“Sweaty Betty” Brings the D.C. Energy to SXSW 2015..and also a Pig?

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From left to right: Zack Reed, Joe Frank, Rico Mitchell, Seth "Scooby" Dubose Credit: Emily Reas
From left to right: Zack Reed, Joe Frank, Rico Mitchell, Seth “Scooby” Dubose
Taken at SXSW 2015 Credit: Emily Reas
From left to right: Zack Reed, Joe Frank, Seth "Scooby" Dubose, Rico Mitchell Credit: Emily Reas
From left to right: Zack Reed, Joe Frank, Seth “Scooby” Dubose, Rico Mitchell
Taken at SXSW 2015 Credit: Emily Reas

On a typical 6th Street in Austin during SXSW, you see things ranging from people dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to groups reenacting Britney Spears music videos; however, the real crowd stopper was a humongous (roughly around 750 Ibs.) pig sporting a Washington Red Skins blanket on it’s back. This live-advertisement was for none other than the film “Sweaty Betty” premiering at The Alamo Ritz within the hour.

The film takes place in a small suburb bordering Washington D.C.,where two stories coincidence: Floyd and his family are trying to get their 1,000 Ibs. pet pig Miss Charlotte to be the Washington Red Skins Mascot while Rico and Scooby, both single teenage fathers and best friends, hang around the neighborhood when an unexpected surprise happens.

In my opinion, “Sweaty Betty” was one of the most unique ones at SXSW by far, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. IndieWire recently said that, ” ‘Sweaty Betty’ is the rare discovery that’s bracingly original and down to earth in equal measures.”

The next day, I was able to meet the masterminds behind the film: co-directors Joe Frank and Zack Reed. Both touched on what initially inspired them to create this film.

Zack: Just the day to day life we live in our neighborhood. We kinda see a lot of things that can go on film and be a lot different then what people actually see. And more realistically.

Joe: Yeah. Yeah, I would add on that and say that there’s a lot of movies that take place in the black community that are about like drugs or violence and all that. I mean, we come from an area with a lot of drugs and violence, but 99% of the time when you’re standing outside like on a corner or something, nothings happening. It’s only that 1% of the time that something bad happens. So we wanted to make a movie about the 99% of the time.

Credit: Emily Reas
Co-directors Zack Reed and Joe Frank Taken at SXSW 2015 Credit: Emily Reas

Surrounding that 99% of the time are the two leads Scooby and Rico. With a certain vernacular specific to the area, their dialogue as well as their actions went back and forth with the help of improv.

Joe: We would just basically put them in a situation and say, “Alright, what would you say if somebody dropped a dog off to you.” We basically set the scenes up, and they ran with it! The scenes are like 20 minutes long without one cut. There were certain things we said, “Alright, you gotta say this because it kind of drives the plot home.” But besides that, 98% of what they came up with was their own words.

And the directors not only collaborated with the actors, but with each as well in regards to the music for the film–which by the way was fantastic.

The directors during the Q&A Taken at SXSW 2015 Credit: Emily Reas
The directors during the Q&A
Taken at SXSW 2015
Credit: Emily Reas

Zack: When we sat down and started the editing process and things like that, whatever the mood of the film was at that time, we just kind of thought of songs that we actually liked.

Joe: The song selection came after we filmed it-

Zack: Kind of collaborated both ways. Like he did a few, and then I’d come up with a few. It was like, “Oh, you got a good idea! Oh you got a good idea!” It’s how our chemistry is.

Joe: The theme song of the movie, one of your Texas native’s, Devin Da Dude. His song Anythang is Plenty.

With the music effortlessly highlighting Scooby and Rico’s shenanigans, it also underlined the other story line involving Floyd, his family, and Miss Charlotte the pig. One of my favorites scenes was the introduction to Miss Charlotte as we see her wallowing in a creek–which happens to be her favorite spot in the neighborhood.

Joe: She has free range in the neighborhood!

Zack: Yeah, like she crosses the street on the crosswalk like anyone regular walking down the street.

The discussion of Miss Charlotte led to when she was taken away from Floyd’s family due to regulations because of her size.

Zack: They’re not telling the family anything of her whereabouts or what actually they’ve done with her. It’s kind of a uneasy feeling for the family because really want to know what happened to Miss Charlotte.

Joe: So what’s messed up is that this family had Miss Charlotte for like two and a half years. And like I said, she had free range around the neighborhood. Police see her all the time. The animal control of the county knew she was there. And it wasn’t until we tried to make Miss Charlotte the Red Skins mascot that I guess the wrong person saw her and reported it. What we need to find out, first of all, if Miss Charlotte is alive because the radio reported that she passed away because she stopped eating when she was taken. But the animal control refused to give any information to us or the family of where she was. We don’t know where she is, but if the Red Skins do get involved, and the ultimate goal is that they do accept Miss Charlotte as the mascot next season, then we could either find her or Floyd and his family can get a new pig-

The directors and actors during the Q&A Taken at SXSW 2015 Credit:Emily Reas
The directors and actors during the Q&A
Taken at SXSW 2015
Credit:Emily Reas

Zack: A replacement pig.

Joe: And have an actual Washington Red Skins mascot.

We have our fingers crossed that Miss Charlotte is still out there, and hoping it will give Floyd and his family ease. Even though this film is finished, Joe and Zack have others plans creating more movies involving their neighborhood again. What will the next one be about? Who knows, but if Joe and Zack are creating it, it’s bound to have a unique voice and style that they can only bring to the table.

This has been Emily Reas with KTSW 89.9.

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