The residents of Lower Falinge contributed to the nations joy as Prince William was wed to Kate Middelton.
On Monday the 7th March I set off for America, final destination Austin Texas for SXSW to promote our new cross platform work Explore Falinge as a platform for the Lower Falinge Community in Rochdale to challenge media stereotypes of the area through storytelling. Setting off from Manchester first stop was the midwest via Newark, which made it a bit easier and meant that by time I got to Austin I was to be jet-lag free! On take off from Newark it was a beautiful clear afternoon and I had a clear aerial view of New York City and the Empire States Building, I knew it was going to be a great productive trip and anything was possible.
New York City
I headed out from Indianapolis at 12pm on Thursday 10th, via Atlanta on the short 2 plane journey which meant running across the atlanta airport for the Austin plane, making it with just 10 minutes to go. On boarding the special SXSW Delta Connect flight, I could already felt in the festival spirit as pretty much everyone on the flight was heading to Austin for SXSW and in aid of the festival the plane was equipped with free wifi. Out came all the appliances that I would see flaunted around for the coming week, the MacBooks and Apple IPads as people logged onto their facebook accounts and tweeted about their experiences to their friends and colleagues back home no longer feeling isolated at 30,000 feet as the clouds passed by below!
On decent into The Lone Star State Capitol of Austin, Texas we passed above the scorching shrub-land, a world away from the snowy prairies of the Midwest that I had left behind. On landing and passing through the airport I headed across town to my motel room at The Red Roof, just 4 miles out of town in what we was told was dodgy neighbourhub, a world away from the downtown atmosphere I was still yet to discover!
Quick change and refresh and a $20 taxi downtown to the Moonshine Grill to meet the other UKTI delegates I had met just a couple of weeks previously at the intro session in London. This gave us all the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves and network the evening away with a flurry of new minds and faces. Was great to hear what people where out for and at this point I still didn’t really know what was to come and how the atmosphere was about to explode! So we filled our boots with the yummy texan cuisine on offer and was given an insight into the local ale on offer by the Houston UKTI team!
Was like home from home, the brits really had arrived in Austin. As the others in the group started to disapear into the night to catch up on some well earned sleep and recover from jet lag from the journey out to Texas, we decided to go out onto the famous 6th Street and sample the local bars. We later found out it was going to be the calm before the storm of the full blown festival which was to come with a packed schedule of events which would be impossible even for the keenest to for-fill!
Up bright and early, if not a little dreary eyed, the following day I called another Yellow Cab to come and pick me up from the abode in North Austin to head down for the SXSW Masterclass put on by the UKTI of all things SXSW and Austin Texas. This is really a must for any first timer and the festival and saves a lot of time later!
We were told the ins and outs of ‘How to Conduct Business in the US’ and the differences with the UK, time to getting practicing my elevator pitch! My favourite part of this session was hearing from fellow brits who had set up in the US first hand and their experiences in doing so.
Lots of great information gained from this session and even an insight from Shaun O’Keefe, the interactive festival producer, who must have been the busiest person at the festival. He spoke about how to make the most of SXSW and the overwhelming choice of panels and events to choose from.
After the session we headed straight off to the conference centre and joined the queue for the badges which although this seemed very very long, it actually went down pretty quick as the guys dished out the passes, trying to outshout one another! It was like a meat auctions you get in local markets back home, the Austin kids were having fun and had a real production line going!
Most of the afternoon was spent exploring the new surroundings of downtown Austin and seeing how many free cocktails and food could be had, of which we soon found there to be abundant! A trip to the Vimeo Theatre for the best of Vimeo Shorts, after which I received a text informing me of the HP Happy Hour so quickly proceeded to make there after becoming slightly lost and heading in the complete wrong direction. We finally found the delegation on the green fake, grass surrounded by RV’s with people playing boules and garden games, was starting to feel just like home!
Today had really taken a lot out of me as I had brought all my promo material out, laptop, camera so after a couple more drinks out on 6th Street we headed back to the hotel to prepare for Saturday at SXSW!
|Mowhawk – DJ Premiere in full effect!|
Another hot Texas day and off downtown in my Yellow Cab and after some friendly banter with the taxi driver arrived at the ‘Community Engagement Strategies‘ Seminar at the Sheraton Hotel on 11th Street, before heading to a few other random seminars in the spirt of what we had been advised at the introduction on the previous day. A lot crammed in before lunch as well as generally roaming around seeing what was for the taking!
In the evening we went to watch Dragon Slayer back at the Vimeo Theatre, a coming of age story which went onto win best documentary at the festival! After heading out for dinner. we hit 6th Street yet again it was time to head over to the Mowhawk to see DJ Premier which proved to be one of the best nights of the festival! Due to the fact that it wasn’t an official festival event there were plenty of locals there whom of course were great to talk to and hear their stories about life in Austin and the best places to go to! If in doubt always speak to a local! Everybody else from the UKTI delegation seemed also to appear there later after they had been to other parts of the festival, so was good to catch up and dance the night away!
The Great British Grill
Next morning after not much sleep and an early start, yet again, in what was now becoming a routine, even the same taxi driver picking us up from the hotel to head back downtown! I headed straight for the press lounge to grab a refresher pack and to decide what we were to do for the day. First stop was to speak to Lisa Cortes, one of the Producers on Precious who was extremely inspirational and friendly, having worked with communities in New York and produced hip hip docs! After this we went over to the Branded Documentary panel to hear how filmmakers are working with socially responsible organisations to raise their profiles. This was interesting session and showed yet another way in which filmmakers and brands can work together to get a message out to an audience.
The Chinwag Global BBQ was in the afternoon just across from the conference centre, a great taste yet again of local cuisine and free drinks attracted a host of people to come and mingle with us brits and time to catch up with people from the Mission to exchange stories and successes. I had also arranged to meet with a potential collaborator at this event also, how they found me in this crowd I am still yet to find out, but they managed to track me down and we had a great introduction!
Later on out on 6th Street at the Blue Moon, which became somewhat of a local in the end, there was a Blues Band playing till late again. They were asking for requests so I promptly shouted out “Johnny Cash”, which was was received gladly by the band, with a cheer from the rest of the audience as the bass duly dumbed to the intro of ‘Walk the Line!’. Later we did get a bit silly and tried to request ‘The Soggy Bottom Boys – A man of Constant Sorrow’ to the amusement of the band, who did give a quick soundbite for our troubles! On our way back out of town the street was alive and full of bands, music and people everywhere, we met a travelling hillbilly band who had met in California and Michael Beatie who was with us from Belfast even joined in with them on his mouth organ and began to conduct an interview as myself and Chris Eva, also from Belfast filmed on our Canon DSLR’s! Will get that footage up online soon, I promise, some gerat characters and a great documentary in development, a kinda Louis Theroux does music theme I think!
UKTI Stand at Tradeshow
With a very sore head and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning I headed off for the first day of the trade show at the conference centre on 4th Street and Red River. After waiting outside for a while for the SXSW staff to put the finishing touches to the stands and made sure it was safe, the doors fianlly opened at 1120am and everybody flooded in the collect their SCWHAG (SXSW’s name for the goodies bags and promo material we were all to collect!) of T-Shirts, badges and other various promotional clutter!
I headed over to the UKTI stand which you definitely couldn’t miss with the sign hanging from the roof rafters, like the northern star, guiding the way to the stable of all things British at the festival! Was really great to see so much was happening and the arrangements of seats to lure people into British Heaven! I set about distributing my postcards and making the most of the facilities on offer, before heading out onto the floor to to have a nosey at other exhibitors, quickly making friends with the Invest Ireland delegation on their slightly smaller stand.
Lunch was a mexican and the rest of the day was spent pottering around the Trade show, heading over to the Florida State party in the evening for food and drinks! After this we headed over to the British Music Embassy before learning about the ‘Secret Twitter Party’ which I was told not to tweet about! It took us a while to find the location of this and in the process stumbled upon another event on the edge of town which had all types of experimental bands, projections in dark rooms and even a light sensitive wall which we had great fund with with my SLR flash!
Finally we found the Twitter Event in the middle of a stereotypical US Neighbourhood, it looked run down but it soon stood out when we saw all kinds of people stood around trying to talk their way in with the kids from Twitter! The rule was that you had to know the full name of a twitter employee to get into the party and they had to come and verify they knew you to have the right to enter! So the gate keeper was taking no nonsense from the many a good story trying to talk their way inside! The guy we knew wasn’t around yet, so we waited around whilst a US guy with attitude tried to get his way in acting the nice brits, which was eventually is what got us in! Once inside we quickly noticed that half of silicon valleys elite were chatting away and ideas for startups were flowing. We got chatting with some fellow brits yet again who ran an impressive looking News Site and networked for the next hour and a woman who was involved someway with WIkileaks in the US who was going to be at a seminar the next day on the subject.
We didn’t stay much passed midnight however, I had some serious sleep to catch up on after a weekend of networking events or parties as you have to call them out at SXSW! Monday had been a long day and being so far from the hotel we had been out a good 15 hours as we had most of the days!
The Great British Breakfast
Next day was an early start to get up and ready for the Global Breakfast, on arrival all of the british delegation were given bowler hats so we stood out. I believe Francesca Heath, the Chinwag Events Producer has a great picture somewhere of me using my hat to eat my breakfast out of!
After gathering food, tea and speaking to some of the other people there, the British Ambassador based in Washington and the Irish Foreign Minister both duly got up on stage to speak about the wealth of talent from the UK out in Austin and how they had chosen the most promising companies to bring along and that people should go and talk to us lot in the bowler hats! Well, what a great opportunity to network and was duly approached by a Venture Capitalist from Verizon, he was impressed with what we were doing with the site and we swapped Twitter addresses, which was definitely the new way to communicate at the festival! Lots of great people and we did indeed ‘network the hell outta the place’ quoting a fellow brit currently based in San Fran, who shall remain nameless!
After this we headed back to the conference centre and I spoke to a filmmaker about our projects at the mentor session, he gave a lot of great, valued advice and people to contact for getting things going in the US, which I shall shortly be doing! I head off from this over to the WikiLeaks debate, this was definitely of interest to me so I went alone as I had lost the people I was with after I came out of the mentor session I walked over to and sat in with the flurry of people with their new Ipad2’s they had obviously bought at the festival. They were everywhere!!! The great thing about the festival is it really doesn’t matter if you spend the day on your own as you are never truly on your own, you soon meet people to talk to and can often find yourself in the most interesting conversation with people doing great projects you may end up working with in the future!
After this I went back over to the trade show and really went for it on the floor, I sat in on a Google Sketch Up Session and then headed back to the UKTI Stand for afternoon drinks, before going hanging out with our new dublin friends on the Invest Ireland Stand for a sneaky Guinness before the show shut down for its final day!
The evening was spent at Maggie Mays on 6th Street for the Film Closing Party, as you walked in there was a table full of YouTube socks, so I grabbed a pair as had been at the festival for almost a week now without a launderette in sight, so my supply of clean socks was at a low and I think the people from GOOGLE must have known this! Met many more people that night and by 2pm (which is when everything in the US shuts down) we found ourselves on the street, looking for something else to do! We entertained ourselves for a while with the many street performers and drunken camaraderie on offer on 6th Street and then headed to a 24 hour diner about 2 miles walk out of town to come down from what SXSW FIlm and Interactive had on offer. Already the atmosphere in Austin was starting to change and the green music badges of the cool kids where starting to replace the blue interactive ones and the Ipads2’s!
6th Street when the ‘Music’ began!
Our gold passes were now pretty much redundant and no longer gave us access to much of the festival and events, so today, my final day we had to be creative! As it was my last day I decided I was gonna take it easy and hang around the lipton tent for most of it!
Austin was pretty much deserted in the morning as the interactive nerds had all headed out of town and the music kids were no doubt still in bed from a night of partying and gigs! The whole festival changed and was much less about the trade show and panels and much more about live music and shows where bands travelled from all corners of the earth setting up where ever they could with the hope of being spotted and making it big!
Music was everywhere and everybody had arrived to see their favourite bands, some big and some soon to be the next big thing. After lunch the streets did start to warm up as the alcohol of the previous evening dissipated in the Austin heat! On heading back over to the trade show was great to see that it had also transitioned and been handed over to the music crowd which gave it a whole different feel, music echoed throughout the trade show walls. We got talking to a female country singer from Tennessee who had been touring the states and had a gig up on 6th Street that evening, and the guys from the Invest Ireland stand were all excited that they had a VIP ticket to see Bob Geldolf on the Friday, I was very jealous as I was leaving the next day! Was great to speak to all the people from music throughout the day and hear their stories, there isn’t a festival in the world where you get to interact with the musicians and then later go and listen to them!
On heading over to the British Embassy we were stopped as we no longer had official passes, were outsiders and no longer wanted!!?! Just as we were about to give up, one of the brits from the UKTI team came out, handed us a pile of music catalogues and said to follow him! We followed him through the back door and walked right in!
Once inside we got talking yet again and bumped into Phil Ellis who I think was a little jet lagged still, but was good to yet again see so many friendly faces and feel welcome! We spent the last few hours of SXSW on Red River before coming across a good Samaritan ‘Garrett’ who gave us a lift home as we really couldn’t get a taxi at this point and offered to take me to the airport a few hours later, which was very kind of him! Two more hours sleep, a phone call to Garrett and that was my time over in Austin till the next time! Said goodbye to Chris who I was sharing a hotel room with throughout the festival, whom was staying till and then planning to do a road trip around Texas, venturing down towards the Mexican border, which is another story!
6am at Austin Airport waiting to go through security I bumped back into Keith, the filmmaker mentor I had spoken too a few days before, I wasnt feeling to sociable at this time in the morning with a lack of sleep but was good to bump into a friendly face. he told me that I had left my bowler hat at the session and he had handed it in for me and that he was heading to Delaware to begin on a film production. I was heading to Detroit and back to the midwest for a further week before getting back to the UK on 25th March, by 3pm that day I was in Indianapolis and far away from the Texan heat! A real eye opener of a time!
Glass Eye Productions is a film and Documentary Production Company with over 8 years experience working in broadcast and business.
This is just the start of what is going to be an interactive video website you can come and have a play on!
A historical and contemporary look at the playground in the middle of Norley Hall in Wigan and how the local community have used it throughout its history. We follow the construction of the new playground in the final year of the labour government as they offered play for all! Little did they know of all the cuts to come with the new government in power.
Behind Closed Doors highlights issues that effect young people, we tell the stories of the taboo untold world of young British Asians and what life is like growing up in often segregated communities.
Parklife was a collaboration with M6 Theatre Company working alongside Rochdale Youth Service and young people to produce a short film around teen issues. The short film was focused around social cohesion and young peoples interactions. The project took place over 10 weeks working in workshop to develop scenes to form a script, thereafter the script was filmed and edit before a showcase taking place at the Studio Theatre.
A short film directed by Brett Gregory and Produced by Danny Lomax, depicting the gruesome happenings under a Tunnel in the backstreets of Sale, Manchester!