As you may have already heard, Flix Brewhouse is the new home of Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival. We hope you are just as excited as we are, but in case you don’t realize why this is such a match made in the stars, we are digging into the Flix world, starting with this profile of Greg Johnson, Director of Sales and Marketing.
Other Worlds Austin: Where are you from and what brought you to Austin/Flix?
Greg Johnson: I was born in Minneapolis and my dad got transferred to Texas in 1985 with 3M. We moved to Round Rock where I was raised until 5th grade when we moved to northwest Austin where I lived until college. After graduating, my wife and I moved back to northwest Austin and eventually built our home back in Round Rock. Life has come full circle!
OWA: How long have you been with Flix? What is it like being the Director of Sales and Marketing?
GJ: I joined the Flix team in February of 2014. At the time, we had 6 screens in 1 location. Now that location has 9 screens, and we have two additional 8 screen cinemas in Des Moines and Carmel (outside Indianapolis) as well as two locations under construction in Albuquerque and the north Dallas area of Little Elm. It's a whirlwind of growth but it's the greatest challenge ever. Helping people fall in love with Flix is the greatest job I could ever have imagined. Being able to help with programming of first-run films, running the team that chooses our Flix Picks alternative content, creating all the promotional materials and managing the video production of a brand that is as cool as Flix is truly a joy for me. We get a lot of comparisons drawn to our large competitors in the Austin market and I get that, but for us it's just fun because we have our eyes toward the future and who/what we are becoming, not looking over our shoulder at what someone else is doing. That makes it a lot of fun.
OWA: How is Flix different from the ‘usual’ movie-going experience?
GJ: Well if you're comparing Flix to your 'popcorn palace' obviously the service in theater and dining make Flix outstanding! If you look at Flix next to other cinema eateries, you'll find we are the only one in the world that is also a brewery—we make our award winning beer on site at every Flix location. So we've got brewers on site at each location making unique offerings (as well as some core offerings so you can get those at any Flix) so the unique personality of the market comes through. We also have an incredibly talented executive chef that has developed what we (and our guests) believe to be the best in class menu that a cinema eatery concept has to offer anywhere. You can expect to really enjoy your meal during the movie rather than settling for "well, it was better than stale popcorn and candy" as some people have grown accustomed to. We use fresh ingredients wherever possible and focus on flavor-forward, savory dishes that leave you wanting more!
OWA: What are some of the extra things Flix does for special SciFi film openings?
GJ: We love the idea of 'making moments' for our guests so we are always looking for ways to surprise and delight guests at Flix. The sky is the limit and we wait for opportunities to present themselves to us. My favorite thing we have done so far was bring in a 7.5’ lumbering Godzilla for the new Godzilla film to take photos with people in the lobby - courtesy of our good friend Meredith Johns from Hawgfly in Austin. Our friend at Dragons Lair Comics and Games in Austin also help us round up cosplayers and other special twists to make these events truly unique.
OWA: How long have you been into SciFi?
GJ: My parents raised me on SciFi. My mom is a trekkie and I remember her taking me to a convention at the Rennaisance hotel when I was in the 4th grade. As we waited for the elevator, Majel Barrett happened to walk up and chat with us for a moment. That was a pretty cool moment that has always stuck in my mind, although I was into the show before that anyway!
OWA: What is your favorite SciFi film and why?
GJ: This is one of the harder questions because it's such a broad genre... In the past few years, I would say it would be EX MACHINA because I found the story to be so original and what they accomplished with such a small budget comparatively was truly amazing. It's hard to not mention the Star Wars saga too because it was such a big part of my childhood (and now adulthood). I don't have any children but I imagine this is what parents feel when you ask them to name a favorite kid... There are so many movies that I feel define different times of my life that I love: THE MATRIX, PLANET OF THE APES (’68), THE DARK CRYSTAL, STARSHIP TROOPERS, THEY LIVE. I'm not able to choose just one.
OWA: What appeals to you most about Science Fiction?
GJ: When I mentioned the idea of 'making moments' at Flix, the idea of being able to escape from reality is what appeals to me the most about going to the cinema to see a film. SciFi is the more fantastical way to escape because you're not just suspending belief that the story you are seeing between people can happen, but that an entire world with different rules can exist for two hours and you can be a part of that story. I like that escape.
OWA: What do you think about the new partnership with Other Worlds Austin?
GJ: I'm excited to find new ways to create moments for Flix guests and Other Worlds Austin guests at Flix that haven't experienced it before. I think that the unique brand of fun that Flix brings to the table with our genuine love for the genre is going to make the total experience something very special for anyone that joins us for a movie!
OWA: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
GJ: We spend a lot of our time hanging out at breweries and going to the movies. So my work life is not unlike my personal life. When we aren't doing those things, we are big Minnesota Vikings fans so the fall is usually tied up with trips to Minnesota to watch them or finding places to watch them here. We also catch as much hockey as we can in the offseason between movie-going and breweries.
OWA: Is there anything else we should know about you?
GJ: I always wanted to be a film maker but never had the patience for it. I studied radio and television production in college at Stephen F. Austin (go Jacks!) but never could bring myself to find a story that I could spend the time, energy, blood, and sweat to create. I find myself in the most fortunate position that I can now help those who did find a way to tell their stories in getting them in front of film-lovers like myself.
Please join us Thursday, May 19 (9:00pm) at Flix Brewhouse for the Texas Premiere of the SciFi thriller THE ANSWER. Writer/Director Iqbal Ahmed will be in attendance and will do a Q&A after the screening.