AFF 2011 Interview: Mike Akel, 'An Ordinary Family'


The 18th Austin Film Festival is almost here. To help celebrate all the locally connected movies at this year's fest, we've reached out to a number of filmmakers to find out about their Austin and Texas-tied films screening at AFF, and to hear about what they're looking forward to doing during the festival.

A few years ago the (mostly) Austin-shot Chalk was the talk of Austin Film Festival. Now director Mike Akel is back in town with his latest film, An Ordinary Family. Akel is now based in Houston, but there are still some recognizable Texas locations in his feature, along with some familiar faces from Chalk.

Slackerwood: Describe your film for us, in a quick and dirty paragraph.

Mike Akel: An Ordinary Family is Modern Family meets Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

An Ordinary Family is a humorous drama about one family, two brothers and a really big problem. Thomas Biederman is blindsided when his estranged brother, Seth, shows up unannounced to the annual family vacation ... with his boyfriend.

Despite a well-meaning attempt to surprise everyone, things do not go as planned, throwing Thomas and the family into an awkward week-long vacation where everyone has problems and no one wants to talk about them.

Tell us one thing about An Ordinary Family that is going to make it impossible for people to resist seeing it at AFF?

The rack focus in scene 46! Just kidding. I would say the ensemble cast! The acting is damn good!

How long have you been working on the film?

Matt Patterson and I began writing in January of 2010 and we premiered the film at Los Angeles Film Festival in mid-June 2011. 18 months from script to screen and we will spend another year distributing.

What are the recognizable locations in Austin/Texas?

Most of the film was shot in Lago Vista around Lake Travis. We also shot at St. David's Episcopal Church and the Kiss & Fly bar.

What are your future plans for An Ordinary Family?

We just made a digital distribution deal and plan to release in early 2012 on iTunes, Amazon, VOD, etc. We are also planning on a small theatrical release in 2012.

What one place to visit/eat/drink would you recommend to out-of-towners here for AFF?

Hulu Hut!

What are you looking forward to doing during AFF?

I'm actually bringing seven of my digital filmmaking students from Houston, so I'm looking forward to taking them to panels, films and yes, An Ordinary Family!

An Ordinary Family plays Austin Film Festival on Saturday, October 22 at 1 pm at ACC, and encores on Monday, October 24 at 9:30 pm at Regal Arbor.