Previously in this series:
In this series, we’ll be getting to know some of the Austinites who produce our favorite local events. This week, we’re honored to be talking to the founders of Hyperreal Film Club.
Lite + Brite: Can you give a brief intro to what Hyperreal Film Club is?
Hyperreal Film Club: Hyperreal Film Club is a film nonprofit in Austin, Texas. The three of us (David McMichael, Jenni Kaye, and Tanner Hadfield) have been at it from the beginning, and this past summer, our friend Nico Trevino joined the team.
We’ve got weekly film screenings (either in person or online, depending on the State Of The World) where we feature bonkers movies and local short films; a community-driven film review website with over 40 regular contributors; and we just started our own streaming channel called Hyperreal TV. We love producing events, building themed photo booths, connecting creative folks to other creative folks, and generally feeding the engines of good weird fun.
L+B: For how long have you been producing events in Austin?
HRFC: Our first event was July 14, 2017, and we’ve produced more than 150 events since then.
L+B: I love the name “Hyperreal Film Club.” How did you come up with it?
HRFC: It’s sort of from this text called Simulacra and Simulation by French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. We were trying to be all heady when we started this project, but now we just want to create our own universe. So the term’s morphed into, like, filling your reality with so many really bombastic and specific things until it becomes exactly what you want it to be.
L+B: What’s the most memorable or unexpected thing that’s ever happened at an event you produced?
HRFC: One of our favorite moments during the past year was a screening of this absolutely “bizzonkers” (if you know you know) piece of alt-cinema called Wizard People, Dear Reader, which is a, well, truly uncategorizable, mind-blowing piece of work. I know people like us say stuff like that all the time, but we’re reserving our one yearly use for this. It’s true. We had probably 150 people show up to watch this DIY retelling of the first Harry Potter movie and we had a live score by our friend Thomas Echols and it was one of those nights that breaks the fourth wall into eternity. Forever is now, and it is good.
L+B: Tell us about an event you’ve produced that you were particularly proud of.
HRFC: Jenni and her partner Joey Postiglione came up with the idea for an immersive film event series called Lifted Traces that now lives under Hyperreal. It’s won some “Best Of” awards from the Austin Chronicle. They would pick a film, and then transform massive buildings into the world of that film. Joey would lead a group of musicians in a live synthesized re-score of the movie, complete with a live light show from Gavin Cantrell and his team. We’d have themed food, drinks, installations—an entire experience. The first one we did was for the film Akira. It was incredible to see these artists donate their time and use so many donated and foraged resources to transform this space into neo-Tokyo. 600+ people give a standing ovation for this temporary and unique experience.
Since then we did Fantastic Planet and Deep Red. We’d love to take these events to the next level with sponsors so it can be a sustainable endeavor for all the artists involved.
L+B: When we went to your drive-in screening of The Fast and the Furious at the Museum of Human Achievement, we loved how you had kids from the Thinkery build a movie-themed obstacle course and someone else give an academic lecture on the significance of the film series. What are other sorts of things do you do to make your film events special (and not just, like, people sitting and watching a movie)?
HRFC: We love a theme! At the drive-in, our friend Reed Faitak (chef at Austin Daily Press) created completely original themed menus for every movie, featuring classics like Dwayne “The Brocc” Johnson (crispy pork belly sandwich with grilled broccolini, black beans, queso fresco, and pickled onions) and Vin Diese’s Pieces (the best snack mix you ever had). Jenni has headed up truly incredible themed photo booths at a bunch of our events, like the glory hole stall at Ask Any Buddy and the Jellicle Ball Heaviside Layer at our screening of Cats.
On top of that, we’ve been leaning pretty heavily into films that are fun to watch with a crowd. For instance, at the end of one of the Fast and Furious movies, when Brian & Co. zoom up and surround the prison van where Dom’s being held so they can break him out, the whole crowd was jumping up and down and cheering. Getting to build moments like that where a group of friends and strangers is fully invested in a batshit spectacle is super special.
L+B: What are some of your favorite Austin events to attend that you don’t produce, and/or who are some local event producers whom you admire? Or favorite venues to work with?
HRFC: Too many to count. Literally everything produced by Co-Lab Projects, Unbounded Agency, the Museum of Human Achievement, Cheer Up Charlies, and a ton more. We love working with Laird Jimenez at the Drafthouse, Gabe Chicoine at AFS, Shannon Wiedemeyer from Howdy Gals, and our friends at Galaxy and Violet Crown. Veronica Ortuno of Las Cruxes and Faiza Kracheni at Austin School of Film have always been big inspirations to us.
From October through the Big Shutdown, we had a weekly movie night at Ana Lark (and plan to again once it’s safe). Greg, who runs the space, is just an absolutely brilliant person to work with, and the space has been a DREAM. And really the reason we were able to start that weekly series was the offer of a free space by the folks who run Flat Track, so we’ll always be super grateful to them for that. (Also, there’s always someone who gets you connected to those windfalls—Spencer Mirabal and Travis Kent, lookin at you xo.)
[Editor’s note: When the shutdown happened, we were just about to start doing our party No Lights No Lycra at the Ana Lark Center, so we can confirm its dreaminess.]
And these folks aren’t an event or a producer, but we’d be really neglecting an arm and a leg if we didn’t shout out 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative here. Above all, they’ve got amazing beer (and you should go buy a whole bunch of it right now); beyond that, they’ve partnered with us a million times and I can honestly say I don’t know if we could have afforded to produce the events we’ve produced without their incredible generosity. Long live 4th Tap!
L+B: How can people support you during this time when we can’t go to events?
HRFC: We’ve got a virtual family movie night every Wednesday that’s been super fun—check out our Instagram to find out more about that! We also love getting to publish folks’ original film writing, so if that’s something that folks are into, they can email us for more info at email@example.com. We’re also working on building out our Hyperreal TV channel so that we can really give some love to the amazing filmmakers we’re featuring there. Any support around sharing out what we’re doing is always super appreciated!
L+B: While we’re all stuck at home, are there any streaming events that you’d recommend?
HRFC: A couple of our favorites are Spectacle Theater’s livestream and Patrick Stewart reading a sonnet each day on Instagram. Y’all let us know if there’s anything else we should be watching.