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Meet a Fantastic Fest DIE HARD: George Hickman

George Hickman - A Fantastic Die Hard!
by Jason Whyte

Moving along on our Fantastic Fest DIE HARD series, talks to Austin native, writer and VIP badge holder George Hickman.

“I was born in Provo, UT but have lived in Texas since I was about nine months old. I've been an Austin resident specifically since 2002. I work as a tech at a local Data Center and do a lot of networking and support. Basically I help keep the internet running.”

What makes you a Fantastic Fest DIE HARD?

I had been enviously eying the schedules of the first two Fantastic Fests, but didn't make the leap until my friend Sami dragged me along in 2007. I'm pretty sure my first screening was the awesome Chilean martial arts film Mirageman. I was hooked! She even got me into the closing night secret screening, which wound up being the world premiere of There Will Be Blood with Paul Thomas Anderson in attendance. I doubt the magic of that evening will ever be topped, but I was already sold on Fantastic Fest before it. I wound up seeing about 15 films that year, participated in the first Fantatsic Feud as a contestant, and even sang the very first Karaoke song that night ("Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees for the record). I didn't think twice about buying a film badge for 2008, and this will be my third year in a row with a VIP badge.

I starting formally blogging the fest in 2009, but even if I wasn't, I still wouldn't miss it.

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 basically describe it as a movie geek fantasy camp. It's eight days of bliss for anyone who ever stayed up all night with Ronda Shears, who feel nostalgia for the Cannon logo, or shunned the new release racks of their local video store in favor of the older titles with the craziest, most awesome cover art. One of my favorite things to do is to encourage them to watch some of my favorite films from the previous fests. Thankfully 90 of those films are readily" TARGET="_BLANK">available to stream .

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

I am first and foremost there for the films, and I try to cram in as many as humanly possible. When I watch a great movie, my first instinct is to IMMEDIATELY watch another one, so Fantastic Fest is a great time to indulge that urge. With that being said, I do try to fit in an event or two to give myself a chance to relax a bit.

And if I'm not watching a movie, you can usually find me on the patio either trying to write or just hanging out. One of my favorite aspects of Fantastic Fest though is starting random conversations with people while in line. I can't count the number of friends I first met at Fantastic Fest.

The thing I have to keep reminding myself of is to be more open and improvise a little more. One of my favorite years was 2008 thanks in part to the fact that getting shut out of a few of my first choices led to me stumbling across films I wouldn't have given a chance to otherwise.

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

I'm most looking forward to seeing everyone, and being able to forget about real life for a little while. But aside from that Extraterrestrial, "Livid" and "American Werewolf in London" with Rick Baker are my top three most anticipated screenings. The first two films are follow-ups to two of the best films of 2007 ("Timecrimes" and "Inside", respectively), and the later is of my all time favorite movies that I have never seen on the big screen. Of course the fact that there will be at least one guest and of course a sure to be amazing Mondo poster is great, but I would have been there anyway.

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

My favorite genre that isn't really a genre are films that are funny but aren't "comedies." Fantastic Fest absolutely excels at these. Oddball films that defy classification such as "Rubber," "Rare Exports," "South of Heaven," and "The Revenant" are ones I'm always on the lookout for.

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?

Unfortunately the prices of food are getting out of control, so I may actually have to brown bag and hit up some local restaurants. Past favorite dishes that were an absolute staple were the Breakfast Burrito and the Puerco Guisada. I'm almost glad they completely ruined their cookies and cream milkshake, as it is no longer an overwhelming temptation. Also, the new salted caramel shake almost makes up for it.

As far as local restaurants within a 5 mile radius go, Torchy's for tacos, P. Terry's for burgers -- and a root beer shake! -- Madam M'ams for Thai food are all good to great. If you want buffets, Canoli Joe's has an Italian buffet that is at least Olive Garden quality or above, the Green Mesquite does a barbecue buffet on Monday and Tuesday evenings I believe, and you HAVE to eat at the Brazilian steak house Estancia Churasscaria at least once.

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

For sentimental reasons, the first Fantastic Feud and Karaoke after party reigns supreme. Zack Carlson recruited a couple of friends and me to help fill out the feud teams since we were always answering his trivia questions at Terror Thursday. It was a little terrifying, but a lot of fun.

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

I would love for all six screens at [the festival’s main venue] South Lamar Drafthouse to be incorporated fully into Fantastic Fest, especially if it means the majority of the films could screen three times. At the very least, it'd be nice to see them add additional screenings for films with the strongest buzz after their first screening. I'd also like to see all films screen at least once within the first 4 days. This is something it looks like they've been able to do this year.

I'm also anxious to see how the opening of the new Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane will affect Fantastic Fest. I wouldn't be surprised if all or part of the fest was moved there next year. Who knows? This could be the last year at South Lamar.

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

Paul Thomas Anderson and "There Will Be Blood" would be number one. A close second would be "Streets of Fire" with Michael Paré and Deborah Van Valkenburgh.

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

"Let the Right One In" is probably my favorite overall, but there are so many great ones to chose from so it's a very tough choice.

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

"Being John Malkovich." It was the first film that really felt like it was made specifically for me to tailor to my sense of humor and anxieties. It's still a very magical film for me.

Be sure to check out Mr. Hickman’s Fantastic Fest coverage at You can also follow George’s Twitter updates HERE.

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

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

Jason Whyte –

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 09/29/11 00:07:50
last updated: 09/29/11 00:08:28
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