This writer is suffering a bit today from having endured three hours in a dentist’s chair to get some crowns put in, so instead of a heady and/or lengthy write-up, we instead turn to the magic of video. This trailer in particular has helped us get through the pain and Novocain numbness: Ben Shaprio’s documentary about photographer Gregory Crewdson, Brief Encounters. More than a decade in the making, it documents Crewdson’s film set-like process of capturing almost-surreal, haunting images of small town America. Knowing that the film will have its premiere in just a few days, launching with four screenings in Austin for SXSW (the first on March 10th at the Alamo Lamar) means that it’s that much close to starting a tour, which means it might come to Chicago so we can see it, which was the extra push we needed today to keep our sore head up. Here’s the film’s site and here’s the trailer, which is guaranteed to have you hooked within seconds:
Although this is one of those rare years that we personally don’t have boots on the ground for SXSW, we as the collective, all-powerful entity known as mediabistro, do have a whole slew of savvy reporter types sleuthing around and doing something we don’t quite have figured out yet, described as “live-blogging” (which, sadly, we have almost entirely ruled out as having anything to do with a popular mid-90s band). In particular, we found of particular interest what’s sure to be one of the most talked about events from the whole conference, fishbowlNY‘s live-blogging of former BusinessWeek writer Sarah Lacy‘s awkward interview with Facebook founder and incredibly wealth young person, Mark Zuckerberg. We highly encourage you to read through the posts, but only if you don’t a) get really uncomfortable when things go from slightly bad, to bad, to really, really bad or b) you’re Sarah Lacy and you just want to put this whole unpleasant experience behind you.
2:54: Lacy accuses Zuckerberg of giving her another ‘Leslie Stahl moment’ to which he sweetly shoots back: ‘You’ve got to ask questions.’ Audience goes nuts, with cheering and applause, bonding over their mutual hatred of her. This is as feel-good a moment as they come.
2:56: Zuckerberg: ‘The part of the story you left out is that I destroyed them.’
Lacy: ‘You burned them. How dramatic is that?’
Zuckerberg: ‘I did not. You made that up.’ Audience goes crazy. If Lacy gets out of here without having anything thrown at her, we’ll drink 11 more coffees within the hour. Wait, that sounds good.
You’re not the only one who can report on SXSW, Ms. Alissa Walker. Sure, you may go and cover it brilliantly, but give someone who was still nearly 2,000 miles away the whole time a chance, eh? So, here, now, is this writer’s only post about said event. It’s our pal Naz Hamid‘s seemingly Nick Feltron-inspired Infographic for his trip to SXSW, wherein you can learn such things as what he took with him, how many photos he took, and what his favorite meal was (Baked Mac N’ Cheese). It’s great.
Since we’ve up and left Austin, we’d like to pass the baton (cleverly disguised as a one-liter beer mug) to Austin art director Bryan Keplesky, who we met in person at the best SXSW party (we’re biased, of course). We’d made ourselves plenty familiar with Keplesky’s work, although we didn’t actually know it at the time: His screenprinted posters are up in bars all over town, and he may or may not have everything to do with the blissfully irreverent zine Misprint that you can find stacked in any venue worth its salt. He’s also behind the killer mural at the only barbershop in town that’s cool enough to have a party tonight, Birds.
Anyway, in our absence, Keplesky’s covering every single open bar on behalf of Austin ad agency Door Number 3. So check out his coverage for the design scoop on the rest of SXSW, even as Austin is invaded by scary Rick Rubin impostors.
Oh, you want more?
The time had come, when the hordes of men in dorky glasses shuffling through the Austin Convention Center began to be replaced with hordes of men with scruffy beards and dorky glasses. When conversation over migas con queso at Las Manitas moved from Jason Santa Maria to Peter Bjorn and John. When the conference itself stops being known as “South By Southwest” and begins being referred to as “South By” (music people, they just have so much less time, you know).
What have we learned? Well, we missed a big tradition at SXSW, the Bruce Sterling Rant, which always closes the festival (we were hobnobbing at the Helvetica party). Since he’s way smarter about this stuff anyway, and since we found excellent coverage of it courtesy of Luke Wroblewski‘s blog, Functioning Form, we’d love to close with the highlights from Bruce Sterling’s SXSW Rant, including:
2006 was the year of video. It is the stupidest of media–where a lot of dumb things happen.
Amen to that. See you next year.
Gary Hustwit is not only a hero to graphic designers everywhere, he happens to be one of the nicest, most genuine guys we’ve ever met. His nerves were somewhat soothed after the premiere of Helvetica, where they had to turn 150 people away–150 people!–and he was finally enjoying a well-deserved beer. Listen, we’d be thrilled about this movie no matter what–just the existence of a feature-length film about design is reason for us to cheer–but we’re telling you, this is a great movie. The design community should be sending Gary Hustwit love letters for a very long time. You can write them in any typeface you want, too, because he’s definitely ready to start looking at something else. Maybe a nice serif.
Hustwit has had more than 100 requests to screen Helvetica around the world and at most of those screenings a designer from the film will join him. In Austin, that designer was David Carson, and to answer your next question, yes. We met David Carson. We weren’t so sure about him at first, you know, his bad boy reputation and all. That and the fact that he’s actually kind of like the villain in Helvetica. And although most of his sentences do start “Well, I’ve never really gotten along with ______, but…” or “Me and _______ don’t really see eye-to-eye, so…”, we found him to be pretty open and delightful company on two separate occasions. He’s got a great sense of humor. And to answer your second question, yes. He is even more tan in real life.
It was starting to sprinkle again as we embarked on our final SXSW party circuit, stopping next at the Gawker/Lifehacker/Deadspin party (that combination sounds almost dangerous, doesn’t it?). The Side Bar was packed to discomfort, but we secured a spot outside where other people’s Budweiser wouldn’t be trickling down our arms.
Khoi Vinh and Michael Lopp checked in with rave reviews after their 20×2 performances where people like Amanda Congdon and Murderball’s Mark Zupan got 2 minutes to answer questions starting “What if…?” We finally, finally connected with Core77 founder Stuart Constantine and traded design conference war stories. We forgot to give a shout out to the folks from outside.in (UnBeige readers!). We feel like we’re almost part of the New York Times.com Design Boys Club even though we secretly hated them for getting a room at the tres posh San Jose.
After hearing of Good’s bad behavor, we opted for the SXNW party instead, where at about 2am we reached another milestone of our Austin eating experience. Magnolia Cafe, where the neon proclaims, high above Congress Street, “Sorry, we’re open.” We certainly weren’t.
Where to begin in our extensive SXSW party coverage? How about early evening on the only night it hadn’t been raining at sundown. We made our way over to Club de Ville, where the best panel of the entire festival held a happy hour. The folks from Nerve, Salon.com, The Onion, College Humor and mediabistro.com all had their peeps popping sushi and free drinks. We even hosted in place of the irreplaceable Laurel Touby (Happy birthday, Laurel!).
All sorts of Austin local mb.com people were there (are you guys all that friendly?), including freelance writer Theresa Everline who is–get ready for this–Chip Kidd‘s sister-in-law! No joke. She’s even housesat for him. We also ran into several wayward LA pals who were arriving for their music duties, like Jeff Miller, LA editor of Thrillist.
Since it was the only clear night in recent memory, as the sun went down we started thinking about our old friends over on Congress Street. We weren’t the only ones. As we were complimenting College Humor/Vimeo‘s Jacob Lodwick on his performance at the day’s panel (see 48 minutes in), College Humor/Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein approached and told him they were leaving to see the bats. “The Bats?” said Lodwick. “Down at the bridge,” said Klein. “Is that a club?” said Lodwick. “Not The Bats, the bats! The animals!” laughed Klein.
Only at SXSW.
We’ve fully supported the new magazine Good in both mission and execution. They use lots of designers, they support design-friendly causes and they have some pretty solid writing, too. It was enough to get one of us to even subscribe. But last night’s Good-sponsored party at SXSW left more than one festival goer feeling pretty bad.
Here’s how it went down. The party was supposedly only for Good subscribers, something they’ve done in NY and LA before. You pay $20 for a one-year subscription, you RSVP, you get a nice note back. But yesterday we get another email saying this:
Also, please feel free to spread the word. If 200 people subscribe & choose Creative Commons, Six Apart will donate an additional $2000 to CC. So bring your friends and let’s have an amazing time.
So we told all of our friends to go, thinking Good had changed its mind about the subscriber-only plan and said come one, come all instead. When people got to the door, they were told that it was $20 to get in. Sure, this would get you a one-year subscription to the magazine, and a night of possibly dancing with Al Gore Jr., but it was so baffling to those familiar with the spirit of SXSW parties that it caused great confusion. SXSW parties are free. SXSW parties give away free booze in addition to being free. Sure, it was only $20, and sure it was for a good cause, but the idea of being strongarmed into subscribing didn’t float with most people. So lot of people with Good intentions walked right back out the door.
Does anyone pick up on the irony that this was a party co-sponsored by Creative Commons?
Let’s be serious for a minute. Nah, on second thought, let’s not. It’s much more fun when panels at stuff like this aren’t so damn serious. Example: “The Future of the Online Magazine” at SXSW. Even though only one of the panelists was from College Humor, that phrase easily describes the content of the hour-long episode. And it was pretty awesome.
Moderated by Rufus Griscom of Nerve Media, it was quite the eclectic crew, none of which really describe themselves as online magazines: Sean Mills of The Onion, Ricky Van Veen of College Humor, Joan Walsh, Editor of Salon.com and mediabistro.com‘s own CEO & Founder Laurel Touby. Griscom immediately set up a supposed rivalry between College Humor and The Onion, while Touby asserted herself as Griscom’s moderator, calling out additional questions for the panel and the audience. Walsh and Touby insisted on nailing Nerve for its sexy content and The Onion/College Humor contingency for their “dick humor.” And so the laughs began.
NEXT PAGE >>