Short Cuts

If L.A. fell into the ocean, Hollywood would move to Austin. If it doesn't anyway.

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Cake Dept.: Austin Studios is three years old this week and, not coincidentally, they're currently basking in one of the most productive film seasons on record. Consider this: There are currently three major studio productions shooting around town -- Revolution Studios' Cheer Up, Andrew Wilson's The Wendell Baker Story, and the Farrelly brothers-produced The Ringer -- or four, if you count The Alamo, which, although it wrapped a while back, has recently had its opening postponed from December to April and looks to be headed back to town to do possible reshoots. There's also the downright amazing opening weekend figures for films recently shot here or shot by Austin Film Society board or advisory members, including Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Tim McCanlies' Secondhand Lions, Richard Linklater's School of Rock, Marcus Nispel's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol 1, all of which opened in the No. 1 position (No. 2 in Secondhand Lions' case) and continue to perform strongly. "We're kind of overwhelmed with the level of production activity in Austin this fall," says Austin Studios head Suzanne Quinn. "The question now is how do we sustain this? The important thing right now is to maintain this higher level of production activity. Right now, we need more crew, and so we're working hard here at the studios with our internship program, which we then put into our film referral program, where we try to get folks in the door on productions. We want to grow that crew base so that we can serve more films and get the industry here even bigger." Quinn, who has just returned from Los Angeles, says she heard the refrain "Austin's busier than L.A." several times while meeting with various producers and filmmakers interested in bringing work to town, including Todd Phillips of Gentlemen Pictures. "I think one of the reasons Austin is so hot right now is because this is the type of thing that builds on itself," adds Quinn. "It took a little bit for the word to get out, but when you look at how well The Rookie did and higher profile projects like Secondhand Lions and how well that was received, it really adds to the creative talent we've already got here. The industry is bombarded with pro-Austin word of mouth right now, which hopefully means even more incoming productions right around the corner."... Speaking of Austin film events, now is the time to advance-register for South by Southwest Film 2004, which runs from Friday, March 12, through Saturday, March 20. Friday, Nov. 14, is the early deadline, which gets you the film badge for $175 ($150 students), and saves you $75 over the walk-up registration price of $250/$225. Head over to www.sxsw.com/attend for more info... Money troubles? Not the Austin Film Festival and the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival, who have just been named recipients of cash grants from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The group awarded AFF $20,000 and Cinematexas $5,000, part of a total $250,000 allocation made to 17 U.S. film festivals for calendar year 2004 programming.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

South by Southwest, Suzanne Quinn, Todd Phillips, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Tim McCanlies, Marcus Nispel, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Farrelly Brothers, Andrew Wilson, Tim League

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