RxSM, a “self-medicated film expo,” has flourished over the years, giving independent filmmakers screening opportunities. Anthony Pedone manifested RxSM after his film, The Why, was rejected for the film portion of South by Southwest. He turned his rejection into opportunity, not just for himself but for other filmmakers who experienced the same refusal.
RxSM is not about who you know, or what badges you have, but about what movies you want to see. The venues are free, sometimes the booze is free, and most importantly, the film experience is free. Pedone continues to create a film expo for cinephiles. It’s just that simple.
~ ~ ~
How did RxSM Self-Medicated Film Expo manifest?
Pedone: In 2010, I submitted my film The Why to SXSW. Like many thousands of others, I was rejected, which is totally fine. I really hate being told no. So I happened to round up some sponsors and secured a venue (The Belmont) and got myself a couple hours to screen my film… I went and checked out The Belmont and there were several rooms we could screen in… so I invited 13 films and my friends to come and screen their movies. All them had been rejected too. We had a little party and we went home. A few months later, I had a guy call me and he was like, ‘Hey are you gonna do that thing again next year during SXSW?’ I hadn’t really thought about it. He was like, ‘Yeah man! You should do it, I’ll help you.’ So we did it at the Gibson the second year. After the second year, I was like we gotta do this every year. We’ve just grown ever since.
What inspired you to create RxSM?
Pedone: It’s really simple. I just don’t like being told ‘no.’ And after the first year, it was just really cool to be able to screen other people’s movies, and give them an opportunity to screen. I think ultimately, that’s kind of what it’s become. Because, it’s definitely not about the money. We don’t charge to get in. It’s really just about creating opportunities for other people who love the things that we love and that I love. I take a lot of inspiration from people when they get excited. Whenever they get to screen their movies, you can see that it fills them with joy. It’s just kind of become a cool little community of people. I really love that about it.
How did you come up with the name RxSM?
Pedone: It started out as RxSW. We did the “Rx” with the prescription drug symbol because the first year we did the films, there were several films that were about brain damage or drugs so we were like, ‘Oh, it’s kind of like this self-medicated film screening.’ My friend Jeff is the one that said this is like the self-medicated thing and so ‘SW’ was there and I was like we’ll just turn the ‘W’ upside down and it’s like SM- self-medicated. That’s what it became, and we never expected it to go past the first year. I think now it’s just become this thing where we were self-medicating the situation or something. That we were fixing things for those who didn’t get in. I don’t know, that’s probably a stretch for the imagination. We’ve just rolled with it.
Can you elaborate on the film expo?
Pedone: It’s a chance for filmmakers to screen their films during SXSW if they’re not accepted. I like to think it adds to a dimension of SXSW itself. I mean, we screen 130 movies and we basically double the amount of programming that’s available in Austin in that time period. We do it for free. No wristbands. No red carpets. In our unlicensed venues ,it’s free booze; in our licensed venues, it’s cheap drinks. No cover. No nothing. It’s just an opportunity to watch films for films’ sake, and not for capitalistic purposes.
How do you keep the film expo evolving?
Pedone: I don’t know how much it’s evolved. The programming has obviously gotten a lot better because we’ve started to get a reputation for being a cool niche fest. Just to back up a little bit, I totally respect SXSW, and what they do for independent films is amazing. In the past few years, they’ve opened up to a lot of Texas filmmakers and new filmmakers. I saw in their programming that they talk a lot about giving first-time filmmakers a lot of opportunity. I think it’s fantastic. It’s not really different than what we do. We’re just offering people an opportunity to see movies and offering filmmakers to screen. I think it evolves because people come out and have a good time.
How do you keep the films you’re screening different?
Pedone: We try to keep it as simple as possible. It’s a filmmakers festival. We’re all filmmakers who do this thing. All the people at RxSM are filmmakers or artists, and I think we really try to keep the administration factored to a minimum and adapt what we have to our limited resources. That keeps us on our toes. It makes us come up with new ways to trying or doing things.
Why screen independent films?
Pedone: The other festival has the commercial aspect on lock. We are strictly here for independent films and for people who don’t have studio support and don’t have budgets. We’re not solely here for first-time filmmakers, but we’re definitely here as a resource for them. And want to offer first-time filmmakers a chance. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of first time films, we don’t take. We have to maintain a certain level of quality to progress.
What can we look forward to in the years to come?
Pedone: More of the same. We are gonna continue to find the best independent films that don’t get into SXSW. We’re gonna continue to provide opportunities for filmmakers and continue to grow the film exchange network. RxSM is a part of the Film Exchange Network and seven festival networks that we have in Las Vegas, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Victoria, Corpus Christi, Austin and Berlin. We’re hoping to branch out to other markets like Finland and Norway. We’re hoping to provide many theatrical releases for many of these independent films that we champion and that we program.
What do you hope filmmakers and audiences take away from RxSM?
Pedone: I hope they see these films, go out and buy the DVD or tell friends about them. I hope that they take away a fantastic festival experience. You know, I just want people to walk away and say that’s what watching independent movies is about: just a bunch of people sitting in the dark and drinking free booze and talking about movies.
The fifth annual RxSM Self-Medicated Film Expo happens March 6-13. Yes, that’s during South by Southwest (SXSW). RxSM invites moviegoers to their many film screenings. For free entry, RSVP through Do512. Screenings will be held at the Spider House Ballroom and Chapel, Juju Foto Factory and The New Movement. A list of the week-long schedule can be found on RxSM’s official website. Below is a preview of some independent films being screened at Spider House.