South X is the satirical short SXSW doesn’t want you to see
While we’re still in the midst of SXSW it’s a perfect time to take a look at a new short film that quietly but unmercifully rips some of the worst aspects of the annual institution to shreds, and then stomps gleefully upon them.
JP Olsen is the director of South X, and as both a veteran musician and an independent filmmaker, he knows what it’s like to be the little guy overshadowed by giant media machinery. He’s been the frontman for bands like The Beetkeepers, Awards Banquet, and Malefactors of Great Wealth, and he has directed documentary shorts about Robert Kidney of The Numbers Band, Tav Falco, and others.
He’s also got a sharp sense of humor and a taste for the satirical, so laying into the seamy side of SXSW seems like a natural move for him. With Chris Morrissey as an unseen, sleazy agent identified only as Hoops on the other side of the phone, and Tomek Miernowski as a musician named Chris who appears unfortunately ripe for exploitation, the film follows a conversation between the two that’s hysterically outlandish and yet not that far from the truth, which is exactly what makes the spoof so potent. As the absurdities keep piling on over the course of the agent’s spiel, both the laughs and the pitiful predicament of the musician character and the people he represents become amplified.
“I made South X with my friends after we were talking about the distressing state of music,” explains Olsen. “And how sidemen in particular have to take lame and often cynically conceived gigs in order to survive. The call that ‘Chris’ gets from ‘Hoops’ in this short is played out every year around SXSW. I should add that we sent this film to SXSW Film Festival for consideration and we were rejected. So I guess you can say this is the film that SXSW Film Festival didn’t want you to see.”