A Lone Star State of Mind

“I started as a news photographer at the University Of Texas’ Daily Texan. They failed to see the marketing advantage in manipulating news photos (this is pre-digital, remember) to enhance the drama. I recall a dandy front-page photo of a community street preacher, in which I burned a halo floating above his head. I got fired and started writing stories for the campus magazine. I wrote about an unnamed student who secretly released hundreds of baby alligators into nearby Lake Travis, which would have been compelling if I hadn’t made it up. Property values around the lake plummeted over $70,000,000 the next week, which brought federal game agents into town.”

– cartoonist Berkeley Brethed, “Onion A.V. Club” interview, August 15, 2001

Cities around the world have their own feel to the arts when it comes to creativity, exhibition, and commercialism.  Austin is no different, but the pioneering spirit that led cattle ranchers onto the plains, followed by those hearty enough to seek black gold, has created a Texas hill country mentality of anything happens and everything goes.  This part of Texas claims such avant-garde filmmakers such as Wes Anderson, Robert Rodriguez, Terence Malick (who indeed is finishing up his IMAX film), Mike Judge, and Richard Linklater, and institutions that have become benchmarks in the industry, such as SXSW, the Austin Film Society and its Festival, and one of the most influential websites in Hollywood, Aint It Cool News.

In the center of all this action lie two of the most important exhibition houses in North America.  One, the IMAX theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, remains one of the highest grossing museum-based giant screen theaters in the world (it helps that the University of Texas campus is only a block away) and will be hosting the GSCA’s International Conference and Trade Show this September.  The other is the Alamo Drafthouse, considered by many to be one of the premiere independent houses (and emerging regional chains) in North America.

If you’re visiting the GSCA conference, you’ll have the opportunity to spend some time with Henri Maza, Chief Creative Officer for Alamo Drafthouse, during the conference’s marketing session.  By combining a commitment to customer service, quirky humor, unique programming, and a “Don’t Mess With Texas!” sensibility, Maza and the rest of the Drafthouse team have created a unique Austin environment unlike anyplace else in the country.  And with that pioneering Texas spirit, they’re not afraid to call it as it is, as you’ll see in the ad below.

Special thanks to Tammy Seldon and Kelly Germain of the GSCA for the information and the video link.

GSCA Austin Conference: http://www.giantscreencinema.com/Events/2011ConferenceAustinTX.aspx

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum: http://www.thestoryoftexas.com

Alamo Drafthouse: http://drafthouse.com/austin

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