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SxSW 2015 Interview: WESTERN directors Bill & Turner Ross

WESTERN - At SxSW 2015
by Jason Whyte

"We made a non-fiction western. In Eagle Pass, Texas, where the U.S. and Mexico meet along the Rio Grande, a cattleman and the mayor face the dawn of a new reality. In the matter of a few turbulent months, the specter of cartel violence begins to loom from upriver, leading to an indefinite border closure and its rippling consequences on the homefront." Directors Bill & Turner Ross on WESTERN 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?

This is our third time around as filmmakers. This is where we got our start. We will absolutely be in attendance on Friday and Saturday along with some of the subjects!

Your favorite barbecue/food in the city? Beer?

Torchy's Tacos and Shiner.

What do you love the most about showing movies in Austin and Austin in general?

Bringing a Texas film back to the great state!

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?

We made our debut here in 2009 with 45365 and took home the Grand Jury Award. It was a big start after a very humble beginning, bailing on Hollywood and going for broke to make art docs. Subsequently, we came back with TCHOUPITOULAS in 2012, and now WESTERN.

A great SxSW history! So how did your movie come together?

We spent thirteen months living and working on the Texas/Mexico border. It took every day of that filming to capture what we needed. Hundreds of hours came down to this 93 minutes in about a year and a half! We're fortunate on the business end to work with the trio from Court 13; Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, and Michael Gottwald. They help us bring the work we do to a wider audience than ourselves.

What was your biggest challenge, and the most rewarding?

Staying alive and in a relationship. But the look on Bill's face when he realized that 20 of his closest friends and family had made a trek to the middle of nowhere to celebrate his 30th birthday, on a cattle ranch with a giant mariachi band.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

A healthy love for the subject, the craft, and each other...and a whole lot of unhealthy living.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film and how it was photographed.

We made a trilogy with the fabulously gritty workhouse that is the Panasonic DVX 100b, now very much out of date for most tech folks. We wanted a look, and we trusted those things. It's not the camera that makes the movie.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW and in Austin?

Showing it to some of the great Texans who helped us make it!

After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next? Any dream cinemas?

If you have a film festival in your area, chances are we'll see you soon. As for dream theaters, on a big outdoor screen over the Rio Grande, between Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras.

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?
Do not talk about about it.

And finally, what is your favorite movie?

It was a short film titled MY PENIS & MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, and it was the most honest film I have ever seen.

Be sure to follow the Brothers Ross online at and on Twitter at @rossbros!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our now 40+ filmmaker interview series for our site. To see the entire series click on the Live Report series on your right. 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 or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/13/15 16:35:24
last updated: 03/13/15 16:36:27
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