The Austin Film Society jury has chosen eight selections for the AFS ShortCase program, which annually presents to SXSW attendees a diverse mix of shorts created by AFS members. The 2014 jury included Austin filmmaker Clay Liford (Wuss), AFS programmer Lars Nilsen and Slackerwood contributor Debbie Cerda.
The ShortCase screening will take place during the first weekend of the fest, Saturday March 8 at 2 pm at the Marchesa. (Add the screening to your schedule here.) It's free and open to the public even if you don't have a SXSW badge or wristband -- but get there early, because last year this event filled up fast and a number of people were turned away.
The short features and documentaries include:
Digging for the Water (Joshua Riehl) -- In the hilltop village of Creve, Haiti residents have no electricity or running water. Their only supply, which they must carry by hand from a neighboring village, is contaminated with bacteria. Volunteers from the organization Mountain of Hope and The University of Texas at Austin arrange to help drill a well for the village.
In August 2012, I visited the set of the movie Thank You A Lot, which features Texas singer/songwriter James "Slim" Hand as a fictionalized version of himself along with actor Blake DeLong as a small-time music agent who struggles within the Austin music scene. Texas musicians who appear in the film include hip-hop artist Da'Shade Moonbeam, members of the Austin band Hundred Visions and jazz vocalist Keri Johnsrud.
Thank You A Lot will debut at this year's SXSW Film Festival in the Narrative Spotlight category, with the premiere screening at the Topfer Theatre at ZACH on Friday, March 7 at 7 pm. Additional screenings take place on Sunday, March 9 at the Marchesa and Saturday, March 15 at the Vimeo Theater in the Austin Convention Center.
I recently spoke with writer/director Matt Muir and producer Chris Ohlson to continue our discussion about the journey of Thank You A Lot from the set to the screen. Muir and Ohlson are business partners in the film and video company Revelator, and the duo perform commercial and corporate work while developing film projects within their schedule.
Ohlson also produced David and Nathan Zellner's critically acclaimed narrative Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (my Sundance review), which makes its regional debut at SXSW on Tuesday, March 11, 1:45 pm, at The Paramount Theatre.
Elizabeth filled us in on the Austin and Texas feature films that are going to be playing at this year's SXSW Film Festival. In an effort to keep you in the loop, as well as to proudly support our local filmmakers, we here at Slackerwood bring you the Lone Star short films that are playing in the 2014 film lineup. Most but not all are in the Texas Shorts block.
Dig -- Fellow contributor Debbie Cerda got to check out this film (her review), which premiered at Sundance last month. This is the directorial debut of Dallas-area producer Toby Halbrooks, and was produced by DFW-based production company Sailor Bear. The film stars the very adorable Mallory Mahoney as Jenny, a young girl who is intrigued by the hole her father (Austin actor Jonny Mars) is digging in their backyard.
Easy -- Dallas filmmaker Daniel Laabs brings us a short that follows two brothers who are on the verge of different stages of adulthood. His last film, 8, won the Grand Jury Prize for short films at SXSW 2011. This is Laabs' fifth piece as a director, with Austin's own Ashland Viscosi on board as a producer. Texas Theatre co-owner Adam Donaghey produced this as well as I Was A Teenage Girl.
Last month while at Sundance Film Festival, I spoke with local filmmaker Kat Candler -- seen above at the Sundance 2014 premiere -- about directing her feature film Hellion. which makes its regional debut in the Festival Favorites section at SXSW on Sunday, March 9, at the Topfer Theatre at ZACH. Check out my Sundance review of Hellion here.
This was the third year in a row that Candler and Austin producer Kelly Williams (Cinema Six, Pit Stop) made the trip to Park City in support of their film projects. In 2012, the filmmakers attended the fest for the premiere of the short version of Hellion. Last year, the gripping dramatic short film Black Metal debuted at Sundance and was even selected for the Sundance Festival's online Screening Room. Williams also received a fellowship to the 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Lab, where selected producers receive creative and strategic support as well as direct funding for development and production.
This year brought even more attention to the talents of Candler with the feature-length movie Hellion, starring Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis and in his acting debut, Dallas-based Josh Wiggins. The supporting cast includes actors from the original short including Deke Garner and Jonny Mars in this emotional drama about a widower and his sons who are grieving for their deceased mother in their own destructive manners.
Attendees at this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival will finally have an opportunity to watch the coming-of-age family drama Boyhood, written and directed by local writer and director Richard Linklater over a period of a dozen years. Shot for a total of 143 scenes in intermittent 39 days, Boyhood was well received at Sundance Film Festival last month where it debuted even before the credits were completed. Linklater -- seen above with Boyhood stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette -- seemed quite pleased that the movie had reached its own maturity.
Filmed from 2002 to 2013, Boyhood covers 12 years in the life of a family with a focus on the young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). They must deal with the impact of their divorced parents' decisions and actions while maturing into their own individuals who can determine the course of own lives. Read my Sundance review here.
Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and fundraising endeavors related to Austin and Texas independent film projects.
Several local film projects that ran successful crowdfunding campaigns are making their regional premiere at this year's SXSW Film Festival including the experimental documentary Yakona from San Marcos-based filmmakers Anlo Sepulveda and Paul Collins, Thank You A Lot from Matt Muir and Chris Ohlson, Jeffrey Radice's No No: A Dockumentary, and Todd Rohal's Rat Pack Rat (pictured above). Yakona also received two Austin Film Society Grants (formerly known as the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund), as did local filmmaker Kat Candler for her feature-length version of Hellion, which also makes its Texas debut at SXSW.
The SXSW Film Conference will feature several sessions that should be of interest to filmmakers who want to learn more about achieving funding for their projects.
"Meet the Insiders: Funding and Special Organizations" will feature several speakers from the nonprofit film world and they'll speak about "what NOT to do in your proposals to grants, fiscal sponsors, film labs, and other programs." Independent Film Project Producer and Program Manager Rose Vincelli Gustine will moderate this panel, which includes industry experts such as Sundance Film Fund Director Rahdi Taylor, Independent Lens Senior Series Producer Lois Vossen and Chicken and Egg Pictures Operation and Programs Manager Iyabo Boyd.
Part-time Texan Justin Arnold credits his role as Levi in the indie drama 5 Time Champion as the reason why he had the opportunity to audition for former Austin Film Society staffer Bryan Poyser's latest movie Love & Air Sex, formerly called The Bounceback (Don's review), which opens a weeklong run tonight at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter during the movie's nationwide roadshow.
Poyser enjoyed 5 Time Champion, winner of the Texas Filmmaker Award at the 2011 Dallas International Film Festival, Arnold said. This and the friendship between Poyser and the movie's director, Berndt Mader, led to Arnold being cast in Poyser's comedy short The Fickle.
"Bryan, he's the man," Arnold said.
But that doesn't mean Arnold wasn't put through a rigorous audition process for Love & Air Sex.
"(Poyser) put me on the hot seat for about two hours," he said.
Arnold plays Tim in the Austin-shot comedy that premiered at SXSW 2013. It follows a group of twentysomethings looking for love during a weekend in the Live Music Capital of the World (and the soundtrack includes some toe-tappin' ditties by artists like Austinite Shakey Graves).
And Arnold can relate to some extent to the movie's lead, an actor-turned-pizza-delivery-guy in Los Angeles. Not to say that he's struggling -- he has a number of movie's in post-production -- but he admits it took some time for him to find a day job, working for a veterinary clinic, when he moved to L.A. about a year ago.
"L.A. is what you make of it," Arnold said optimistically. He recently moved into a new apartment with another actor not too far away from his Love & Air Sex costars Sara Paxton and Zach Cregger. Although Arnold didn't know any of the movie's cast prior to his 15 days on set, he said it eventually felt like home.
More keynotes (Tilda Swinton!) for this year's SXSW Film Festival were announced yesterday, with a few more films added to the schedule. Many features and documentaries with Austin and/or Texas connections are on the schedule for SXSW 2014, which takes place from March 7-15. Here's the rundown, with some familiar names joining new voices.
Veronica Mars -- Creator/writer/director/Austinite Rob Thomas kickstarted the budget for this silver-screen continuation of the cult favorite TV series. Kristen Bell (Veronica) and Jason Dohring (Logan) -- and many more from the original series cast -- reprise their roles when this detective movie makes its world premiere at SXSW. (screening times)
Joe -- Current Austin resident and director David Gordon Green, whose Prince Avalanche played at SXSW 2013, directed this Nicolas Cage vehicle about an ex-con (Cage) who befriends a teenage boy (Tye Sheridan, Mud). The movie was shot in Austin, Bastrop, Lockhart and Taylor, and Austin-based actress Heather Kafka has a brief but memorable role. Jette caught this at a press screening and says you do not want to miss it. (screening times)
Austin Film Society (AFS) 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.
To submit, you must be a current AFS Make-level member (or above) and 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.
This will be my third year curating the ShortCase film series. This year's jury includes AFS Film Programmer Lars Nilsen and local AFS filmmaker Clay Liford, who produced the Sundance award-winning short Rat Pack Rat, which also screens in the SXSW regular programming.
We remind AFS filmmakers to take advantage of the wealth of member resources provided through AFS Artists Services, including the AFS Grant and Moviemaker Dialogues.
Highlights for this year's AFS ShortCase submission process:
- Submit films using online screeners with private or password-protected links (either via Vimeo, Youtube or any other streaming service). If you set an expiration date for viewing, it should be available until at least March 15, 2014.
- Your submission form must be submitted by Monday, February 17, at 6 pm CST -- be advised this is not a "postmark-by" date.
- Short films must be no longer than 20 minutes, so we can open up the screening to more AFS filmmakers.
- Entries are limited to one submission per membership, so send your best work -- no works-in-progress.
According to the faithful, images of Jesus have appeared on many objects -- tortillas, turtles and moldy drywall, to name a few. One alleged appearance happened in 1969 in Port Neches, Texas, where followers of the J-man claimed to see his likeness on the screen door of a house. The image attracted hordes of true believers and curiosity seekers until the owner tired of the crowds and removed the door.
This bit of Southeast Texas lore inspired Port Neches native Christopher Cooke to write the acclaimed anthology Screen Door Jesus & Other Stories, which filmmaker Kirk Davis adapted for his debut feature Screen Door Jesus. The 2003 film is an uneven but largely accurate look at religion in a small East Texas town.
Screen Door Jesus weaves many loosely related story lines into a narrative about religious fervor and religious doubt. The film's central story involves Mother Harper (Cynthia Dorn), who sees Jesus on the screen door of her home. Her front yard becomes a Mecca of sorts for local Christians, dozens of whom spend day after day praying before the image.