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As today’s Midnighters announcement gets us SXSW attendees very jazzed,
Fango had the chance to chat with the man responsible for the incredible slate,
SXSW programmer Jarod Neece, about putting together the program and his own excitement
and expectations for 2012’s iteration.
FANGORIA: The midnight lineup is really incredible this
year. What do you find yourself looking for in filling the slots each fest?
JAROD NEECE: For us, we have genre films throughout the
program, being the opening night CABIN IN THE WOODS, a lot of the international
stuff we play, a lot of indie sci-fi. We have things like BEAST and HARD LABOR
and CASA DE MI PADRE may fall into midnight programs at other festivals where
here, we have genre throughout. So, the midnighters are things that are a
little edgier, a little crazier, just go that extra step. We also want to make
sure it’s a diverse program. This year, we have films from almost six or seven
countries, we have a combination of first-time filmmakers, returning vets, a
combination of films with distribution and films looking for. We try to get a
little bit in there for everybody. You have people like Austin Chick, who did
the indie drama XX/XY and he has his first step into genre filmmaking. And then
things we’ve been waiting for like [REC] 3 and IRON SKY, INTRUDERS. Some things
we saw at Sundance, some we saw at Toronto, a lot were obviously submitted to
us. It’s just trying to find a balance between all those audiences we need to
program for, be it the general audience, or distributors or press.
FANG: The Festival Favorites is a section for films that
really made a mark at places like Sundance and Toronto. How do you
differentiate between those that end up there or, titles like V/H/S and JOHN
DIES AT THE END hitting the Midnighters.
NEECE: We do kind of cheat and put more genre stuff in other
programs [laughs]. I don’t want to just play eleven genre films, so something
like LOVELY MOLLY could’ve totally been Midnight, but it ended up in Festival
Favorites. There are films that would totally work in either category. GIRLS
AGAINST BOYS could have been in Emerging Visions. So it’s super subjective on
where we put things. In our mind, it makes sense, so hopefully it makes sense
to other people [laughs].
FANG: So when do you start the process?
NEECE: We open submissions in August. We got over 5200, and
from that, a few hundred genre films that could’ve worked for Midnighters. We
go to Toronto for Midnight Madness, Fantastic Fest, Sitges, AFM; so we’re going
to all those fests. We’re looking at Alumni filmmakers, people are pitching us
things that aren’t submitted. It’s coming at us from all sides. We’re just the
curators, figuring out what those eleven films will be.
FANG: When you have something hugely anticipated like [REC]
3, do you chase that down?
NEECE: Oh, I’ve been chasing that film. I literally
confirmed two days ago and I’ve been chasing that film since August. It was the
same thing last year with ATTACK THE BLOCK. I had to convince Studio Canal why
this festival made sense for that film. They heard of us, and a lot of people
maybe hear about the music festival. We have a pretty good reputation in the
UK, but Studio Canal were still kind of skeptical. We worked with them on FOUR
LIONS a couple of years ago. For [REC] 3, I met with the filmmakers and
producers at Sitges and then it was just working with Screen Gems and then
Magnolia came on, and that’s how it all came together. It took months of calls
and meetings. It feels good, you want to work hard for it, especially when it
FANG: You also have THE TALL MAN.
NEECE: Yea, a lot of people are looking forward to that, and
Travis Stevens produced THE AGGRESSION SCALE, he produced some of Adam Wingard’s
early films, and this is him going out with Steven C. Miller, who did AUTOMATON
TRANSFUSION. I really like his filmmaking and it definitely has Travis’ feel to
it. It’s raw, edgy.
FANG: Do you think that might be the one to look out for?
NEECE: There’s that, there’s MODUS ANOMALI, which will
definitely get people talking. It’s an Indonesian film from Joko Anwar. There
are a lot of good discoveries. CITADEL is really good, it’s a shorts filmmakers
from Ireland. It’s his first feature and it’s super solid. Literally, every
film in the program I stand behind, be it [REC] 3 or IRON SKY or CITADEL or
INTRUDERS. We all love them in different ways. Every year, we think we know
what’s going to be the big film everyone talks about, and then it’s “oh,
really? That’s the one?” So, I don’t prognosticate. ATTACK THE BLOCK, it was
obvious everyone would love it, but last year films like UNDEFEATED, or WEEKEND,
some of the smaller films, you never know what people are going to react to.
FANG: When you have something like INTRUDERS, which is
getting a wide release fairly soon after, do you have any trepidation?
NEECE: We want a mix. Like, the secret screening is amazing,
and I wish I could announce it, but they’re coming out a little later in the
year, so they wanted to start under the radar. You want a mix of things that
people are really anticipated about, kind of like your flagpole, and then you
throw the discoveries in there so people take chances.
FANG: The Film Festival has really built up, what do you
expect this year in terms of growth?
NEECE: It’s big. We’re just trying to find places to put
everyone. The hotel situation in Austin is pretty bad. It doesn’t have the
number of rooms that a town its size should have. We don’t have a professional
sports team , and I don’t know if that is one of the factors, we don’t have
that built-in—like, when Sundance got the Olympics, it increased the number of
people that could actually go to Sundance, because they had to build all that
housing. There are more hotels being built and so it’s just trying to find
where to put people. The festival has definitely grown, I’ve been here for ten
years now, and it’s a totally different festival from ten years ago.
Don Coscarelli’s film, BUBBA HO-TEP was the first screening
I ever worked at SXSW. It was his one and only print. It was his first night
and one in the morning, and we had set up the projector wrong, and it melted on screen. I got called out of my hotel room and it was Don Coscarelli,
BEASTMASTER and all the films of my young adulthood, and now I had to go
apologize profusely. So, when I tried to get JOHN DIES AT THE END, I didn’t
know if he wouldn’t call me back, or still had this horrible memory of SXSW.
But, he was like, “Oh, no, it was a bad night for everyone.” So that’s cool,
bringing it back ten years later.
For more, you can head to the official SXSW site, and follow Jarod on Twitter here.
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