SXSW 2014: A Different Kind of 'Two Step'



Austin was filmmaker Alex R. Johnson's "something better" from the hustle and bustle of New York City life. Johnson had searched for a city that wouldn't necessarily compete with his memories of the Big Apple, but for a community of like-minded individuals that weren't worried about their role on Law & Order. His dear pal and composer Andrew Kenny, aka Kenny, also made the move with his wife last year after an extended SXSW trip. The house that Kenny and his wife bought became the fictional home of a character in his and Johnson's latest movie Two Step (Don's review).

"I didn't really know what I was getting myself into," Kenny said.

That may have been an understatement. Once a truck and generator showed up at the Kenny home, they knew they were in for surprises. Memories of the ten-day shoot at their house continue to show up in the form of fake blood droplets.

"Still finding blood but no damage," Kenny said. "There's a little bit by the front door... it's gonna stay there." To Kenny's wife, it's kind of like Christmas, finding needles from the tree months later, Johnson said. 

It's only been a year and a half since Johnson moved to Austin. Although he had heard about how good the city's talent was before the move, by experiencing it firsthand he found it to be "stellar." Needless to say, he and the cast and crew had a bloody good time making the movie.

Two Step made its world premiere at this year's SXSW. The thriller stars native Texan Ashley Spillers, recent Austin transplant Beth Broderick of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch fame, Dallasite Skyy Moore and James Landry Hebert

How much did the (fake) blood cost?

Alex R. Johnson: I don't know, but I do know this: mouth blood [is] way more expensive than other blood because it's food grade. So, it was like, "Don't waste that, that's mouth blood." I don't know, a lot.

And Ashley, you recently moved from Austin to L.A.

Ashley Spillers: I did that.

Andrew Kenny: I know, how dare she.

Spillers: I lived in Austin for nine years and I've done a lot of work here and I have a lot of friends and a great community. It's hard to leave Austin, it's very hard. And my family's outside of Houston in Sugarland. I just thought, "Well, if I'm gonna do it," and I just wanted to live in a new place. I'm an actor; I guess I should go to L.A.

Beth (Broderick), I was looking through your filmography and I wasn't sure if you had filmed in Austin before.

Broderick: The film I did right before this, A Relative Stranger, shot here -- out of L.A., but it shot here.

And what year was that?

Broderick: Just now. It was the summer so, like, August, July, August, before I started this one, but they were not Austin based; it took place here, it took place in Texas. When I first moved here I was on a television series called Lone Star, it shot in Dallas. Of course, brilliant, which is why it didn't go; it was fantastic. It didn't go, so, of course, it was cancelled. But I really love working in Texas. I keep telling my agents in L.A.: "Is there anything shooting in Texas?"

What is it about Texas?

Broderick: I love my life here. I lived in L.A., and I still have a place there, but I just came to visit a couple of times and thought, "That's it. I'm moving there." And it's been great. It's a wonderful dream. I'm two-and-a-half hours from everywhere that I go: D.C., New York, L.A., Chicago. 

James Landry Hebert: I would even say that Austin was a character in the movie.

Broderick: Austin was definitely a character in the movie.

Hebert: Austin was my favorite character.

Not your own?

Hebert: Naw. Oh, I hated the guy, but I love to hate that guy.

That brings up an interesting point, though, playing a character that you hate. I would find it difficult if I couldn't find any sort of connection between myself and that character.

Hebert: That keeps coming up a lot, and there was a lot of that. When I first read the script I really identified with the James character that Skyy played, having suffered a lot of loss as a young man and I could just relate to him. I was like, "Goddamn, I wish I was younger so I could play that role, but Webb sure is perfect for me and that would be a lot of fun."

And what happens with Webb and Amy [Spillers], you know, I had just went through a very different breakup before that, but I thought, "What a great opportunity to use that tragedy ... turn a bad experience into a good experience," which is kind of the basis of my entire craft, you know, using all that stuff and putting it on screen, it's like art therapy.

Broderick: I think it's fun to be the bad guy. I love when they let me be the bad guy.

Hebert: It's so fun, it really is.

Broderick: It's absolutely a blast. I did a horror movie where they; I'm so evil, and at the end they cut my head off and the whole audience applauded. My mother was just devastated. She was like, "They applauded." But it was so much fun. Great fun.

Hebert: Yeah, it's pretty funny after the screenings when you play roles like this people come up and they're like, "I hated you," with a big smile on their face. And I'm like, "Thank you," question mark. So, I've sorta been out to prove that I'm not such a bad guy, regardless of Webb's, you know, unredeemable actions.

Patrick Cassidy (one of the movie's producers) said he went to college with you.

Hebert: He is my oldest friend in the movie business. We have been trying to work together for many years. In fact, he offered me a role in Boneboys. We weren't actually able to connect until now because of scheduling or ... I mean, as soon as I read this script, I think everyone -- a testament to Alex Johnson's writing -- we were just like, "Yes." ... And when [Cassidy] sent me this script, for all those kismet reasons I told you before, it just seemed, like, meant to be.

And then I came to Austin for the first time, well, second time; my first movie Skateland came to South By in 2010 and I had the most incredible experience of my life, it was also a move for me and my first festival, I was just really excited and fell in love with Austin then. So coming back to shoot this... I mean, I want to move here.

I wanted to ask you about your first time in Austin.

Skyy Moore: I think that it's amazing how much there is to do in this city. I live in Dallas and Dallas is a lot snobbier than Austin. There's not as much going on in Dallas. People kinda keep to themselves. Austin seems, even without South By, Austin feels like a festival: there's always people lining up for something, putting their $20 down for whatever. I like Austin a lot.