It’s hard to get accepted by the South by Southwest film festival — especially if you’re not from New York. This year’s festival features eight films, chosen from 1,324 submissions, and more than half of them have roots here: The Heart Machine, directed by Village Voice film critic Zachary Wigon; Wild Canaries, Lawrence Levine’s Brooklyn-based film; The Mend, set in Harlem and directed by John Magary, who attended Columbia University’s graduate film program; Brooklyn resident Leah Meyerhoff’s I Believe in Unicorns; and the world premier of Fort Tilden, about two girls’ “needlessly complicated” bike ride from Williamsburg to Rockaway’s Fort Tilden beach, co-directed by two NYU MFA film candidates.
We sat down with Fort Tilden directors Charles Rogers (thin, bearded) and Sarah-Violet Bliss (thin, not bearded) in the crowded Le Pain Quotidien at the corner of Broadway and 11th Street and chatted about process, Millennials, and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. We did not talk about how excited certain people are to see the new Veronica Mars movie (which, probably few people will be able to get into at SXSW, anyway).
Sarah-Violet Bliss: That was the goal of the project, because there are so many films that are concepts for years before they turn into anything. We got the idea and it was the end of May, so the best time to shoot would be this summer — or next summer. We committed that day to making it. We were doing preproduction and writing at same time.
CR: You always think of ideas for movies with friends and then you don’t make them. By the end of the conversation we were like, “We should make this. We like the idea. We’re at the point in our careers where we have to make something. Let’s just do it.” Instead of letting this just be another one of those conversations where you let an idea go.
CR: I think confusion is a luxury. If you have time, you have time to be confused. There wasn’t time to have doubt ever.
CR: I guess I am. But I never think about anything in relationship to that. In my mind, Millennials are defined by having grown up after the Internet. I think there is a cusp there between those that are 24 to 28 right now. That is a greyer area. Under 24 is a totally different culture because of the internet.
SVB: I think it’s absolutely finger-pointing at the Millennial generation, at least what the zeitgeist is referring to — this difficulty in trying to get your life to mean something. I think it’s really important for Millennials to have their lives be — documented even, or have a meaning. There’s a competitiveness there, but also there’s a confusion Millennials have in how to define who they are.
CR: A big theme in our movie is privilege. And that is something that people associate with Millennials. A lot of the quarter life crises the girls in our movie experience are owed to the fact that they are privileged.
CR: Sarah-Violet is from Brooklyn, and I am mostly from Austin, so in that way both of us do kind of participate in some way with that culture, but at the same time, it’s not like we set out to make a movie that was specifically a comment on that culture. If anything, we wanted to make a film that works its way from the inside out of that, rather than the outside in. I think it has been fun for us to make something that’s quote-unquote cool, on some level. I don’t think either of us had ever made anything that is, like, stylish and represents cool things.
CR: We like comparing the film to films like Ferris Bueller or Romy and Michele. It has more in common with comedies like that than it does with other contemporary social satire that’s going on.
SVB: Someone said Bob Hope.
CR: It is a buddy-comedy, road-trip movie, so in that regard it’s in a tradition that’s come before this generation.
Bradley Spinelli (@13_Spinelli) is the author of “Killing Williamsburg.”