Sipping 'Satellite of Love'
“The most important question we had to ask them was, ‘Can a girl in a bikini ride through the vines on a motorcycle?’ That’s what we needed to know. Although, in the end, it was really a guy wearing a wig,” said Will Moore, when asked about his selection process for Texas vineyards as sets for his film.
The filmmakers behind Satellite of Love, an independent, locally shot feature-length movie, just celebrated a video on demand release last month. Screened in twelve festivals around the nation including The Austin Film Festival and The Hill Country Film Festival, the film is now available for download. I met with director Will Moore, producer John Michael Measells, and music director/co-screenwriter Jonathan Case to discuss their experience with Texas wine during the filming. The movie was shot all around the Hill Country and Austin, featuring locations like Justine’s Brasserie (4710 East 5th Street) and Apache Shores off Lake Austin.
Roughly based on Eric Rohmer's 1967 film La Collectionneuse, the story revolves around two couples meeting for a weekend in the California (played by Texas) wine country. Opening scenes in the movie show that the men were best friends, one now married to the other’s ex-lover. When they all arrive for their vacation, a sexy DJ from Barcelona is thrown into the mix, dating the still-single friend. Add wine, beautiful countryside, music, and yes, girls on motorcycles (and bicycles), and the film plays around the questions of monogamy and the delicate messiness of the human heart.
The cast members are professionals, coming from productions like The O.C., True Blood, and Snakes on a Plane. They even found Patrick Bauchau, the leading man from the original French film and flew him over to play the role of vineyard owner and resident sage. The cinematography highlights the beauty of the Texas Hill Country.
Will Moore and his wife spent six months scouting locations, which he says consisted primarily of staying in Fredericksburg, going to wineries, drinking wine, and relaxing. In the process, they joined a handful of wine clubs that now ship wines to their home several times a year, an added bonus to the research.
There were two defining things Moore searched for when scouting out a perfect Texas winery for shooting: proximity to Austin for ease of travel, and permission for a girl in a bikini to ride a motorcycle through the vineyards. For the motorcycle scene, their initial choice was Becker Vineyards near Stonewall, but they eventually settled on Duchman Family Winery near Driftwood, for its proximity to Austin.
The tasting room at William Chris Vineyards was chosen for a different reason. “It looks like someone’s home in the middle of nowhere,” Moore explained. “The inside is so unique.” Indeed, the tasting room is crafted out of a farmhouse from the early 1900s, refurbished by winemakers Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett.
One of its most defining features is the ceiling, covered in colorful barn doors and the film does a beautiful job showing it off in one, long shot. Moore said they did not close the tasting room on the day of the shooting, but just moved the sample wines outside. People were crammed in the windows, trying to catch a glimpse of the filming. They only shot for a half day, but Moore, Measells, and Case all confirmed that everyone had at least one bottle of wine apiece during the course of the day. Their favorite William Chris wine was the 2008 Enchanté, and a bottle of it is featured in one of the shots. Producer Measells said he particularly enjoyed drinking it with his corn nuts on site.
The day at Duchman Family Winery was spent filming in the beautiful vineyards, riding bikes and motorcycles through the vines. Once again, the cast drank a lot of wine on site. Dave Reilly, Duchman Family Winery's winemaker, offered up most of the varieties and blends available for tasting. They bought several cases of the Duchman Sangiovese 2010 and, true to form, Moore joined the wine club.