It's an oddly personal run to South By Southwest for me this year. There's a documentary playing which uses me as a talking head interview, and there's also a film playing that was made largely by people I've known for many years now.  It's that second film that I'm most excited about, if only because I believe in Emily Hagins as a filmmaker, and I have a feeling she's been building to "Grow Up, Tony Phillips" for a while now.

When I met Emily, she was a little girl.  She attended Alamo Drafthouse events with her mother, Megan, and she was a voracious film fan even at a very early age.  It was apparent early on that she had dreams of being a filmmaker, but unlike many kids, she actually did something about it. She directed her first film, "Pathogen," when she was only 14, and that process was documented in the film "Zombie Girl." That movie has a certain degree of charm, but it's very rough. It really wasn't until her last film, "My Sucky Teen Romance," that I think her voice really started to come into focus, and this new film marks a big jump for her in terms of the type of cast she's directing and maturity.

This is the first time she's directing people you might actually recognize, like A.J. Bowen ("House Of The Devil," "You're Next," "A Horrible Way To Die"), as well as actors from her earlier work like Tony Vespe.  Wait… who?  Well, if you read my work at Ain't It Cool, you're probably familiar with Eric Vespe, aka Quint, and Tony is his younger brother.  Tony is one of those naturally funny people who is just as comfortable onscreen as off, and I think he could turn out to have a fairly serious career as a performer.  Seeing him in this movie, seeing how far Emily's come as a director, supporting the efforts of some of the best and the brightest people I know in Austin who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to help Emily make this happen… this is one of the main things I'm excited about at the fest this year.

When producer Peter Hall offered me a chance to debut the trailer, I was thrilled. It's my first look at what they're up to, and I am both pleased and proud to be able to offer you your exclusive first look at "Grow Up, Tony Phillips," embedded above.

Here's the official synopsis for the film:

Who doesn't love Halloween? All of Tony Phillips' (Tony Vespe) high school friends, apparently. It's senior year and they've now decided that they're too cool for Halloween. When his older cousin (AJ Bowen) returns home right before the holiday, Tony starts to wonder if he really is the dork everyone thinks he is, or if he's just ahead of the curve.

And for those who plan to be at the festival, here are the screening times:

Tuesday, 3/12 @ 7:15 PM - Vimeo Theater - World Premiere
Wednesday, 3/13 @ 11:30 AM - Alamo Village
Thursday, 3/14 @ 6:45 PM - Rollins Theater at the Long Center

You'll see me at the Tuesday premiere, and I can't wait to see what this talented group of folks has come up with this time.

Keep checking back here for the next ten days for all sorts of SXSW reviews and features.