SxSW 2015 Interview: SIR DOUG & THE GENUINE TEXAS COSMIC GROOVE director Joe Nick Patoski
By Jason Whyte
Posted 03/12/15 01:10:12
"Sir Doug & The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove tells the story of Doug Sahm, the wild man musicians' musician and unsung hero of Texas music. A country music child prodigy and teenage rhythm & blues dynamo who caused a riot at his San Antonio high school, Sahm emerged as an international rock star leading the Sir Douglas Quintet. He landed in San Francisco just in time for the Summer of Love in 1967. He returned to Texas as the cowboy hippie rocker who built a burgeoning music scene in Austin before forming the Tex-Mex super group The Texas Tornados. A kinetic, quirky character with a solid sense of place as well as an innate wanderlust, Doug Sahm's story is the story of Texas music." Director Joe Nick Patoski on SIR DOUG & THE GENUINE TEXAS COSMIC GROOVE which screens at the 2015 South By Southwest Film Festival.
Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience and are you going to attend your screenings?
I have been to every SXSW since the beginning so I will definitely be there for all my shows!
Your favorite barbecue/food in the city?
Barbecue is enjoying a renaissance in Austin, which is now the epicentre of Texas barbecue. Roadtrips to Lockhart, Luling, Taylor, or Llano are no longer necessary. Aaron Franklin's brisket is off the charts, justifying those crazy lines, which I won't endure during SXSW. John Mueller, for whom Aaron once worked, is my go-to pitmaster during SXSW and unlike most of the competition, makes his own sausage. Stiles Switch, up north on Lamar, is on Mueller's level on a good day. Shane Stiles succeeded John Mueller at Louie Mueller's in Taylor when John left to open his first joint in Austin. House Park, LA BBQ, even the Iron Works by the convention center are all pretty great; each would be considered outstanding anywhere else.
Chile rellenos with extra pecans and raisins at El Rancho is my Tex-Mex comfort food.
And your favorite beer in Austin?
My beer remains Shiner Bock, but I've been getting into Live Oak's brews and Black Star Co-op's creations.
What do you love the most about showing movies in Austin and Austin in general?
Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?
I have been based in and writing about Texas and Texans from the Austin area for more than forty years. My focus has been musical, writing biographies on Stevie Ray Vaughan, Selena, Willie Nelson and the Dallas Cowboys football team, and it's been cultural, writing books on the Texas Mountains, the Texas Coast, Big Bend National Park, and poster artists. I have curated an exhibit about Texas high school football for the Bullock Texas History Museum.
How did your movie come together as a director?
I knew the story. The challenge was finding archival film, video, audio, and photographs and using those elements, as well as talking heads, to effectively tell a very complex story. The one story I've wanted to tell but hadn't told until now is Doug Sahm, the most authentic, talented single musician Texas has ever raised. Since he's been dead fifteen years and remains largely unknown to the general public, I figured the only way to tell his story in a compelling way was for the audience to be able to hear and see him, and hear his music...which a book couldn't do. To tell it cinematically, I surrounded myself with the smart people of Arts + Labor which has become one of the most effective documentary film production houses in the United States.
What was your process in getting the film together? Talk about your producing partners and key collaborators.
My producer, Dawn Johnson, and editor Cody Ground were on the film from the start, with Cody assisted by Patrick Higgins. We begun assembling a five sizzler reel built around interviews with the film's four principal characters. That led to a flurry of fundraising, then moved forward with 50 additional talking head interviews in Texas, San Francisco, New York and New Orleans, while the quest for archival materials was ongoing.
Once we collected what we could collect, David Fabelo came in for finishing edits while Jason Wehling stepped in to oversee the technical aspects, applying fairy dust in all the right places.
What was your #1 challenge with this movie, and how did you over-come it?
Finding historic footage was our biggest challenge. We didn't find everything, but we did find enough to help us tell the story we wanted to tell.
If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be? The moment where you thought "I had something"?
The reaction to the first rough cut screening, when this film was very rough, affirmed we were onto something.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?
Weed. I'm a DougHead.
For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and all that tech gearhead stuff.
A considerable amount of trust was given to Arts + Labor. I had appeared as a talking head in several of their previous films and recognized their attention to detail in their films. I had no business micromanaging. Everyone knew their role. My job was to indoctrinate them in all things Doug. Every one of our crew got different ear-worms at different times; they became groovers of the first degree, which at the end of the day is what Austin is all about.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW and in Austin?
I am definitely looking forward to watching the audience. My subject is not well known in most respects, but does have a global cult following, with Austin and San Antonio its epicentres. There's a mighty big crowd hungry to see this at SXSW. The bigger challenge is engaging the "great unwashed" and making Doug's story compelling to them.
After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next?
Next screening will be in San Antonio at the San Antonio Book Festival and we will be part of the Big Sky Film Festival's summer series in Missouri in July. We expect to screen at festivals internationally, as well as do some commercial screenings in Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, and elsewhere in the region where there's demand.
Alamo Drafthouse and Paramount theaters in Austin aside, if you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?
At the film festival in Thessoloniki International Film Festival. I am half Greek and would love for my kinfolk to see it.
What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being generally disruptive during a screening of your film?
Could you please take your conversation outside? There's a movie people are trying to watch here. Then I wouldn't be so courteous.
There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?
Dream big, aim high, and don't let go.
We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our 35+ filmmaker interview series. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!
This is one of the many films screening at the 2015 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 13-21. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte