are a number of movies that don't fit that description which premiere at SXSW too. Whether SXSW's programming style emerged from picking among Sundance's leavings or whether they would program that way regardless is a matter for some debate. The simple fact remains, however, that a looser, freer atmosphere pervades SXSW than at Sundance. This may have something to do with Utah's trademark single-digit weather and the accompanying wardrobe requirements, but at SXSW there are fewer publicists, fewer industry parasites looking for a break, and generally less stress. If Sundance is the Superbowl, SXSW is the Ultimate Frisbee Championships. Bad analogy? How about this: if Sundance is Carnegie Hall, SXSW is Woodstock.


    One might also speculate that fewer deals get made at SXSW as well, and you would be right. SXSW isn't a huge hub of acquisitions activity, but the industry does pay attention to the films that play there. These days, however, distributors are taking an approach that is much more wait-and-see regardless of festival context. Savvy distribution companies are looking for those filmmakers who can attract a critical mass of attention to their films without significant marketing help (i.e. advertising dollars) from a third party. SXSW is an ideal place to begin such a DIY marketing campaign – it's well-attended by the film press and is the center of the internet's attention for a week or more leading up to the event, as well as the days during and after the festival itself. Hanging around the press office and making friends with people who have popular blogs or thousands of followers on Twitter could be the start of your film's success story.

    From the perspective of an exhibiting filmmaker, what does SXSW do well?

    If you're lucky enough to have been selected to show your film at South By Southwest, you definitely need to show up. The festival provides some aid to visiting filmmakers: competition filmmakers receive a travel stipend and the festival negotiates special rates with local hotels to make the stay more affordable. Feature filmmakers receive three complimentary film badges and shorts receive two. You'll want to take advantage of those badges: not only do they get you into all of the film screenings (a moviegoer's paradise), but a badge also provides access to the Film Conference and nightly parties for which the festival is famous. Of course it's difficult to take advantage of those early morning conference panels when you've been out 'til the wee hours partying, but as in life, SXSW is all about priorities.

    Not sure where to get started? The festival provides some advance materials and a welcome lunch to help filmmakers get their bearings. "For the first time this year, we held a filmmaker-only welcome lunch on Friday afternoon, hosted by Troublemaker Studios," says Festival Producer Janet Pierson. "In addition to the lunch, this year and for the last several years we've hosted a filmmaker orientation on Saturday morning. Next year, I believe we'll move the orientation to the welcome lunch if we can. Additionally, in advance of SXSW, we provide a lot of printed materials offering guidance on how filmmakers can make the most of their experience, including publicity tips and advice, and industry lists."

    Once you've reached Austin, you definitely want to be present for some of the nighttime events, both to promote your film's screenings and to meet other filmmakers and industry types. The press is also easily accessible since there is a highly-identifiable press lounge in the convention center. If you're in the mood for some learnin', drop in on one of the many filmmaking panels on an array of different topics. Perhaps the best part of SXSW, however, is the way it recharges your creative batteries. With so many smart and talented people around doing so many cool things, it's difficult not to get swept up in the enthusiasm. That's what good conferences do: rekindle your passion for your art, and help you to improve that art in the process.

    Where does SXSW need help?

    Every event has its weaknesses and SXSW is no different. In the case of this mammoth event they might be problems that other festivals wish they could have, but here's my quick assessment of areas where SXSW could improve.

    • Too many venues, too many movies. In some ways SXSW is a victim of its own success and this is definitely one of those ways. While the downtown venues are reasonably accessible and it's no more than a fifteen-minute walk between any two of them, the "off-campus" venues can feel impossible to get to, especially when you factor in traffic and parking. I don't think I saw a single film at the Alamo South Lamar during this year's festival. Granted, the organization has taken steps to remedy this sort of thing recently; they no longer use the Dobie Theater as a venue, for one thing. Shuttle buses were apparently running between downtown and the South Lamar location as well, but for some reason I never felt well-informed enough to use them. (My own laziness is at fault here; kudos to SXSW for providing shuttles at all.)

      One might also argue that there are simply too many movies competing for attention; a reduction in the number of movies might make for a less hectic screening schedule. I don't see this changing any time soon, however, so the best bet is to keep close track of the buzz, see the indie pictures without distribution that you really want to see (don't waste time on studio "sneak previews" that will be out in a few months), and try to catch up with the others at other festivals or on DVD at a later date.

      (To digress for a moment: this year's new "priority seating" ticketing system seemed to work well enough when the theater volunteers actually knew about the procedures and followed them. Regardless, with a film badge I don't think I ever got shut out of a screening I wanted to see, provided I got there at least 30 minutes ahead of showtime. Ticketing is one of those things that festivals seem to forever be tinkering with, so I expect to see this system either evolve further or die entirely in the coming year.)


    • Panel programming is hit or miss. Programming a conference is an art; it requires a familiarity of what the audience wants, access to engaging and knowledgeable speakers, and strong moderators to keep the conversation flowing. As with so many events large and small, it is this third element where SXSW occasionally stumbles. A bad moderator can squash any promising discussion and all too often the moderators at SXSW did just that: they allowed panelists to pontificate at length and off-topic, they failed to intercept rambling audience questions, and at times they even hijacked the panels to further their own agendas. One moderator began the panel by reading aloud an entry from his blog – the audience was asleep before the discussion had a chance to begin. It is difficult to find people who are both good at moderating and willing to do so, but a good discussion leader is the single most deciding factor between a great panel and a bad one. SXSW should find the good ones and, if necessary, pay them to stick around.

      Beyond the moderator complaint, I did notice that some of the panels could wander deep into "inside baseball" territory. I realize that it's hard for industry vets to remember life as a film fest newbie, but some care should be taken to warn panelists against assuming that everyone in the room reads indieWIRE religiously and has a comprehensive knowledge of the mumblecore catalog. Other panelists seemed underprepared or simply inappropriate for the panel -- in one case the filmmakers' circumstances of achieving success were so impossible to reproduce that his comments were practically useless. "We got incredibly lucky" isn't much of an insight.

    • All of these things said, the panels can be incredibly informative – especially if you're willing to bail out on a session that turns out to be a dud and move on to something else already in progress. SXSW has considerable clout in the industry and it would be foolish not to take advantage of the access to the people they gather into these conference rooms each year. Some of my complaints above are within the festival's control and some are simply a part of running an educational event, but with some planning and the right attitude there's a lot to be learned by showing up.

    Who should attend?

    If you're not exhibiting a film in the festival, your attendance should be tempered by your budget and by the festival's relevance to your career. If you're looking for celebrity actors to populate your next feature you're probably better off heading to Park City or Los Angeles, but if you want to meet scrappy, inspiring filmmakers with whom to start shooting your new webisode series, Austin is the right place to be. Because of the concurrent music and technology events hotels fill up quickly and lodging can cost you a pretty penny (or at least require you to rent a car to commute into the city each day if you find an outlying budget hotel), so definitely weigh the pros and cons. It would suck to spend a few inspiring days in Austin only to find that you'd spent your production budget on SXSW.

    Who should apply?

    SXSW has an extremely wide purview, content-wise; lush, thoughtful dramas seem as welcome as guerilla-style documentaries, though there are definitely more of the latter that get programmed at the festival. If your film is about music in any way, SXSW is a great place to submit. They're always hungry for good music-related material, be it music videos, music documentaries, or narrative films centered on music. Films related to Texas and the West are also favored, though the fact that your film was made in the Lone Star State (or even in Austin itself) is no guarantee that it will be accepted. Beyond that, SXSW is undeniably a top tier festival and should be high on the target list of any indie filmmaker looking to make the festival rounds.

    (Full disclosure: I participated in the SXSW documentary film pre-screening process this past year and hope to continue to do so. They were also kind enough to host a book signing for Film Festival Secrets during the 2009 festival.)

    Watch this: Doc short on managing your expectations on the festival circuit

    Seven excellent minutes from filmmaker Zak Forsman on why you want to show up at festivals and what you should work to get out of them. This video starts a "virtual panel session" from filmmakers in the Workbook Project.

    SXSW announces 2009 awards winners

    sxswI don't normally just rehash a press release, but I'm really happy about the fact that 45365 won the doc competition. It was in one of my stacks of screeners this year and while I can't say I championed it to the programmers or anything silly like that, it's really nice to see a film that you believe in early on become the competition winner.

    I've been hitting a lot of panels this year (as those who follow me on twitter can attest), so you can expect some updates on those next week.

    Feature Jury Awards

    Winner – 45365
    Director: Bill Ross
    An inquiring look at everyday life in Middle America, the film explores the congruities of daily life in an American town Sidney, Ohio.

    Honorable Mention – The Way We Get By
    Director: Aron Gaudet
    On call 24/7 for the past 6 years, a group of senior citizens transform their lives by greeting nearly one million U.S. troops at a tiny airport in Maine.

    Winner – Made in China
    Director: Judi Krant
    Lost in Shanghai, an inventor discovers that it takes more than a bright idea to succeed.

    Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast – That Evening Sun
    Director: Scott Teems
    A ruthless grudge match between two old foes. Lines are drawn, threats are made, and the simmering tension under the Tennessee sun erupts, inevitably, into savagery. Cast: Hal Holbrook, Mia Wasikowska, Ray McKinnon, Walton Goggins, Carrie Preston

    Audience Awards

    Winner – Motherland
    Director: Jennifer Steinman
    Six grieving mothers journey to Africa in order to test the theory that “giving is healing.”

    Winner – MINE
    Director: Geralyn Pezanoski
    After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of pets were rescued and adopted by families around the country, leading to many custody battles. Through these stories, the film examines issues of race, class and animal welfare in the U.S.

    Winner – That Evening Sun
    Director: Scott Teems
    A ruthless grudge match between two old foes. Lines are drawn, threats are made, and the simmering tension under the Tennessee sun erupts, inevitably, into savagery.

    Shorts Jury Awards

    Winner – Thompson
    Director: Jason Tippet
    Since second grade Matt and Ryan have shared the bond of speech impediments, weapons, and things that go fast. But as their last days of high school speed by, the two friends find that their go-carts, dirt bikes, and RC cars can’t outrun adulthood.

    Special Jury Award – Happy 95 Birthday Grandpa
    Director: Gary Huggins
    A fleeting memory in five minutes.

    Winner – Shaman
    Director: Luc Perez
    Waiting for the bus on a rainy day in Copenhagen, the old shaman Utaaq sees a rare bird from his past. This makes him reminisce his youth, and a beautiful tale about the forces of nature begins.

    Special Jury Award – Sweet Dreams
    Director: Kirsten Lepore
    A Stalwart cupcake escapes from his native land to discover what lies beyond the sugar skyscrapers and candy-condos. His violent shipwreck on a foreign shore forces him to adapt to a new lifestyle.

    Winner – Cattle Call
    Director: Matthew Rankin & Mike Maryniuk
    A high-speed animated documentary about the art of livestock auctioneering.

    Special Jury Award – The Idiot Stinks
    Director: Helder Sun
    Animation, Angst, Media, Martians and Miscommunication.

    Winner – Thunderheist, “Jerk It”
    Director: That Go-Noel Paul & Stefan Moore

    Special Jury Award – Fleet Foxes, “White Winter Hymnal”
    Director: Sean Pecknold

    Jury Special Mention – New Pornographers, “Myriad Harbor”
    Director: Fluorescent Hill

    Winner – Performance Evaluation
    Director: Breannah Gibson

    Special Jury Award – TIE
    Fresh Fruit
    Director: Edward Kelley & Brenden Cicoria


    A Hospital Bathroom
    Director: Miguel Johnson

    Festival Genius makes SXSW easier

    picThings have been a bit quiet around here lately because it's been all hands on deck for the launch of Festival Genius, B-Side's new scheduling tool for film festivals. If you're attending South by Southwest this year I encourage you to give it a whirl. Fest Genius not only helps you figure out what to see, it can automatically find and fix conflicts so you can see the maximum number of films possible in the allotted time.

    Once you're done tweaking your schedule to perfection, Festival Genius will even export your event calendar to Outlook, your iPhone, or other calendar program. Or go old school and print it out.

    The Festival Genius for SXSW 2009 includes film, music, and interactive events (including panels and parties), so if you're headed to Austin this coming week, please check it out.

    SXSW & IFC release plan: much ado about . . . ?

    Alexander the LastThere were a number of interesting announcements at Sundance this year, though few of them had to do with big-ticket film acquisitions. (This comes to the surprise of no one.)

    In the continuing deterioration of the traditional system of release windows is this plan (also announced at Sundance) from IFC Films and the South by Southwest Film Festival to hold a simultaneous release of Joe Swanberg's latest film, Alexander the Last, at SXSW 2009 and on IFC's "Festival Direct" video-on-demand (VOD) channel.

    Four other SXSW ‘09 titles will also screen on-demand via IFC Festival Direct, concurrent with the upcoming festival. IFC also announced the launch of of a new IFC Festival Direct genre label, branded IFC Midnight and unveiled some twenty titles that have been added to the slate for its on-demand platform.

    This prompted some rather pointed questions from Sarasota Film Festival programmer Tom Hall. Hall wonders if audiences will bother attending a festival screening of a film that is available via VOD, especially since VOD is the choice that is both the more economical and more convenient.

    Can the festival “event” outweigh the incentive of staying home? That answer is easy when the world comes to a place like SXSW to party and take in the live music along with the interactive and film events. But at a smaller, regional festival like mine, I really don’t know what my audience would do.

    It's impossible to dismiss Hall's concerns, though they do come from a certain glass-half-empty perspective on the situation. The thought that moviegoers might stay home to watch a film on demand rather than venture out into the night to share the experience with an audience is certainly within the realm of possibility. Who among us hasn't opted to catch the latest Will Smith flick on DVD, when we could watch it on our own couches with the convenience of the pause button and the absence of an audience that seems determined to talk through important bits of dialogue (or conversely, to shush us with righteous indignation when we wittily point out the film's inconsistencies)?

    I prefer to think that such Festival Direct flicks will serve as word-of-mouth ambassadors for themselves and for festival films in general. It is equally within the realm of possibility that some of those people who do see Swanberg's latest opus on demand will enjoy it enough to go see it on the big screen at a festival, or encourage their friends to go. Those who don't follow through on that particular film may be turned on to the idea that festivals are where the interesting films can be seen. As with everything else in indie film, the potential audience for film festivals (as compared to their penetration of the populace in general) is infinite. Anything that can be done to spread the word of their merit -- and their existence -- is probably a good thing.

    Read Sundance 09: SXSW & IFC | doc it out.

    On the writing of synopses

    I'm back from the Oxford Film Festival (more about that in a future entry) and have been completely overwhelmed with backed-up B-Side work, neglected consulting clients, and watching a handful of SXSW films to write some promised synopses.

    Distilling the plot and spirit of a film into a hundred words such that any random reader might happen upon them and be compelled to see the film is serious work. Not only is there the economy of language to consider but also the politics of the situation (how to approach a controversial topic without appearing to be glib or bigoted?) and the simple fact that one might not always like the film in question.

    Still, it's not something that I encourage filmmakers to attempt for their own films, at least not if you can help it. Grab a friend with an English degree. Steal the synopsis from a festival you've played (you can always ask permission). Hire a publicist. Whatever you do, find someone with a gift for words and a love of movies to write about your film in a way that you cannot. You won't be sorry.

    Anatomy of a Film Fest Badge: SxSW 2008

    This is the first part of an ongoing series in which I examine the differences between one of the essential tools of any film festival: the festival ID badge. Every event has different needs and this series will observe how the design and usability of each badge reflects the festival's personality.

    sxsw badge

    This is an example of the badges used by South by Southwest (SxSW). As an event SxSW is hugely popular (the mixture of film, technology, and music events provide a big draw) and the prices of the badges reflect both the high demand and SxSW's unusual status as a for-profit festival. The motivation to counterfeit, steal, or just plain swap badges is high, so the organization has gone to some lengths to protect against such activities. With the mix of activities and attendees, the badges also demonstrate the levels of admission flexibility that the festival is willing to provide.

    #1 - Badges are color-coded by type for at-a-glance identification by admissions monitors. Individual conference badges for specific interests like Interactive and Film are available, as are Gold badges (which combine admission to Film and Interactive events) and Platinum badges, which give access to pretty much everything. Badges provide priority access to individual films and music events, ahead of pass & ticket holders (films) and wristband holders (music). Badges also provide access to parties.

    #2 - Large, readable type makes it easy to identify people you haven't met in person before. This is also useful when you need a quick memory refresh for someone you met earlier in the week -- and with the huge number of people hanging around, many from out of town, this happens all the time. For an attendee, the large type size is probably the most important usability feature of the badge, and one I wish more festivals would adopt.

    #3 - ID photo cuts down on badge-swapping. I especially like the fact that SxSW lets you upload your own photo in advance, though they will certainly take a mug shot style pic at registration if that appeals to you.

    #4 - Punch out icons let the staff know if you've claimed your goody bag, party invites, etc.

    #5 - Hologram sticker is shiny but also makes the badge harder to counterfeit. May conceal an RFID chip -- I know that SxSW has been using RFID for their music event wristbands but I don't know if that extends to badges as well. I haven't cut my badge apart to find out.

    #6 - Open-ended plastic sleeve (as opposed to sealed laminate) allows you to slip other items into your badge holder -- like business cards or a pocket schedule.

    Overall, the badge is very utilitarian (standard size, not too ostentatious, easy to read), serving both the needs of the festival and the attendees. It's the kind of badge you see at hundreds of conventions and festivals, but the distinctive downward pointing arrow, the unmistakeable SxSW abbreviation, and the attractive banner design make it more than just another badge.

    For a listing and price breakdown of all the badges that were offered in 2008, visit the 2008 SxSW registration page.

    Six essential things to do after a film festival


    As I write this, the South by Southwest film festival is coming to an end. In my mind's eye I can see the last stragglers shuffling their feet at the Austin airport today to board their departing flights and nurse the last vestiges of their carefully cultivated hangovers. As a filmmaker returning home in the afterglow of a festival, you should check the following items off your to-do list after you revive from your festival coma and before "real" life reclaims your attention.

    1. Organize and digitize those business cards. If you were following the series of filmmaker prep tips, you not only printed and gave away your own business cards, but you collected those of the people you met. Dig them out of your bag or wallet or wherever you stashed them and get that data out of the physical realm and into the digital. Whatever you use for storing contact data is fine, just make sure it's accessible and synced up with your email client when you need it. If you have some way of tagging or grouping the contacts by festival, you'll have a ready-to-go contact list that you can ping if you plan to go back next year. Better yet, ask everyone you met to sign up for your film's mailing list.

    Once you've got your business cards digitized, save the physical cards in a way that is meaningful to you. I have a Rolodex (pictured above) and I file the cards by company or film name, handwriting notes on the cards if necessary. I just staple the business cards to the rolodex cards and I'm done. Rarely do I gaze into the Rolodex, but it's nice to know that if I ever lose my electronic version, I have the paper cards for a reference.

    Want to send this article to a friend? Get a PDF copy for easy sharing.

    As an aside, there were a shocking number of people -- mostly filmmakers -- who arrived at SxSW without business cards. When I asked for one, most of them shrugged their shoulders and agreed that printing business cards was something they wished they'd done.

    2. Go back over your notes and follow up on to-do items. Hopefully you took good notes and you have a list of tasks to do, whether it's sending screeners to distributors and journalists or simply following up on the previous work of a filmmaker whose feature you enjoyed. Complete these in the first week after you get back so they don't slip through the cracks.

    3. Send follow-up and thank-you emails. Dedicate a block of time to just email every single person you met. Whether they're "it was good to meet you" emails, thank-you notes, or follow-ups on specific inquiries, touch base one more time with everyone. In particular you should follow up with journalists; offer to answer any further questions they might have as a polite way of reminding them that you're expecting some coverage.

    4. Update your web site. One of the keys to encouraging repeat visits to your web site is to post new content, and a festival trip is a great excuse to update. Post pictures from your screenings and a quick blog entry or two about the festival, the people you met, and the films you saw. Giving good "press" to other films is a good way of encouraging links back. Once the updates are complete, send a message to your mailing list subscribers inviting them to come back and check out the new stuff.

    5. Set up Google alerts for press and blog mentions of your film. Both Google and Yahoo offer email alerts that let you know when a phrase or word combination of your choosing appear in the press. I suggest starting with your film's title in quotes. If that results in too many unrelated results, use the director's name to narrow things down a bit. Consider setting up a specific alert with the name of the film festival included to make it easier to break down coverage by festival.

    6. Plan for your next festival. If you're fortunate enough to have a dance card with more festivals on it already, review the roster of films and panels for the upcoming festival. If you spot anyone you know from a previous festival, get in touch. At the very least you can set up a time for a drink to compare notes; with some planning you can share resources to cross-promote your films or just get tips on the best ways to promote your own film locally at the upcoming festival. At times other filmmakers will know more about an upcoming festival than you do or even live in that town -- you might even be able to score some free lodging if you play your cards right.

    By now it should be apparent that a run on the film festival circuit is not a series of discrete events but an ongoing process. One festival flows into another, building up your media portfolio and buzz (both personal and film-specific) to the point that you sell your film or embark on another project. Not that beginning a new project absolves you of promoting your past projects; your films are your children, and you owe it to them and to yourself to devote time to ensuring long, happy lives for each of them.

    You can download this article as a free PDF for reference and easy sharing.

    How to nail your post-screening Q&A

    Zellner Brothers' Q&A at South by Southwest.

    Zellner Brothers' Q&A at South by Southwest.


    Over the years I've seen dozens of Q&A sessions with filmmakers. Some were good, some were not so good, and some were downright disastrous. However, all of them were educational when it comes to the things that make for a positive Q&A experience.

    The Q&A is an important opportunity to sell yourself and your film, so follow these tips to get it right.

    » Accept the fact that people are going to walk out before the Q&A. There's little you can do about this other than to make your ending credits as short as possible, but even so people will scoot out the door as soon as the film is over. Don't take it personally; there are many reasons for bolting out of a screening at the end, not least of which is to run a few blocks to make it to another screening.

    Just think: people are leaving other filmmakers' Q&As to make it in time for your screening too. Of course there are also people running off to the bathroom, which is less flattering. In any case, the people left are the ones who really liked your film and want to hear what you have to say. Those are the ones you wanted to stick around.

    » Get everyone from your film up to the front. Particularly the cast (people enjoy seeing on-screen characters in the flesh), but don't leave crew members out either. The more people you can have with you up there the better, particularly since the audience will ask them questions too and take some of the heat off of you.

    » Bring an expert. When showing her doc Election Day during the Atlanta Film Festival, director Katy Chevigny brought along the director of a local voting rights organization to answer tricky questions about the elections process.

    Not only can a local expert lend credibility to your Q&A, but they can also help you market your screenings by reaching out to the members of local organizations withan interest in your film's subject matter. This is as important for narrative films as it is for documentaries -- if your film involves any kind of special interest then you can get the local members of that special interest involved.

    » Have some opening remarks ready, or get the theater manager to lob you the first question. Often the questions won't really get going until someone breaks the ice. If you're not good at riffing off a story at the beginning of the Q&A, get the person who introduces you to get things rolling with a prepared question. You'll want to arrange this ahead of time, of course.

    » Let someone else pick the audience members to ask questions. If you're having trouble making out members of the audience due to lighting or the size of the venue, get a festival volunteer to pick the raised hands out of the crowd for you. You have enough to think about, and the volunteer will have a better sense of when it's time to wrap up.

    » Repeat the question before you answer. Even if you can hear the question, don't assume the audience can. This is particularly important in large venues or if the q&a is being recorded by the festival; you want there to be some context for your answer. It also gives you a few extra seconds to formulate your answer.

    » Practice your answers to the most common questions. Over the course of your festival run you're going to hear these questions a zillion times, so have the answers down pat before you have to answer them.

    • Where did you get the idea for the film?
    • How much was your budget?
    • What did you shoot on?
    • How did you find the cast?
    • When and where did you shoot?
    • Who did the music/cinematography/makeup/costumes/whatever?

    In addition, decide ahead of time the questions that you will and won't answer if there are topics that your cast or crew might find sensitive.

    » Above all, try to relax and appear as if you're enjoying yourself. The audience will forgive nervousness, but you really don't have that much to be nervous about. You've just had a great screening and the people who hated your film left before the Q&A. Right?

    Random Film Festival Tip: Volunteers Rock.

    You know them -- they're the ones in the matching t-shirts herding the crowds into screening rooms, asking for your audience award ballots, blocking your way into that hot party.

    They're also a great resource for promoting your film. As official reps of the film festival, volunteers get asked for film recommendations constantly. Make sure they know who you are and everything about your film. Make friends with them, give them promotional swag (buttons are always good), and just generally charm the socks off of them. Your attendance numbers will thank you.

    More soon.

    Random Film Festival Tip: Be Kind To Your Feet

    SxSW 2008

    I'm jotting down film festival tips as they occur to me during SxSW, so expect little entries like this one over the next few days.

    If you're doing things right, you're going to a lot of parties and having a lot of conversations -- usually while standing up. Then there's the walking from venue to venue and back again. Not to mention the standing in line for movies. After of several days of this your feet will feel like they've been through a meat grinder. So be sure to:

    » Wear comfy shoes. Ladies, a lightweight pair of shoes you can slip on between venues could be just the thing -- you can change back into your heels when you get there and tuck the walkers back in your bag.

    » Take advantage of opportunities to sit down.

    » Minimize wasted trips between venues. Arriving early is the best way to get into a popular screening, so you won't have to make alternate plans and do yet more walking.

    » Support the local pedicab industry. These helpful folks will pedal you to your next stop and can offer the best advice about everything in downtown Austin without adding to your carbon footprint. Try Roadkill Pedicab at 512-563-2437 or Capital Pedicabs at 512-448-2227.

    Coming soon: more tips, pictures from SxSW, and the 'Bama Girl case study.

    SxSW: last minute tips part 4 - when in Austin

    In part one we covered some SxSW and film promotion basics. Part two highlighted the importance of a web site for your film.

    Part three discussed some general organizational and travel tips that will make your trip easier so you can think about promoting yourself and your movie.

    In part three I mentioned that filmmakers who want to work in the industry for a living should think of a film festival as a career fair, and it is: your peers and potential employers are there, looking to connect with one another. The difference is that it all takes place in a much less organized environment, where screenings and parties and general chaos provide a reason for gathering but occasionally get in the way of conducting business. The challenge lies in connecting to the right people and having the right conversations in the midst of all this, and if you don't prepare then you're relying almost entirely on chance to make this happen. Not that great conversations don't happen by chance, but you don't want that to be your entire plan.

    So while you're on the ground at SxSW (or any film festival), do the following:

    » Set discrete, measurable, attainable goals. Of course you should think about what your overall goals are for your film and your career, but for the purposes of any one event you need to write down the bite-sized goals that you can accomplish while you're there. "Find a distributor" is not a bite-sized goal. "Talk to ten distributors and establish contact with an acquisition rep at each" is more reasonable.

    Put these goals in the front of your notebook (you did buy a notebook, right?) and refer back to them each day so you can stay focused. Check each one off as you finish it for that warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment.

    » Do groundwork before you arrive in Austin so you don't waste time just getting up to speed. That means reaching out to the press and setting up interviews beforehand as discussed in part 3. Check out the trade show floor map and write down a list of the companies with whom you want to talk. You don't have to have every minute of every day mapped out, but you don't want to spend time in Austin making phone calls or writing emails when you could be enjoying the festival or talking to journalists and other filmmakers.

    pic» Take advantage of panels and screenings. In addition to South by Southwest's official site, there are a proliferation of tools designed to help you build a schedule of things to do. Keep a detailed calendar so you always have options if you're not actively promoting your film. During the first weekend you should stick close to the convention center to squeeze in as many interviews and marketing activities as possible, but when you're not doing those things the conference has more panels than you could possibly attend, each one stuffed with useful information. Even the occasional clunker will have some interesting people at the front of the room, so stick around afterwards and introduce yourself. With journalists and industry types alike, the phrase "I have a film in the festival this year" is the perfect icebreaker: it identifies you as someone with talent and of potential interest. Use it to your advantage.

    The same goes for screenings; after the Q&A, approach the filmmakers and introduce yourself. Be sure to say something nice about the film and ask about their experiences at the festival so far. Chances are good that other filmmakers have met journalists who haven't found you yet, or have learned lessons about the festival experience that could benefit you. You want that knowledge. Be polite about this, and always present it as an exchange of information rather than an information dump. When you find someone who seems particularly well-informed, offer to buy the next round. The collected wisdom of the other filmmakers at SxSW is well worth the price of a few drinks.

    » Talk to the press. When Kissing on the Mouth played SxSW in 2005, Joe Swanberg wrote a travelogue with a nice set of tips for filmmakers about the festival. You should read it in its entirety, but I like this passage:

    It's not a bad idea to spend a few afternoons hanging around the Filmmaker Lounge, which is conveniently located very near the Press Lounge. Stay visible, and spend some time walking between the two places, seeing who you can bump into. Sometimes press will be conducting interviews with other filmmakers in the Press Lounge, and you can piggyback and do an interview after they are finished. We got some good coverage just from being in the right place at the right time, but the right place was almost always somewhere near the Press Lounge.

    picThe press have a job to do: present the most interesting news to their audience before their competitors do. In order to make sure you get good coverage, you need to make their job as easy as possible. That's where your web site comes in, and, if you're particularly prepared, an electronic press kit (EPK). An EPK is just a CD-ROM with the basic facts about your film (press releases, cast lists, one-sheet, etc) and some supporting media -- high-resolution stills, trailers in Quicktime format, etc. A good EPK should let a journalist get a good sense of your film in a few minutes just by popping it into her laptop. EPKs have an advantage over web sites in that they work when the laptop isn't connected to the internet, so if you still have time consider putting one together and burning a dozen or so copies to carry with you. (Put them in paper sleeves to save on weight and bulk.)

    One last word on the press: do not be intimidated. They are there to cover the festival, and you're part of the festival. So if you present yourself politely and provide compelling reasons that your film should be part of their festival coverage, the average member of the press will give you serious consideration. That's not to say that the media doesn't house its share of schmucks, or that anyone owes you coverage, but you have a right to conduct business the same as anyone else. Have your screeners and your flyers ready, and go get 'em.

    » Stay tuned to the festival news. Subscribe to the newsletters and the SMS updates and read some of the third-party coverage of the festival as a whole. You want to get a sense of where the action is and what events are likely to draw crowds. Most especially you want to be aware of last-minute schedule changes and additions -- things can change in the middle of a festival and you can't make intelligent choices about how to spend your time if you aren't in the know.

    » Go to the parties. There are some of you out there who need to be told to do this. When it comes to film festivals, parties are where a lot of business relationships begin. You don't need to stay to the bitter end of every party, nor do you need to go everywhere you're invited, but get out and engage in the art of the schmooze. If your schmoozing skills are rusty, ask for advice from the schmooziest person you know. Be sure to pass out those flyers when the opportunity presents itself. Don't forget to ask for business cards from the interesting people you meet, and try to take it easy on the open bar.

    » Visit the trade show floor. Wander the booths. Pick up some swag. SxSW has a trade show for the Interactive and Film conferences where you'll find a little bit of everything. Some companies will be instantly familiar, and others will be of little interest. Still others will be utterly incomprehensible. Get out there among them and soak up some knowledge, have a few conversations. You might just make some good connections, or at least pick up some free t-shirts.

    pic» Take good notes. I mentioned this in passing back in part 3, but it bears repeating here. You don't need to scribble out every word you hear verbatim, but you should get in the habit of jotting down a note or two after each conversation you have. Make sure you take note of the person's name (even if you got their business card) and what the main points of the conversation were. Don't rely on your memory; it will fail you when you most need it. This is particularly important when it comes to encounters with the press -- a few weeks after the festival you'll want to go back over the contacts you made and see which of them actually wrote something about you. Someone who particularly enjoyed your film may be a good contact for other festivals or later works.

    Notes are also important for remembering promises you made. If you owe someone a screener or a callback, you don't want to forget. Make a special symbol in your notes for to-do items -- a check box, an asterisk, whatever works for you -- so you'll recognize uncompleted tasks when scanning over your back notes.

    » Keep in mind the overall goal of building your career and reputation, not just selling the film at hand. Too many filmmakers blunder onto the festival circuit with unrealistic hopes of a big paycheck and a distribution deal waiting for them right after their premieres. (I call it Weinstein Syndrome.) Watch the Q&As at the screenings you go to and you're bound to see it -- the cast and crew in attendance with eyes just a little too wide and smiles just a little too big. A serious examination of the state of independent film distribution today reveals that very few films get sold at film festivals, and independent pictures in general have a hard road ahead of them when seeking an audience. The good news is that film festivals are the front lines of indie film, and careers really do get built between panels and parties. Opportunity is there, but you have to know where to look and grab it when it shows its face.

    » Have fun! I'm sure this all sounds like the least fun you could possibly have at a film festival, but try to balance your business activities with some play. There's no reason you can't do both at the same time. You just need to retain some awareness of you're doing and saying and what it might do for your future as a filmmaker.

    My intention was to write an additional entry (on the art of the Q&A and other screening and promo tips) before SxSW begins, but given all the other activity going on I'm not sure I'll make it. I have a few other entries in the hopper for posting in the next day or so and I'll be covering films from different perspectives here and over at Slackerwood as the festival progresses. If you'd like some coverage for your film please feel free to send me some email at chris at filmfestivalsecrets dot com, or come by the B-Side Entertainment booth at the trade show and introduce yourself.

    See you in the aisles at South by Southwest!

    SxSW: last minute tips part 3 - before you leave

    In part one we covered some SxSW and film promotion basics. Part two highlighted the importance of a web site for your film.

    With less than a week left it's time to get moving on those last-minute steps you can take while you're still at home: making sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible and laying the groundwork for meetings and interviews before you set foot in Austin.

    » Get organized about your travel and your appointments. Resources abound for putting your life on the road in order. Take advantage of them. The less you have to think about your itinerary and its details, the more brain space you'll have for promoting yourself and your film.

    Some of my favorite travel & organizational tools:


    Top Ten Austin

    » If you don't know Austin very well, get a good city guide with a map of downtown and study it beforehand. I like the smaller guides that fit in a back pocket, but go with what appeals to you. Just make sure you carry it with you. You can start to get acquainted with Austin at WikiTravel's entry for the city. Over at Slackerwood (the other blog I write for), there's a great guide to the venues of SxSW, which is helpful for a number of reasons. Not least among those reasons is the fact that it gives you a good sense of which venues are within easy walking distance and which are not. Also, SXSW has a YouTube channel with some pretty excellent guides to how the festival works.

    SxSWBaby has an excellent "where to eat during SxSW" guide complete with a custom Google Map. (Allow me to throw in my own endorsements of  Roaring Fork, The Onion, and the 1886 Café.)

    » Get a good pocket notebook and a couple of pens, and carry them with you. If you're a filmmaker and you want to make movies for a living, it's time to start thinking of film festivals as career fairs. Since a cornerstone of any good business is impeccable record-keeping, you should always have the means to take notes. I like the Moleskine Reporter, but a 99-cent memo pad will contain writing just as effectively. Your notebook should be the record of the people you met (you're going to lose one or two business cards along the way), the things you learned, and the promises you made. It sounds corny but I promise you'll get more out of SxSW if you write a few things down.

    » If you have a pocket camera, bring it along. This is probably the wrong time to be lugging your DSLR and its thousand-dollar lens, but there are lots of amazing things to see at the festival and around Austin in general. You're bound to want to take one or two pictures along the way (like the crowd at your screening?), and if you rely on your camera phone you'll be sorry. [OK, the iPhone 4 camera is pretty good, but still.] When you get home, make sure to upload those pix to your web site.

    » Go mobile when at all possible. Make sure you're taking advantage of all of the features of your cell phone. Lugging a laptop around gets old in a hurry, so why do it when you could just as easily check mail from your phone? Make sure you do have a way to check your email regularly, though -- a lack of attention to your mail is a great way to miss out on press coverage and other opportunities. If you've shelled out the money for an iPhone or Blackberry, now is the time to milk the usefulness out of it. Don't buy a new phone just before you leave, though -- when in unfamiliar surroundings, you want a familiar device.

    Similarly, every web service out there seems to have a mobile component, so learn how to configure and use them before you leave. If you try and figure these things out after you get to Austin, you'll probably waste time and just end up frustrated.

    Speaking of SMS, if you've never used text messaging before, now might be the time to learn how. Voice and data networks will groan under the weight of the traffic generated by the thousands of attendees at SxSW. Your best bet for communication may well be squirting single, lightweight lines of text up to the cell towers.

    And one more mobile tip: bring a lightweight charger that you can carry with you during the day. Take advantage of random electrical outlets when sitting in panels or waiting in line. You probably won't get back to your hotel room until the wee hours of the morning, and by that time your mobile phone battery may be as worn out as you are. You don't want to contend with a dead cell phone when you're half-drunk in a strange city at 3am. Trust me.

    » Make as many media contacts as you can to line up those interviews prior to your arrival in Austin. There are scores of media outlets covering the film festival portion of SxSW alone, from humble bloggers like yours truly to national film publications like Variety. Some Googling ought to reveal who these people are and nearly every byline these days is accompanied by an email address. Write up a quick cover letter with a description of your film and mention your availability for interviews. Don't be discouraged by a lack of immediate results; everyone is ridiculously busy during SxSW. The keys are to cast a wide net and to be persistent.

    » Use the SxSW Registrant Directory to identify good contacts at the conference. Every conference registrant (and if you have a badge, that should include you) has access to the directory, and every registrant is listed there. You can use the directory to search for other people by job description, name, home state -- you name it. This is a great way to find contacts, and you can even build a list of those contacts and send them personal messages. Use it.

    In part 4 I'll talk about setting your goals for the festival and what to do with your days and nights during the big event itself. Stay tuned.


    Get SxSW 2008 panel and film schedule info by SMS

    SxSW 2008 schedule info by text message / SMS - from Film Threat and B-SideNow you can use your cell phone's SMS features to get SXSW 2008 schedule information on the go and even rate the movies you see from your seat!

    Just text your commands to this number: 47647

    1. To set your phone to SxSW, send: bside fe sxsw2008

    (You only have to do this once. You will get a confirmation message.)

    2. To get showtimes, you can just text: bside show now

    or, you can get showtimes for a specific day and time, like this: bside show fri 9pm

    » To see showtimes by title, send: bside show title

    ex: bside show woodpecker

    » "Title" may also be any part of a film's title -- no need to punch in the whole thing. For example, you could see the showtimes for "'Bama Girl" by sending: bside show bama

    » Film and interactive panels are also contained in the schedule. To see the showtime for the panel "Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Great Design Hurts," you could send: bside show design hurts

    3. To rate a film you've seen on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), send: bside rate title rating

    For example, you could rate "Dear Zachary" as excellent by sending: bside rate zachary 5

    » When you're home in front of a computer, log in to and create an account. Enter your cell phone number into your profile and your phone ratings will automatically be associated with your SxSW B-Side account.

    Send bside help for even more commands!

    (Disclosure: I work for B-Side Entertainment.)

    SxSW free film events at the Carver Center

    Don't have two nickels to rub together? Feeling left out of the SxSw film festival love? Not to worry, just block off the afternoon & evening of Sunday March 9th and get your sorry butt over to the George Washington Carver Center for some free cinema love.

    Learn more on the official SxSW site, and hop on over to SxSWBaby for a list of even more SxSW-related events that are free and open to the public.

    SxSW: last minute filmmaker tips part 2 - warm up your web site

    In part one we covered some SxSW and film promotion basics. A nicely designed site for Blood Car As a filmmaker, your web site is one of the best marketing tools you have. Long before the lights go down at your first screening, your web site is where people will learn about you and your film. Months (years!) after the festival ends, your movie's site will be the touchstone for those curious about your work. Dollar for dollar, there is nothing else you can buy that will work for your movie as tirelessly and as effectively as the electronic sentinel that is a web site.

    So make it good.

    One of the best collections of advice for filmmakers I've encountered about their web sites comes from my friend Jette Kernion in her Open Letter to Indy/Low-Budget Filmmakers. Go ahead, click on over and read it. I'll wait.

    Back again? Good. I hope Jette's words are sinking in and that you're ready to build a web site that isn't just attractive but useful as well. Let's review her advice with a few extra pointers.

    » Include lots of text about the film, including the names of the cast and crew, so that the site shows up in Google searches. The fancy name for this is "search engine optimization," but the plain truth is that search engines grab onto text best. If you're rendering that text as graphics or you've embedded it into a Flash presentation, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Keep it simple and leave the flaming logos to the site for the next Tomb Raider film.

    » Post a number of striking photos at different resolutions, and make them easily available for download. The less you make a journalist (whether an editor from Variety or a local blogger) work, the more likely you are to get good coverage. Cropping screen captures is work. Resizing photos is work. I think you can figure out the rest. Again, don't hide them inside a PDF, a fancy Flash slideshow, or assume that a trailer is a sufficient substitute for still photos. If you want the word to spread, you have to make the spreading easy.

    » Publish your contact info, including e-mail, telephone, and snail mail. Your web site is your business card to the world. If the world can't get in touch with you, it can't write nice stories about you. Or ask you about a new job on a film crew. Or buy your movie. So get your contact info out there, and get a good spam filter. (I recommend using gmail.)

    » Post a trailer. Or five. Any halfway entertaining footage (bloopers, deleted scenes, etc) that didn't actually make it into the film should be present somewhere on the site. Include links to your previous work, especially short films that can be digested quickly and easily online. Make sure your trailer is on YouTube or a similar video site so that visitors can post it on their own web sites and blogs. (Get familiar with the mantra "Embed and Spread." It works.) Give away as much free entertainment as you can, because it's the way you win fans who will later pay to see your work.

    pic » Start a blog. Yeah, you read that right. A blog. Most filmmakers like the idea of starting a blog but don't have a clue what to put in it. I'll cover that more in a later post, but for now start posting stories about the making of the film. Profile your cast and crew. Mention your other projects. Announce your upcoming screenings. Post recaps of your question-and-answer sessions. If your film is a documentary, post news about your doc's subject. (You can even get Yahoo News to email you the latest stories on your subject of choice.) It's a big world out there, and there's lots to talk about. A blog provides your fans with a reason to come back, so even if you just post once a week, post.

    » Ask visitors to sign up for email updates. Both Yahoo Groups and Google Groups offer easy-to-run mailing lists where your visitors can subscribe to the latest news about your film. Updates should be more selective than, say, your blog, but once or twice a month is fine if you have something to say. Be sure to announce upcoming screenings in your e-mails, and mention the existence of your blog. Every e-mail you send to the list should have a link to your web site.

    » Take advantage of existing social networks. People spend hours each day on services like MySpace and Facebook; insert yourself there and take advantage of the tools they provide. [OK, so I wrote this a few years ago, when MySpace was still a contender. -Chris, 2011.] A MySpace page isn't a substitute for a real web site, but you'd be foolish not to have a presence there at all. Ditto for Facebook. Sign up for a number of social networking sites -- as many as you can reasonably manage -- and duplicate your content across the services. Check out the sidebar on the web site for Four Eyed Monsters -- they have pages and profiles everywhere. Just make sure your profiles all link back to the mothership: your main web site.

    » When you start receiving reviews, post complimentary quotes from those reviews on your site and link back to them. E-mail the author of the review mentioning your link and ask for a link back. You should be doing periodic Google searches for your film's title to find the latest mentions of your movie. Anywhere you find your film referenced, e-mail to make sure that an accompanying link is included.

    » Your web site address or "URL" should end in .com. It should also be as simple and easy to remember as possible. In these days when every conceivable web address seems taken that can be a challenge, but do your best. Then spread the URL everywhere. It should be on all of your printed material and most especially in the signature of every email you send. Think about all the emails you send out in a day -- sometimes even your friends and family need to be reminded of your film's existence.

    » Start a links section and link to your favorite films on the festival circuit. Link to your friends' films and projects, and ask them to link back. Yeah, a link exchange is pretty 1997, but you know what? It still works.

    » Don't just set it and forget it -- a web site needs tending. Think of it as your end of an ongoing conversation with your audience. If you don't hold up your end of the conversation, the audience will get bored and move on.

    » You don't have to do it all yourself. This all probably sounds like a lot of work, and you're not wrong. But you don't have to learn HTML or CSS or programming, and you don't have to write every word of content on the site. Recruit from within your crew or elsewhere in your personal network. Chances are your girlfriend's brother is just the nerd you need to get your film's web site up and running. You just have to ask.

    Read part three - before you leave home.

    Missed part one of the SxSW filmmakers last-minute tips? It's right here.

    (Disclosure - both Four Eyed Monsters and Blood Car, referenced in the screen captures above, are represented in some fashion by my employer, B-Side Entertainment.)