I love getting up early and walking the streets of a city; any city.
The sights you see and the sounds you hear are unique only to that time of day.
This morning, camera in hand, I headed up South Congress rather than
toward downtown and took some “people less” shots, which after 72 hours of people-filled lobbies, workshops and bars, is quite welcoming.
Speaking of bars, I wandered into Friends yesterday afternoon when, from across the street,
I heard a woman belting out Give Me One Reason To Stay Here by the one and only Tracy Chapman. There were no chairs, so I pulled up to the bar, and took my place standing with the others who were already way ahead of me in the drinking competition. This band, consisting of 3 guys and their lead singer, could rock the house like nobody’s business; everything from
Sam Cooke, Tracy, Aretha Franklin but also, originals that made us all hoot and holler
and take to the saloon-type dance floor. They had no “shtick”, no cd and no sideshow. They took no breaks. They just kept on doing what they passionately love and doing such a damn good job of it, I almost missed the independent film next door at The Alamo; my main reason for venturing down this street in the first place.
Austin is bursting at the seams with live music. It’s that and the large, overly decorated longhorn statues on every corner that will keep me coming back. Seriously, I’ve heard some kick-ass jazz, blues, bluegrass and country. That’s right, country! Y’all know it’s in me, right?
I attended only one panel yesterday and after listening to such dynamic women as Elizabeth Hunter (Charmed, L Word, Jumping the Broom, Beauty Shop…) and Pamela Gray (Conviction, Music of the Heart, A Walk on the Moon…) I knew no one could follow in their shoes.
The topic? The Heroine’s Journey. In a realistic, approachable and funny way, these two women discussed both the creative side of writing female main characters and the business-related challenges of working in the male-dominated film industry.
Ironically, I attended a panel the day before which included Pamela, Scott Silver (The Fighter) and Nicholas Kazen (Reversal of Fortune) in which the flavor was totally different from her panel with Elizabeth. Duh.
Those two dudes dominated that panel as if the moderator’s questions were specifically directed at only the two of them. Thank God Pamela had not an ounce of trouble holding her own, and thank God it was on the largest stage, because there needed to be ample room for these guys’ egos and genitalia.
So the good news? Women understand women. Plain and simple.
And we are the most capable, driving force to write about a female character’s journey.
End of story. Or beginning because these two women, and another by the name of Joyce San Pedro, Creative Executive for Zhiv Media Studios, all gave of themselves, their knowledge and their advice freely and selflessly and that is refreshing. And that fills me with some kind of childlike hope. I’ll leave it at that.
So the other cool, highly beneficial thing I’ve attended, as a fly on the wall, are the Pitch Sessions. Each writer has 90 seconds to pitch their screenplay to a panel of producers, directors and other industry professionals. Holy Shit! Now this takes some you know what.
It was a really great experience to listen, not only to the pitches, but also to the feedback given by these pros to each and every brave soul that got up and pitched. Next year, babies!
There are so many festivals happening in Austin! Just this weekend alone, along with the film festival, there is The Texas Book Festival, The Day of the Dead Festival and The Gypsies Picnic that includes block after block of food trucks, dancing, and little children running around in diapers.
I roamed through all these events and more yesterday. I cheered with the protesters of
Occupy Austin, marched two blocks with the opponents of the death penalty; specifically, another upcoming Texas execution awaiting Rick Perry's signature... I walked around the state’s capitol and The University of Texas campus. I even bought some Longhorn gear and
I hadn’t even had a cocktail.
I did make it to The Alamo to see the film, Fred and Vinnie; a low budget ($50,000) film about an unlikely friendship between two middle-age guys that was laugh out loud funny and also charmingly poignant, then I headed back over the bridge to my cave.
(Which, btw, I am growing accustomed to, but because I did work for 8 hellish weeks at a hotel…and was forced to watch the Bedbug Video…I’m just sayin.)
While walking back, I looked up and saw this brightly lit billboard for some unTexas type beer that read simply:
Live Life Unfiltered.
And that, my favorite people, is my message to you today.