The Way We Get By filmmakers Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly have been at SXSW this week to premiere their film, which will air on POV in November 2009. Gita writes in to tell us more about the adventures of two filmmakers in Austin, Texas.

Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly at SXSWGetting prepared for SXSW was intense for us — we wanted to contact local media and film critics, get our posters, post cards and fliers out there, plus plan an after-party following our first screening! How could we fit it all in? We started by cutting sleep out of our schedule. That seemed to free up some time, but tended to leave Aron a little cranky. Still, the more preparation, the better. This is our first feature-length film, so we’re new to the festival circuit and had no idea what to expect.

When we arrived at the Austin Convention Center to register, we were overwhelmed by how large SXSW really is. There were at least 200 people in line ahead of us. We figured we were in for a long wait. We stood there for about five minutes before someone came by shouting “Filmmakers? Filmmakers?” Filmmakers? Was that us? When we raised our hands, she pulled us out of line and told us to go straight up to register. Wow, we were getting star treatment… or so it felt. By this point, we had been up for nearly 36 hours straight and were on zero bars of energy.

Watch a trailer of The Way We Get By:

After registering, we scrambled to put our posters and fliers up and visited the Austin Convention Center venue where our first screening would take place. They were building the theatre when we walked in. It would hold roughly 450 people, and the screen was HUGE… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a screen so large. As Aron and I walked down the red carpet towards the screen, we turned around, took a deep breath, and sighed. We only know about five people in Austin, so it would not be an audience filled with friends. We would need to rely on our film to bring in the crowd. We hoped we could fill the theater on a Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m.

Our stomachs were in knots leading up to Sunday — actually, Aron has just stepped in to say his stomach was just fine. So, really, my stomach was in knots leading up to Sunday. We went out, talked to our friends in town and attended the filmmaker parties. But Sunday was still on my mind. We got to the venue at 9:45 a.m., and Aron did a technical check while I began saying a few Hail Mary’s. We were hoping our world premiere at SXSW would be a great launch pad for The Way We Get By to make it easier to market and distribute the film.

At around 10:15 a.m., people began lining up for ticket sales outside of the venue. I asked them what they were here to see and they said, “The Way We Get By.” They showed up an hour and 15 minutes early to see our movie?!! By 11:15, we had well over 350 people filling up the seats. Watching the audience watch our film is something I’m not sure I will ever get tired of — you could hear laughs and sniffles throughout the film.

There was a lot of emotion in that first screening. It definitely felt like the culmination of so much hard work. I knew there is a lot more hard work to come, but I still tried to take in the moment. Following the film, we had an amazing Q&A and our “special surprise guest” was a hit.

Watch us talk about the film getting on POV in the post-screening Q&A:

We’ve met a ton of filmmakers here and it’s great being a part of this amazing and talented community. And to top off our SXSW experience, on Tuesday night, our film won the Special Jury Award!! We couldn’t have asked for a better place to have our world premiere and a better time to kick off our festival run. I think we’ve earned a nap!

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POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.