Jette Kernion's blog
At the Fantastic Fest awards ceremony, every winner who is present has to chug a beer from their beer-stein award. If the winner isn't there, the awards presenter has to chug ... or else find a willing audience member to help them out. One presenter (not me) found help from Elizabeth Avellan, a local film producer and co-founder of Troublemaker Studios. She attended the ceremony because she was a producer on the Chilean superhero film Santos, which had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest.
Ms. Avellan is a woman of many talents, but I didn't realize that one of them was the ability to chug a mug of Miller High Life. I am now even more impressed.
I haven't had time to post many details about my Fantastic Fest experience here, but (shameless self-promotion alert) you can read my thoughts on the first half of the festival in an article I wrote for The Circuit, Variety's film-festival blog. I've got tons of photos and some good stories, as well as movies to recommend, so keep checking back.
Austin Film Festival has announced a number of its top films in the 2008 festival lineup, and the Austin American-Statesman has the full story. The biggest news is the opening-night film, which is perfect for a fest here in the capital of Texas: W., Oliver Stone's biography of George W. Bush. The Paramount (where I'm certain the film will screen) is only a short walk from the State Capitol, after all.
The festival also announced that some filmmakers will be in town for AFF with their movies: Charlie Kaufman (who seems perfect for a fest that focuses on screenwriters) with Synecdoche, New York; and Kelly Reinhart (Old Joy) with Wendy and Lucy.
The article also mentions that local filmmaker Spencer Parsons' film I'll Come Running will play the festival, which I've been looking forward to seeing since it had been scheduled for SXSW earlier in the year, but didn't screen there.
Check out the article for a more complete listing -- tons of cool stuff. AFF is still offering badges and passes for the festival, which runs from October 16-23.
I wasn't planning to take a picture of the Paramount Theatre's marquee last night when I got to the theater for the opening-night Fantastic Fest festivities. But as I walked by, I saw the asterisks and couldn't resist. The historic, venerable Austin theater apparently felt reticent about posting the word "SEX" on its front facade, although "PORNO" was considered okay. What can I say, I was amused.
I'm wondering if the Paramount has previously used asterisks for words on its marquee -- does anyone know? Or were they simply feeling a bit awkward about the whole "air sex" concept? Seeing the Air Sex Championships last night on the stage of the Paramount, I might understand, a little. I've posted an example photo from the event after the jump.
Some useful information for out-of-towners and a few weird news items that both festgoers and other Austin film fans might find enjoyable:
- The best place for Fantastic Fest news and updates is naturally the Fantastic Fest blog. If you're going to the fest, keep an eye on the blog to find out about last-minute additions and changes of all kinds. They've also got some general Austin info for out-of-towners.
- Fantastic Fest required that badgeholders take "shaky face" photos of themselves for their badges this year -- you shake your head around with your face muscles slack and get someone to snap your photo. The results can look grotesque, unless you're a compulsive giggler (me). Austin360.com has posted a gallery of all the Fantastic Fest "shaky face" badge photos for your entertainment. If you're familiar with the Austin film scene, you'll get a kick out of seeing bizarre versions of Alamo staff and regulars, Austin Film Society staff, local film critics and writers, and other normally recognizable faces. (Yes, that's mine on the right ... the least smiley of the batch we shot at home.) I especially like film writer Jay Slater's photo at #60.
- If you didn't get a Fantastic Fest badge this year and you still want to see some of the films, Austinist offers The Non-Badgeholders Guide to Fantastic Fest.
- Local arts blog Kill the Critic has posted an entry about picks and pans for Fantastic Fest films and events this year. Other fest previews at Austin360, Austin Chronicle, Twitch, and Film Threat.
Photos of Matthew McConaughey, even when he's wearing a shirt, never do grow old, do they? Of course not. That's why I knew you wouldn't mind waiting for me to put together this little photo essay from the Surfer, Dude premiere.
The thing to realize about red-carpet events is that they truly can be a circus, but that this is not always a bad thing. Some people go to giant malls on the day after Thanksgiving, some people go to Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, and some of us go to red-carpet events. I have to wonder -- if they get this crowded and chaotic in Austin, how is it in New York or LA? Or perhaps in those big cities they're a lot more blase about it. This event was called a "green carpet" but it was as red-carpet-y as we get in Central Texas.
I arrived at the Paramount and was assigned a spot not far from the door into the theater, next to Cole and Bobby, who write for (natch) Cole and Bobby at the Movies, as well as Study Breaks magazine. We were joined shortly thereafter by Statesman arts and entertainment editor Michael Barnes, who positioned himself right next to the door, so he could do some short interviews for his Out and About column and blog. This was great for me because I could take photos while the guys were interviewing people.
For those of you who want a break from our Fantastic Fest coverage (which has only just begun, to channel The Carpenters slightly), here's a round-up of other film news and events around Austin:
- Catch the documentary Please Vote for Me on Wednesday night at 7 pm at Alamo Ritz, as part of the Austin Film Society's Texas Doc Tour. Doc Tour screenings often sell out in advance; get tickets on the AFS website. [via Austinist]
- You might spot celebrities in Austin from the production of Whip It during the next week -- keep an eye out for Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, and other cast members. My big question: Will there be Zoe Bell (shown at right)? [via the Statesman's Out and About blog]
I finally posted a Flickr set for my Fantastic Fest photos from 2006 and 2007. After this year's Fantastic Fest, I'll update the set with more photos, and this time I'll try to be speedier about it.
My favorite photo in the set is probably this one from Fantastic Fest 2007, of Wiley Wiggins and Tim League. I used a compact point-and-shoot digital camera for both years of the fest, and while it fits great in a purse and can take lovely photos in the sunshine, it totally sucks for dark theaters. That's why you see so many dim and poorly focused shots -- Richard Kelly is at least recognizable, but George A. Romero and Paul Thomas Anderson are barely more than blurs.
That's not happening this year, now that I have a digital SLR camera. I'm still learning the basics, but even with everything on automatic settings I can snap a far better photo in low-light than I ever could with my itty-bitty camera. If you don't believe me, check out my set of photos from the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards earlier this year. Morgan Fairchild and ZZ Top are not blurs (Mike Judge comes close, but he barely stood still). If the Fantastic Fest screening of Zack and Miri Make a Porno includes a red-carpet event, hopefully I can snap some photos of Kevin Smith and compare them to my first red-carpet experience. Links to more sets of Fantastic Fest photos after the jump.
I received a very nice email from local filmmaker/instructor Steve Mims last week, letting me know about his upcoming filmmaking classes at Austin FilmWorks and also complimenting Slackerwood. He introduced himself briefly, as though we hadn't met before.
I stopped and laughed aloud, because I am actually in one of Steve Mims' movies. He didn't make the connection ... admittedly, I was using a different first name at the time. And it was a very small role, thankfully for all of us.
My friend Tom Chamberlain was a producer on this film called One Eye Peeled ... this would have been around 2001, maybe? I can't recall the year. He asked me if I wanted to audition for a minor role that he thought was perfect for me. He gave me the relevant section of the script, at which point I found out I was "perfect" to play a character listed as Frumpy Housewife. I auditioned anyway -- it was a two-line role -- and got one night's work on the film.
One Eye Peeled was a series of comedy sketches strung together by a loose narrative, kind of like Kentucky Fried Movie. The sketch I was in was about Death holding a book signing for his autobiography. It was shot in BookPeople. I hadn't ever worked as an actor on a film before, except for a long cold night in grad school when I ran around in a Jimmy Carter mask for a brief appearance in someone's thesis film. (Or was it Richard Nixon? My memory sucks sometimes.)
A couple of quick news items about Fantastic Fest, which starts in less than a week:
- If you're not in Austin, or if you live here but aren't able to attend Fantastic Fest, you can still watch 10 of the festival movies, online, for free. You have to register online with B-side (if you've been to a local film fest, you may already have a B-side account), but that's free too. The movies -- five features and five shorts -- are all eligible for an online audience award, so rate them after you watch them.
- If you are actually attending Fantastic Fest in person, easy-to-understand guidelines about this year's ticketing/badge system are now available on the Fantastic Fest blog. Badge pickup starts this year on Wednesday, the day before the fest starts.
A quick note for filmmakers who have movies showing at Fantastic Fest: If you're from Austin, shot your film in Austin, or your film is about Austin in some way, would you please post a comment or contact me? I haven't been able to find a list yet of Austin-related films at the fest and I would love to compile such a list myself. So far, the only Austin-related film at Fantastic Fest that I know about is Zombie Girl, a documentary about local horror filmmaker Emily Hagins.
A couple of weeks ago, Chris Holland suggested that we might want to start doing a podcast for Slackerwood. We could set up a regularly scheduled time to record the podcast, talk about as much Austin film stuff as we liked in 20 minutes, and have a lot of fun.
We recorded the first podcast last week, and here it is for your listening pleasure. We're planning to do this around every two weeks, more or less, and we're hoping to include some guests -- filmmakers, local festival organizers, maybe even other film writers. Chris does the audio editing and other heavy lifting -- my job is to chat with Chris about movies in coherent if not witty ways, and try not to babble.
Special thanks should go to my husband Chip, who worked Drupal magic to set up a separate RSS feed for the podcast, and tinkered with other behind-the-scenes things to the website to make it easy for me to upload and post the podcasts.
Let us know what you think about the podcast, and if there are topics you'd like to see covered in future podcasts. Austin's fall film-festival season is nearly upon us, so I expect we'll cover a lot of that in the next month or two.
[Photo credit: Blake Ethridge of Cinema Is Dope ... the only photo I could find of Chris and me together, and also taken after one of the few times I've been able to go to Weird Wednesday. Thanks, Blake!]