A New Film Uncovers SXSW’s History

Austin, 1987. Photo credit Dixon E. Coulbourn Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW, a new documentary, opens with black and white footage of Austin in the years prior to 1987. Alan Berg, who directed the film, says he and his team found the footage from the cinematographer Lee Daniels (Slacker, Dazed And Confused). “That’s Lee going out in 1983 with a Super 8 shooting silent footage of punk shows around town," says Berg. "That footage just sets the scene from Austin in the early '80s.” Berg, an Austinite and founder of Arts+Labor, who produced the film, is a journalist who spent 15 years as a political reporter. He first documented South By Southwest in 1994 with the short film, "South by Southwest: The Business of Music," which won a local Emmy. From 1994 to 1999, Berg and his team were invited by SXSW’s founder Roland Swenson to document the festival. This past August, they decided to cull their efforts with footage collected from the Austin History Center and South By Southwest’s archives, and also tracked down footage from far and wide. It tells not only the story of the festival's four founders - Roland Swenson, Louis Black, Nick Barbaro, and Louis Jay Meyers - but also the story of Austin over the festival's 25 year history. We spoke to the Berg about making the film and its impact. How did the scope of Outside Industry develop. Initially we were thinking we’d cover that mid to late-’90s period - between about ‘94 and ‘99. Film and Interactive started in ‘94. Louis Jay Meyers left in ‘94. A lot of decisions were made about allowing... Sign In to Keep Reading

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