Debbie Cerda's blog

Ready, Set, Fund: 'Crowd Speak' for Successful Crowdfunding


Still Photo from Foreign Puzzle

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

Of all the contributions that I've made over the last 4.5 years to Slackerwood, I find this monthly feature, which can be quite rewarding for filmmakers through the promotion of their funding campaigns, to also be personally rewarding. I enjoy following the progress of many of our featured film projects from creation to production to screening at prestigious film festivals including Sundance, SXSW and Austin Film Festival.

Over the last two years, this column has expanded beyond just film projects with the inclusion of television and web media as well as tools to help filmmakers. For example, one of this month's featured fundraising campaigns is for WriterDuet collaborative screenwriting software. WriterDuet is currently available for free online, but this fundraising campaign, which is funding through Thursday, December 19 on Kickstarter, will fund the creation of a desktop version.

We also receive a considerable amount of feedback each month from filmmakers regarding their fundraising efforts. This month's column thus features two new sections: Projects that we've featured in a past column, and tips from the industry to help with fundraising efforts.

First Sundance 2014 Announcement Includes 5 AFS-Supported Films


Sundance Film Festival 2014Last week, the Sundance Film Festival announced 43 independent films selected for its 2014 fest, in the US Documentary and Narrative Competitions and NEXT section. Among the films selected, five projects have received assistance from Austin Film Society (AFS), including several AFS Grant recipients.

Local filmmaker Kat Candler and producer Kelly Williams received news that their feature Hellion -- based on the short by the same name -- was accepted into the U.S. Dramatic Competition for the fest, which takes place January 16-26 in Park City, Utah. Williams received a fellowship in 2012 to the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Creative Producing Lab for Hellion.

"I am very honored that the Sundance Institute sees the potential in Hellion to get behind it and has the faith in Kat and I to see it through," Williams said about the project in 2012 (source).

"When we got the call from Sundance it was so early, I had this weird pit in my stomach that they were calling to tell us we didn't get in. Y'know, let us down early. I almost didn't want to answer the phone," Candler told me last week via email. "So when Kim Yutani [Sundance programmer] said, 'Kat, we want to play Hellion at Sundance this year,' I just crouched in the empty hallway and couldn't stop saying 'Thank you' over and over again."

This is Candler's third consecutive year getting a movie into Sundance -- her short Black Metal premiered there in 2012, and the short film Hellion  screened in 2011.

"The misconception is that if you've gotten into Sundance once, you have a free pass for life. It's totally not the case. So every time I get that call after weeks of stomach-turning stress, I thank every one of my lucky stars. We were fortunate to have worked with insanely talented people, and the most amazing southeast Texas community who put their heart and souls into this film," Candler said.

Holiday Favorites: Jarod Neece Loves His 'Christmas Vacation'


National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

Today's favorite movie recollection comes from SXSW Film Festival and Conference Producer and Senior Programmer Jarod Neece. He is also the co-founder and editor of the popular Austin food blog Taco Journalism, and co-writer of the new book, Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day. His pick is also a favorite of mine:

The holidays are a special time for me and always have been. Living in the South my whole life it's the one time of year we get a little cold weather, I love the smells, the lights, the sounds, the traditions -- I'm a certifiable holidork! I love so many holiday films but the one movie I watch each and every Christmas season is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I am a fan of all the Griswolds' adventures (even Vegas Vacation!) and they each hold a special place in my heart.

Christmas Vacation has so many memorable scenes and so much funny and snarky commentary. From the nostalgic "trapped in the attic" scene to the hilarious and epic "Christmas lights aren't working" scene. From Cousin Eddie to Aunt Bethany to everyone in between -- I can't get through a holiday season without it!

Holiday Favorites: Alvaro Rodriguez, 'Ball of Fire'


Ball of Fire

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

This installment comes from Alvaro Rodriguez, who's cowriting El Rey cable show From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series and who's been my favorite Austin Film Festival panelist. Here's his pick, which is also a favorite of Jette and Elizabeth:

Ball of Fire (1941), directed by Howard Hawks, with screenwriters Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. Slough off the winter doldrums with a classic comedy, whydoncha? Surely one of the greats in so many genres, Barbara Stanwyck makes words sexy in Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire, a jazzy update of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and one of my favorite go-to holiday flicks. Here, Babs is Sugarpuss O'Shea (oh, hell, yes), a nightclub artiste who hides out from the mob in a house full of stuffy professorial types (including Gary Cooper) struggling to put together the definitive encyclopedia of slang.

Austin 2013 Comic Con Wrap-up: The Costumes


Spiderman and Friends

Meeting special guests, attending the panels and shopping for comics, graphic art and movie memorabilia may be the biggest attraction of Wizard World Austin Comic Con, but it's the costumes that really grab the attention on the Austin Convention Center floor at this year's convention. Throughout the weekend, attendees showed off their costumes on the main stage as well as at special cosplay meet-ups. Also this year, Comic Con added multiple Sci-Fi Speed Dating events to the schedule -- I peeked inside and observed several participants of both sexes, all in full costume.

Watching the young kids interact with their favorite superheroes was quite entertaining-- clowns and Santa might be frightening to youngsters, but Spiderman had a constant entourage of young kids eager to interact including Spidergirl, Thor and another girl whose costume was not as easily identified (seen at top).

Check out more of the great costumes at this year's Austin Comic Con after the jump.

Austin Comic Con 2013: Family Fun


Paul Alvarado-Dykstra and Bethany Rhoades at Wizard World Austin Comic Con

My perception of fantasy conventions in the past was that they tend to be more adult-oriented with anime and cos-play, but the Wizard World Austin Comic Con provides a well-rounded experience for families to enjoy together. Until this weekend I had never seen children attending a panel, yet there were several young kids in the Tailchaser's Song Animated Film Sneak Peek session on Sunday. The movie is an animated adaptation of Tad Williams' popular novel about a group of feral cats who journey through the treacherous world of humans and other animals.

Local producer Paul Alvarado-Dykstra and associate producer/writer Bethany Rhoades (pictured above) talked about how this project came to fruition and provided a "behind-the-scenes" look at the concept art of the film. Local animation artist and voice actor Samantha Inoue-Harte -- who was unable to attend due to illness -- brought in Animetropolis, which she co-owns with Alvarado-Dykstra. Rhoades had initially approached Inoue-Harte for a consultation on how to adapt Williams' novel to the screen, and Inoue-Harte was enthused enough to also join as a producer for the project.

Austin Comic Con 2013: Familiar Faces Everywhere


Michael Rooker at Austin Comic Con

Despite the cold and rainy weather this weekend, massive crowds turned out for the Wizard World Austin Comic Con for a chance to see their favorite television and film stars as well as experience the "Day of The Doctor" 50th Anniversary with a well-attended BBC America simulcast screening. The most popular costumes at this weekend's event were obviously Doctor Who related, with scores of "Weeping Angels," various incarnations of the Doctor and sonic screwdrivers held high.

Oddly another costume that I saw frequently was that of Kevin Smith's recurring character, Silent Bob, which was even more popular than The Walking Dead Daryl and Merle Dixon. Speaking of the Dixon brothers, the lines in the autograph pens were quite long for Norman Readus and Michael Rooker (pictured above). I chatted with Rooker briefly -- he spoke of enjoying the rooftop scene of The Walking Dead episode "The Prologue," especially the aspect of "manipulating the audience in understanding what Merle is about."

Austin Comic-Con 2013: Previewing the Films


Lou Ferrigno at Austin Comic Con 2012

If you've not had a chance to attend a Comic Con, this year would be a great opportunity to check out this jam-packed multi-day event right here in Central Texas this weekend, from Friday, Nov. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 24. Wizard World has not only expanded the number of Comic Cons held each year, but also the content to include more television and film-related programming.

This weekend at Austin Comic Con, stars available for photo and autograph sessions range from Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Readus of The Boondock Saints fame to The Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno -- seen above at the 2012 Austin Comic Con. Star Trek captains William Shatner and Scott Bakula will also be in attendance, with Shatner accepting his "Honorary Austin Citizenship" from Mayor Leffingwell on Friday evening at 5:30 pm at the Austin Convention Center.

Speaking of The Hulk, Marvel will be debuting its new animated film Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United on Saturday, with a special appearance by Hulk voice actor Fred Tatasciore as he introduces the film and hosts a Q&A.

Ready, Set, Fund: Producing for a Cause


Reel Change Film FrenzyReady, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

Local nonprofit festival Lights. Camera. Help. is changing it up a bit for the 2014 Reel Change Film Frenzy through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to support their ten filmmaking teams in sharing stories about local nonprofit organizations. Backers can become a producer of their very own cause-driven film by donating as little as $10. The goal is to raise $10,000 to be split between the teams to cover their costs.

At higher levels, backers are eligible to receive tickets to the Reel Change Film Frenzy screening at the Alamo Drafthouse, a cameo appearance in one of the films, or video coaching sessions by Lights. Camera. Help. educators. Even if the campaign does not reach its goal, the filmmakers have agreed to split evenly any funding received through January 4.

Stuntwoman Patty Dillon has taken on a new role in the film industry as a documentary filmmaker with There Will Be No Stay, the personally intimate story of the men faced with the unbearable act of taking another person's life on behalf of the criminal justice system. Austin-based Arcanum Pictures (Grow Up, Tony Phillips) producers Paul Gandersman and Peter Hall support this salient documentary, which was filmed across the nation from South Dakota to Texas and North Carolina.

The film, which provides a rare glimpse into a difficult profession, is currently funding through Wednesday, December 11 on Kickstarter, for funds to cover post-production including final film and sound editing as well as music licensing and film festival application fees.

Watch the thought-provoking preview of There Will Be No Stay after the jump.

Review: About Time


About Time Still Photo

From Aristotle to Einstein to Hawking, much debate has occurred over the structure of time and the possibility of time travel. If time travel were possible, where would you go? More importantly, how do you prevent the paradox of destroying your own identities -- or the worse fate of your own existence and others -- in the process?

The most widely talked-about moments in time to change often leads to an assassination of Hitler or saving of the Titanic. But a more personal use drives the time-travel paradigm in the romantic comedy About Time by writer/director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill). On his twenty-first birthday, lovelorn Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) receives extraordinary news of a special gift shared by his father (Bill Nighy). The men in their family have the ability to travel through time within their own lives -- "You can't kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy" -- Tim decides what he wants most is a girlfriend, so he sets forth to secure the love of his life as he begins his professional career as a lawyer in London.

One fateful night, he meets and becomes enamored with the beautiful yet insecure American girl Mary (Rachel McAdams), but his use of time travel to resolve a failed performance for his landlord and playwright Harry (Tom Hollander) results in unintended consequences. It is as if he and Mary have never met, and he must find a way to place himself in the right moment to win her heart. However, his efforts impact the lives of his loved ones, including his sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson), and he is faced with the critical decision of letting those he cares about most learn life's lessons on their own.

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