In early 2018, Dark Spark Rays band member James Lino had an idea; he wanted to make a documentary film that would highlight Houston’s indie rock scene. After approaching filmmaker Gavin Wegener to discuss how to bring the project to life, they began filming Outside of Austin in Summer 2018.
Once production began, the film’s narrative evolved from providing exposure for the indie rock scene to serving as an inside look at the inner workings of Houston’s music business.
“I really have hopes that it, in a way, can be a lesson to new coming artists [on] how to promote their work as best they can to make it a scene that is successful,” says director Wegener in a recent phone interview.
Off the top of his head, he estimates 35 acts are involved in the project at the moment. Artists such as Lyta, Wheel Workers, and Velveteen Echo appear in the film to give accounts of their experiences with local venues, audiences, and funding their endeavors.
“It may be unfortunate, but as an artist you kind of have to be a business person as well. You have to sell yourself and market yourself really, really well,” Wegener says.
Through interviews, Wegener says he has discovered that Houston audiences tend to be noisy, using shows as an opportunity to carry a conversation rather than to listen to the artist onstage. He hopes that the documentary will help spark an appreciation within audiences for the work artists devote to their recordings and performances.
Wegener also notices how some Houston artists move to Austin because of their musical infrastructure, but doesn’t believe that has to be the norm for much longer.
“Nothing against Austin. Austin has done exactly what I think Houston would like to do which is collectively decide that they will support, you know, the music scene, even on a government level.”
With filming still underway for the bulk of the coming year, Wegener will kick off 2019 with a fundraiser show for the project at White Oak Music Hall on Thursday, January 3. The free event will feature bands from the film and will have raffles and giveaways in between sets.
“Some of the bands that are on that night are really well known, some of them haven’t put out music in a while. And that’s perfect. We want to give everyone a chance to really show what they’ve got, what they’ve been working on over the last year or so.”
Though unsure of the exact release date, Wegener says he will explore several options for the film’s release including festivals and networks.
“We definitely want to give this as much, you know, punch as we can,” says Wegener.
When asked on how he settled on the film’s title, he says:“I think that we wanted to make the point, at least with this as the working title, that there is great music Outside of Austin.”
Outside of Austin Fundraiser Show featuring Wheel Workers, Velveteen Echo, Mantra Love, Lyta, Rex Hudson, Space Kiddettes, and Bernie Pink takes over White Oak Music Hall on Thursday, January 3. Doors at 6 p.m. Free admission for 21+, $5 under 21.