SXSW Film Festival Day 5

'Life in a Day' / 'My Sucky Teen Romance'

by Faith Korpi

21 March 2011

A teen movie about vampires, shot by teens, making fun of teen vampire movies -- I prepared myself for the worst.
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Life in a Day

Director: Kevin McDonald

US theatrical: 24 Jul 2011

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My Sucky Teen Romance

Director: Emily Hagins

It’s Day 5 and I have “line friends” now! Starting to see the same people every day in almost every screening line I get in, which I’m probably getting a bigger kick out of than is justifiable. But hey, I love shooting the breeze about movies.

Life in a Day is a collaborative documentary about life around the world on July 24th 2010. Promoted by YouTube and helmed by Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald (Oscar winning director of One Day in September). People were asked to submit footage from their day that best represented their life. Contributors were given a series of questions to answer to help shape the content like, What do you love? What do you fear? What’s in your pocket? The result was 80,000 clip submissions totaling 4,500 hours of footage shot in 192 countries. Wow.

Quality-wise, everything from the dinkiest of camera phones to the Canon 5D and Red were used. The discrepancies in quality do not take away from the experience at all, in fact I’d say it adds to it.
Life in a Day reminded me of watching Sesame Street as a kid. My favorite segments were always the “people doing random things” montages; putting on shoes, gardening, threading a giant loom… this felt just like that, and also just like that, it is almost embarrassing to admit how captivating it is. One of my new line buddies said to me afterwards, “I could have watched that forever.” I felt the same.

We are a culture of showing, not telling. It’s at least an everyday occurrence in my life that I’ll have someone say, “Hey, have you seen…? No? Oh, well I’ll show you on YouTube”. Or how about, “Hey, sorry you missed the party last night. I could tell you about it, but I’d rather show you the 600 pictures on Facebook.” This project captured the spirit of that perfectly and the end result is fantastic.

Maybe you have thought something like, “Man, if only someone would sort through all the crap on YouTube and pull out the good stuff” like I have. That’s exactly what Ridley Scott and Kevin McDonald have done here. This is the layman’s Baraka, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Moreover, one of the movies I had been hearing buzz about this week while in line was My Sucky Teen Romance. I had to have known what I was getting into with this one, right? It was not on my original schedule, but I kept hearing about it. As it is the third feature by a local 18-year-old writer/director (Emily Hagins), I felt at least obligated as an Austinite female to check it out. The 1,200 seat capacity Paramount Theater was packed mostly with family and friends of Hagins it seemed. They all rose to their feet with overwhelming applause when she took the stage to introduce the movie. When they settled down about four minutes later, she shyly squeaked, “But… what if the movie’s bad”?

A teen movie about vampires, shot by teens, making fun of teen vampire movies—I prepared myself for the worst. As a film school survivor, I’ve seen my fair share of bad movies. This was not a bad movie at all. Ridiculous? Yes. Amateur? Yes. But she will learn to not use her friends as actors, her writing will mature, and maybe she will learn to go easy on the fake blood (hey, Tarantino hasn’t even learned that yet). I was entertained, as were the smattering of other badge holders (seemingly the only audience members unacquainted with the filmmaker). We tried to keep our cool at first, but by the second blood bath it was easier to just go with it and enjoy.

There are some undeniably impressive special effects and camera work, and so while I honestly was not convinced going in that I would want to write about this movie, I have to tell you that My Sucky Teen Romance has been one of the most fun SXSW screening experiences so far.

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