Next week, after the run of our show has come to an end, I plan to upload my short film onto something like YouTube, Vimeo, or Funny or Die. I haven’t decided which, but people with bigger thoughts than mine are being asked for their opinions and suggestions. All those sites play videos, right? BUT before that even happens, I thought I’d give you some background on the short I created since it’s a little Austin inside-jokey. You see, there’s a rumor going around that some of you may not be from Austin. It’s ok, your cities are good, too. I bet they even have their own inside jokes. They’re probably even funny, too.
Every year around March Austin hosts a film, music and media festival called South by Southwest (or SXSW) It’s a festival that draws people from all over the world and showcases great talent. Movies are premiered. Favorite bands perform. Panels on a variety of topics are held. From the mainstream to the off-beat, you can see it all (with a wristband and a great deal of luck).
This past year a clever ad agency had an idea to employ some of Austin’s homeless and turn them into Wi-Fi hotspots. How it worked: Let’s say you were a hipster in need of internet access and Starbucks was packed, all you had to do was consult your trusty hotspot map, locate a homeless guy, pay them a recommended $2/15 minutes and log in. It was a way to create needed hotspots during the festival, directly benefit the homeless involved and, as the ad agency argued, help make those individuals visible.
Needless to say, Austin earned a certain amount of attention over this creative use of the homeless. We were even mentioned in The Daily Show. (I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear Texas is getting any kind of national, or even worse, international (or Daily Show) attention I tend to cringe. It’s usually for a good reason. One that makes me want to point east and say, “Hey guys, look over there. I think Alabama is doing something crazy! Did you hear that guy in Missouri? Insane, right? RIGHT?”)
When all of this was happening, I was starting one of my sketch classes and in need of material. This topic looked perfect. Plus, I reckoned everyone else had taken their shot at it. It was only fair that I got my turn.
That’s how Hot Spots came to be.
If you’re new to this controversy, I encourage you to read a bit more about it and watch the testimonials from the homeless involved. You’ll then be armed and ready for my short. You see, I don’t want you blinking confusedly at your monitor and wandering aimlessly throughout your house. That would make me sad… especially if you bumped into things.
Wi-Fi Hotspots Made of Homeless People: Not As Horrible as They Seem
The New York Times
Use of Homeless as Internet Hot Spots Backfires on Marketer