The Mark Bell Bitch and Whine Train of SXSW 2008 continued on Monday with a screening of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” For the backstory:
Every year at SXSW, the writers of Film Threat like to pick one movie to enjoy together. Since we generally enjoy each others’ company, and we’re usually out all day in separate screenings, it’s just a fun thing to do. Last year was “Knocked Up,” so we thought “why not continue the Apatow theme and see ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ this year?” So we all got out of our previous screenings and headed over to the Paramount to get in line. Wasn’t bad when we were there, but it was growing. Anyway, the line starts moving and we head in and sit down, only to be greeted by this section upon section of seats marked off and reserved for Universal.
Additional back story: earlier in the festival, the crew at Cinematical witnessed an audience “f**k off” with the premiere of “Explicit Ills.” Seeing all those seats marked off for Universal, we roughly counted 100, got me thinking of the people in line still. Were they going to get f****d out of a seat? And how did I feel, having Film Threat taking up 3 seats for one movie? I felt like an a*****e (seriously, how much coverage are you getting of all the films if every writer sees the same movie together). So, screening tradition or not, I offered the idea of walking out of the screening to Pete and Don as both a protest for all the reserved seats and because, practically, I didn’t need to be there. It only takes one writer for a review, and if all three of us had walked out that would’ve been fine by me as well, because “Sarah Marshall” would be in theaters anyway so… blah. Don said he’d stick it out for the review, and Pete decided to bail with me.
We ran into Matt Dentler outside the theater, and I asked him what was up with all the seating reservations. He said they were for press, that Universal had marked them off for folks like us and some AICN contest something-or-other. On the one hand, that made me feel better because, well if those seats were going to contest winners then fine, cool (though according to the contest, 50 of those seats went to winners; who got the other 50?). Still, we didn’t need to have three of us in there, so when Dentler offered to get us back in, we declined (Matt truly is a very good guy trying his best to accommodate everyone). I’m glad I talked to Matt first, and I’m also glad I walked out of the screening.
Later on in the evening, after Don was out of his screening, the three of us re-convened (with Nathan Zellner) at a Next New Network Party where the main draw was, for me at least, the opportunity to play Rock Band on a stage. Drinks were free, and I signed up to get some Rock Band’ing going. Technical difficulties ensued, however, and I never got to play. I did try to help solve said difficulties, even going on stage to calibrate the game. The highlight though: a challenge / proposition was thrown out to allow anyone who wanted to promote their website or business to do so on stage, if they took their top off. The idea was obviously aimed at women, as the first person to accept disrobed to be in only her bra and pants, but I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip by. When they asked for a final volunteer, I stepped up, took my shirt off (throwing the white balance off on cameras everywhere) and proceeded to pimp Film Threat and independent film. I apologize for anyone who saw that, but as anyone knows, I do not miss any opportunity to promote Film Threat. For f**k’s sake, I’m a walking billboard for the company, rarely seen without the logo on my person somewhere. I’d get it tattoo’ed if I didn’t think that was an unlucky idea (you know, like adding your girlfriend’s name or something).
Anyway, the film awards are still coming up, and I’ve already gotten two more screenings under my belt. I do intend to step away from the film festival for an hour to see one of my favorite bands, Sybris, in a showcase at Emo’s, but then it’s all about saying goodbye to all my friends at the closing night events… and probably seeing the midnight screening of “Dance of the Dead.” Hard to say right now, but I’m upbeat and happy and hopefully that’ll last.