Film News

The pair behind 'Dear Pillow' is at it again; plus, IFP issues, Cannes kudos, and Digital Light Processing lightsabers

'Cassidy' and the 'Dear Pillow' Kids: Last week Bryan Poyser quit his day job. Officially a full-time filmmaker, he and Jacob Vaughan are knee-deep in script rewrites for a mid-July shoot of The Cassidy Kids, their follow-up to award-winning Dear Pillow. Burnt Orange Productions, the University of Texas film arm, is backing the ambitious tale of a legendary gang of kids who in 1980 solve a murder and see their lives turned into a Scooby-Doo!-style television show. Years later, when they reunite for the show's DVD box set, they learn they got it wrong and have to really solve the crime. "It's one-third period piece and one-sixth fake TV show from the Eighties," Poyser says. "It's a huge challenge, but we've always bitten off more than we can chew with every thing we do." The dynamic duo are switching roles this time, with Vaughan directing, Poyser producing, and both rewriting the script by former UT Michener fellows Tasca Shadix (she wrote the dreamy The Book of Stars, which is now out on DVD) and Tom Willett (Dreamland). The budget is much larger than the shoestring Pillow, and should be a local showcase with PJ Raval shooting (look for a piece on him in May's American Cinematographer magazine), Leslie Milligan handling production design, and Kyle Henry (assuming he doesn't return from the Cannes Film Festival showing of his Room with other plans; see his festival journal) as editor.

FINDing IFP: After more than two years of effort, Austin officially has its own chapter of the Independent Feature Project, which was formed in 1979 in New York City to foster filmmaking outside of the studio system. "We're stoked," organizer Bret Branon said. "I think this is something that can be really cool for Austin. We're trying not to duplicate any other film initiatives in town." But in a reflection of IFP's national turmoil, not everyone is happy about the Austin chapter. IFP's L.A. chapter – the largest, with 6,300 members – recently announced its divorce from the group and renaming as Film Independent or FIND. And IFP, Branon said, is looking to tighten operation of its remaining chapters in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle, Santa Fe, and Austin. But the rub for Paul Alvarado-Dykstra is he'd worked to secure the L.A. group as Austin's IFP sponsor. He believes it's a better fit because of its size and ownership of both the Los Angeles Film Festival and Independent Spirit Awards. Alvarado-Dykstra, who helped recruit Austin film industry leaders to the effort, feels "blindsided and betrayed" by the IFP announcement and questions its legitimacy. Krista Keosheyan, head of Austin's Digital Filmmaking Resource Group, is listed with Branon on an IFP press release as chapter organizer, but said she has stepped back from the effort in recent months. She terms the situation a "clash of visions," but credits Branon for being the early driving force to bring IFP to Austin and supports the new chapter.

Fangs a Lot: Look for low-budget vampire flick Insatiable to shoot in Austin in late June. Austin's Martini Shots and L.A.-based Momentum Releasing are behind the four-week shoot to be directed by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman.

Cannes Can: Tommy Lee Jones was named best actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his Texas-shot The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (which featured lots of Austin crew), and Guillermo Arriaga got a nod for the film's script. Meanwhile, Robert Rodriguez won the fest's technical award for Sin City.

Theatre Wars: The best Austin theatre in which to experience the final Star Wars chapter? The Galaxy Highland 10 is a safe bet, since it's only the second theatre in Texas to install a Digital Light Processing digital projector. Ah, but the best place to avoid the lightsaber-wielding crowds is downtown Taylor's historic Howard Theatre, where tickets are a mere $4.

It's a Date: OK, hipsters, pull out your Care Bears thermos and Sex Pistols lunch box. The Discovery Channel's new show Pop Nation: America's Coolest Stuff is coming to Austin on June 18. Preregister at www.discovery.com/popnation… Texas-shot supernatural Western The Legend of Ghostwolf's Gold, from writer/director Shane Scott, shows at 7pm, Thursday, May 26, at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum. The film has distribution and a deal with Blockbuster… Jason Syesta's Visions of Mexico, about sport climbing, premieres at 3pm, June 11, at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown… Cinemark Movies 8 in Round Rock is your summer babysitter, with $1 admission to Summer Movie Clubhouse, beginning at 9:30am, May 31… Aubrey Horton's next screenwriting workshops begin June 11 and 12. More at www.scriptdoctor911.com.

• The Austin Film Society (as well as the Thoughtful House Center for Children and AMD) will present three premiere screenings – 3pm, 5:30pm, and 7:30pm – of Robert Rodriguez's The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D on Sunday, June 5, at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum's IMAX Theatre. There will also be a carnival starting at 5pm. For admission information, call 322-0145 or see www.austinfilm.org. The film opens nationwide on June 10.

Send film tips to filmnews@austinchronicle.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Bryan Poyser, Jacob Vaughan, The Cassidy Kids, Burnt Orange, Brent Branon, Paul Alvarado-Dykstra, Independent Feature Project, Insatiable, Pop Nation:America's Coolest Stuff

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