SXSW is the epicenter of networking for startups, filmmakers, bands, agents, and everyone in between. No Film School has a team on the ground to bring you the stories behind the best films at the festival. While we've been waiting in lines, eating tacos, roaming the streets, or exploring Austin's best kept secrets, we've met some interesting characters along the way. These are their stories.
Number of years attending: 13
Why are you here? It's just so fun! There are always 200 options for things to do. It brings together like-minded creative people, and when you get those people in a room together, only good things happen. I like being a part of that. There's so many people I know from LA here; I don't see them in LA, I see them here. There is, of course, self-promotion and trying to find work and all that. I'm here to find script supervisor work. There's not a lot of crew doing that here, so maybe that's an advantage. I haven't really pushed that in years past, so it's the first time I'm pushing that particular aspect of my skill set. This is the one festival that if I don't go, I really miss it.
What are you hoping to get out of the fest? I always get a creative boost here. You see the success stories, you feel the energy and you remember "This is all possible, this all within reach." So many creative partnerships have formed here at SXSW. People think of mumblecore when they think of SXSW, but it's not just that; it's projects of all scales.
What's the best thing you've seen so far? A talk with the NBA commissioner Adam Silver. You expect him to give the rote answers, but he was able to be open and honest and even [admitted he's in favor of] legalized sports gambling — which nobody in the league has come out and said.
Got any advice for first-time SXSW-goers? Drink more water. Sit down when you can; save your knees. Don't worry about missing out on stuff because there's always more to do. I always carry earplugs with me, and always put them on at the parties — it helps cut down on background noise and I can still have a 1 on 1. Try to plan ahead, but know you will never stick to a schedule. Oh yeah, and get an extra battery for your phone.
City: New York, via London
Number of years attending: It's my first!
Why are you here? I'm seeking distribution and media partnerships for my web series, Unicornland. It's 8 episodes. It's about Annie, who is recently divorced and decides to date and sleep with couples to find love again.
Got any advice for first-time SXSW-goers? Follow up with everybody you meet ASAP because if you wait, you won't remember them or they won't remember you. You meet so many people! Introduce yourself to everyone.
Jeremy O. HarrisOccupation: Writer, Twitch Film
Number of years attending: 2
Why are you here? I'm writing for Twitch Film. We cover mostly genre films and films from Asia, but I'm also seeking creative inspiration. It will be my last film festival for 3 years because I just got into the Yale School of Drama for playwriting!
What are you hoping to get out of the fest? I want to write about films that feature people of color and women, like the short by my friend here [who photobombed his picture] Woman in Deep, by Janicza Bravo.
What's the best thing you've seen so far? Hunter Gatherer. It's a deeply funny and immersive film.
Mike Ambs and Erica HamptonCompany: The Bureau of Creative Works
Number of years attending: 3
Why are you here? We're here to represent The Bureau, an experimental short film collective. We came to meet new filmmakers working in short film. Shorts tend to be an undervalued and under-represented part of many festivals, so we're here to discover as many short films as possible.
What are you hoping to get out of the fest? We're here to find future collaborators.
What's the best thing you've seen so far? Love Bite, which played in the Doc Shorts Block 2 at the Long Theatre. We're most excited about the collective:unconscious premiere!
Addison MehrCompany: GoDigital (Amplify Releasing, GoDigital, Distribber)
City: New York and LA
Number of years attending: 1
Why are you here? As a distributor, I am here looking at films but also speaking on a panel about VOD marrketing and how best to find and connect with audiences.
What are you hoping to get out of the fest? As a company with three unique brands, my main goal is to just raise awareness for our filmmaker-centric brand Distribber as a direct-to-consumer solution for getting your films onto platforms like iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix. That... and tacos.
What's the best thing you've done so far? It was great to just hang out with partners like the iTunes team or chat with Fandor about their new initiatives.
Yo-Yo LinCompany: Ricerca
Number of years attending: 1
Why are you here? I'm here to showcase Ricerca, my art installation in virtual reality. It's part of the VR/AR track here. The piece is an animated narrative that viewers can follow in physical space wearing the HTC Vive headset. It's our first film festival!
What are you hoping to get out of the fest? I hope I can give people an artistic experience in virtual reality and to meet all kinds of creatives and technologists to help develop a more effective path for filmmakers in VR.
What's the best thing you've done so far? At the Chaotic Moon party, they had these amazing projections of party attendees as virtual dancers. You go into a photo booth, it takes your 360-degree picture, and then that is mapped onto 3-D bodies on a virtual dance floor while you're at the party. It was warped and funny!
No Film School's coverage of the 2016 SXSW Film Festival is sponsored by SongFreedom.