Local Cast and Crew

SXSW 2008: David Modigliani and 'Crawford'

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Crawford, Texas

Several of this year's SXSW documentaries focus on events in other parts of Texas. Austin playwright and filmmaker David Modigliani has been working for some time on a movie about Crawford, Texas, which many of us hadn't heard of until it became known as the home of the Bush ranch. Modigliani showed a rough cut of his film Crawford last year at an Austin Film Society Doc-in-Progress screening, and now the documentary is having its world premiere this week at SXSW. This is producer/director Modigliani's first feature-length film.

I was curious about Crawford, and then I met David on Wednesday night at an AFS pre-SXSW mixer, so I emailed him a few questions. Our discussion follows.

SXSW 2008: The Zellner Brothers and 'Goliath'

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The first thing that struck me when I read about Goliath was the cast, which was full of names familiar to Austin film fans. Writer-director David Zellner has one of the lead roles, and his brother, producer Nathan Zellner, is also in the film. In addition, the list of actors includes Wiley Wiggins (who does so many different things that I don't know how to preface his name), actor/filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, local filmmaker John E. Bryant (whose short Loveolution is premiering at SXSW, and who's also a producer on Baghead), animation expert/filmmaker Bob Sabiston in what may be his first feature-film acting gig, and Austin Film Society programmer Chale Nafus. I don't associate most of these people with acting, but they're all part of the local film community.

The choice of cast made me wonder just who these Zellner guys are, anyway. I've seen some of their short films, the last three of which premiered at Sundance in the last three years. And now in 2008, their feature Goliath also premiered at Sundance, and is making its way to SXSW this week. Not only was I intrigued by the filmmakers, but I thought that I'd be accused of some kind of bias if I interviewed the Duplass brothers and not the Zellner brothers. (Aside: Why don't we have any sister acts in indie filmmaking? Hmm.)

So I emailed a few questions to the Zellners, and here's what they had to say about Goliath.

Live music and A Scanner Darkly

On Thursday night (Aug. 3), Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar is reprising its special screening of A Scanner Darkly with a live performance of excerpts from the score beforehand. Graham Reynolds, the film's composer, isn't just sitting in a dark corner with a guitar or keyboard. When I attended the previous sold-out event a couple of weeks ago, Reynolds was part of an nine-piece band that included a number of stringed instruments, guitars, a keyboard and a xylophone. I wish I'd taken pictures, but it was too dark in the theater even when the movie wasn't playing -- Chris Garcia managed to snap one and posted it to Austin Movie Blog.

The half-hour set took place before the movie and included four longish pieces: the "bug" music during the opening credits; what Reynolds called the "hallway" music (noting that the movie contains many scenes where people walk down hallways) and the background music from the diner scene; music from the scene in Donna's apartment and the subsequent scene in Arctor's bedroom; and what Reynolds called the "Room 203" and "freeway" music. He was very good about describing where the music fit in without giving away any key plot elements.

Tommy Pallotta on A Scanner Darkly

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IGN has posted an interview with Tommy Pallotta, the Austin animator and filmmaker who produced A Scanner Darkly. Pallotta now has a blog on IGN; his first entry is about his experience premiering A Scanner Darkly at Cannes with director Richard Linklater and various stars from the movie. It's a long entry with lots of fun photos; hope he'll be able to keep it up and share more stories about his work on the film.

Most interesting quote from the interview: "We spent probably 500 man-hours per minute of animation."

I watched Pallotta and other animators demo the rotoscoping process at Fantastic Fest last year, and I can believe that estimate. Even with the latest software, it was very detailed work. The movie releases in theaters in July and even though I caught it at SXSW, I'd like to see it again.

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