There are some moments you remember feeling inspired and then there are moments that kick your ass into gear to finally stop with all the excuses and get the work done.

The SXSW session “How to make people give a F*** about your movie” led by the ultra talented Meredith Alloway (more on her later in the post) not only taught me how to make people care about my film but gave me the clarity that filmmaking and the film community is where I want and need to be.

I went with my Dad to SXSW this year (my first year) and got the Interactive badge. I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and figured I wanted to go to sessions and spend that time with my Dad checking out what was new in the entrepreneur/business/tech world. While I was scrolling through all the sessions I realized that the Film Badge or Platinum Badge was the badge I should’ve chosen. (Again, it was my first year so mistakes were made.)

One of the mistakes I didn’t make was missing out on the best session of the entire conference for me personally. The conference room was at capacity and there I sat with my Interactive badge not sure if one of the volunteers would politely come over to me and say “Excuse me, sir, umm this session is for primary badge holders first, and since you have secondary access would you mind giving up your seat?” Luckily this whole event that played out in my head didn’t transpire but what did was an informative and fun hour of 4 talented and intelligent people giving their advice on not only how to make your first or next feature film but how to have people care about it.

The panel that joined Alloway was David Ninh who is Director of Press & Publicity at Kino Lorber, Inc. Rachel Walker who is a publicist for Sundance and the Publicity Manager for the LA Film Festival for the past 5 years, and Megan Griffiths who is a writer/director whose most recent film SADIE is now available on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

Basically you are getting some insanely knowledgeable people in all aspects of the filmmaking experience giving you tips and tricks throughout the entire production process. I was hooked from the moment Meredith, who is a journalist/filmmaker from Dallas, TX (just like me, well I am from Dallas, TX but I wouldn’t say I am a journalist or filmmaker…yet.) and whose short film DEEP TISSUE was a huge hit in the Midnight Shorts Program at this years fest began to mention how she had a realization that she could interview filmmakers while also making her own movies which resulted in eventually moving to the NYC area doing the same thing. (Hello run on sentence, good to see you again.) That is when I had my clarity moment.

“So I can talk about movies and interview people I admire while also making my own films?” is what I said to myself while taking notes in my “Notes” app on my iPhone 7S. That is dedication, right? I mean I could of taken pictures of the slides they provided, which were great but I heard something by someone smarter that me one time that taking notes by hand are more likely to help you remember and retain the information being provided.

So there I was, a guy with a dream, listening to David talk about his passion for helping out filmmakers and their projects, to Rachel talking about different ways you can market a film at a festival or get the jump on having some things to show on social media while making the film, to Megan talking about the process and how she got people to care about her most recent film, all the way to Meredith discussing all of it and keeping it moving at a great pace.

Even after the session time was up, Meredith said, and I am paraphrasing here, “We’re just gonna stay in here until they kick us out.” I loved it. I loved the fact that they were so passionate about what they were saying, that they all had so much to say, that they were going over on time to answer our questions, that they even mentioned that they would be hanging out if you had anymore questions after the session.

I learned to:

KNOW THE LANDSCAPE, PITCH MY PROJECT, WHAT TO DO ON SET, PRESS/SOCIAL DO’S AND DONT’S, and many more great nuggets of information. But what I learned the most is that if you have a passion for film, if you have a passion to make movies or talk about movies or champion other people’s work or all of the above, to follow it and make it happen. To put in the work, to find your people, and to share those passions.

For someone who has made excuse after excuse on why they haven’t made their first film, as someone who has written scripts but hasn’t let anyone see the work, who has been torn on choosing between talking and covering movies or making them, I left that session with clarity on what I really want to do with my life and what I hope to make a career out of. It’s something I knew all along but after that session it was re-instilled in me so much that I wondered why I haven’t put more work in to make it happen.

I loved this session and I wanted to share that with you because with all the busyness of SXSW they took the time to share their passion with us.

So thank you Meredith, David, Rachel, and Megan for this incredible session. 

Now I am off to continue to work on the script of my short film while also looking to get into the local film community and just integrate myself into it. This session taught me a lot and inspired me, I hope this blog inspires you to be inspired.

Wait, what?

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Justin Burden