SXSW veteran Peter Vack attended the festival in 2014 to promote “Fort Tilden,” “I Believe in Unicorns,” and his award-winning short film, “Send.” This year, the former University of California theater major found a way to top that number with a whopping four projects at the fest including “Dara Ju,” M.F.A.,” and “Assholes,” where he served as writer, actor and director. The latter won the Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award “in honor of a filmmaker whose work strives to be wholly its own, without regard for norms or desire to conform.”
Vack, who funded the absurdist project with his acting paychecks, more than satisfied the award’s requirement. The polarizing film features a host of cringe-inducing, drug-fueled sexual (mis)adventures, leading at least one critic to dub it “one of the most disgusting films ever made.” Vack takes it all in stride. “The worst thing that could have happened with ‘Assholes’ is that it would inspire a lukewarm shrug,” he says.
PROVENANCE: Brooklyn, N.Y.
BIG BREAK: David Rosen and Doug Liman’s “I Just Want My Pants Back” on MTV. “That was a huge turning point for me,” says Vack, who also still gets recognized from his role as a ballet dancer in Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle.”
GOOGLE HISTORY: “I wish I could say that I haven’t been obsessively googling the [‘Assholes’] reviews, but I have. I’m only human,” he admits.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: “I wanted to do something where I could use the people that I see and love the most, so that was my [actress] sister [Betsey Brown], my mother, my father and my psychoanalyst who I’ve seen for 13 years,” says Vack of casting loved ones in the film. Securing his psychoanalyst mother, Jane Brown, and indie filmmaker father, Ron Brown, proved to be the most difficult. “When I showed my parents the script, they seemed very shaken,” recalls Vack, who ultimately assuaged their concerns by explaining “it was a comedy.”
RELUCTANT MODEL: “I’ve been approached to do some modeling, but it’s not something I ever pursued,” says Vack, who counts “genius” Zac Posen as a pal and Hedi Slimane as a one-time “idol.” “I feel like there’s something interesting happening with streetwear and high-end fashion crossing paths, and that works for me because I like wearing comfortable clothes and hooded sweatshirts,” says Vack, rocking a normcore look of Levi’s jeans, Nike shoes, 40s and Shorties socks and a hooded Ratking sweatshirt, in honor of the hip-hop collective.