Austin-based audio and visual post-production company Stuck On On worked on six films set to screen at SXSW 2013:
- Matthew McConaughey-fronted Mud (Debbie's review)
- Local filmmakers Richard Linklater's Before Midnight (Debbie's review)
- Emily Hagins' feature Grow Up, Tony Phillips
- Former AFS Artist Services Director Bryan Poyser's The Bounceback (Elizabeth's interview)
- PJ Raval's documentary Before You Know It
- Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews' Austin-shot movie Zero Charisma
The record-setting year marks the award-winning company's five-year anniversary, when founders Lyman Hardy, Parke Gregg and Allison Turrell (along with a silent partner) opened its doors in the Eastside with the mission to support and solidify Texas film's street cred. Before Stuck On On was a company, it was an experience Hardy had with a dining-room chandelier that refused to turn off.
And Turrell was stuck on post production after studying video art as a graduate student. She joined forces with Hardy and Gregg, who previously met through work in the film industry, during the summer of 2007. Shortly after, the trio worked on the LBJ documentary The Great Society, which is on permanent display at the LBJ Library and Museum, as well as Unconventional: The Story of Barnett Shale, which screened in 2008 on PBS.
Slackerwood: What has been Stuck On On's relationship with SXSW in the past?
Allison Turrell: Our relationship with SXSW is evolving. Lyman Hardy, our chief audio engineer and composer, has played SXSW in many bands (Ed Hall, Pong and Total Unicorn) over the years, so he's participated in the music portion. This year, Parke Gregg, our lead colorist, is leading a workshop: "Color Story: Adding Character in Post," with the makers of our color correction and finishing system, Assimilate. And I was a documentary screener a few years back, and that was super fun. We always participate, and at least two or three films we've worked on have screened every year since 2009.
Sean Gallagher's full-length feature directing debut, Good Night, is premiering at SXSW on Monday, March 11 at the Rollins Theatre (screening info). This intimate drama depicts a dinner party in which the young hostess reveals some difficult news to her friends. The cast includes local actors Adriene Mishler, Jonny Mars, Chris Doubek and sometimes-Austinite Alex Karpovsky, as well as University of Texas alum Todd Berger.
Gallagher lives in Austin, and not only directed this film (which he shot here), but wrote and produced it as well. He's written and directed two shorts as well, Fuck and Out of Water. During his time at UT, he was the first recipient of the Samuel Fuller Award for Cinematic Intransigence.
He answered a few questions (via email) about his new film, improvisation and inspirations.
Slackerwood: What was the filmmaking process like for Good Night? How long were you working on it (conception to final edit)?
Sean Gallagher: There are two different types of pieces within Good Night -- there is a party, which is the bulk of it, and there are several, what I call, movements. The party was shot in two weeks in the middle of the summer. The movements were shot in short increments over the course of two years.
Austin-based actress Heather Kafka shows up in features Pit Stop, The Bounceback, Loves Her Gun, When Angels Sing, and short Black Metal which are all screening at SXSW next month. Let's just say that if you see a film with local ties during the festival, there's about a 75% chance that Kafka will be in it. You might have seen her previously in locally made movies like Lovers of Hate, Saturday Morning Massacre, Slacker 2011 (pictured above) ... and she's the woman trying to buy from the Carl's Jr. kiosk in Idiocracy.
Kafka took some time to talk to us (via email) about working in the friendly Austin film community and taking on roles that her grandma shouldn't see.
Slackerwood: You appear in a number of the films showing at SXSW this year. How did you become involved with these film projects?
Heather Kafka: Sometimes I'm lucky. When I came back home to Austin in 2007, it wasn't long before I was doing Lovers of Hate with Bryan Poyser. I simultaneously began that tempestuous relationship with Facebook and suddenly all these film people were sending friend requests. Then we were in the same room singing karaoke, at the same parties, meeting at SXSW or screenings. I met Bob Ray and Geoff Marslett, Bob Byington and the Zellners. Clay Liford moved from Dallas to Austin. I met Eric Steele, Frank Mosley, James Johnston; a whole Fort Worth contingent.
SXSW Film Festival and Conference kicks off two weeks from TODAY, on March 8. I can hardly believe it myself. Here are a few reminders and bits of news you might have missed ... plus one panel I'm sure you won't want to miss. If I missed something critical, don't hesitate to mention it in the comments.
- I'm happy to announce that once again, I'll be on the opening SXSW Film panel: "A Beginner's Guide to SXSW Film," moderated by Agnes Varnum. We have a lot of fun and also share valuable tips about having the best fest experience possible. Hope you'll join us on Friday, March 8 at 2 pm in Room 16AB of the Austin Convention Center. Other panelists include Kimberley Jones, the Screens editor at the Austin Chronicle; and filmmaker Yen Tan, whose feature Pit Stop is screening at SXSW.
- Of course you'll probably want to attend more panels and watch a few movies. You can now get the full SXSW Film schedule online. Apps are available for iPhone and Android. I'd love to hear your tips about how to plan and keep track of a screening schedule now that we no longer have B-side or Festival Genius (sniff).
Bryan Poyser isn't exactly a new face on the Austin film scene, but we realized that we hadn't yet interviewed him on this site (although he has been mentioned in a Holiday Favorites post)! Thankfully we were able to rectify this, as he answered my questions via email about his latest film, The Bounceback (pictured at top). This comedy follows two former couples as they fight (and make up?) amongst Austin's nightlife. The film will have its world premiere at SXSW on Saturday, March 9 at 2 pm (screening info).
Poyser's other film work includes Dear Pillow and Lovers of Hate. He's been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards for these films. The writer/director formerly worked as Director of Artist Services at the Austin Film Society, and now serves on the AFS Board of Directors.
Slackerwood: How are you feeling about the upcoming premiere of The Bounceback (at the Paramount during SXSW)?
Bryan Poyser: I really can't wait. I know I'm gonna be gut-wrenchingly nervous right before the show, but I'm so happy that so many of our out-of-town cast members are going to be there for it. They're all really proud of the movie, as are the folks behind the camera, and so I think we're all just really excited to finally share it with an audience.
Filmmaker Chris Eska's new feature The Retrieval will be premiering at SXSW next month. The movie's first screening is set for 1:45 pm on Monday, March 11 at Alamo Ritz, with encores on Tuesday and Saturday. The Austin filmmaker's previous feature was August Evening in 2007, which won the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.
According to the slim summary on the SXSW site, the plot of The Retrieval focuses on a boy sent north "on the outskirts of the Civil War" to search for a fugitive. Eska remained quiet about any further story details, but answered the following questions for us via email.
Slackerwood: What drew you to make The Retrieval?
Chris Eska: All my films originate from themes that are important in my life, and then I search for the setting and characters that will most highlight the emotions. My Japanese-language film [Doki-Doki] was about isolation in Los Angeles, my Spanish-language film [August Evening] was about changing families in Texas and Japan, etc. With this film, I initially considered setting the story on the Texas border or in southern India before realizing that this historical rural setting would best draw out the emotions.
Continued from earlier today, here are the rest of the SXSW 2013 films with Austin or Texas ties: documentaries and films that have already been hits at other festivals.
- An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story -- If you watch the local news, you are likely quite familiar with the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton in Williamson County. This documentary looks further into his story and the years of work by his attorneys to get him released.
Jette butts in: Filmmaker Al Reinert (screenwriter for For All Mankind, Apollo 13) lives in Houston. The film is produced by local filmmakers Clark and Jesse Lyda (who also own Monument Cafe) and Marcy Garriott -- all three worked previously on The Least of These (SXSW 2009). Jason Wehling (The Retrieval) is credited as a consulting producer. One of the composers is Chuck Pinnell, brother of the late Texas filmmaker Eagle Pennell. (screening times)
- Before You Know It -- PJ Raval's (our Slacker 2011 interview) film depicts a year in the life of gay retirees in three different senior care facilities. Raval received Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund grants in 2009 and 2010 for this one (as Untitled Gay Retiree Documentary). Filmmaker/former Austinite Kyle Henry (Fourplay) edited; he's among several UT RTF grads in the crew. (screening times)
The feature-film selections for the 2013 SXSW Film Festival were announced last week and boy, are there a lot of movies with Austin connections on the program -- so many that we had to split this article in two! We'll start with the narrative feature films, and the second half will highlight the documentaries and "festival favorites." These lists don't include the short films or the midnight movies, which will be announced later today.
- When Angels Sing -- Austin director Tim McCanlies' new film is based on a novel by Turk Pipkin (who also appears in the movie), wherein the main character has a troubled relationship with Christmas. Sometimes-Austinite Connie Britton stars as the wife, and the cast also includes Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Heather Kafka (who appears in four SXSW feature films this year), and the Red Headed Stranger himself! Elizabeth Avellan of Troublemaker Studios is one of the producers on this film, which was shot partially at Northwest Park in Allandale. (screening times, official site)
- The Bounceback -- Bryan Poyser's comedy, which follows the travails of two former couples mixing things up around Austin (including Alamo Drafthouse Ritz), makes its world premiere at the fest. Rebecca Campbell visited the set last year.
Jette butts in: The cast includes Heather Kafka, filmmakers Yen Tan (Pit Stop), David Zellner and Clay Liford; Poyser's former AFS coworkers Chale Nafus and Sarah Ann Mockbee, and Ashley Spillers (also in SXSW 2013 films Zero Charisma, Loves Her Gun and Pit Stop). The director of photography is PJ Raval, who directed another SXSW film, Before You Know It. Editor Don Swaynos also edited Pit Stop. It's like Three Degrees of Separation, geez, we should just draw a graph. (screening times)
Whatever number of Austin films I might have guessed would be in the SXSW Film Festival feature lineup released this afternoon, I would have been short. Texas is everywhere in this year's festival, and the midnight movies and short films won't even be announced for another week.
In addition, we at Slackerwood have some news about the SXSW Film 2013 screening locations, as we prepare our annual stellar SXSW Film Venue Guide. Apart from Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar (sob), the theaters will be the same as last year, with a couple of additions. The brand-new Topfer Theatre at Zach Scott will be a film venue, about which I know nothing, so if you've been there please share your impressions in the comments. And all four screens of Violet Crown Cinema will be used for screenings -- no details yet on how, but we'll keep you posted.
You can find the full announcement on the SXSW Film website (John Sayles! Joss Whedon! Dave Grohl!), and we'll run an extended list soon with details about all the Austin connections. In the meantime, you might want to know that the Headliners category includes When Angels Sing, the latest film from Austin filmmaker Tim McCanlies, adapted from a story by Turk Pipkin, and shot around Austin. The cast includes Texans Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson.
Austin Film Society members who are filmmakers have the opportunity to submit their short films to screen during the SXSW Film Festival as part of ShortCase, this year's AFS Community Screening. ShortCase is a 70- to 90-minute special screening of locally connected short films.
THe submitter must be a current AFS Make-level member (or above) and be either a producer, director or writer of the piece submitted -- one of the people most creatively responsible for the work. If you are not currently an AFS member at the Make level, you can join or upgrade here.
I'm curating the ShortCase film series again along with AFS Programs & Operations Manager Ryan Long and Marketing and Events Coordinator Austin Culp. We sincerely hope AFS filmmakers take advantage of the wealth of resources provided through AFS Artists Services, including the Texas Filmmaker Production Fund and Moviemaker Dialogues.
Be aware of a few changes for this year's SXSW ShortCase submission process: