#GoLocalATX - An Innovative Way To Experience Austin.

In my previous post, Q: Why Austin A: Why not?, I moved to Austin in August 2014, without knowing much about the city.  Like many people that are foreign to an area, I used Yelp and Google Reviews as an easy resource to find local places to spend my hard earned cash.  After having some great experiences at local spots - and some quite disappointing despite the "stellar reviews” - these user review sites lacked telling the story behind the business and most importantly, the owner.

#GOLOCALATX is an ongoing YouTube mini series that explores new and/or popular local businesses in Austin. Besides live music (literally, after you land in the Austin Bergstrom Airport there is a band playing) food trucks are popular attractions in Austin.  To start off the series, I chose five, diverse food trucks around the city:  T'loc's Sonora Hot Dog, Hot Rod Coffee Trailer, Chaat ShopWay South Philly and Luke’s Inside Out.  All of the food trucks featured boasted, on average, four-star reviews on Yelp and Google.  To verify these reviews, I visited each place, enjoyed the food and asked the owner if they wanted participate in a mini series I was producing and they happily accepted.

Luke Bibby - Owner of Luke's Inside Out. 

“Keep Austin Weird” is a popular slogan that I thought explained the weird characters you see wandering around the city.  Apparently, it is a slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business that promotes small businesses in Austin.  The goal of #GOLOCALATX is to bring a new and innovative way to experience Austin’s local culture and the people that maintain ‘the weird’.  All of the owners explain his or her journey that lead them to the food truck they created, along with tasty images of their highly reviewed craft.  For one owner, it was the recession of 2008 that lead him to start his own business based on the Popular Rocky series.  For a couple, originally from Tucson, Arizona and Honduras, it was their combined love for food and Latin American background that lead them to run a very successful Sonoran inspired food truck.  At the end of each episode, there is an interactive map, guided with annotations (unfortunately only available on desktop), that link one food truck to another, so viewers can experience the food truck capital of the world, from anywhere in the world.

At the end of May 2015, #GOLOCALATX will finish its first season of food trucks and start on season two - local boutique fashion.  After moving to this city, almost a year ago, this project has connected me with unique, interesting, determined people that make Austin a popular destination for foodies from around the world.  

Q: Why Austin A: Why not?

Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake
Instagram: @Missshakespeare

It’s been exactly 8 months since I've moved to Austin, TX and I can confidently say this has been one of the best decisions of my life.  After graduating from Lawrence University with a B.A. in Spanish and Film Studies, I was thirsty to move out of the Midwest and hungry to start my career as a successful filmmaker - director and producer.  As a native to Wisconsin, I knew if I were going to go anywhere to pursue my dreams, it would be far away from home to the obvious cities where filmmakers go to make a name for themselves - Los Angeles or New York.  However, reality quickly set in. These cities were expensive and I didn’t feel comfortable moving without a, probably unpaid internship, or better yet a ‘job’ that wasn’t near any of my interests, but would get be through day to day expenses.  I unenthusiastically applied to some film production companies in these cities and didn’t get a response.  Bummer.

Moving to a city without a job and with student loans encroaching, my gut feeling was that these places weren't right for meyet.  I needed a place that was enterprising, lively, friendly and unique.  A place where rent was reasonable so I could avoid the whole, starving artist lifestyle. A city where I could enjoy the benefits of being around creative, entrepreneurial individuals who I could learn and gain experience from.

Double Major in Film Studies and Spanish.
According to Forbes, Austin, TX was ranked the number one fastest growing metropolitan area in the US from 2011-2012. This is no surprise for Austinites.  Even if you look at the skyline, its filled with construction of high rises pending to be filled (some already full).  Not only is Austin dubbed the live music capital of the world but, big events such as Austin City Limits and South by Southwest (SXSW) are leading revenue generators of its economy. In addition to very popular festivals, this constantly growing city is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies from Apple, Dell, and Ebay - to name a few.

Besides Austins overall growth, what drew me here was the film industry. Famous actors and actresses like Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock not only live in the area but come back frequently to act in movies produced in Austin Studios. Austin famous film directors Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriquez bring their work here (along with other directors/producers) because many say in the industry the film permits are dramatically less expensive than those compared to Los Angeles. 

Austin is home to big tech companies, film, numerous festivals, and award wining food (specifically BBQ). According to Rachel Greenfield, Sparefoots Marketing manager, Austin in general is a very relaxed place full of smart people who work their tails off. With all this in mind, I felt as if I found the perfect recipe for a place where I could grow into the person that I wanted to be.

My advice to anyone that wants to leave their current town or city is to do it.  Find a city that reflects what your interests are and has people who you want to be someday.  Use any type of social network that you have to find friends - close ones or acquaintances and ask them about any type of advice, from career opportunities to neighborhood recommendations.  I was fortunate to find an Alumnus who connected me with some great production assistant jobs on set, which lead to another job, and to more connections. When the time comes, I will pay it forward and do the same.

Rewind to now, Ive worked as a production assistant on commercials for Google and Kraft cheese.  Thanks to my alumni connection, Im an intern at Greenheart Creative, ran by a couple that are by themselves, inspiring individuals.  Because of their support and my newly gained experience from their company, I started a Youtube channel where I interview local business owners in Austin who have high reviews on Yelp and Google.

Moving is not easy, and It will take time.  My dream to move out of Wisconsin to become a director/producer started while I was still in college and I saved up for three years. When the time came, it was rewarding to know that the dream was finally coming alive.  Like most dreams that become reality, it took passion, hard work and patience.  All of these things wouldnt have happened if I didnt make the move. So I say to you, if you want to get out and follow your dreams, choose a destination, figure out the logistics, find connections and stay thirsty for the opportunities to come.