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Meet a Fantastic Fest DIE HARD: Trevor Trujillo

Trevor Trujillo (right) with Kane Hodder.
by Jason Whyte

This article is the first of many interviews to be posted over the course of the 2011 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. Over the last month I have spoken with many repeat Fantastic Fest attendees who have returned for this year’s edition of craziness in Austin, Texas. The first of this interview series for efilmcritic.com features a great personality, Trevor Trujillo who is based out of Wyoming.

“I am currently a student of Communications and Journalism at the University of Wyoming. I have lived all my life in Wyoming, and as everything I do seems to be backwards, I actually worked professionally as a broadcast journalist for nearly five years before deciding to persue my bachelor's degree on the subject. Currently, I am the host of a non-profit radio show, “Back To The Feature”, in Laramie Wyoming where we discuss everything from local filmmakers to Hollywood Blockbusters. At the end of 2011, I'm hoping to scratch an entry from my bucket list, and spend a significant amount of time in the Los Angeles area, being a starving actor." -- Trevor Trujillo


What makes you travel from your home town to attend Fantastic Fest in Austin every year?

If there is a destination for movie geeks, in which we can make a pilgrimage and bask in that which we worship, truly it is the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. The Drafthouse takes its movies seriously, and knows that there is appreciation to be had not only for Citizen Kane but also for films like Troll 2. So if The Drafthouse is where we make our pilgrimage, Fantastic Fest is the event where the Drafthouse's ideals are most prevalent. This is the festival where you can see a film like There Will Be Blood and get all artistic and film snobby, or you can watch Robo Geisha and giggle and laugh at how ridiculous women in rubber bikinis can be.

What makes you a Fantastic Fest DIE HARD?

Myself and two close friends started attending SxSW on a regular basis starting in 2007. We grew especially fond of that festival's midnight programming and the more genre style films that SxSW was offering. In 2009, we noticed that the best genre films at SxSW were screened in conjunction with something called "Fantastic Fest." Curious, we went to a screening and were greeted with beer chugging competitions, a guy in a fur diaper blowing into a horn, and really fantastic genre films. So after SxSW 2009 closed, we looked immediately into getting money together to catch Fantastic Fest. At Fantastic Fest proper, it was just more of the same. It had great programming, bitchin' parties, and what's truly awesome is that it's a small festival. Not only do you get to know really wonderful people in the festival attendees, but odds are strongly in favor of you getting to have some face time with some of your favorite filmmakers.

How do you explain Fantastic Fest to someone who is not familiar with the film festival? What would you do or say to get them to attend the following fest?

I usually hook people into the idea of Fantastic Fest in one of two ways. One, I'm a notorious name dropper. Somebody, in casual conversation, brings up Lord of the Rings. I'm only too pleased to mention that I was able to kick it several times with Elijah Wood over the course of Fantastic Fest 2010. Somebody mentions that The University of Wyoming has a Willis O'Brien stop-motion armature from his failed Creation film, I'll drop that I had a drink and a twenty minute audience with Greg Nicotero where we talked about stop-motion animation and me being able to show him pictures of the armature. In our culture today, we celebrate the people who make the films we love. When people find out that I've met some of these folks, be it as simple as a handshake from Ryan Reynolds or an hour long conversation about horror films with Adam Green, people get really excited.

Another angle; OnDemand and Instant Watch services from various companies have been a great way to get folks introduced to Fantastic Fest. Many a late night has been spent, surfing the Netflix and stopping on something that's relatively obscure and me telling people to add it to their queue. "Where did you hear about this?" they often ask. It's a loaded question, because that usually gets me on an hour long story telling epic about the kinds of movies and people you can meet at Fantastic Fest. With this, not only do people get interested in the fest, but their Instant Watch qeues are usually some of the best and most well rounded in the city of Laramie.

Every attendee experiences Fantastic Fest differently, so I'm curious as to what a day is like for you at the festival.

My friends and I realized, very early on, that if we were going to get the most out of our festival experiences, we're going to have to split up. One of my friends is a hardcore movies-only kind of guy. I'm there for the whole thing. I want to do parties, I want to sing Karaoke, I want to jaw-jack with the critics, and I want to rub elbows with the stars. But even with as diversified as I like to be, I still feel like I've cheated myself if I don't get 25 to 30 movies in during the week. I also don't get to visit Austin very often, and it's one of my favorite cities in the United States, so if I can't get some of Austin's perpetual party on 6th Street under my belt, I feel a little empty. This, as you can imagine makes for some late nights and early mornings.

Since my crew and I fly into Austin, we usually don't have any ground transportation, save the old heel-to-toe express. The walk between the Drafthouse and the Hotel is about half an hour. Since I was at a party until about 2 AM the night before, and I have to be at the Drafthouse to get tickets around 8 or 9 AM, you can imagine it's a very exhausting week. Fantastic Fest is a very satisfying vacation, but it's not a very restful one, which is why we usually stay a day or two after the festival just to relax and rest.

Overall, what are you looking forward to the most at Fantastic Fest, 2011 edition?

Fantastic Fest is a festival that isn't afraid to show that it remembers where it comes from. The screenings of classic films from years gone by are sometimes the most rewarding screenings I've been to. In 2010, for example, a screening of Re-Animator with Stuart Gordon and Jeffery Combs in attendance was on the docket of things I wanted to do. Although the special edition DVD of Re-Animator has sat on my shelf at home for years, being able to see it on the big screen with an audience of Fantastic Fest film-goers was something I couldn't turn down. This year, I found my stomach get fluttery, kind of like when you see a pretty girl for the first time, when I saw that this year will be hosting a screening of American Werewolf In London. What's more is that make-up wizard Rick Baker will be there, and sharing oxygen with that guy will be a dream come true.

Would you say that you have a particluar genre or filmmaker that you follow at the festival every year?

Everyone has a particular genre of film that, if they see one slated on a festival line-up,
it'll get their salivary glands working double time. For me, I'm a sucker for film noir, murder mysteries, and road trip movies. But another part of this is the adventure of walking into a movie totally blind not knowing what you'll be getting into. For example, at Fantastic Fest '09 a screening of a film I really wanted to see sold-out before I could get tickets. So, I got tickets for the Belgian comedy romp A Town Called Panic. I normally wouldn't have seen this movie, but because I kept an open mind, I was able to catch it, and it has become on of my favorite films I've seen at ANY festival. What's more is I'm fairly certain that I've recommended that film to more people than any other Fantastic Fest entry. So, you can make your plans, but it's important to keep yourself open to seeing something new and outside your paradigm, and you may just find a great film.

What is your favorite food/drink combo at the festival's key venue, the Alamo Drafthouse? Better yet, do you have any favorite area places to get food and/or drink inbetween films?

At the Drafthouse I'm always game for any of their sublime pizzas along with a Guinness Milkshake. Also worth mentioning is the red pepper hummus or the chips and queso for those between-meal screenings where you find yourself peckish and looking for an affordable snack. Also, let's not forget, what other movie theater can you get a plate of hot cookies and a glass of milk during a screening?

As for the down time you can get between screenings, I highly advise a trip down Lamar to the Green Mesquite BBQ. You're in Texas after all, and The Green Mesquite offers some of the best BBQ I've had in a good long while. Enough that I actually get cravings from time to time when I'm nowhere near Austin, which is a tragedy in its own right. Rumor has it that this year will feature an online ticketing system, we seriously would've been lost in previous years, waiting in line on early mornings, without the morning cuisine offered by Casa Garcias which is delicious and affordable. Also, it's no secret but I do have to give major props to the Whataburger franchisee that is just outside of the Homestead Studio Suites Hotel, close to the downtown core. Many a late-night munchie was satisfied by them. Not the best in the world, but convenient and affordable.

What has been your favorite non-film related event of past editions of the fest?

Probably one of the best non-film related things about Fantastic Fest is their undying love of Karaoke. There have been several karaoke events in years past, and I doubt folks are looking to change any time soon. You get up and warble your way through a throaty rendition of Meatloaf in front of friends, fans, and strangers and there's nothing but cheers and slaps on the back for you afterwards. What's more is that these are usually held at the Highball, just down the plaza from The Drafthouse, so if you need a shot of liquid courage before you go up, the bar is right there.

Also, the Closing Night parties are not to be missed. Leave it to the crew at Fantastic Fest to come up with something truly outlandish to send things off on the right foot. FF 10 sported an old west town, a tesla coil, a whole butterflied slow roasted cow, not to mention copious amounts of tequila and beer. I'll be the first to admit that by the end of the festival, I'm usually pretty wiped out and want to go to bed, but whatever you do, stave off those feelings and get your butt to the closing party. You can sleep when you're dead.

Looking to the future, Is there anything you wish the festival would try out for the 2012 edition?

The only complaint I've ever had with Fantastic Fest has been the ticketing systems. And that's only because, in previous years, if you wanted to get a ticket, you had to get into line early in the morning. For me, this was tough, because of all the late night fun and debauchery to be had. However, I've never been able to come up with a better system. We'll have to see how this year's online system works.

My only other hope and suggestion for the future is that Fantastic Fest remains the small and intimate festival that it has been in the years we've attended. There are some festivals that I attended in the past -- not naming names -- that got a little too big for my particular taste, and I'm remiss to drop the money to go back if I'm not going to get that same experience. Otherwise I put my full faith in Tim League, Harry Knowles, and the rest of the Fantastic Fest staff. A truly creative bunch that keeps me coming back time after time, and blowing my mind constantly.

What has been your favorite moment or experience at any previous FF that you have attended?

To winnow Fantastic Fest down to any one moment proves to be difficult. I sit, I ponder, I go outside have a cigarette, talk to my cat, go through pictures, have another cigarette... and I fail to come up with an answer. This isn't because Fantastic Fest isn't amazing. It's that it's too amazing. There are far too many moments from which to chose. Is it seeing Bill Pullman, Elijah Wood, and The RZA dancing back up to a Karaoke version of “It’s Raining Men”? Is it lining up for a 5-person "Human Centipede" pose on the red carpet and getting my picture taken? Is it getting to meet this person or that person? It's really too difficult to decide. But the one thing I do cherish about Fantastic Fest is the friendships I've made there. Sitting in line for hours or having a smoke and talk outside, you meet some really dynamite people. And honestly, above everything else, I look forward to seeing folks at Fantastic Fest that I only see once a year. Because, no matter how good or bad a movie is, no matter how awesome any given moment is, unless you have a friend to share it with, it's only halfway there.

What is the single, greatest movie that you have experienced at any Fantastic Fest?

This is seriously a toss up. “A Town Called Panic” comes to mind almost immediately. I've watched it several times since I saw it at Fantastic Fest, and I've told people to watch it more than any other recent film that comes to mind. It's truly a wonderful film that I think people will have a good time watching. But then there are the films you can recommend, but people may still not be able to see them. At last year’s festival I saw “Julia’s Eyes” and was absolutely taken with the movie. It was tense, suspenseful and really well done. I actually had it as my favorite pick from the festival that year. Unfortunately it's still yet to see distribution in the U.S., and that's damned unfortunate.

And finally, what is your all time favorite movie and why?

Film geeks hate this question. After all, how do you compare Airplane to The Godfather? They're both fantastic films, but they're good on totally different merits. So my stock answer to "What is your favorite movie" goes like this. Let's say that an alien saucer decends from the heavens and lands right outside my apartment. The little green men hop out, kick in my door and hold their lazer blasters at the ready. They demand that I tell them what my favorite movie is or they will kill me and destroy Earth. So, my life and my planet all depend on me picking one and only one movie out of the plethora that I cherish and enjoy. I'd have to say Casablanca. Now, people poo-poo me for having such a stock and safe answer. Casablanca is a well loved classic. But I submit its okay, because it's a well loved classic for a reason. The movie has not only the famous love triangle but it also has suspense, intrigue, espionage, humor, cracker jack writing, wonderful acting, and self sacrifice. I just can't go any other way.

For more Trevor-isms during the festival, point your browser to his Twitter page located HERE.

For more information on Fantastic Fest including programming, ticketing information and updates, point your browser to fantasticfest.com.

[i[Be sure to follow my updates on Fantastic Fest via my Twitter page which can be found HERE.

Jason Whyte – efilmcritic.com


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3296
originally posted: 09/23/11 00:52:56
last updated: 09/23/11 00:54:09
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