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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Exclusive: Sean Patrick Flanery-Led Lasso Ropes in Multiple Offers After AFM Appearance

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Lasso, a horror film starring Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints, Saw 3D), was in attendance at this year’s American Film Market in Santa Monica and it seems to have made quite the impression! The film is currently in the middle of several distribution offers, some of which include theatrical distribution plans. No choice has been made by the Lasso team as they’re still hearing more and more offers but it’s certainly intriguing and exciting to see a horror film get so much attention!

Director Evan Cecil tells Dread Central, ““I am crazy flattered and honored at all the attention and interest Lasso received during the American Film Market and is still receiving from our industry peers. A lot of effort was put into making something different and interesting but most of all entertaining and fun to watch. Of course, we are hoping for a theatrical deal because that would be beyond cool, but also because the big screen is still the best way to watch a horror film. I love the thought of horror fans getting to enjoy Lasso all huge!

We can also reveal that we’ve been told that the film has 20 unique kills during its current 97-minute runtime, which means an average of one kill for approximately every four minutes! If you’re into horror for the body count, sounds like Lasso is going to be right up your alley!

Cecil directs and also produces alongside Todd J Myers and Elaine Gibson. Flanery stars with Lindsey Morgan (“The 100”), Karen Grassle, Andrew Jacobs, Travis Andre Ross, Heather Mignon, and Skyler Cooper.

Synopsis:
Kit (Lindsey Morgan) and Simon (Andrew Jacobs) are two young leaders of an Active Senior Tour group who go out on an adventure to a small-town Rodeo festival located deep in the woods. It’s a great experience for the group…until they try to leave. Simon and Kit must save themselves, and whatever seniors they can, from becoming victims of a deadly Rodeo Ritual. Along the way they join up with another unexpected group of victims, including a one-armed cowboy, Ennis (Sean Patrick Flanery), Rosheen, the Rodeo queen, and Trish, a powerhouse female bull rider. Together the group must fight to survive the night from relentless bloodthirsty cowboys on the hunt for human livestock.

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The Walking Dead Ratings Drop to Six-Year Low

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Well, this isn’t good.

Turns out that AMC’s hit zombie series “The Walking Dead” has hit a ratings low with the release of it’s newest episode “The Big Scary U”. A rating drop the likes of which the series hasn’t seen since the dog days of season 2.

Personally, season 2 was when I ditched the series and never looked back. I’ve heard a lot over the years that the series improved greatly moving on from the disastrousrious second season, but I’m all good.

I have shows like “Stranger Things” (review), “Mindhunter”(review), and “AHS: Cult” (review) to keep me company.

For full breakdown on the recent rating drop with a bunch of stats involving demographics and whatnot, you can check out Deadline‘s article on the matter.

Everyone else I guess can just keep moving on with their lives.

Do you still watch “The Walking Dead”? Should I give the series another shot? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

The Walking Dead Season 8 is currently airing on AMC.

Season 8 synopsis:

Last season, Rick Grimes and his group of survivors were confronted with their deadliest challenge yet. With the comfort of Alexandria, they let their guard down, only to be reminded how brutal the world they live in can be.

Feeling powerless under Negan’s rules and demands, Rick advocated the group play along. But seeing that Negan couldn’t be reasoned with, Rick began rallying together other communities affected by the Saviors. And with the support of the Hilltop and Kingdom, they finally have enough fire power to contest the Saviors.

This season, Rick brings “All Out War” to Negan and his forces. The Saviors are larger, better-equipped, and ruthless — but Rick and the unified communities are fighting for the promise of a brighter future. The battle lines are drawn as they launch into a kinetic, action-packed offensive.

Up until now, survival has been the focus of Rick and our group, but it’s not enough. They have to fight to take back their freedom so that they can live. So that they can rebuild. As with any battle, there will be losses. Casualties. But with Rick leading the Alexandrian forces, Maggie leading the Hilltop, and King Ezekiel leading the Kingdom — Negan and the Saviors’ grip on this world may finally be coming to an end.

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Horror Earns Several Nominations at This Year’s Spirit Awards

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While horror as a genre may not get the love and respect it deserves at the Academy Awards, other award ceremonies are proving that they are ahead of the curve and are giving the genre the appreciation it so rightfully deserves. A perfect example came about to day when the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards released their list of nominees and its packed to the brim with horror titles.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out netted five nominations, include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Male Lead, and Best Editing. Most Beautiful Island, The Transfiguration, and A Ghost Story are nominated for the John Cassavetes Award, which highlights the best features made for less than $500,000. Super Dark Times‘ director Kevin Phillips was nominated for the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch award. Lastly, The Killing of a Sacred Deer got two nominations, one for Best Supporting Male and one for Best Cinematography.

We offer our congratulations to the nominees and wish them all the best of luck! Keep making amazing horror and keep pushing boundaries to show the rest of the world just how powerful, important, and necessary horror is to our society!

The rest of the nominees can be found at the Spirit Awards website.

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