Interview: Hear From Three AFS Grant-Supported Filmmakers About Their SXSW 2021 Premieres

SXSW is back! After last year’s cancellation, the 2021 festival returns as an all-digital experience, taking place March 16-20. We are excited to be a part and share that six AFS-supported filmmakers are making their world premieres at SXSW: Haley Anderson’s SUMMER ANIMALS, Keith Maitland’s DEAR MR. BRODY, Mei Makino’s INBETWEEN GIRL, Channing Godfrey Peoples’ DORETHA’S BLUES, Tamara Saviano’s WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT, and Renee Zhan’s O BLACK HOLE!

Ahead of the festival, AFS talked with filmmakers Keith Maitland, Mei Makino, and Tamara Saviano about their new projects (all of which were supported by the AFS Grant). We will also be hosting online Q&As with AFS-supported filmmakers during SXSW on our website. As well, join us for a special AFS@SXSW ‘21 Virtual Mixer on March 18, 8–10pm. The event is free and you can register here.

For more info on this year’s online festival, visit SXSW 2021.

Keith Maitland, DEAR MR. BRODY
Narrative Documentary

Tell us a little about your film.
DEAR MR. BRODY is a psychedelic look into the heart and the bank account of the hippie millionaire who promised the world peace for the price of a postage stamp. It’s about our wants, desires and needs, and ultimately finding what matters most.

What was it about this particular story that made you want to feature it as the subject of a documentary?
Michael Brody invited people to write him letters outlining their needs and he’d send them money—that was his plan, anyway. The Brody story had never been told. Behind that story were hundreds of thousands of letters that had never been opened. There was just too much opportunity for discovery, for uncovering an untold past and exploring the humanity of then and now, to pass this one up.

The past year has been full of challenges and delays—how does it feel to finally be premiering DEAR MR. BRODY at SXSW 2021?
When Tribeca was cancelled, and the summer festivals, and then even Telluride, we were unsure if anyone would ever see our film… we were in limbo, like so much of the world—on pause. To get to share the film here in Austin with SXSW is a full-circle kind of moment.

As the recipient of an AFS Grant, how has that been helpful in your production of the film?
I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate AFS, the literal spine of our filmmaking community. The support that AFS has provided throughout the years has helped take the edge off of a dangerous and unpredictable business. I’ve met collaborators, mentors and proteges through AFS programming.

How can we keep up with your film?
You can keep up with us on Twitter & Instagram: @dearmrbrody @keithmaitland

Mei Makino, INBETWEEN GIRL
Narrative Feature

Tell us a little about your film.
On its surface INBETWEEN GIRL is about a teenage girl crushing on the hot guy on her soccer team, but beneath that it’s about a young woman figuring out her identity and place in the world.

What was the inspiration behind INBETWEEN GIRL?
I’ve always been a fan of coming-of-age films, and I wanted to write one that was a little messier and closer to real life. I was also interested in exploring the psyche of a mixed-race teen dealing with unrelenting hormones.

Can you share anything about your experience of making the film?
I learned so much! This really was a second film school for me. It was a blast getting to chat with and learn from all of the different departments. There was so much talent and knowledge on set, and it was a joy to witness.

As the recipient of an AFS Grant, how has that been helpful in your production of INBETWEEN GIRL?
It was incredibly helpful in getting us started in post-production! We received the grant right after we finished production, and it gave us a huge feeling of ease and relief. It also gave us some street cred—when you’re backed by AFS, people start to pay attention.

How can we keep up with your film?
You can keep up on our website www.inbetweengirlfilm.com.
We are also on social media:
Instagram: @inbetweengirlfilm
Twitter: @inbtwgirlfilm
Facebook: Inbetween Girl Film

Tamara Saviano, WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT
Narrative Documentary

Tell us a little about your film.
WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT is the true story of Guy Clark, the dean of Texas songwriters, who struggles to write poetic, yet indelible songs while balancing a complicated marriage with wife Susanna, and a deep friendship with singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, on whom Susanna forged a passionate dependence.

You first wrote a book about Guy Clark with the same title, WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF GUY CLARK—did you set out to also make a documentary and what was the process like turning the book into a film?
NO! I did not set out to make a film at all. While I was working on the book, another filmmaker approached Guy and wanted to make a documentary. Guy told me the only way he would cooperate on a film is if I made it, because we had already spent years together on the book. So, he put the idea in my head and also made me feel like I should rise to the challenge.

What is it about Guy Clark and his music that makes him so enduring?
I think Guy is one of the greatest American songwriters who ever lived. His songs are like literature. They could have been short stories. And the Texas connection makes those stories especially rich.

As the recipient of an AFS Grant, how has that been helpful in your production of the film?
The AFS Grant really helped us out of a jam after SXSW 2020 was cancelled. We had many expenses that were not recoupable leading up to our cancelled world premiere. The AFS Grant helped enormously.

How can we keep up with your film?
Withoutgettingkilledorcaught.com is the best way. That is the platform where people can buy tickets for the virtual screenings in March and April. At the end of May, the film will be available On Demand at our website.  Also, if people sign up for our newsletter, we will send them a rare, mid-1960s recording of Guy singing “Step Inside My House,” which is the first song he wrote and he never recorded it for an album.

We have an active Facebook group with more than 11,000 members: https://www.facebook.com/groups/withoutgettingkilledorcaught

The Guy Clark Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/GuyClarkMusic

The film Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/guyclarkfilm

We are on Instagram: @guyclarkfilm

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