Interview: George Anson, 'Spring Eddy'
Eddy, a small-time Chicago crook on the run, learns to take a leap of faith through his interactions with the people he meets in the fictional town of Wynot, Texas in Austin-based filmmaker George Anson's feature film debut, Spring Eddy.
The nontraditional romantic comedy made its world premiere last month at the Austin Film Festival, where Anson, Texas State University alumnus, previously served as its first film program director. Anson filmed on location in Lockhart, Copeland, Manor, Bastrop, Austin, Johnson City and Warhot, Texas for 19 days, with the help of Texas State students. Read J.C.'s review from the film's debut at AFF.
As a Texas State student in the early 1980s, Anson pledged Pi Kappa Alpha (and, yes, he lived in the allegedly haunted former fraternity house) before transferring to the University of North Texas, where he majored in radio-television-film. After graduating from UNT, Anson moved to Austin in 1994 from Sherman, Texas, where he worked for a small television station, to work as a sales representative for a printing company.
Anson, who consideres Bill Wittliff to be a mentor, took his own leap of faith in attending the University of Southern California to pursue filmmaking, and again in his pursuit of seeing Spring Eddy on the big screen. "Spring Eddy is something I knew in my heart I could make and I've never stopped," Anson said. I talked with him recently about the process of bringing Spring Eddy from the page to the screens at AFF.
Slackerwood: How did the casting process work?
George Anson: I have a really good friend who was a performer at Esther's Follies. She was amazing at rounding up really talented people around Austin and they would just kind of audition. I'd seen Gabriel Luna in Dance with the One, a production done by UT. [AFF Executive Director Barbara Morgan] said I'd really ought to take a look at Gabe. We met for coffee and talked about it; he'd read the script and really liked the character. I knew he was a talented guy. I felt very fortunate he came on. He's really an amazing actor, I can't say enough about him.
When did you first begin writing the script?
Anson: I wrote the story many years ago and I wrote it mainly because I knew that if I was ever going to be able to direct anything, I would have to write something that could be done on a very low budget. Two things: one is that I wrote it for a low budget; and the other part was I really had a theme in mind that I really wanted to say in the story and it worked out well. It wasn't until digital came in and the quality of digital shooting really made the difference. If I had tried to do this on film I couldn't have done it. It would have been impossible.
What was it like being on the other side of the Austin Film Festival?
Anson: It was weird. Leading up to that there was so many little things to do; People would come up and say to me, "Wow, your film's gonna show tonight, how do you feel?" Honestly, I haven't thought about it because I was always thinking of other things to do, like is my sound complete? Is my color correction complete? There's so many details. And I was also doing some thing for the festival, like I moderated some panels and things like that.
My film showed on Sunday at 7:30 (pm), so it really wasn't until probably around 3:00 that I realized I had a film to show that night. Having done film programming for the festival, it helped in knowing (that) length of a film matters. My film had to be accepted. They had to view it, they had to judge it. I guess watching all those films in a year-and-a-half subconsciously or consciously helped.
JGP: What kind of response did Spring Eddy receive at Austin Film Festival?
Anson: Almost 200 (people) for the first screening. The second night, I thought absolutely, no way, if I get 50 I'll be happy. I was going up against the Presidential debate, Monday Night Football, baseball playoffs and a major film at the festival, which was Flight with Denzel Washington. I think 150 people showed up. These were just normal everyday people. I couldn't have been happier. It was great to see people laugh where they were supposed to laugh and clap and enjoy themselves.
JGP: What's next for Spring Eddy?
Anson: The obvious next step is the festival circuit. I've got my fingers crossed that I can get into some other festivals and promote it that way.