Since its origin in 1994, the film component of South By Southwest has brought actors and filmmakers to Austin of various experience and success. While the festival is noteworthy for bringing Hollywood’s biggest stars to Austin, it’s also important for highlighting the careers of those who wouldn’t have gotten the spotlight elsewhere. Here are five filmmakers whose careers emerged at SXSW.
Gareth Edwards’ debut film, “Monsters,” premiered at SXSW in 2010. Mere hours later, the rights to the micro-budget movie were bought by Magnolia Pictures. Having served as the director, writer, cinematographer and visual effects artist, Edwards went on to snag a deal with Legendary Pictures to helm 2014’s “Godzilla” reboot. The film was met with warm reception, and Edwards is now directing the new Star Wars standalone film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
In 1998, four years prior to working on the set of “Saturday Night Live,” Fred Armisen posed as a music journalist for the short film, “Fred Armisen’s Guide to Music and South by Southwest.” Armisen acts as a multitude of different tropes, including a blind man, a German and a college kid rattling off questions to band members. The project exhibits Armisen’s ability to generate laugher and improvise in real time.
Now an Oscar-winner for her lead role in “Room,” Brie Larson was served her biggest acting break in 2013, when “Short Term 12” released at SXSW. After winning her role over a Skype call with the director, she was praised by critics for her emotional and realistic performance. Months later, she was offered her role in “Room” and the rest is history.
Before “Girls,” Lena Dunham wrote, acted and directed a feature-length film titled “Tiny Furniture,” which premiered at SXSW in 2010. Focusing on a young woman’s journey through hook-up culture, Dunham captured people’s attention with the edgy indie drama. The film won the “Best Narrative Feature” award and earned Dunham a script deal at HBO that turned into her successful series, “Girls.”
Having previously written screenplays for TV in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” Drew Goddard waited until 2009 to foray into film. His directorial debut, a project he helped write as well, catapulted him to one of the highest-in-demand talents in Hollywood. Goddard’s “The Cabin in the Woods,” a project he claims is a “critical satire on torture porn,” was met with critical acclaim for its innovative writing and direction. Not long after, Goddard penned the screenplay for Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” a project which garnered him an Oscar nomination.