Flew into Austin on Friday for South by Southwest. Stepped out of the airport, hightailed it into town, and found myself introducing the film at the Alamo Theater twenty minutes after I landed. For those of you who have never had the Alamo Theater experience, let me explain. It’s a movie theater with countertops in front of each row and just enough aisle space for a server to squeeze by and bring you dinner… and drinks.
Usually, I get pretty nervous about introducing a film. I like to take notes and have a small piece of paper to remind me of key people. However, there was no time for that. I wasn’t even supposed to speak. When I got in the car and heard we had a chance of making it before the film started, inspiration struck. I told them to hit the gas.
I got up in front of the audience and spoke about something that had not really occurred to me until I touched down in Austin. Two of my biggest filmmaking inspirations were not only from the state of Texas, but from that very city. I told the audience that throughout my childhood, my perception of an independent film was an inaccessible French film… But then I saw a movie called “Slacker” (Richard Linklater) and realized an independent film could be whatever it wanted… And then I read a book entitled “Rebel Without A Crew” (Robert Rodriguez) and realized I could do it.
I wasn’t pandering. It was the truth. It came from my heart and I think the audience appreciated that. Then, I stepped away from schmaltzing it up and let the movie begin.
Came back for the Q&A and had a blast talking with the audience. After, I went to the opening night party at a local bar. Played darts with my producer Dan and said hello to my buddy Judah Friedlander, comic/actor extraordinaire and World Champion. Don’t believe me? Look him up.
The following day, I did local press. There’s a manic look in the eyes of the Texan press during SXSW. It’s day one and they not only have hundreds of movies to cover, but hundreds of bands… most of them mediocre… that will make their ears bleed, until the thought of typing will drive them into a seizure.
The real treat of Austin, was being taken to the best BBQ in town by Quint from Ain’t It Cool. We had met at Santa Barbara Film Festival and discussed my trip to SXSW. He said there was one stop I must hit before I leave town... The Salt Lick.
CUT TO: Us in an SUV driving down a barren road in rural Texas. (Yeah, I used “cut to”. I’m a director. Blow me.) We’ve been driving by ranches for thirty minutes and I’m beginning to wonder how well I actually know Quint. Then, it appears on the horizon. A glint of light that became a parking lot of a hundred cars, piled up behind an enormous wooden barn house.
We pulled up into the driveway to find good old boys in jeans and shirts, with badges and side arms, pointing us where to go with absolute seriousness. There’s over a hundred people here sitting at picnic tables with their coolers. Under a canopy are a couple kids serving the best homemade lemonade I’ve ever had. And then the smell catches me… It’s coming from the main house off to the side. It’s the smell of meat. My mouth starts to water.
Inside is a fire pit, fueled only by logs, that sends smoke through an enormous circular grill carrying the variety of meat. A large dome captures the smoke, ensuring the smoky taste.
The five of us are seated forty-five minutes later and order the “all you can eat” special. What this means is a large plate of sausage, ribs, and brisket is brought to our table over an over, until we wave a white flag or simply die. The brisket is out of control. It’s worth the drive, It’s worth the wait. It’s worth the coronary.
While leaving, I caught a bumper sticker on a truck that put it best: "If God didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?"