Exclusive: Jarod Neece on What Makes a Film Stand Out For SXSW - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Jarod Neece on What Makes a Film Stand Out For SXSW

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This year marked the 30th anniversary of Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW), which combines film, music, interactive media, industry panels, and a whole lot more into one gigantic event that draws in tens upon tens of thousands of attendees and brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact during its 10-day run. It’s a smorgasbord of everything entertainment, from midnight horror film screenings to fantastic concerts throughout the city to brand parties to tech demonstrations. As Senior Film Programmer of SXSW Jarod Neece puts it, “We’re the fun zone festival, geek spring break.”

Neece knows precisely what SXSW is and what it offers, telling me, “SXSW is part of something bigger but I think that kind of adds to the fun. It is different than any other film festival, giving opportunities to cross different boundaries maybe you’re used to, getting many different people in the same room.” To say that this is accurate is an understatement. During my time at SXSW, I ran into people from all sorts of outlets with a wide variety of interests. For example, I had lunch with the CEO of a video analytics company one day and then had dinner with genre filmmakers later that evening. I wandered around downtown Austin, simply hoping to meet people and see what drew them to SXSW, often achieving this with the utmost of ease.

For Neece, his journey through the ranks of SXSW shows just how committed and passionate one has to be in order to make such an endeavor work. “I started as a tech guy here, an exhibition manager, moved up to shorts programming, I worked in the conference for a while, and then programmed features,” he explains.

Recognizing that SXSW has grown into a mammoth endeavor, Neece is aware that this allows the festival to take on more mainstream studio films. “As the festival has grown, people who want to come to SXSW, there’s more buyers, more press, more industry, more filmmakers, everybody, it’s a bigger thing now so it’s a lot easier conversation to have,” he explains. But that doesn’t mean that’s all they’re after. In fact, he makes it very clear that there’s more to a film showing at SXSW than having a studio behind it. “We’re always looking for films that have a little edge to them, definitely pushing boundaries.

For Neece, who had to sift through 8,000 submissions for the 2017 program, he’ll know if a film is worth approving simply by its feel.

You need an original vision. Like, they should get their inspiration from films but not try to copy those films. They should do something that want to do, would love to do, the motivation needs to be really pure, they need to have some sort of vision in there. It can’t just be “I want to be a famous person” or “I want to make money”. It’s, like, “I need to make this film, it’s definitive, I want to tell the story”. And then that’s going to come across a lot better than something that is packaged in a way that there’s not much soul to it. If it’s something their passionate about, something they, I don’t know, they just need to be passionate about it I guess, that’s my number one thing. If there’s no passion, it’s going to show. If you’re not doing it for the right reasons that won’t really work out.

We say we program with our guts, you can just feel it, there’s something about it that just feels authentic and when it’s not you can tell that too,” Neece tells me. He elaborates, saying, “It doesn’t have to be crazy or weird…if you’re telling a new story and telling it in a new way. It could be a film like Primer, that cost fifty thousand dollars and it’s just cardboard boxes and lights and it’s like yeah, “Ok, that guy was totally time traveling”. It was just some editing and lights and whatever. So yeah, it doesn’t need to be crazy CGI, obviously we love practical effects so yeah, something you’re passionate about, some cool story, a new way to tell a story.

When he looks back at some of the premieres and films that stand out over the history of SXSW, Neece recalls Attack the Block and Medicine for Melancholy, which was Oscar winning director Barry Jenkins’ (Moonlight) first film. He remembers Monsters from Gareth Edwards, who went on to direct Godzilla and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As he puts it, “I like the success stories of people who started here and then ran with it and turned it into this crazy career, those are always cool stories.

So, if you’re a filmmaker who wants to get a movie into SXSW, now you know what to do. Be yourself, be unique, be passionate, and make the best of what you’ve got. SXSW might show some of the biggest genre films of a given year but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in. Rather, it’s all the more incentive for you to prove you can go toe-to-toe with everyone else.

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Oy! HANNUKAH THE MOVIE Aims to Get Made After Nearly a Decade

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This menorah has nothing to do with the story but, c'mon! It's a freaking T-rex menorah!

As a Jew, seeing holiday-themed horror movies is both a wonderful and bittersweet occasion. I love seeing my friends celebrate the holidays that are near and dear to their hearts but elevated with the viscera, gore, and terror that I so dearly love. But while Christians have films like Black Christmas, Santa’s Slay, Gremlins, Red Christmas, Krampus, etc…, the amount of horror films centered around Jewish holidays is slim to none. Don’t get me wrong here, okay? I’m well aware of population dynamics and, therefore, interest in a given subject/life experience. It’d just be nice to see something like that now and again.

Oh, but what’s this? Looks like writer/director Eben McGarr is ready to move forward on his near decade long project Hanukkah The Movie, a “TORAH-fying new tale of HORAH!” I get it. Sensible chuckle awarded.

Obediah Lazarus is the son of Judah Lazarus, the original Hanukkiller. In 1983 Judah terrorized NY for seven nights and was preparing to sacrifice his eight-year-old son, Obediah, on the eighth night. Judah was convinced it was God’s will, like Abraham and Isaac, to sacrifice his only son to God. Luckily for Obediah, police tracked Judah down and stopped the sacrifice, but Judah was gunned down in the process. Warped by hatred with no guidance, Obediah Lazarus becomes a religious extremist, intolerant of non-Jews, “bad Jews”, and those he perceives to be enemies of the Jewish faith. He is about to unleash eight nights of horror.

A group of Jewish teens are getting ready to party for the holidays but are in for a Festival of Frights. With the help of a wise rabbi, they deduce that the murder victims have violated Judaic law and that their only chance at survival is to embrace their faith.

The film has supposedly taken care of the majority of pre-production, so they’re now on Indiegogo with the goal to raise $100,000. Not a small amount but certainly not an unachievable goal. If a potato salad Kickstarter that wanted $10 ended up with nearly $56,000, I think this has a chance.

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Trailer: Man-Made Ghosts Invade OUR HOUSE This July

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IFC Midnight will be unleashing director Anthony Scott Burns’ feature debut Our House come July 27, 2018. The film stars Thomas Mann and Nicola Peltz and today we have the flick’s spooky trailer for your viewing pleasure.

You can check out the poster to the right and the trailer below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Our House is directed by Anthony Scott Burns from a script written by Nathan Parker and stars Thomas Mann and Nicola Peltz. It’s produced by Lee Kim, Martin Katz, Ulf Israel and Karen Wookey. Executive producers are John Davis, Nick Spicer, Kyle Franke, Derek Dauchy, Noah Segal, Adrian Love, David Kehrl and Reik Moller.

The film hits via IFC Midnight this July 27, 2018.

Synopsis:

The story of a young genius who accidentally invents a device that amplifies the paranormal activity within his family’s house, possibly bringing back the spirits of loved ones — and unleashing things that are far worse.

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AMERICAN HORROR STORY 8 Begins Filming This June

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American Horror Story Season 6It was just the other day that we let you guys know that Billie Lourd will be back for the upcoming 8th season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.

And today we have word via Deadline that the new season, rumored to be titled AHS: Radioactive will begin shooting around June 16.

Are you excited to hear filming will soon begin on AHS 8? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

AHS Season 8 stars Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billie Lourd, Kathy Bates, and new cast member Joan Collins, who will play Peters’ grandmother. Murphy has revealed he’s interested in casting Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family) as well.

 

 

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