Jenn Brown's blog

HB873 Passed: Texas Continues Support of Moving Image Industry


Larry Hagman

The Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) has reported that House Bill 873 has passed not only the House but the Senate, and will be on Governor Rick Perry's desk for signing on April 23. It's celebration time.

Why? A little perspective is in order. In the 1990s, Texas -- in particular, Austin -- was becoming a film production alternative to Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver.

In 1991, under Governor Ann Richards, Texas began drawing more and more productions, and El Mariachi put Austin and Texas on the map. By 1995, the mission of Austin Film Society (AFS) evolved into an educational and support organization, providing education and funding for film-related projects.

Want Another World Premiere? How About Wolverine?


WolverineUnless you're completely disconnected from the Internet, in which case you're not reading this, you're probably aware of the contest to bring the X-Men Origins: Wolverine premiere to your city.

Austin has been doing very well in the votes, and the Twittersphere has exploded with tweets encouraging voting, along with Facebook and blogs. As of last night, Austin was ranked #4, but the top city information seems to have disappeared from the site.

There is a petition drive at The University of Texas today from noon until 5 pm, being run by the Texas Student TV group. They're going to give away screening passes and coupons as well.

And to make things really interesting, there is going to be some sort of "message" from Hugh Jackman delivered today around noon, around downtown. If you're in the area and see it, we'd love to hear from you.

If you're interested in seeing Austin host yet another world premiere, click on the petition link to vote, or the Texas Student TV group link on where to vote in person.

EDIT: Apparently the message was a plane with the banner to go vote at the site. Not all that exciting, and apparently not low enough for some people to make out the message. But the thought counts.

No Excuses: Seven Film Events in Austin Tonight

Alamo Ritz by Wiley Wiggins

Tonight is a busy night for film in Austin. If you're looking for something to do, it seems there's something for everyone. So if you want to celebrate getting your taxes done, or need an excuse to put them off one more night, Austin's film scene has plenty of choices for you.

Solar Movie Night at the Texas Capital is a special screening of several shorts about solar power, followed by a panel of legislators about the progress of solar bills at the Capitol. Popcorn and other refreshments will be served. The event is at Texas Capitol, Legislative Conference Center, Capitol Extension, Room E2.002, from 6-7 pm. RSVPs are requested.

Salvage Vanguard Theater's Micro-Cinema

Salvage VanguardSalvage Vanguard Theater (2803 E. Manor Rd) is hosting screenings of local films over the next three nights, including work from Kat Candler and P.J. Raval.

Each night will have two screenings, with Jumping Off Bridges (which played SXSW 2006) at 7 pm, screening with Candler's short, Quarter to Noon. The 9 pm show will be "Fusion Shorts", including Polar Ops, and "a cinematic carousel of entertainment brought to you by the collaborative efforts of filmmaker P.J. Raval and artistic terrorist Paul Soileau."

Soileau will perform live with the films on Sunday night, with Candler doing live commentary on Monday. Tickets for one screening are only $5, and $8 for both bills.

Check the Salvage Vanguard Theater site for more information.

Star Trek: Turning 10 Minutes into 126 and Loving Every Minute

Star Trek 2009

Updated: Alamo has posted photos and video from the event.

Austin is the film geek town, and everyone knows it. Fantastic Fest goes out of its way to put on special screenings throughout the year and giving priority seating to badgeholders, and they completely topped themselves, even when considering the Hellboy II screening last year. This was supposed to be some "never before seen by the public" footage from the new Star Trek film a few hours before the official world premiere in Australia. Fantastic Fest decided to pair it up with the the second film in the franchise, considered to be the best, The Wrath of Khan. With free popcorn and soda. And rumors of shirts and other goodies.

We didn't get 10 minutes. We got 126. With Leonard Nimoy, producer Damon Lindelof, and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Hours before the official world premiere in Australia.

Suspicious minds like mine thought something was up when we saw press seats with personalized seating assignments. Then the intro included the writers and the producer. When The Wrath of Khan started and it was a really bad picture, which quickly burned out, we all knew. The switch was on.

SXSW Review: Artois the Goat


Artois the Goat

Here at Slackerwood, the focus is on Austin-related film, and Artois the Goat is about as local as it gets. Directors Cliff and Kyle Bogart are graduates of UT Austin, found their cast at University of Texas MFA acting program, and shot on location around central Texas‎. If you want to see just how local it is, you can go to the Artois the Goat website.

The story is simple. Virgil (Mark Scheibmeir) and Angie (Sydney Andrews) are in love, and like to picnic with exotic cheeses. When Angie takes a job out of state, Virgil's thrown into a tailspin. With a vintage cheesemaker's book to guide him, he's off on a quest to make the winning cheese at a competition to win her back.

'The Toe Tactic' Returns to Austin

The Toe Tactic

One of the more memorable films of SXSW 2008 was The Toe Tactic, which filmmaker (and animator) Emily Hubley is bringing back to Austin for a series of special screenings cosponsored by Austin Film Society.

It's a little film that takes a low concept and does it very, very well, mixing live action and animation, personal myth and emotion. The story is simple; Mona is mourning her father, and trying to find her lost wallet. Anyone who's ever felt there are forces meddling in their lives will sympathize, as Mona has a bunch of poker playing cartoon dogs meddling in her life.

It's a very poetic story; one friend disliked it for that reason, but that's what made me really enjoy this film last year. I highly recommend checking it out, as director Emily Hubley will be in attendance at the 4/5 and 4/6 screenings; it will also screen on 4/13. More information at the Austin Film Society website.

SXSW Day 9: Drive-By Reviews


500 Days of Summer cast and crew

It's over, at least the film festival is. Post-fest depression is already setting in. New friends made, old friends well met, and everyone's exhausted after gorging on the cinematic smorgasbord. I managed to see 34 films (not including 1 short), and explode my Twitter list.

I was actually able to get five films in today, and the best one of the day has local connections. My Suicide has the kinetic, unconventional immediacy of Four Eyed Monsters, a previous hit at SXSW, with the ironic insight of a Juno or Chumscrubber. Shot with a variety of cameras and emphasizing subjective shots, it's a causticly funny dissection of and by the YouTube generation. As we increasingly editorialize our experiences as they happen, we become further dislocated from our lives, and 17-year-old Archie (Gabriel Sunday) can't take it anymore. When he declares his video project will be on his own suicide, he upsets the status quo, frequently quoting and recreating famous movie scenes. If I heard right, director David Lee Miller mentions that the sound editor and one of the graphics team are Austinites in the Q&A. As it doesn't have distribution yet, I'll be following up on it to get more details on that Austin connection.

SXSW Day 8 Drive-By Reviews


SXSW 2009

Only one more day to go, and I'm ready for SXSW to be over. It's not the quality of the films, but the lack of quality sleep that makes me appreciate the fact that film festivals do end.

Yesterday, due to a miscommunication, I headed downtown pointlessly on a #3 bus to meet a friend, and it was insanely packed with people and cars. I quickly came back to my home theater, the South Lamar Alamo.

I only caught a few films on Friday, and the stand out was Berlin Calling, a very long but good electronica music video good enough to convert the uninitiated to DJ Paul Kalkbrenner. Karlbrenner stars in the movie about a Berlin DJ whose overuse of recreational drugs induces a psychotic break. As director Hannes Stohr says, it's a story told a thousand times. With the music mirroring and forecasting the emotional ups and downs, it's worth a watch as much as a listen. It made me want to buy the soundtrack, and now I understand why some friends follow DJs.

SXSW Day 7: Drive-By Reviews


SXSW 2009

With the film conference over, and the music conference and festival well underway, attendance is dropping for the screenings, but not nearly as much as in recent years. From what I understand, attendance is up overall, but this is a very positive sign for the festival and for Janet Pierson's first year as the producer. Succession is not an easy thing, and Matt Dentler certainly left his stamp on SXSW, but I have to say it's been a solid program, and the SXSW team should be proud.

I had the day planned out, I was going to make it to five screenings, but first I got up later than expected, and then the music festival hit. I'm not a big fan of the Sixth Street insanity at the best of times, and the cacophony of very loud music from every possible angle, just made it impossible for me to keep my sanity and stay at the Ritz as planned. So after just one screening, I was back at the South Lamar Alamo, which is my home theater. I ended up skipping my last screening there, not because the buzz was bad (just the opposite), but because I'm getting movied out. I'm so movied out, I haven't done the snippet reviews of what I watched yesterday.

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