A Tour of Austin Filmmaking Via 'Slacker 2011'

Slacker 2011Of all the movies undergoing remakes, sequels, "reboots" and so forth, the last one I ever expected to get such treatment was the 1991 Richard Linklater film Slacker. But here we are, two decades after the movie premiered in Austin, and Austin Film Society and Alamo Drafthouse have teamed up to organize a remake ... sort of. Surprisingly, I'm not making the usual squinchy face of distaste that I do when I hear about remakes, which may have to do with the talent involved.

Slacker 2011 is not just a potential film, it's a project to raise money for the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund (TFPF). Nearly two dozen local (or formerly local) filmmakers have signed up to re-create scenes from Slacker -- perhaps showing us how much Austin has changed in the last 20 years. Each filmmaker will re-shoot a scene in its original location, and the scenes will be edited together for Slacker 2011. The film will premiere on August 31 ... obviously not at the same theater where Slacker premiered, though (the now-defunct Dobie).

How does fundraising tie into this? You can donate money to the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund and different levels give you different premiums, like the fundraising campaigns for indie films through Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. $50 gets you a ticket to the Slacker 2011 premiere and a thank-you on the AFS website; other levels offer autographed DVDs of both films, the chance to be an extra or have a speaking role in one of the Slacker 2011 scenes, and for $25K, Executive Producer credit.

The list of filmmakers is impressive if you know something about the Austin film community. However, I think it's unfair to make that assumption, or to leave you with nothing but a handful of IMDb links. Therefore, the bulleted list below provides a little more info about who these filmmaker are, what they've worked on, and if they themselves have benefitted from the TFPF program. It's a nice little tour of local filmmaking with some fascinating interconnections. I know more about some filmmakers than others, so if I've missed something notable, let me know in the comments.

  • Miguel Alvarez directed the SXSW 2010 short Mnemosyne Rising (TFPF 2008 grant) and AFF 2010 short Veterans (TFPF 2006 grant). He's also created some of the entertaining clip reels for honorees at the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, hosted annually by AFS.
  • Alamo Drafthouse is not only an excellent local theater chain but has produced a trio of the city's best spellers.
  • AFS Film Club is an after-school filmmaking program for Austin middle-school and high-school students.
  • Bradley Beesley is from Oklahoma, but has been living here in Austin for awhile. His documentaries include Okie Noodling, SXSW 2005 film The Fabulous Freaks about the Flaming Lips and Summercamp! (TFPF 2004 grant) (Jette's review). He was one of the cinematographers on Winnebago Man.
  • John Bryant directed the feature film The Overbrook Brothers (Jenn's review) as well as some very funny, very twisted short films including Oh My God!, which played Sundance in 2005, and Loveolution (TFPF 2007 grant). He scripted the SXSW 2011 short The Good Neighbor. I've embedded Oh My God! below; I wouldn't watch this while eating.

  • Bob Byington's most recent feature was the Austin-shot comedy Harmony and Me (Jette's review). He received a TFPF 2010 grant for his upcoming film Seven Chinese Brothers, which stars Patton Oswalt (and seems to have been shot in Detroit).
  • Mike Dolan is a local actor who directed the SXSW 2010 feature Dance with the One (Debbie's review). He had a small role in Mars.
  • Sam Wainwright Douglas directed the documentary Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio. He had a small role in Paul Gordon's The Happy Poet.
  • Jay Duplass no longer lives in Austin, but he and his brother Mark went to UT and lived here when they shot their first feature film, The Puffy Chair. Jay was at SXSW 2011 with the short documentary Kevin, about another former Austinite, musician Kevin Gant (at least one scene of which was filmed by John Bryant).
  • Chris Eska's feature August Evening (TFPF grants) won the John Cassavetes award at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2008. He's currently working on a follow-up film, September Morning (TFPF 2010 grant).
  • Paul Gordon is an actor and filmmaker who directed SXSW 2010 feature The Happy Poet (TFPF 2010 grant) (Jenn's review). His roles include one of the leads in Geoff Marslett's film Mars.
  • Amy Grappell is an Austin filmmaker and casting director whose short documentary Quadrangle (TFPF 2009 grant) premiered at Sundance in 2010 before playing SXSW that year, and was broadcast on HBO this year. She worked on casting for Richard Linklater's film 1998 The Newton Boys.
  • Duane Graves is a San Antonio native who has been working here in Austin directing the movie Boneboys, written by Kim Henkel (and starring Ed Neal and Marilyn Burns). He previously co-wrote and co-directed Fantastic Fest 2008 film The Wild Man of the Navidad.
  • Berndt Mader wrote and directed Five Time Champion (TFPF 2009 grant), which premiered at SXSW this year (Don's review) and just won the Texas Filmmaker award at the Dallas International Film Festival. He worked as a cinematographer on Winnebago Man.
  • Geoff Marslett is a UT instructor and filmmaker whose animated film Mars (TFPF grants) played SXSW in 2010 (Jenn's review). Jenn and I had brunch with him before SXSW 2010.
  • Spencer Parsons is a local filmmaker (does he still live here? it's so hard to keep track) whose feature I'll Come Running (TFPF grants) played AFF 2009. His latest short film played SXSW 2011. He also worked as an editor on the 1999 short documentary University, Inc., which includes an interview with Linklater.
  • PJ Raval is an Austin-based cinematographer and filmmaker. He co-directed Trinidad (TFPF grants), a documentary about the "sex-change capital of the world." He's also received TFPF grants for his upcoming as-yet-untitled documentary about gay retirees. He's worked as cinematographer on Fourplay: Tampa, which is going to Cannes this month; the Oscar-nominated doc Trouble the Water; Winnebago Man and Sunshine.
  • Bob Ray's documentaries have included Total Badass and SXSW 2007 film Hell on Wheels (Jette's review); he also wrote and directed the SXSW 1999 feature Rock Opera.
  • Reel Women UT Student Chapter is a new offshoot of Reel Women that provides support for student filmmakers.
  • Elisabeth Sikes worked for Austin Film Society as Director of Artist Services. Before working at AFS, she received a 1997 TFPF grant for the SXSW 1999 short doc Gimme Some Larry.
  • Karen Skloss's biographical documentary Sunshine aired on the PBS Independent Lens series last year. She received a TFPF 2010 grant for her latest production, a short experimental film called Just Between Us.
  • Ben Steinbauer is an Austin filmmaker whose documentary Winnebago Man (Don's review) played SXSW 2009 and won the Austin Film Critics Association award for Best Austin Film in 2010. He has worked as an editor and/ camera operator on several of Bradley Beesley's documentaries, and served as an associate producer on Berndt Mader's Five Time Champion.
  • David Zellner and Nathan Zellner are two Austin brothers who make films together. Sometimes they tap-dance, too. Their 2009 feature Goliath (Jette's review) premiered at Sundance, and their most recent short, Sasquatch Birth Journal 2, played Fantastic Fest 2010 and Sundance 2011. They received a TFPF 2009 grant for their upcoming feature, Kid-Thing. The Zellners also received a TFPF grant for the short Quasar Hernandez, which I've embedded below. Nathan has a brief appearance in John Bryant's Oh My God!, and David turns up in the theater audience in the Duplass brothers' Baghead.