Debbie Cerda's blog

Network and Sharpen Skills Through Austin Film Meet

Austin Film Meet

Austin boasts a wide range of networking opportunities within the local film industry, and a few years ago I joined Reel Women at their First Monday Mix at Opal Divine's Penn Field from time to time. Sadly Reel Women is no more, but from its more active members a new group has grown -- Austin Film Meet. Austin Film Meet is presented by the Association for Independent filMedia (AIM), which is focused on "facilitating opportunities for independent film, video and media makers of all types and skill levels ... by bringing people together to support, network, learn and collaborate."

The primary coordinator for the Austin Film Meet is H. Cherdon Bedford, a local actress and filmmaker whom I met at the Austin Film Organizations panel held at the University of Texas at Austin's Women in Cinema April meeting. I was thoroughly impressed with Bedford's enthusiasm and creativity. I was especially pleased and excited to hear from Bedford about Austin Film Meet and multiple networking and workshop opportunities offered for the local film industry. Two events are planned so far for June.

2012 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin



Updated 5/29 7 pm with specific films/dates for Cinema East.

Not even 24 hours after local schools have let out for the summer, I've already met several kids from my new neighborhood eager for entertainment and ways to earn money. Aluminum-can recycling and lemonade sales can only go so far in today's economy, so affordable entertainment will be a valuable commodity this summer.

That's where Slackerwood is here to help, as we offer our fourth annual guide to free and cheap summer movies in Austin and the surrounding area including Cedar Park and the City of Round Rock. Some programs are outdoors so double-check to see what you can and can't bring -- such as lawn chairs like seasoned Rolling Roadshow fan Dshanya Reese is modeling above. Some film programs are offered in non-theater venues such as local libraries and a track-and-field lawn. The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in is closed for a season break as they re-locate into new space at Austin Studios. A couple of the major multiplex theatres as well as Alamo Drafthouse feature their annual kid-friendly summer programming.

A select few Alamo Drafthouse fans will win two free tickets to movies at the Alamo all summer long. Check out this page for details -- in a nutshell, you must join the Alamo Drafthouse mailing list, visit and "like" the Alamo Drafthouse Facebook page where you will be able to enter your name and email address, and then tweet about it. Five winners per market (Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Winchester) will be randomly drawn on June 25.

Programming for adults, especially independent film fans, is also plentiful this summer. Cinema East is at a new East Austin location for 2012, and is hosting a Launch Party at Cheer Up Charlie's on Thursday, May 31, to unveil its third season of outdoor film screenings.

If you have more info about a series or know about something we've forgotten, please let us know in the comments. We'll update this list over the next couple of weeks as we receive updates on more summer movie events.

Movies This Week: May 25 - 31, 2012


Raquel Welch in Myra Breckinridge

School's out today, and that means the kids are ready for summer fun. Alamo Drafthouse is offering several family-friendly events, including Alamo Kids Camp at several Austin locations. Iron Giant began a two-week run at Alamo South Lamar today. From Saturday through Thursday, June 7, Alamo Slaughter is offering Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alamo Village hosts The Corpse Bride, and the Lake Creek location features How to Train Your Dragon. Check the Drafthouse calendar for times, and be sure to arrive extra early for these free screenings -- seating is limited and first come, first served.

On Thursday, Rolling Roadshow invades Austin's Park for a special screening of Pixar's Toy Story. Ticket purchase is only for the movie itself, and tickets must be picked up at Alamo South Lamar prior to the show. Don't forget to bring extra money for arcade games, miniature golf, and pizza before the screening. 

For more mature audiences, you won't want to miss the last screening of Celluloid Handbag at the Alamo Ritz on Wednesday, May 30, 7 pm. It's host and drag queen personality Rebecca Havemeyer's birthday, and she'll be presenting Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge featuring the sexy Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett, Tom Selleck, John Huston, and 80-year-old Mae West. Comedian Owen Egerton continues his "Best of..." Series at Alamo South Lamar on Thursday at 7 pm, with "Best of God" featuring films from the 1930s to modern day. Egerton promises a night full of bizarre clips of Christian heavy metal bands, healing televangelists, hard-core kosher rappers along with live music, surprise guests and spiritual enlightenment.

The Paramount Classic Film Series continues with several screenings Tuesday through Thursday of Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti western Once Upon a Time in the West at Stateside. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Paramount hosts a double feature of racial dramas with Shadows, the first feature by indie film writer/director John Cassavetes, and Killer of Sheep, a neo-realist portrayal of the African-American life in Watts, Los Angeles during the '70s.

Movies We've Seen

First Position -- This documentary follows six young dancers from around the world as they prepare for the prestigious ballet competition, the Youth America Grand Prix. Elizabeth stated in her review, "If you liked Mad Hot Ballroom or Spellbound, you will likely appreciate First Position." I think I'd prefer to watch Girl Walk//All Day online again.

Ready, Set, Fund: Labor, Gourds, Retirees and Free Radicals


Photo Still The Gourds from ALL THE LABOR

"Ready, Set, Fund" is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

It's only natural that talented acquaintances in the local music scene like Britt Daniel of Spoon or Ian Moore have achieved national recognition for their musical talent. Another success story is that of one of the hardest working bands I've ever known, The Gourds, comprised of Kevin Russell, Keith Langford, Max Johnston, Jimmy Smith and Claude Bernard. In addition to routinely playing at Shady Grove and Threadgill's South, or touring nationally, the Gourds also contributed music to a local short film, Mike Woolf's 2003 documentary Growin' a Beard.

The Gourds themselves are now the subject of All the Labor, a documentary currently funding through Monday, June 11, on Kickstarter. Filmmaker Doug Hawes-Davis is the founder of the annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana, where he initially met the band in 2001. The Gourds played Missoula nearly a dozen times in the last decade and Hawes-Davis attended every show, allowing him the opportunity to meet and convince the band to participate in a film documenting their story.

Mike Woolf is one of the cinematographers providing support in Austin on the film project. Another interesting local connection is that Hawes-Davis' nonprofit was the fiscal sponsor of Winter in the Blood, a new film by Alex and Andrew Smith (The Slaughter Rule) -- Alex teaches at UT while Andrew teaches at the University of Montana. Winter in the Blood had a successful Kickstarter campaign last year.

Find out about more local film-related crowdfunding efforts after the jump.

Movies This Week: May 18 - 24, 2012


Toshiro Mifune in Rashomon

It's another week free of hype and blockbuster films, with plenty of gems around Austin to keep film fans pleased, especially classic film fans. The Paramount Theatre kicks off its highly anticipated Summer Classic Film Series next Thursday night with To Kill a Mockingbird and Pillow Talk.

Galveston-based animator and filmmaker Kelly Sears will be in town to screen a series of short works for the Experimental Response Cinema on Wednesday, May 23, 7:30 pm, at Spider House. This 2011 Texas Filmmaker Production Fund (TFPF) recipient has had her experimental films screened at Los Angeles Film Festival, Sundance, and SXSW Film Festival including the animated short horror film Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise. Her films feature images of the past to tell modern stories through the use of analog and digital animation.

The Alamo Drafthouse is screening the classic movie Rashomon at the Ritz on Monday at 7:30 pm as part of their Film Foundation series. This 1950 film is a classic representation of the radical style of Akira Kurosawa, as well as the gorgeous cinematography of Kazuo Miyagawa, and the stoic but sometimes amusing performance of one of my favorite classic actors, Toshirô Mifune.

Every third Monday of the month beginning this Monday, May 21, Austin Film Festival (AFF) presents their Audience Award Film Series. The first film in this series to be screened at the Alamo Village at 7 pm is Sironia (review). Shot in Waco by now-local filmmaker Brandon Dickerson, this music-heavy film from AFF 2011 tells the story of a LA musician whose quest for stardom doesn't go as planned, so he and his expectant wife retreat to the simplicity of Sironia, Texas ... or so they think. Be sure to stay through the credits for a treat.

Movies We've Seen

Mansome -- The latest documentary from Morgan Spurlock explores masculinity in a time where metrosexual and manscaping abounds. Mike states in his review, "In exploring what it means to be a man, Spurlock focuses only on the superficial and avoids any internal answers to the question as he presents these vain, arrogant, even asinine subjects as being just as superficial and worried about appearance as women." (Arbor)

What to Expect When You're Expecting -- This romantic comedy depicts five interconnected couples experiencing the joys and surprises of pregnancy and parenthood as they learn not everything goes according to plan. J.C. says it's "far from the worst thing you'll ever see in theaters, but its cheap laughs might trick you into thinking you've seen a decent movie until you start really thinking about it." Read his review. (wide)

Film on Tap: American Craft Beer Week


Chris Cherry and Chip McElroy of Live Oak Brewing

Film on Tap is a column about the many ways that beer (or sometimes booze) and cinema intersect in Austin.

The Brewers Association, a national non-profit organization that functions on behalf of the majority of today's U.S. breweries, has designated one week each May as American Craft Beer Week, otherwise known as "The Mother of All Beer Weeks". This year's events will run from May 14 - 20, with several craft beer and film-related events around Austin for enthusiasts to enjoy.

This year is of extra significance to several Texas brewers thanks to recent wins in the 2012 World Beer Cup, including local breweries Hops & Grain, Live Oak Brewing -- Chris Cherry and founder Chip McElroy pictured above with their award -- and three medals for Saint Arnold Brewing Company of Houston. The World Beer Cup took place in San Diego, California, during the Craft Brewers Conference where Austin Beerworks took home first place in the Canny Awards "Best Use of Color" category for their Pearl-Snap Pils.

In celebration of American Craft Beer Week, Flix Brewhouse is featuring a "Buy the Beer, Keep the Glass" every day of the week, culminating with a very special unveiling of a new beer on Sunday, May 20. Personally I have more than enough enough glassware -- and overstocked beer fridges-- to open my own craft beer bar, but I love the idea of owning beer glasses labeled "Lupulus" (an American IPA) and its Belgian cousin "Dupulus", a Belgian Double IPA made with Pilsner malt and a touch of rye. As always, Flix will have "Made in Texas Monday" with all Texas pints only $3, and "Pick Your Pint Tuesdays" with $3 for any pint. Sounds like a great week to finally see Hunger Games at Flix now that I've finished reading the trilogy.

Find out about more American Craft Beer Week happenings with award-winning brewers as well as upcoming events around town after the jump.

Blue Goggles Films De-Pixelated


Blue Goggles Films logoOne of the perks available to members of the Austin Film Society is the quarterly Member Mixer, which is a great way to meet other film enthusiasts and filmmakers. At a mixer I attended in 2008, I met local filmmakers Ben and Rachel Moody of Blue Goggles Films.

At that time, they were working on an original web miniseries called Prologue, compelling short films that chronicled the moments before a zombie outbreak. The miniseries was designed to lead into a full web series of to follow survivors of the zombie apocalypse in their struggle to survive. Ben Moody developed the concept long before AMC's series The Walking Dead was filmed, and included a social networking component with a fun game of pitting zombies against survivors and interactive community forums. Unfortunately, further development of was abandoned, but you can still join and engage on the website and view Prologue online.

Fast forward to 2012, and Blue Goggle Films is on another filmmaking adventure. Since December 2011, their small local film crew has been making a short live-action film every month centered around the latest hot gaming trends, including Mass Effect and Skyrim. My personal favorite, A Very Arkham City Christmas, takes place on Christmas Eve with two of the Penguin's not so bright henchmen attempting to enjoy the holidays together within Arkham City prison. Watch A Very Arkham City Christmas here.

Review: Safe


Safe Still Photo

Crime drama was not a genre that interested me until Luc Besson's 1994 Leon: The Professional, when I was lured in by the development of the quasi-paternal relationship of killer Leon and young girl Mathilda. Their relationship added another dimension to this genre for me, and since then I'm more inclined to view these often ultra-violent films that I might have previously avoided.

Reminiscent of The Professional, the crime thriller Safe opens in theaters this weekend and stars Jason Statham as Luke Wright, an ex-cage fighter with a mysterious past. Admittedly, all it takes to pique my interest in an action movie nowadays is the name Jason Statham thanks to his beefy role in the Transporter franchise.

However, within the first few scenes it is obvious that there are two stars of this film -- Catherine Chan in her feature debut as Mei has as much if not more screen time than Statham. Writer and director Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans, Fresh) takes a risk depending less on Statham's star power and more on young newcomer Chan in her own scenes, as well as the convergence of two subplots connecting the unlikely companions Luke and Mei.

Off-Centered Film Festival: 'Blazing Saddles' and Awards

The Alamo Drafthouse recently hosted the fifth annual Off-Centered Film Festival with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, who once again brought along his filmmaker and actor pals Ken Marino and Joe Lo Truglio (seen above with Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League). Several hundred craft beer and film fans filled Republic Park in downtown Austin to watch the classic Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles on the first night of the festival.

Calagione was extremely vocal about his support for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and their growth and legislative efforts in Texas, both during the event by rallying folks to donate at the pie booth as well as part of a panel after the film. I accompanied Calagione as he tried various craft beers at the festival, and was impressed by his thoroughness in familiarizing himself with the new brewers and attentiveness to his devoted fans. By far, Calagione received more attention from attendees than Marino and Truglio who seemed quite content to relax with a craft beer and quote along with the film.

See more photos from the Rolling Roadshow event and find out who the winners were of the fifth annual film competition after the jump.

'Get the Gringo' Premieres in Austin


Mel Gibson at Get the Gringo Premiere

The movie Get the Gringo premiered in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar last Wednesday night, followed by a special Q&A with producer and star Mel Gibson (seen above on the red carpet), young actor Kevin Hernandez, director Adrian Grunberg and producer Stacy Perskie. What made this Q&A moderated by Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News so special was that it was streamed live to audiences in nine other cities that viewed a simultaneous screening of the film along with Austin. Audience members were able to submit questions directly to Knowles via the internet.

In Get the Gringo, Gibson portrays Driver, a career criminal who is nabbed by corrupt Mexican police and then hidden away in a tough prison where he must learn to survive through his own street smarts along with the help of a 9-year-old boy and a not so reputable U.S. Consulate representative. There were a few technical issues during the Q&A, and Gibson was a bit abrupt on the red carpet -- perhaps due to bad and sensationalist publicity earlier that day from a celebrity gossip website. Find out more about this crime drama including what I thought of Mel's onscreen performance in Get the Gringo after the jump.

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