The Balancing Act of Being in Two Places at Once
'I'll Come Running' director Spencer Parsons on his states of mind
I'll Come Running, which premiered on the video-on-demand service Independent Film Channel Festival Direct on Nov. 4, is a romantic dramedy about a one-night stand that starts in Texas and travels all the way to Denmark. Spencer Parsons shot the film in 2006; since then, he's learned firsthand what it's like to live long-distance. When a one-year visiting professorship gig at Northwestern University turned into a tenure-track position, Parsons – a longtime fixture of the Austin film scene (as a filmmaker, teacher, microcinema enthusiast, and occasional Chronicle contributor) – found himself turning in his Texas citizenship papers.
Well, sort of. He continues to juggle a number of collaborations with Austin filmmakers – "I live on Skype quite a bit these days," Parsons says via phone from his office at Northwestern – and he also shot a short in Austin last summer.
"In a weird way I feel like, living in Chicago, I can now afford to be an Austin filmmaker," he says. "I was never able to make quite enough money in Austin to fully support myself without going farther down the hole."
And now his work is suddenly accessible to a wide audience via the IFC deal. It's an odd time to be an independent filmmaker in America, with video on demand and the Internet making one's work more available to the masses. Meanwhile, the possibility of a traditional theatrical run has mostly dried up.
"Frankly, I don't want to say this, because I think it's too bad for independent voices, but maybe the theatrical experience is going to be a Hollywood-on-one-end and microcinema-on-the-other-end only kind of experience. I don't think it's that bad [yet]. ... But the economic possibilities, the economic streams for different kinds of movies in the world – you have to ask what's sustainable and what can be supported."
Parsons sees the brightest future for independent films in grassroots traveling shows, like the Range Life Entertainment tour, which stopped in Austin last week. "I feel like the tour model is maybe the way that independent filmmakers can pivot in a punk-rock way into, you know, going out to the audience a little bit more."
Parsons is currently planning a winter tour of I'll Come Running, including a stop in Austin. And, of course, there are all the other balls in the air. "I'm still backlogged with projects that I think of really seriously as Austin-based," says Parsons. "So whether people like it or not, I'll probably be back."
I'll Come Running is available on IFC Festival Direct through Feb. 2, 2010. For more info, see www.ifcfilms.com/ifc-festival-direct.