Short Cuts

The Austin film community becomes a forum, just after it becomes a juggernaut. Plus, the Arbor sprouts again.

Don't Call It a Comeback -- We've Been Here for Years Dept.: Check it, G -- films by Austin directors, casts, and crews now hold three of the Top 10 box-office slots. Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico is holding steady in ninth (after four weeks in release), Tim McCanlies' Secondhand Lions is in fifth (after three weeks), and newcomer Richard Linklater's The School of Rock is at -- hell yeah! -- No. 1. Which just goes to show that, yeah, there is something in the water. It's called Shiner Bock, baby... Over the past few years, it has become readily apparent that the Austin film community, in all its various permutations from actors' groups to film festivals to post-production houses to actual living, breathing film shoots, has become far too unwieldy to keep track of on a daily basis, much less a monthly one. Here at "Short Cuts" we receive scads of e-mails announcing local events, calls, benefits, and so on, but we've also become aware of an increasing number of film-related shindigs and brouhahas that we never find out about until it's too late to run an item. More often than not we never hear about 'em for the simple reason that no one involved thinks to let us know in the midst of all their other chaos. Precious few fledgling filmmakers can afford a publicist to make sure those all-important press releases actually get where they need to go, and so despite our best efforts and weekend networking, some things fall through the cracks. But what to do? Jen White over at the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers had a brilliant idea the other day: She called a meeting of representatives from all aspects of Austin's film community. Get 'em in one room, she rightly figured, and something good is bound to happen. The meeting, co-sponsored by the Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals and GEAR equipment rental, convened Oct. 1 at 501 Studios and proved once and for all that 1) the Austin film community is more multilayered and vibrant than ever before in its history, and 2) where there's a will, there's a way. White and TAF/PF head Fernando Perez Del Rio pulled in several hundred representatives ranging from Reel Women to the Austin Film Society and from Cine Las Americas to the University of Texas. The Chronicle, of course, was there (as was a giant rat who'd apparently made a home in the cavernous 501 production studio and was wondering what this sudden influx of humanity was), and so ensued a lengthy introduction from each and every attendee, which, despite initial protest, turned out to be a hell of a way to mass-network. Among other notable filmsters were the Renaissance Company's J. Damon Chang, who won last year's "New York 24-Hour Midnight Movie Making Madness" and is set to do it all over again this Oct. 17 with a live hookup of himself on the go in the Big Apple (watch this space next week for more on this particular event); Cory Ryan of the ever-popular Flicker Austin Film Festival; Monument Productions' Elise McMullen, and fresh-outta-high school producer/director Trevor Nelson, whose videos for the likes of Los Lonely Boys seem to be on the Austin Music Network every time I turn it on. The end result of the evening -- besides everyone running out of business cards -- was the creation of the Austin Film Forum, headed by Charles Acosta, which is even as I type this acting as a comprehensive database of Austin film community events and notices. It's still being tweaked, but this and a planned calendar of Austin film events should help clear the waters muddied by the increasing overcrowding of film talent in Austin. Best of all, AIVF's White promises more meetings such as this in the future and, as always, those filmmaking staples, free carrots and beer... After what frankly seems like an eternity of legal wrangling, Regal's new, improved Arbor Cinema at Great Hills will open today, Thursday, Oct. 9, with eight screens, a cafe, and all the high-end art films you can shake a Quentin at. Former Regal Arbor manager Kevin Prewitt is once again at the helm, and Regal is currently planning a series of book-to-film discussions at the nearby Barnes & Noble beginning next week. More on that as info trickles in...

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Kevin Prewitt, Arbor Cinema at Great Hills, Austin Film Forum, Charles Acosta, Jen White, J. Damon Chang, The School of Rock, Fernando Perez Del Rio, Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals

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