The short film Witch is one of two Austin-shot shorts accepted for programming this year at Fantastic Fest 2013. It's screening as one of the Short Fuse selections. I spoke with local writer/directors Tyler Mager and Americo Siller about the production.
Slackerwood: Which of you had the idea for Witch? And what was the inspiration?
Tyler Mager: We came up with the idea together over numerous writing meetings.
Americo Siller: It's a bar, a beer, a table, and a two-hour talk as Tyler scribbles everything down in a spiral notebook.
Mager: It started with an idea of classic supernatural monster mythology and how it would be looked at now. If a crazy psycho was going around eating the hearts of victims, most would automatically think it was, you know, some sort of serial killer. But what if it was a witch, an honest-to-goodness evil entity that lives through the life force of others. So we decided to maintain the realistic aspects of a potential serial killer while still staying true to classic witch mythology.
Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.
I've had a passion for animated films for as long as I can remember, having grown up with Disney classics such as Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty ... and as an adult, enjoying The Iron Giant. A short animated film project that's currently funding on Kickstarter through September 10 caught my interest -- Is There Anyone Out There?
Texas writer/director Jonathan Reynolds has brought together a talented creative team to support this family-friendly film, which addresses the universal question in a whimsical manner.
The score for Is There Anyone Out There? has already been performed and recorded in Austin by British composer Andy Dollerson and Austin's own Tosca String Quartet. San Antonio-based voice actor Terry Anderson is providing the narration for the tale of two boys questioning their fathers whether there's life beyond their own planet.
It's always a great joy for us to bring you updates on our local filmmakers, so when we heard that Black Metal is back on the radar, we here at Slackerwood couldn't have been more thrilled. Director Kat Candler and the rest of her team announced Monday that the film has been selected as a finalist in TheWrap's Short List Film Festival.
Now in its second year, TheWrap has brought together 12 awardwinning shorts, showcasing the best of the best of this year's top international festivals. The films are available to stream online and on your mobile device until next Thursday, August 29. Viewers can then go and vote on which films they think should make it to the finalist round. This year's winning films will get a first-look deal, will be aired on an MTV network and will receive a package of camera equipment for their next short or feature.
The Austin Film Festival has compiled a slate of short films for "An Evening of Texas Shorts" as part of their 20th anniversary celebration. This Wednesday evening at the Texas Spirit Theatre of the Bob Bullock State History Museum, 11 shorts with Texas ties from past AFFs will be shown (tickets are $5, free for AFF members).
In the program:
Some Analog Lines (2006), David Lowery
An essay film about technology. Lowery's buzzworthy feature Ain't Them Bodies Saints comes out later in August.
The Significant Other (1994), Tassos Rigopoulos
A single woman's friends bug her about finding a guy. Filmed at an Amy's Ice Creams (it looks like it's the original Guadalupe location) in 1993 and shot on 16mm.
Oh My God (2004), John Bryant
Looks like this one is a very dark comedy. Jette says, "I had to watch it peeking between my fingers over my eyes, but it was hilarious." The short also screened at Sundance Film Festival. Bryant is currently running a crowdfunding campaign for another dark comic short, John 3:16.
Pigeon: Impossible (2009), Lucas Martell
Animated short about a special agent troubled by a pigeon in his suitcase. Martell is now working on a new short film, The OceanMaker. Watch Pigeon Impossible below:
It's an amazing honor to see local filmmakers' work showcased here in town. It's even more amazing when those same filmmakers have the opportunity to present their movies outside of Texas. Such is the case with Austin filmmaker Mario J. Pena and his sci-fi short film The Book of Joe.
Pena's film has been selected to screen in the "Midnight Madness" shorts program on August 17 during the HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. This will be the second festival run for the film following its sold-out world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival's Shorts Fest Weekend this past June.
The film was produced and shot last year here in Austin, and is Pena's most recent collaboration with producers Alex Davis-Lawrence and Samantha Rae Lopez, as well as art director Dana Archip. Archip and Pena's previous work includes the winner of the 2010 Fantastic Fest Bumper Competition, Cherry Pie. The Book of Joe also appears to be a first for several local actors, including Geronimo Son, Stephanie Ard and Mike Vera.
It's been native Austinite David Fabelo's philosophy for years: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It's worked in Fabelo's romantic life -- despite spilling a beer on a woman during their first date he redeemed himself and now they're married. It's also worked in his professional life, with the release of his award-winning short film Do Over, about Adam (Garrett Jester), a high schooler who attempts to make a good first impression on his date with Sarah (Jacobi Alvarez).
This attitude of utilizing experimentation in an attempt to get it "right" has led co-writer/director Fabelo to VHX, an online platform that allows independent filmmakers to distribute their content directly to their fans via paywall. Fabelo has used VHX to set up a site where viewers can preview and hopefully purchase a download of Do Over.
"It's about putting a value on our work," said Fabelo. "A way to value shorts."
This year's SXSW Community Screening: Austin Film Society ShortCase will be held Sunday, March 10 at 4 pm in Boyd Vance Theater at the Carver Museum, and will feature short films by Central Texas filmmakers ranging from science fiction to history, comedy to documentary. The screening is open to the general public (and free), but seating is limited so I suggest arriving early.
This year over 65 entries were submitted by AFS filmmakers. AFS Program and Operations Manager Ryan Long, AFS Marketing and Events Coordinator Austin Culp and I worked together to select the seven best films to fill the 90-minute screening time. We saw a lot of creative content representing the talent of AFS filmmakers, and we hope the SXSW audience will enjoy these films as much as we do.
For filmmakers who didn't make the cut, we hope that you'll submit films for future ShortCase events and take advantage of the programs available to the AFS filmmaker members.
Without further ado, here are this year's SXSW ShortCase films:
I'm passionate about short films -- as evidenced by my role as a programmer for Austin Film Society's ShortCase series -- and hope to see quite a few at Sundance this coming week. A record number of 8,102 short films were submitted for the 2013 Sundance Short Film program, with only 65 short films making the cut.
You don't have to trek to Park City to enjoy some of these shorts -- a dozen of the best are now available online in The Screening Room, a YouTube channel curated by Sundance short film programmers. Austin represents with local writer/director Kat Candler's Black Metal, starring Jonny Mars (Saturday Morning Massacre, Hellion) and Heather Kafka (Lovers of Hate). This short yet powerful and evocative piece leaves viewers wanting more of the story of Ian, a death metal rocker who must deal with the consequences of a fan's actions.
Watch Black Metal here after the jump.
Science fiction is an often under-represented genre in local film festivals, but this year's Austin Film Festival (AFF) has been quite the exception, especially with AFF Shorts Program 8 "The Future Now." This program boasts not only high quality filmmaking, but also features some heavy-hitting new filmmakers and recognizable cast members. I was amazed by the evocative nature of each film, whether the emotional reaction brought forth was laughter, awe or tears.
By far I was most impressed with HENRi, directed by Eli Sasich, which was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2010 for which Sasich continues to provide updates to his backers. Set in the future, a derelict spaceship controlled by Hybrid Electronic/Neuron Responsive Intelligence -- HENRi for short -- and powered by a human brain, has begun to experience disjointed memories of its original owner. Find out more about this film that pays homage to sci-fi greats such as 2001: Space Odyssey and Isaac Asimov's "Laws of Robotics" after the jump, as well as both local and international short films featured in "The Future Now" program.
What better way to wrap up Slackerwood's Fantastic Fest 2012 coverage than with a look at the two Austin-made shorts that screened during the festival, both of which I enjoyed? And what could be more fitting than to publish this article on the day that Fantastic Fest selection Sinister, written by an Austinite, opens in U.S. theaters? (I love it when I can find a reason that doesn't look like procrastination on my part.)
Dialogue is a very short short -- about one minute long -- from the Austin filmmakers pictured above. Christopher Palmer, Josh Johnson and Carolee Mitchell took a break from working on their upcoming documentary about VHS tapes, Rewind This, to shoot this unsettling conversation between a couple (Daniel Sergeant and Samantha Pitchel) about something unusual that's happening to one of them. The short film is set in a living room but it's not the setting that's creepy. It was a perfect fit for Fantastic Fest, is all I'm going to say. Johnson wrote and directed, Mitchell produced, and Palmer worked on post-production.