By Erin Russell and Maddy Hill | March 15, 2017 | Culture
South by Southwest has been a whirlwind of panels, parties, celeb sightings, and movies. With music now in full swing, here are some of Austin Way’s highlights so far. Four more days to go...
Edgar Wright, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and Ansel Elgort.
Edgar Wright’s "car film driven by music" stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a getaway driver for robberies carried out by villains Buddy, Darling, and Bats (Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and Jamie Foxx) who are recruited by Doc (Kevin Spacey), the mastermind behind the heists. Hamm, Gonzalez, Elgort, and Wright were all on hand for the premiere, and participated in a spirited Q&A with enthusiastic fan Robert Rodriguez. Elgort drew from his background in music for the role. "Growing up, the way I got into movies was through musical theater, so I was very used to doing things to choreography," says Elgort. The concept behind Baby Driver is something Wright has been marinating over since 1995, when he envisioned an epic car chase to the beat of the song "Bellbottoms." "In some of my movies there are some scenes where there is action choreographed to music, and I had so much fun doing those sequences," said Wright. "This movie I wrote as a way of doing that for the entire movie."
A documentary that premiered during SXSW, Seed follows three teams from around the world as they prepare for Global Pitch day at AngelHack. A team from the Middle East must put aside personal issues; the Kenya group must become more polished; and a scene-stealing team of three American high school students must fight for credibility as they desperately try to get their technology to work. Actress Gina Rodriguez (who has a startup lingerie company, Naja) introduced the film, and Adventure Capitalists host Dhani Jones moderated the Q&A with the cast.
The James Franco film starring brother Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, and Zach Efron is based on Greg Sestero's book, The Disaster Artist, which explores the intricate mind of Tommy Wiseau, who wrote, directed, and starred in the cult classic The Room. "When I read the book, I identified with Tommy in a certain way and respected that he came out to Hollywood and got this movie made," said James Franco. "I relate to him so much in ways I don’t even want to admit."
Less slapstick than Franco’s usual work, The Disaster Artist is an interpretation of the workings of an artist he finds admirable. "We spent so much time talking about how we love The Room," said Rogen. "It would have been so much easier if this was a movie making fun of The Room or objectifying it in some way, but we love it. I’ve seen it more than I’ve seen Network." Wiseau, along with his original cast members Greg Sestero and Dan Janjigian, surprised the audience at Paramount Theater on Sunday night during the screening.
Richard Linklater and Michael Fassbender.
Michael Nieling—They're Going to Hate This and Think I'm Full of Shit
Any panel that starts out with handing out beers to the audience (hey, it started after noon) is a winner in our book. The creative director at Ocupop, Michael Nieling shared a hilarious, profanity-laced, and highly personal account of his struggles with anxiety, and how he found success after he stopped trying to be a superhero, and started being authentic.
A Conversation with Michael Fassbender
Richard Linklater moderated the session with surprise guest Terrence Malick, who directed Fassbender in Song to Song, which premiered the night before. "We were trying to show there was more coming at the characters than they could sort out and make sense of," said Malick. "That’s true of today—we are overwhelmed by impressions and have to improvise our lives to keep our balance." The men also explored the avant-garde nature of the film. "If you discovered something and fell into a comfortable zone of doing that or preempted something too much, it was discarded," said Fassbender. "We were just trying to find those bursts of life and where they come from."
Piera Gelardi—Courageous Creativity
One of the founders of Refinery29, Gelardi metaphorically took us into her cozy office (dubbed "The Peach Pit") and shared how friction and silliness can foster creativity. After having attendees stand up and shake it out (Gelardi reminded everyone, "Don't discount the power of laughter and play"), she shared how she was able to fit into the business world, while still representing her true self by tailoring her strengths in vision and storytelling.
Dave and James Franco with Seth Rogen.
Dev Patel dancing to the cover band at the Four Seasons bar.
Bob Odenkirk walking a dog down Congress Avenue.
James Franco and Seth Rogen running into Bill Nye the Science Guy at Sophia’s Supper Club.
Create & Cultivate
This celebration of all things female was inspirational in terms of your Pinterest board and your business plan. In an outdoor space with a modern rose garden aesthetic, provisions included plaits dotted with flowers from Urban Stems, jewelry and henna tattoos from Simon G jewelry, and even a LaCroix photo booth. Snacks and rosé were plentiful as panelists (like YouTube star Jenn Im, Brit + Co. founder Brit Morin, and actress Kristen Bell) offered career insights. Bell was on site to promote her new movie CHiPs and a social venture This Bar Saves Lives, which she is completely dedicated to because, as she says, "I can't sleep at night unless I'm part of a broader conversation about kindness."
From National Geographic photographer and keynote speaker Cory Richards referring to his famous shot after being dug out of an avalanche: "We can all take selfies and get them on the cover of National Geographic."
photography by Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff (Wright, Hamm, Gonzalez, Elgort); Michael Loccisano / Staff (Linklater and Fassbender); Tim Mosenfelder / Contributor (Franco and Rogen)