SXSW in review from Mezz 2

For the second consecutive year, I’ve signed up to work with the New Media department at SXSW.  The position I take is that of a glorified volunteer.  The traits that glorify it are 1) insane hours before and during the fest, 2) staff lanyard (the act of being handed a staff lanyard is simultaneously thrilling and depressing) and 3) I get to recruit my own edit team.

Officially, my title is New Media Editor Crew Chief. It’s catchy, I know.  Even if it doesn’t appear that I get anything out of this at face value, I am always excited to take part in SXSW.  It offers the rush of short production deadlines that I came to love and now miss from my time working in live television at ESPN.  Additionally, SXSW is a great place to meet really smart and creative people.  When I was a SXSW intern in 2010, my supervisor was a New Yorker by the name of Joe Nicolosi.  I didn’t know it at the time, because the dude is so modest, but I was a huge fan of his work.  He was the brains behind Star Wars: Retold, a hilarious interpretation of episodes 4, 5 and 6 by someone who hasn’t seen it. Genius.

This year, in preparation for SXSW, Joe recruited me to help with five film festival bumpers he was commissioned to produce.  They were all amazing, but the one that has really caught the attention of the world is “Mario”.  It’s a mumblecore-style, hipster interpretation of the story of Nintendo’s Mario.  This short film takes the shape of a movie trailer where all the seemingly obscure features of the video game we grew up with are interpreted to make perfect sense.  Go watch it if you haven’t yet. There are some one-liners in there that are sure to live on forever.  Unfortunately, there are no plans to make this a feature length film, yet.

During the festival, I was more or less secluded on the south side of the huge Austin Convention Center, on the Mezzanine level, which most elevators and staircases bypass.  We got moved from the North side, which we called home last year.  This was an upgrade.  Our department got to spread out into two rooms.  Myself and the editors mostly stayed in one room where we had 13 Mac Pro’s and iMac’s set up.  We brought lamps in and turned off the florescent overhead lighting.  It was quiet and dark and a perfect environment for us, considering the circumstances.

I oversaw editors every day until 6pm, then either went to the IFC Crossroads House, the HP Airstream trailer park, or caught a show.  The only requirement was free beer.  It’s an easy requirement to fulfill, so almost anything goes.  All in all, a great time.  I can’t wait for next year.  We’re hoping and planning for a centralized storage system and the implementation of Final Cut Server. Does anyone want to sponsor the New Media department?  It would be awesome testing grounds for a medium sized server/ingest system. Help us say goodbye to sneaker-net.