SXSW: March 11 2017

Day 2 of SXSW was a rainy one. I stayed close to the Austin Convention Center, attending Interactive sessions and visiting some close-by venues. Bill ventured further out to see several movies.

Made in Austin: A Look into Song to Song
Director Richard Linklater interviewed actor Michael Fassbender and director Terrence Malick about their film, Song to Song. Bill and I had seen the world premiere last evening, and so we wanted to hear what they had to say. There was a 40-day shooting schedule, including footage from ACL Fest and Fun Fun Fun Fest. Fassbender said there was no break due to the short schedule—they even filmed on their way to the next location. As Linklater observed, this has the most film locations, costume changes and songs in a feature-length film. Malick told Fassbender to play his character as Satan from Dante’s Inferno (yep, that happened). The actors did not have lines to learn, but improvised their lines according to the scenes. Linklater admired Malik’s spontaneity in shooting. Fassbender’s response: “I’ll be acting my socks off, and I’ll look over, and Terry is filming a beetle.” Linklater also admired the conflicting shots of Austin, both of nature and the urban, and felt that matched the film’s message. He noted that Austin has changed so much in the past few years, that this film is already a period piece.

In-between sessions, I visited the Otterbox, IBM, Comcast, and Washington DC lounges and picked up free snacks, drinks, and t-shirts in each location. My friend even snagged a free Otterbox phone case to replace his old one.

Organize the World: Design Your Life to Spark Joy
I have read both of Marie Kondo’s books, so I was quite curious to see her in person. She was very soft-spoken and seemed a little nervous at the start. She explained the KonMari method and showed some before-and-after photos of her work. She started with her “tidying-up” when she was 15 years old, and even wrote about this topic for her graduation thesis. Her rules include: Tidy in one go, Tidy by category (clothes, books, papers, kitchen/bathroom, and miscellaneous), and Ask, “Does it spark joy? She then demonstrated how to fold clothes, noting that this is an opportunity for speaking to your clothes. She said that her dream is to organize the world. Good luck with that, KonMari.

Wait…Why Are All These Dudes in My Closet?
I caught the last 20 minutes of this panel discussion about the lack of female executives in the fashion industry. The panel included Jesse Draper, Whitney Casey, USA Network founder Kay Koplovitz, and model/actress/Austin resident Brooklyn Decker.

Jennifer Doudna
The question posed by today’s keynote speaker, Jennifer Doudna, was “What if a cell’s DNA could be edited just like the text of a document?” She is known for her work on CRISPR (Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). She explained the underlying biology and how gene editing works. This technology is less than five years old. Applications include disease treatment (coming soon: sickle cell), gene drives of a trait through a population (example: malaria-proof mosquito), immune system improvements in cancer patients, and using animal organs for human donations. She also spoke about the ethical use of this technology.

From YouTube Star to Media Company Co-founder
Casey Neistat spoke about his desire to work in film, which eventually led to posting videos to YouTube. He showed his first viral video about getting a ticket for not riding in the bike lane. This led to him doing videos for the New York Times. He next showed an amazing video, Make It Count, that he did for Nike. He is now working on creating videos for CNN. He ended his talk with his newest video, Do What You Can’t.

The Tim Ferriss Show Live with Cheryl Strayed
Tim Ferris interviewed one of my favorite authors, Cheryl Strayed. Last week I had read her book of collected quotes, Brave Hearts, and so I was especially listening for some of her own quotes during this session:
“Books have the power to remind us of our own humanity.”
“I’m going to be strong in the midst of my humility.”
“Writing is all about contemplation, concentration and silence.”

The Challenge
Since we had missed dinner yesterday, Bill and I met at the Alamo Ritz so that we could eat while watching The Challenge. This film was v-e-r-y slow and quite the opposite of last night’s Song to Song. The cinematography was lovely, but there was very little dialogue and even less plot. We gathered that the film documented a falconry competition in Qatar, a sport event for sheiks that was held in the desert outside some city there.

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