The Austin-based film blog Slackerwood has made its mark on the Live Music Capital of the World. But can the good vibes transcend Travis County lines?
Other Side Drive: Tuesday Segments
There’s Hollywood and then there’s Slackerwood, a place where a rag-tag team of eight contributors hangout in cyberspace to bring readers the latest in Austin film news.
SB AOL: “Welcome”
Founder and editor-in-chief Jette Kernion, with the help of her husband Chip Rosenthal, started what originally began as a personal film blog in spring 2006, after previously writing a column for Cinematical online.
Kernion says the slacker in her came out when brainstorming names for the Cinematical column.
SB: “We didn’t want to say ‘New From Austin Film,’ we were trying to think of something catchy and I said, ‘Well, it’s like Hollywood for slackers- it’s Slackerwood.’ And I ran with that.”
Austin-based director Richard Linklater’s 1991 film “Slacker” may have had an indirect influence on the name of Kernion’s blog, but was chosen to highlight the independent, carefree and creative spirit of Austin and local filmmakers.
Kernion embodied this definition as Slackerwood’s sole contributor for months before hiring a second writer in fall 2006. The technical-writer-by-day says balancing work, family and the blog was and continues to be a challenge, especially for someone with slacker tendencies.
SB: “If you were to go back through the archives and look you would see what I would call an extremely erratic posting schedule. It is called Slackerwood, it’s not called ‘Post-Everyday-Wood.’”
Elizabeth Stoddard cut Kernion some slack by hopping on board the Slackerwood bandwagon about two years ago, after writing for Austinist and other blogs since 2003.
The Sherman, Texas native agreed to review the Kristen Bell rom-com “When in Rome” for Slackerwood because she had read and enjoyed Kernion’s Cinematical column.
Stoddard says the movie may have just been okay, but her experiences with Slackerwood continue to be enjoyable and fulfill a childhood love of watching movies, her favorite being classic films.
But critiquing movies can sometimes be a challenge for Stoddard.
SB: “I know what I’m keeping an eye out for and it comes so quickly and then others, even if I like qualities about them I still sometimes find it difficult to put it into words what I liked about it.”
Stoddard, and other critics, may sometimes find it difficult to put into words what they like about a particular topic, whether it be film or an organization. But the former marketing director for the Austin Film Society, created in 1985 by Austin’s biggest “Slacker,” Linklater himself, knew that Slackerwood had promise.
After much planning and discussion, which began in 2011, Slackerwood and AFS signed on the dotted line and made its collaboration official early last year. The film blog is now published by the non-profit organization and has replaced its longtime journal, Persistence of Vision.
AFS interns and staff join Slackerwood contributors in reporting and reviewing many aspects of the Austin film scene. Kernion says she most enjoys covering movie festivals, like Fantastic Fest because the slacker in her enjoys staying at a single venue, and S-X-S-W, when she’s feeling adventurous.
As far as celebrities go, Kernion has interviewed Austin-based independent filmmakers, like Don Swaynos, whose movie “Pictures of Superheroes” was filmed primarily in her neighborhood. And legendary filmmaker Tobe (Toby) Hooper, who she spoke with during “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” double feature last month at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. That interview, however, isn’t posted on Slackerwood quite yet.
SB: “I have more fun interviewing the people that nobody knows yet. You usually get a little more time with them and you can take them out to lunch or something…”
Coming up for Slackerwood is a fancy new website re-design. But Kernion says the writing, run mostly on a volunteer basis, will continue to beat the best of ‘em, like it did in 2011 when the blog’s Austin Film News Mega-Feed was chosen as Critic’s Pick for “Best Austin Movie Blog” by The Austin Chronicle.
SB: “It’s a labor of love, and I think the point here is that if you want to write about film, you don’t have to go out and find a newspaper job- go out and write about film, which is what we do.”
With the AFS/Slackerwood collaboration in full force, the blog’s contributors hope to expand their horizons outside of Austin and add more state-wide film coverage.
Our greatest natural disasters may be behind us, but Andrea Rodriguez has an inspiring movie based on actual events for you to check out!
Other Side Drive: Tuesday Segments
For the drama queens and action pact film lovers that can’t get enough of emotional tearjerkers, and realist disaster surroundings then I have a film for you.
The Impossible, is a captivating movie about one family’s true story of hope.
The movie is based on the real events of the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. In an interview with HeyUGuys, Director Juan Antonio Bayona shares his reason for turning one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history into a film.
[Sound Clip-Bayona] “The film being made was a way of showing the world what happened there. You too think sometimes that watching the news you’re kind of numb, you’re not affected about it and one of the great things about filmmaking is that you can create empathy. So you can put the audience into the story into the tsunami make them really understand what it was like to be there. So, that was my goal I mean, from the very beginning I wanted to make all the audience go through all the emotional journey all these characters went through and created this kind of thought provoking experience.”
The film tells the story of the aftermath through one family’s journey. Maria (played by Naomi Watts), Henry (played by Ewan McGregor) and their three boys travel to Thailand for a Christmas vacation. It’s a picture-perfect paradise morning until the unforgettable sound of screams draws their attention to the sight of the ocean burying the resort. Maria locks eyes with her husband seeing both the same thing…that this may be the end. Maria is forced under water by the impact of the waves. She’s tossed around like a rag doll cutting her body on the pieces of debris. As she wraps her body around a tree she sees her oldest son Lucas played by Tom Holland being swallowed by the water.
This film is an emotional roller-coaster that will have you using the whole box of tissues. It’s the most beautiful picture of its time taking you inside the lives of survivors, a family who never gives up hope in finding each other.
I highly recommend this film Bayona so brilliantly directed. The disaster itself is not spectacular, just sudden and real. The emotional aftermath isn’t gushing and over the top, just….well personal. You really feel for the family and for the other victims and survivors. If you want to know if The Impossible is possible, then this film is for you, especially if you’re asking yourself, “do they ever reunite?”