Berg’s film, “Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW,” premiered on Tuesday, marking the 25th anniversary of the influential festival.
Berg, who now runs a production company in Austin, tells Slackerwood that he began the film while working for KVUE and later WFAA:
I was a reporter with KVUE television in the late 80s, so I was working here in Austin when they had the first SXSW Music Festival. I was curious about the festival but couldn’t cover it because I was a political reporter. Finally in 1994 when I was at the affiliate in Dallas, I talked my boss into letting me branch off from politics for a weekend and come down and do something on SXSW. I did a half-hour segment, won a regional Emmy with it and caught co-founder Roland Swenson’s attention. He called and asked if I was interested in coordinating the taping at their tenth anniversary in 1996. We came down and did the taping but the footage just sort of sat around. I always thought it was interesting but didn’t really do anything with it.
So Roland calls in August and asks, “Do you want do something for our 25th?” I said sure, with the caveat that it was an independent production, and that we wouldn’t take any money from them. We would have editorial independence because that was the only way that it was really going to do anybody any good, so we just sort of jumped in. There were eight of us that worked day and night for seven months to get the film done.