The Austin Chronicle

One in a Crowd: Leslie

By Richard Whittaker, November 21, 2014, 3:15pm, Picture in Picture

As times change, people are drawn to commemorating the past. Now there are two documentaries in production that focus on Austin's more eccentric characters, and the latest centers on the town's most famous homeless resident/mayoral candidate: Leslie.

In many ways a partner piece to last week's crowdfunding spotlight film, Crazy Carl and his Man-Boobs, this new documentary centers on the late, legendary Leslie Cochran. Here's how the filmmakers explain the man and the project:

Leslie is an independent documentary that tells the untold story of Albert Leslie Cochran – a hell-raising, thong-clad, homeless man whose bizarre approach to activism catapulted him into becoming an unlikely civic symbol in Austin, Texas. Told with heartbreaking humor, the film is an intimate portrait of a rebellious drifter turned nationally-known icon, who reinvented himself to find love and redemption.

Production actually began in 2005, and the production took a great leap in 2010, when cinematographer Lee Daniel (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused) joined the team, and Grammy winner Patty Griffin signed up to do the soundtrack. However, the whole project was derailed in 2012 when Cochran died. After a two year hiatus, co-directors Ruby C. Martin and Tracy Frazier are trying to raise the funds to spend the next six months in post-production, with the bulk of the funds going toward editing the vast archive of material they collected.

As much as Leslie's story has been represented as a battle for the heart and soul of Austin between old weird and new corporate, the truth is that it's also a rather sad tale of the early death of the city's most high-profile homeless person. The filmmakers aren't glossing over any of that, remarking, "It is important to note that the film is not an exposé. Our intention is to offer insight into Leslie's life, creating a space to observe, as well as a portal for introspection into our own lives, and to find a renewed compassion for others."

Their crowdsourcing campaign stands at just under $8,000, with a target of $36,400 to be hit by Dec. 21. You can contribute via their Kickstarter page.

In other crowdfunding news, here's some updates on some other projects we've highlighted:

Horror-comedy Found Footage 3D is so close to its ambitious $35,000 target you can almost taste it. With $1,700 left to go before the midnight deadline on Dec. 21, you could be the donor to get them over the line (back the film here).

OK, blatant plug for the home team. Mustang Island, co-produced by our own Michael Bartnett, passed the $16,000 mark, but still needs another $19,000 by Dec. 3. Thinking Christmas presents? That executive producer credit would be a pretty sweet gift, right? (Back the film here.)

With three days to go, Crazy Carl and his Man-Boobs is just just $3,000 short of the $14,000 needed to cover music rights costs (back the film here.

Lovers of 35mm unite! UT student "Slow Creep" still needs another $5,000 before Dec. 3 to cover its film processing costs (back the film here).

One in a Crowd is a series intended to showcase Texas film and tech projects that are crowdfunding their way to a goal, be it distribution, a prototype, or production costs. If you have a project that we should know about, email us at

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.