Filmakers in Focus - A Night in Old Mexico, Patrick's Day, Thank You a Lot

Written by Jim Kolmar | February 28, 2014
(L-R) Emilio Aragón & A Night in Old Mexico; Terry McMahon & Patrick's Day; Matt Muir and Thank You a Lot

The three films in today's Filmmakers in Focus form part of our Narrative Spotlights section celebrating high profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or US Premieres at SXSW.

Emilio Aragón's A Night in Old Mexico is an emotional drama anchored by a virtuoso performance from veteran Robert Duvall. Maverick Irish filmmaker and firebrand Terry McMahon returns to SXSW with his heartfelt, subtly provocative Patrick's Day, and the trifecta is rounded out by Matt Muir's Thank You a Lot, an Austin tale rooted in the unique humor and melancholy of hustling a life in the music industry. You can read all the Filmmakers in Focus to date on this page, and check out the films for yourself - register for your badge now

Emilio Aragón on A Night in Old Mexico

Tell us a little about your film.

A Night in Old Mexico tells the story of a grandfather who has lost everything. He rejects to live in a trailer park and hightails to Mexico with his grandson - which he has just met for the first time - for a wild night. It is a journey through their respective dreams. It is an experience full of emotions, fears, frustrations, disappointments, joys and envies which develop their relationship combining action, tragedy and romance. A road-trip, a story about the virtue of surviving and the right of each individual to choose their own ending.

Why did you start making films?

It has been the consequence of a logical evolution in my career. I started working very young as an actor and producer in the entertainment industry and in 2008 my career took a turn. After many years working in TV in series, I produced and composed the musical score of a the film “Carlitos and the Chance of a Lifetime”. After that wonderful experience, I co-wrote "Paper Birds", which I directed and also composed the OST. The film was awarded at the Montreal World Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival and Tokyo Latin Beat.

Have you been to SXSW before? Yes - any tips? No - What are you most looking forward to?
It is my first time at SXSW and for me it is such an honor that the film premiers here. It is a great opportunity for the film. It is the first time it will be exposed to the audience and I can’t wait to hear their thoughts and opinions.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

I love storytelling. Can’t help creating images on what I read and think. I'm a passionate musician, I love music. I hold a degree in piano from the Superior Conservatory of Music in Madrid and I completed my training in composition and orchestral conducting with John Heiss and Richard Hoenich in Boston. I believe in the power of team work. I have been blessed with wonderful and talented professionals that have helped me successfully complete and bring to life the ideas I had with my last projects. And last, but not least, I love cooking!

Terry McMahon on Patrick's Day

Tell us a little about your film.

A young man with mental health issues becomes intimate with a suicidal air hostess but his obsessive mother enlists a dysfunctional cop to separate them.

Why did you start making films?

Obsession.

Have you been to SXSW before? Any tips?

Yes, with Charlie Casanova. Tips? Take a deep breath and get ready to rumble because no other festival in the world compares.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

The corrupt Irish banking system is trying to take my home so while we are in Texas engaging in the exquisite pleasures of movies they are in Ireland engaging in the car-crash pain of repossession.

Matt Muir on Thank You a Lot

Tell us a little about your film.

Thank You a Lot is the story of this bottom-rung music manager who’ll lose his job unless he signs his estranged musician father to a management deal. A guy named James Hand plays the father. James is a real-life songwriter and honky-tonk singer from the old guard, but this is his first time acting. I saw him play in a bar called Ginny’s here in Austin a few years ago, and was floored by how talented and charismatic he was. I was just starting on a feature script at the time for my good friend Blake DeLong, who is an actor in New York, and when I saw James, the idea of creating a role for him became really interesting to me. So I wrote the script not really knowing if he would be interested or if he knew how to act. Ultimately, he agreed to do it, and he ended up being the sweetest and most patient guy, and a really terrific actor.

Why did you start making films?

I think a lot of filmmakers start because they want to recreate that first unique film-viewing experience in their lives when wonder, spectacle, and story all made this weird little thing happen in their stomach. I should probably say that moment was the first time I watched Amarcord or 2001…but it was actually when Marty McFly grabbed the back of that Jeep. So pretty early on, my mom knew she wasn’t raising an accountant or a doctor, unfortunately.

Have you been to SXSW before? Any tips?

Yeah, I had a short in the festival previously, and I live in Austin, so I’ve had some experience with SXSW. My tips would be about food. There are so many great things happening at the festival, that you’re going to need to eat fast and on the run. Get the breakfast tacos and bbq out of the way on the first day and then seek out the more unconventional options. You can get incredible Vietnamese, Peruvian and Thai from a truck. Some of my favorites are Saigon Le Vendeur, Shhmaltz and of course, East Side King. Don’t be afraid…take a chance on a truck; chances are it’ll be fresh and amazing.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

My first name is really Matheson. I was named after a film composer and conductor named Muir Mathieson, who worked on films like Vertigo and Becket (I don’t know what happened to the i.) I think that fact probably had a little influence on the early film-life-journey equation somehow, too. I was recently kind of bummed to find found out that Matheson is a Scottish family name that means “Sons of Kings,” because it’s kind of a lame thing to tell people when you’re an adult, but I really could have used that knowledge in grade school.

Top Row, L-R: Emilio Aragón, Terry McMahon, Matt Muir
Bottom Row, L-R: A Night in Old Mexico, Patrick's Day, Thank You a Lot. All images courtesy the filmmakers