Sans snark, Austin forms film hub with friends and SXSW

Fri Mar 13, 2015 9:00am EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - In the early days, filmmakers in Austin took an artisanal approach to promoting their movies: staple-gunning their own flyers on lamp posts to announce screenings.

Three decades later, they are the toast of the Texas town, with their unofficial leader, Richard Linklater, fresh off a year of competing for Oscars, with "Boyhood," and the SXSW festival drawing hordes from Hollywood in its 20th year showcasing film.

"We keep getting voted best filmmaking city for independent movies," said Linklater, whom Austin film aficionados know as Rick. "It's a pretty self-sustaining, supportive community, it's not snarky, and it's just big enough to not feel like you're alone."

These weeks, they get plenty of company as 134,000 visitors descended on the city of fewer than a million people last year for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Founded in 1987 as a music festival, SXSW has burgeoned into one of the top gatherings of technology, film and music, held over 13 days.

After moving to Austin, Linklater brought together a group of movie lovers to host screenings of films that would not be shown in Texas theaters, accumulating friends such as filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and Mike Judge.

In its 30th year, the Austin Film Society honored founder Linklater and his coming-of-age tale, "Boyhood," at an awards ceremony this week. The director said the organization and his movie community are what keep him living and working more than 1,000 miles away from Hollywood.

"It's up to every artist to put themselves in an environment where you can do your best work," he said. "Austin is where my brain works the best."


Director Richard Linklater poses at The Hollywood Reporter's 3rd annual Nominees Night to honor the 2015 Academy Award nominees at Spago in Beverly Hills, California February 2, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok