Bottle Rocket fans came out in droves for the world premiere of the Wilson brothers’ comedy The Wendell Baker Story at Austin’s South by Southwest film festival. And the Texas boys — big bro Andrew codirects; Owen costars; and baby Luke wrote the script, codirects, and stars as a sly hustler in a seersucker suit — got a hero’s welcome. (Luke, a sweaty coil of nerves during the sold-out screening, looked like he needed the boost. ”Were you this invested when Legally Blonde 2 came out?” teased Owen.) Here, Andrew’s play-by-play account of their whirlwind SXSW premiere weekend.
FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 3:00 A.M.: Even though we’ve been in postproduction for over a year and the movie is showing in 18 hours, of course it’s not ready. So associate editor Pete Mergus and I are at Deluxe in Hollywood making some final adjustments to the colors in the final print. Luke is snug as a bug in a rug in bed. He has decided to let me handle this one.
7:00 A.M.: Pete and I sprint out of Deluxe with the movie in the can. We get on the plane and there’s Luke! I say, ”Hey, thanks for coming.” He glares at me.
2:00 P.M.: We land in Austin, and Luke and I have our first interview. I’m faced for the first time with the existential question from the interviewer: ”I didn’t know you existed.” I say, ”Perhaps you missed my turn as a gay cop in The Big Bounce?”
4:00 P.M.: Luke and I go for a jog around Town Lake. We see Ann Richards, former governor of Texas.
4:55 P.M.: We see the Coen brothers in the hotel. The Big Lebowski is a perfect movie.
7:00 P.M.: Luke and Owen and our friend from Dallas, James White (a former fighter pilot who once ejected from an F-16), and I have a good Mexican dinner.
8:30 P.M.: Luke, Owen, James, and I walk to the theater. My mouth has gone dry on me.
9:10 P.M.: The movie starts. Holy cow.
10:45 P.M.: The movie ends. My mom tells me she loved it. I remember my dad taking me and Owen and Luke to see The Man Who Would Be King, the great John Huston movie, when we were kids in Dallas. I can’t believe we made a movie too.
4:00 A.M.: I call Luke in his room. I ask him if he’s sleeping. He says, ”No, are you?” ”Nope.”
SATURDAY, MARCH 12: We do interviews all day. Thank God Owen is with us. Luke and I are groggy and cranky. He carries us.
SUNDAY, MARCH 13: The review in Variety appears on the Internet. Please allow me to quote liberally from it: ”industrial-strength guffaws. . .laid back and beguilingly loony. . .sleeper potential. . .percolates with good-vibe amusement. . . .” Can I get a big ”Hell, yeah!”??!!
MONDAY, MARCH 14: Anybody know a distributor who needs a movie?