Momentum: An Austin Film Festival Recap

Director Nathan Christ, musician Bill Baird, AMP co-founder James Moody, Mayor's Chief Of Staff Ritch Bailey, AMO's Brad Stein, and HAAM's Carolyn Schwarz discuss music, politics, and other issues facing Austin's creative class at #aff2010. Photo by Yusef Svacina

It didn’t really register that I’d moved away from Austin until coming back to the Austin Film Festival for the Echotone screenings. I didn’t brood and plan about moving away for much time at all. Austin doesn’t really let you do that. Just when you think you can’t possibly stay another day – when the heat melts you to the sidewalk, when the lack of work becomes too stifling, when your curiosity/travel bug begins to tell you that other pastures might be greener – just when you start to think that way, some incredible 24-hour coffeehouse opens just down the street, or you see an inspiring show from Sleep Good or Machine or Shapes Have Fangs, or the guys at Transmission curate another brilliant Fun Fun Fun Fest. You start to think, maybe I can stay here another 5 years!

It’s hard to know if it’s a velvet rut or not. All I know is that I left. We finished making Echotone in February and have been moving ever since. I was lifted West by the swell of the Robin Lombaria’s Marfa Film Festival, truly one of the strongest weeks of my life – nothing short of a rainbow gathering, a collision of creative people, family, and beloved friends from all over the country. From there, a short respite in Chicago before working as a cook all summer in a Buddhist community deep in the French countryside. It was a different kind of a work, a time to recharge and regroup before the next push – the Echotone film festival circuit and the upcoming plan to develop Echotone into a miniseries.

After France, I decided wintry Chicago was the place for me. We want to explore the concepts and themes we discovered in the Austin story in other American cities (specifically Chi Town, L.A., and NYC). I’ve been up here on an anthropological dig, exploring the massive, sprawling megalopolis, trying to figure out where the passionate individuals lie, whether in music, film, or theater. Chicago’s been my docking point for the growing nationwide Echotone expeditions: Los Angeles Downtown Independent Film Festival, Dallas Video Fest, Hot Springs Film Festival, the upcoming Starz Denver Film Festival, and our madcap Rumble Tour, where we drove all across the West Coast with the film and the musicians from the film in tow.

Coming home to Austin took me by surprise. Both of our screenings were completely sold out, with people in the aisles and on folding chairs. The hometown support was deeply moving. Then there was the annual ATX Converge event, where musicians from the film (Machine, Dana Falconberry, The White White Lights, and Sunset) sent vibrations from within the beloved Mohawk (one of the epicenters of our film).

We racked up a lot of critical praise and had plenty of Austinites come up to us and gush about how we nailed the story, how it inspired them to continue in their artistic pursuits. I even had a young woman come up to me and say that she was about to drop out of her Music Business degree before she saw the film, that it had lit a fire underneath her to keep going and not give up. It was a big step for me when the musicians in the film gave it a thumbs up. Now, it seems, Austin is behind it.

So, yes, Momentum. It’s on the tips of our tongues. I dream about the word. I ponder what it means. I wake up each morning recognizing its importance. It’s up to us to keep going, to turn the vision into a miniseries and scale the mountain before us: the nationwide Echotone story.
- Nathan Christ, Director

All photos by Yusef Svacina, courtesy of Swatch Photography.

Recent Press from Austin Film Festival

-Interview with Director Nathan Christ and Producer Dániel Perlaky on KUT 90.5′s Texas Music Matters
-Feature Article by the Austinist
-AV CLUB’s AFF Recap – Echotone earns ‘best hometown representation.’
-Review by Jette Kernion at

The Line extends around the block for a sold out screening at the Alamo Ritz. Slated for the same time that day was the AFF Award's Luncheon with David Simon, and a Texas Longhorns Home Game...Live Music is Austin's Pro Sport! Photo by Yusef Svacina.

Mayor Will Wynne's Chief of Staff Ritch Bailey, and Producer Nicholas Jayanty discuss momentum and community action after a sell out screening at the Alamo Ritz during @austinfilmfest. Photo by Yusef Svacina.

Director Nathan Christ post Ritz screening at #aff2010. Photo by Yusef Svacina.

The Voodoo Highway team basks in a pitch perfect screening of Echotone. Photo by Yusef Svacina.

Soaking in success Associate Producer Nate Ferrone is A-OK. Photo by Yusef Svacina.

Bill Baird and Victor Moyers catch a breath at the Driskill post screening #aff2010. Photo by Yusef Svacina.

I get by with a little help...Photo by Yusef Svacina.

Dana Falconberry hypnotizes at the ATX CONVERGE 2010. Photo by Yusef Svacina.

Jenny Gacy of the White White Lights delivers a sonic sermon... the Reverend Gacy has the stage. Photo by Yusef Svacina.