'Ramblin' Freak' director Parker Smith didn't need a crew or any actors to get his first feature into SXSW.
Before Ramblin Freak', Tacodeli employee Parker Smith had made only one movie that featured sound. The three-time film school dropout was stuck between a rock and a hard place after realizing his internship at the Austin Film Society provided little more opportunity than the theater job he had just left. This was just enough motivation to write out a budget on the back of a receipt in the kitchen at Tacodeli, purchase two archaic Panasonic DVX 100Bs, and start production on his remarkable documentary, which premiered at SXSW last week in the Visions section.
The task of making the first feature is a daunting one. Some would certainly think that filming it entirely alone should make it a hundred times more difficult. For Parker, however, being the only member of his film crew provided him with the freedom necessary to experiment, learn, and shoot his movie the way he wanted.
In Ramblin' Freak Smith captures himself journeying in a van across the country to find legendary bodybuilder Gregg Valentino. Valentino's story (his arms exploded due to overuse of anabolic steroids) merely sets the stage for the real heart of the film: Parker's deeply personal self-reckoning with his twin sisters' lifelong battle with EB. (Victims of Epidermolysis Bullosa lack a critical protein that binds the layers of skin together. Without this protein, the skin tears apart. There is no known cure.)
Producer Jon Fusco sat down with Smith at SXSW to learn how he pulled off making a movie about a guy who doesn't know how to make a movie. From watching five documentaries a night rented out of his local video store to finding a producer through Instagram, he provides us with insight into the art of learning as you go.
Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here.