Two Films Premiere at SXSW 2016!

What do the films Silicon Cowboys (2016) and The Smart Studios Story (2016) have in common? Quite a lot, actually! For one, both are documentaries about start-ups in the early 1980s that had significant impacts in their respective industries before faltering in the 2000s. Secondly, the filmmakers are connected to UW-Madison and the Department of Communication Arts. Lastly, and most importantly, both films are premiering at SXSW 2016, the music, film, and interactive festival in Austin, Texas, which kicks off today!

Silicon Cowboys documents the rise and demise of the Compaq Computer Corporation. The film is co-produced by Oscar-winning Badger alum Glen Zipper and is directed by Jason Cohen, who graduated from UW-Madison in 1994 with degrees in Journalism and Communication Arts. Lately, Cohen has been catching his stride as a documentarian—two years ago his film Facing Fear received an Oscar nomination for Documentary (Short Subject), and now Silicon Cowboys is premiering at SXSW. The first screening is today, March 11th at 5:15pm, with additional screenings on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. 

The Smart Studios Story, on the other hand, examines the history and influence of Smart Studios, the now-closed recording studio in Madison, Wisconsin that had a huge influence on 1990s alternative rock. The film is directed by Wendy Schneider, a local filmmaker in Madison who attended the UW, who is the creative force behind the project. The film is executive produced by none other than Butch Vig and Steve Marker, who co-founded Smart Studios and received Communication Arts degrees in the 1980s, and are also known for their band Garbage. However, the list of Badgers doesn’t stop there. Communication Arts editing instructor Kaitlin Fyfe served as Finishing Supervisor, and the following Comm Arts alumni worked on the film as well: Ally Carlson (BA, ’12), Brad Giroux (BA, ‘14), Bianca Martin (BA, ’14), Aaron Martinenko (BS, ‘12), James Runde (BA, ’15), and Jamie Wagner (MA, ’12). The Smart Studios Story premieres Wednesday, March 16th at 5:30pm, with a second screening the following Friday. 

The Department congratulates the filmmakers on their prestigious film premieres and is happy to see Communication Arts so well-represented at SXSW!

And if you are attending SXSW this year, don’t miss these great films!