A Visit to 'The Bounceback' Set


"Lovers of Hate" screening

A Sunday afternoon on the set of The Bounceback reconnected me to all that is enchanting about filmmaking -- the passion, the camaraderie, the dedication. Thanks to talented writer and director -- and former Austin Film Society Director of Artistic Services -- Bryan Poyser, a strong dose of irreverence pervaded the day as a bonus.

Some 50 actors and crew had already put in a good five hours when I showed up at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on Sunday for my VIP set visit, but spirits were nonetheless high. I parked at base camp where the catering, craft services and honeywagon made it look like any major motion picture and belied the indie nature of this enterprise.

After hugs with Bryan (second from left in above photo), who seemed as proud and tired as a new father, the affable Assistant Director C.J. Neels ushered me to my perch. From the back of the theater, I watched the lewd antics in comfort and anonymity. I stayed for three scenes, which moved at an astonishingly efficient clip considering how much coordination was needed between actors, dozens of background players, and music as well as the usual crew.

As an aside, I felt a bit of pride at seeing C.J. Neels in action. C.J. was once an AFS intern and due to his work ethic, kind disposition, dogged determinism and willingness to couch surf, has been working consistently, including an imminent return stint on The Lying Game. As a result, he's moving along the Assistant Director track and is on course to join the Directors Guild of America within a year or so. To understand what an exciting and impressive accomplishment that is, take a look at the DGA website.

C.J. was diligent in introducing me around thanks to my VIP status (earned over five years of working with Bryan at AFS), and I was also glad to see a lot of familiar faces. I ate lunch with Zach Green (far right in above photo), son of our board member Deborah Green, who said, "I just hope my mom doesn't pick today for a set visit" for reasons that will be apparent in the finished movie. I also ran into Danny Sutedja, a former AFS apprentice, who said he has been keeping busy working locations, mostly on commercials; current intern Noelle Schonefeld dressed in something akin to an Oktoberfest waitress outfit for her role; and dynamo producer Megan Gilbride.

Filmmaking is a fascinating occupation with its combination of military precision, heartfelt art and wild creativity, advanced skills and teamwork. Visiting the sets wildly justified my enthusiasm for two of AFS' signature programs, the internship program and the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund, which ensure Austin has an eager, experienced population of up-and-coming filmmakers with bright futures. Seeing these creative individuals in action brought home the importance of these programs as we finish our fundraising for the year. Let's make it a wrap!

[Photo credit: "'Lovers of Hate' screening" by Heather Leah Kennedy. From L to R: Chris Doubek, Bryan Poyser, Heather Kafka and Zach Green. Used with permission.]