Classes and Seminars

This is Not Your Living Room: A Theatergoer's Primer -- Part One


"Hot Fuzztival" audience

Dear Austin,

I love Austin, and it's film geek heaven. But apparently fewer and fewer of us know how to properly behave in theaters. It seems Austin's movie audiences are getting worse, even at the Alamo.

The theater is not your living room. And you are not alone in it. It's past time for a Theatergoers Primer.

Stop Talking. Shut it. When you arrive in the theater, stop using your outside voice. It is acceptable to talk, but quietly, not like you're at a nightclub. When the lights dim, so should your conversation. Stop talking during the trailers, as some people are actually trying to enjoy those, even if they are available online. When the film talks, no one should be talking.

Hear John Pierson's 2009 Master Classes on KUT


Tom Perrotta Master Class, by Austin Kleon on Flickr

Every spring, John Pierson teaches a master class at The University of Texas in which filmmakers, actors, producers, and other film-related professionals chat about the work they've been doing. And in the summer, KUT broadcasts many of the best moments from these classes so we all can enjoy hearing these professionals.

The excerpts will play on KUT's show "The Best of Public Radio" starting on Sunday, June 21 at 11:30 am. The Austin Chronicle film blog, Picture in Picture, has posted a tentative schedule of the shows. You can hear Pierson and his class talk with Harvey Weinstein, Morgan Spurlock, Mike Judge, Ellen Kuras, and local film critics Marjorie Baumgarten and Chris Garcia. I've attended Pierson's classes in the past and the discussions are always lively and interesting.

One of Pierson's classes that isn't making it to KUT this year is his conversation with novelist and screenwriter Tom Perrotta (Little Children). However, Austin Kleon drew one of his cool "mind maps" of the session, which I've included above -- a visually engaging way of taking and sharing notes. Thanks very much to Austin for putting a Creative Commons license on his illustration so I could share it here. And if you want to see a photo of Pierson and his guests in action, here's an entry with photos I took from the class with Matt Stone in 2008.

2009 Guide to Austin Summer Film Camps

Son of Rambow

You may think Austin has plenty of filmmakers, actors and crew in town now ... but just you wait another dozen years or so, and we'll be even more packed. That is, if you're judging by the number of summer day camps for kids interested in making movies. The camps cover everything from screenwriting to acting to claymation. At the end of many of them, your children attend a screening of the movie they helped make, or bring home a DVD to hold their own private screening party. All I ever brought home from summer camp were lanyards and painted rocks, so I'm envious.

Here's a list of all the summer movie-related camps and classes in the Austin area that I could find. The descriptions are pretty much verbatim from press releases or websites, since I haven't attended any of these camps personally. Sadly, they're for kids and not adults, although you'll find a couple of options for grownups at the end of the list. At least we can all go to the free summer movies, regardless of age.

Slackery Non-SXSW News Tidbits


TXFHOF 2009Why does this entry include a photo of Brendan Fraser from the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, you might ask? The answer is that I have no idea. I didn't feel like digging around for something more relevant, and at least this photo is funny. And no, this is not part of a covert plot to feature a Hot Dudes of SXSW photo gallery on Slackerwood. Although, since someone did suggest such a thing ...

Ahem. Anyway. Onto the latest Austin film-related news:

  • If you missed Bradley Beesley and/or his doc Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo at SXSW this year, you can say hi to him and hear about his film on Wednesday afternoon. He's visiting Ellen Spiro's documentary class at UT from 6 to 8 pm, and visitors are welcome. There may even be snacks. The class is in CMB (the brown building at Dean Keaton and Guadalupe), in Studio 4D.
  • Congrats to the Alamo Village for getting a spiffy new projector, a Sony 4K digital that can project 3D movies. I wish it had arrived before Coraline was in theaters, since I'm not especially excited about Monsters vs. Aliens. However, this also means that all first-run movies at the Village will now be digitally projected, and that should be pretty cool. Alamo programmer Lars Nilsen says (via Facebook), "It makes all other digital cinema look like a bear pooped on it."

Austin FilmWorks Fall Classes ... and a Bonus Story


I received a very nice email from local filmmaker/instructor Steve Mims last week, letting me know about his upcoming filmmaking classes at Austin FilmWorks and also complimenting Slackerwood. He introduced himself briefly, as though we hadn't met before.

I stopped and laughed aloud, because I am actually in one of Steve Mims' movies. He didn't make the connection ... admittedly, I was using a different first name at the time. And it was a very small role, thankfully for all of us.

My friend Tom Chamberlain was a producer on this film called One Eye Peeled ... this would have been around 2001, maybe? I can't recall the year. He asked me if I wanted to audition for a minor role that he thought was perfect for me. He gave me the relevant section of the script, at which point I found out I was "perfect" to play a character listed as Frumpy Housewife. I auditioned anyway -- it was a two-line role -- and got one night's work on the film.

One Eye Peeled was a series of comedy sketches strung together by a loose narrative, kind of like Kentucky Fried Movie. The sketch I was in was about Death holding a book signing for his autobiography. It was shot in BookPeople. I hadn't ever worked as an actor on a film before, except for a long cold night in grad school when I ran around in a Jimmy Carter mask for a brief appearance in someone's thesis film. (Or was it Richard Nixon? My memory sucks sometimes.)

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