SXSW: Telstra's Adam Good on smartphone geolocation apps, Danny Boyle, art theft and hypnosis

12 March 2013

Day two at SXSW I attempted to focus the day on being with world class story tellers. I went to a great session with Top TV comedy hit maker Chuck Lorre from the The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. He was joined on stage by the author Neil Gaiman who is the acclaimed comic book series writer for The Sandman Stardust and Coraline.  “We look like the hebrew version of Johnny Cash,” quipped Chuck as they walked on stage.

They talked about the creative process of their respective formats. Lorre was particularly opinionated about his end-of-show vanity cards that have been so famous over the years. He even went to the audience for some support on a few topics. He said “We just rewrite on the spot if the audience are not laughing, don’t we” pointing to someone in the crowd. To the surprise of the audience Ashton Kutcher replied “Yes”. Amazing who comes to these things!

I also attended a mobile session leveraging geolocation and geofences to tell stories on smart phones. On the panel was Ben West the co-founder of Xomo which creates mobile apps for some of the world’s biggest events including the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, Sundance Film Festival and South By Southwest. I think everybody here is using his SXSW Go app about 20 times a day. You just can’t navigate this event without it.

West spoke about how marketers need to change their brains when it comes to campaigns so that this new power to tap into customers current and historical locations is wielded in the right way in order to build brand stories, loyalty, not annoyance. Hey, he is my kind of guy!

Even though West was a true innovator in embedding the power of great story into great creative work, the best of the day was the conversation with Danny Boyle.  The Academy Award winning director has spent the past twenty years pushing the creative boundaries in filmmaking with work as diverse as Train Spotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 days later, and 127 Hours. Most recently he was the creative director for the Olympics Opening Ceremony in London. I have to say his four minute portfolio video played before he spoke was the best I have ever seen.

The man who turned down a knighthood "because it wasn't my cup of tea" then gave a wonderful talk that took us into his early days of film making. He was thirty seven years old when his first film, Shallow Grave, came out. He worked many years in the British theatre. We even learnt he was going to join the church when he was young. He went on to say that there are similarities between a director and a priest. There’s directing in priesthood and pouncing around.  He said there were a number of directors who were going to be priests, like, Martin Scorsese and John Woo. "Confessing your sins with movies is nice," said Boyle. "You go to these dark places and access your darker side."

He spoke about how movies would soon be re-edited and re-directed by fans similar to the remixing of music. "It could be a whole new art form."

Boyle was then joined on stage by Rick Smith, a man who knows a thing or two about remixing. A member of techno band Underworld, and frequent Boyle collaborator, Smith spoke about creating the music for his new movie Trance which is out next week. They were both very engaging but I have to say later that night while they were both DJ'ing a at a bar called Swan Dive on 6th Street party district, they all but looked like collaborators as they flipped frantically through a pile of CDs ... with plenty of jumps in the music playlist on offer.

But back at the talk, Trance is a film all about hypnosis, art theft, and memory from what I could gather. It stars James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, and Rosario Dawson. Smith said he would love to premier the movie at SXSW but had been scuppered by distribution deals etc. The audience was, however, treated to an extended clip from the film, which seemed to include some pivotal moments. Smith assured us it was not a spoiler but it was so impactful that I’m not so sure. It was amazing.

I can’t show you the clip but here's the trailer. It’s going to be big. Tomorrow I will talk about a pop up event at the Drikill hotel by Goodby Silverstein agency hosted by Jeff Goodby. He got a number of his very close creative friends from a number of industries together under the theme ‘So When The Hell Do You Sleep'.

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Adam Good
Director of digital media and content
Telstra Media

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