AFS Grants 2014: A Sneak Peek into Texas Filmmaking (Part Two)


son of a bug still

Continuing from Part One, here are detailed descriptions of more 2014 AFS Grants winners. Again, if you have info we don't, feel free to share it in the comments or drop us a line if you're involved with one of the films.

Never Goin' Back (Narrative Feature) (pictured below)

  • The grant: $2,500 (AFS Grant Award) for production and $5,000 (MPS Camera Award) for camera package and equipment rentals
  • The blurb: "In an attempt to get rent money and avoid eviction, high school drop outs Jessie & Angela embark on a day of adventure that includes dudes, drugs, booze and an ill-advised heist. Just another day in the life of your average 16-year-old girl."
  • The filmmaker: Augustine Frizzell was born in Texas and currently lives in Dallas. She has done quite a bit of work as an actress (her credits include Ain't Them Bodies Saints and Hellion), and she also directed the short film I Was A Teenage Girl, which screened at SXSW last year (Elizabeth's interview with her).

AFS Grants 2014: A Sneak Peek into Texas Filmmaking (Part One)


any rough times are now behind you

Congratulations are in order for several Austin and Texas filmmakers, as the Austin Film Society announced its 2014 AFS Grant recipients Tuesday. This year, $115,000 will be distributed to 40 individuals to help with production and distribution costs on a combined 37 feature and short films. Each year, we at Slackerwood look forward to this announcement because it provides a nice roundup of specific movies we can look forward to seeing in the coming months.

More than half of this year's grant recipients have never before received funding from AFS, and the remaining awardees include familiar Lone Star filmmakers like Andrew Bujalski, Yen Tan and John Fiege. All but three grants (not including Travel Grants) will assist Austin-based films -- there's a lot going on around here.

Here's an overview of this year's AFS Grant recipients along with a little context and background information. Let us know if you have anything to add, and feel free to reach out if you're involved with any of these projects and want to tell us more.

Photo Essay: 2014 Texas Film Awards


Robert Rodriguez with From Dusk Till Dawn alum on the Texas Film Awards Red Carpet, , by Rick Kern, on Flickr

The red carpet at the Texas Film Awards featured stars from near and far, but the spotlight was mostly on local filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and his cast and crew of El Rey's From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Iconic supernatural crime movie From Dusk Till Dawn, which originated it all, was awarded the prestigious Star of Texas award. The award was accepted by Rodriguez as well as by Fred Williamson, Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and Danny Trejo (pictured above).

This year's event was hosted by master of ceremonies Luke Wilson and honored several Texas-related film industry professionals. Country music icon Mac Davis received the Soundtrack Award, presented by Priscilla Presley. SXSW co-founder and senior director Louis Black received a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater and Variety Executive Editor Steven Gaydos. Other honorees included former Austinite Amber Heard with a Rising Star Award and filmmaker David Gordon Green, whose award was presented by Danny McBride.

Following the awards ceremony, attendees enjoyed The Texas Party with great food and libations, as well as the Lady Luck lottery and a live auction of film-related items and local services. According to the Austin Film Society, "$580,000 was raised for programs that support filmmakers, promote film culture and build a renowned film community." These programs include the AFS Grants, community education and artist services.

Flashback Photos: Meet the 2014 Texas Film Award Honorees

Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater

Yesterday, the Austin Film Society announced honorees for the 2014 Texas Film Awards, previously known as the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards. The gala event takes place March 6 this year -- the night before SXSW Film begins -- and tickets are available both for the awards dinner and ceremony, and for the glitzy (and more affordable) after-party.

I've been to the awards (on the red carpet, at the ceremony or both) since 2008, and many of these honorees and presenters have attended before. Others have visited Austin, if not to the gala event. So I'm presenting the emcee, honorees and presenters announced yesterday in photographic format (whenever possible), to add to the fun. Keep reading and you'll find out why I chose that top photo.

First of all, this year's emcee is actor Luke Wilson. At the 2008 Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, Wilson presented an award to Austin filmmaker Mike Judge. Here's Wilson on the red carpet that year:

'Her' Tops AFCA 2013 Awards


Before Midnight

The Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) not only awarded honors today to 2013 films like Her, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but also recognized several films with local and Texas ties.

Her, the latest film from Spike Jonze (which topped my own personal list of the year's best) won't be released in Austin until Jan. 10, but AFCA considered all films that had (or will have) a US release in 2013. Her also won Best Original Screenplay, by Jonze, and Best Score, by Arcade Fire. And AFCA created a special honorary award for Scarlett Johansson to recognize her voice work in the movie.

I've included the press release as well as the full list of awards and the group's Top Ten list below. A few notes about Austin and Lone Star connections:

  • Best Austin Film went to Before Midnight (Elizabeth's review), from local filmmaker Richard Linklater. This is Linklater's fourth Best Austin Film award from AFCA.
  • The Top Ten list includes Mud (Debbie's review) from Austin director Jeff Nichols at #7 and Before Midnight at #8.

Awards Watch: Texas Filmmakers Up for Independent Spirit Awards


computer chess still

It was another busy year for Texas filmmakers, and it looks like their hard work will once again be recognized with awards. Last week the 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations were announced, and Austin and Texas-connected productions including Mud, Upstream Color, Computer Chess and Before Midnight are in the running in a variety of categories.

Up for Best Director you'll find Austinite Jeff Nichols (who participated in a featured panel at Austin Film Festival last October), nominated for Mud, and Shane Carruth, director of the Dallas-filmed Upstream ColorMud (Holly Herrick's review) will also receive the Robert Altman award, which recognizes one film for its director, casting director and ensemble cast. Upstream Color (J.C.'s review) was nominated for Carruth and fellow Texan David Lowery's editing work, as well. 

AFS Grants 2013: All the Details We Could Find (Part Two)


Pit Stop Still Photo

Continuing from Part One, here are detailed descriptions of AFS Grants winners this year -- not just the blurbs from the press release, but any other material I could unearth on the web.

Again, if you have info I don't, feel free to share it in the comments. Or drop us a line if you're involved with one of the films.

Pit Stop (narrative feature)

  • The grant: $3,000 for distribution
  • The blurb: Two men. A small town. A love that isn't quite out of reach.
  • The filmmaker: Yen Tan is a Dallas filmmaker (Ciao, Happy Birthday) who has also designed posters and title sequences for a number of local/indie films, including the short Hellion -- check out a gallery via The Austin Chronicle.

AFS Grants 2013: All the Details We Could Find (Part One)


Above All Else

Last week, the Austin Film Society announced its 2013 AFS Grants for 2013 --formerly known as the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund (TFPF). Between the AFS Grants and Travel Grants, AFS is giving away $116,000 to Lone Star filmmakers ... including quite a few from Austin.

I love AFS Grant time. Of course, it's great to see local filmmakers getting needed funds and resources, and so on, but I like it because I get a sneak peek into upcoming Austin features and documentaries. Some of this year's recipients and projects should be very familiar to Slackerwood readers -- others are new to me.

In addition, it's a pleasure to look at the travel grants and realize that previous awardees completed their films, even if they haven't screened in Austin yet -- the grants allow filmmakers to bring Texas movies to film festivals around the world. For example. Russell Bush received grants to bring Vultures of Tibet to $500 to AFI Docs and Edinburgh International Film Festival, and Nathan Duncan was able to bring Ash to Full Frame Film Festival.

Emotional Fireworks and Texas Nods at the Sundance Awards


Computer Chess wins at Sundance

On the last night of the Sundance Film Festival, a special awards ceremony to honor the winners of special prizes and audience awards is held in Park City, just as filmmakers and judges alike are ready to crawl back under the rocks from whence they came for another year. It's the last opportunity to put on the Ritz, do some hardball networking and consummate that fling you've been gunning for all week.

These awards, unlike the ceremonies we watch on TV, are less about competition than camaraderie. As emcee Joseph Gordon-Levitt put it, "This is art. Not basketball." Even so, it never hurts to brand your emerging feature with more than just the Sundance official selection logo when negotiating with would-be buyers.

In the night's very first announcement, the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize went to the Austin-shot movie Computer Chess, from local filmmaker Andrew Bujalski. Producer Houston King, pictured above at right, accepted the award. The prize, which honors the union of science and film, means that $20,000 in funds will be made available to the team for their next endeavor. The jury selected the film based on its "off-beat and formalistically adventurous exploration of questions of artificial intelligence and human connections."

Austin Critics Honor 'Bernie' and Matthew McConaughey


Matthew McConaughey in Bernie

While other media outlets want to let you know which movie the Austin Film Critics Association picked for Best Film, and how many awards other notable movies won, here at Slackerwood we like to lead with  Austin news. So I'm happy to tell you that the AFCA announced its 2012 awards this morning and Bernie, the Richard Linklater dark comedy starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine (not to mention Sonny Carl Davis), won Best Austin Film. Read Don's review and then watch the movie if you haven't already.

In addition, the critics group recognized Austin native Matthew McConaughey with a Special Honorary Award for his excellent acting in four movies this year -- not just Bernie but also Magic Mike, Killer Joe and The Paperboy.

Zero Dark Thirty won Best Film, in case you were wondering, and Paul Thomas Anderson was named Best Director for The Master (Don's review). Zero Dark Thirty won't open in Austin until January, unfortunately, so you'll just have to take our word that it's a very good movie.

The full list of awards plus the Top Ten, which includes one film from a native Texan, is after the jump. (Full disclosure: I am President of AFCA and Debbie Cerda is a member.)

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