SXSW Film Conference Quickies

A Conversation With Todd Phillips

SXSW Film Conference Quickies
Photo by Jana Birchum

A Conversation With Todd Phillips

Saturday, March 12, 3:30pm, ACC Room 18ABCD

Herewith: a few revelations from Saturday's conversation between Elvis Mitchell, the host of KCRW FM's The Treatment and a former film critic for The New York Times, and Todd Phillips, the übersuccessful 40-year-old director whose oeuvre – from Frat House, Road Trip, and Old School to Due Date, The Hangover, and its upcoming sequel, The Hangover: Part II – explores the apparently limitless ways that young men with arrested social development behave badly.

• Phillips' infamous HBO documentary, Frat House (winner of the Sundance 1998 Grand Jury Prize), which was supposed to have been about the horrors of hazing ("Actually, it celebrates hazing," Phillips said. "They misunderstood it at Sundance."), was never released because of threatened legal action. "They actually had a case because we asked the kids to sign the consents at night when they were drunk or stoned. When we'd ask them during the day, they'd always want to fax them to their attorney dads."

• People always assume that in real life, Phillips is like the raunchy guys in his movies. In fact, he grew up in an all-female family and didn't experience the gross stuff until later. Hence he's always been fascinated by guys' awkwardness with one another and their need to belong to a group.

• People always ask why he doesn't make a female take on Old School or The Hangover: "To that I always say: 'Why don't you ask Tyler Perry why he doesn't work with white people?'"

• Film school's not worth it. Just go to college and take a lot of literature classes.

• And for the record, Phillips is still not over what Mitchell wrote about Old School back in his New York Times days where, in a newspaper his mother reads every day – he called her son's film "sloppy" and "dumb" and "so derivative of Animal House" that it was "like a half-empty glass of Coke that's been sitting out for a couple of days; sure, it looks like cola, but one sip tells you exactly what's missing." That still smarts, said Phillips, despite Mitchell's reminder that he praised Phillips' Starsky & Hutch: "Elvis and I get along a lot better now that he's not writing reviews." – Anne S. Lewis

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

SXSW Film Releases Full Feature Lineup
SXSW Film Releases Full Feature Lineup
Slate includes everyone from Wes Anderson to the Zellners

Monica Riese, Jan. 30, 2014

Mindy Kaling Comes to SXSW
Mindy Kaling Comes to SXSW
The comedian and showrunner will speak March 9

Monica Riese, Jan. 21, 2014

More Screens Reviews
SXSW Film Reviews: 'Lunarcy!'
Daily Reviews and Interviews

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Reviews: 'The Punk Syndrome'
Daily Reviews and Interviews

Patrick Courtney, March 15, 2013

More by Anne S. Lewis
Eugene Mirman Gets Intimate in <i>It Started as a Joke</i>
Eugene Mirman Gets Intimate in It Started as a Joke
Documenting the 10-year run of an underground comedy revolution

March 8, 2019

With a History Like That …
With a History Like That …
The Austin Polish Film Festival delves into the country’s complicated past

Nov. 3, 2017


SXSW Film, Todd Phillips, Frat House, Elvis Mitchell, The Hangover, Starsky & Hutch

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle