Film News

Kat in a hot Austin indie summer; plus, 'How to Eat Fried Worms,' Jeffrey Travis, and the rest

Rough Cuts: Kat Candler sat on a Ramsay Park bench nibbling pasta while the young stars of her jumping off bridges shot some hoops on the nearby playground. It was the last day of filming, and she mulled what came next. Run a marathon? She and producer Stacy Schoolfield are ready to train. Write a book about making independent films on the cheap? She, Schoolfield, and fellow producer Lorie Marsh are considering it. "The key to our success is we ask and then we ask again," Marsh says. Schoolfield adds, "We ask nicely." Candler as writer-director harks to the enthusiasm of Our Town (let's put on a show!). Want to learn the movie business? Can you find pumpkins in July? Able to grab funeral flowers for free? You're in. Follow the crew to Schoolfield's house, which doubles as a location. There Candler rested on the curb chatting with the film's stars. Cyndy Powell delivered an ice cream drink for actor son Glen a junior in high school. It has been a summer of promising independent film in Austin. Candler is challenging the crews of Jake Vaughan, Bryan Poyser and Burnt Orange Productions' The Cassidy Kids (see "On the Case: No. 2," above) and Steve Collins' Gretchen (it's a feature-length version of his 2004 South by Southwest jury-winning short) to a kickball game. But first, she must concoct a rough cut of bridges, which has been chosen for the Independent Feature Project's Rough Cuts Lab, the very selective program pairs promising filmmakers with mentors. Also chosen is Raj Chheda's Austin-shot thriller For Sale by Owner.

Pepsi, Si; Fonzie, No: Yes, that was Hallie Kate Eisenberg, the girl from the 1998 Pepsi commercials, you saw roaming Austin. She's all grown up and starring as Erika, the tall girl in New Line and Walden Media's adaptation of Thomas Rockwell's book How to Eat Fried Worms, which shoots here through mid-September. Henry Winkler, Jane Seymour, and Lou Diamond Phillips are not in the film, despite reports (and a mysterious photo) in another publication. But rumor has it an Austin-based director who is not named Richard Linklater or Robert Rodriguez is in negotiations to play the dad. Meanwhile, the Travis Heights neighborhood, hit by a rash of car break-ins, might contain the film's biggest fans. A security guard keeping an eye on location equipment there recently nabbed a thief in action, film spokesperson Toni Atterbury reports.

Second Chance Squared: I last spoke to Jeffrey Travis in 2004 when he was shooting sample scenes at Austin Studios for a Fox TV pilot about a stick figure that comes to life. Fox passed, calling it too family-oriented for their demographics, but Nickelodeon is now taking a serious look at Except for Danny, which Travis, father of three, thinks is a perfect second chance for the project. Speaking of, Travis recently directed and produced Second Chance, a spec reality show pilot in which homeless families are given a place to live, job training, dental care, counseling, and – of course – a makeover. "Hopefully it does some social good instead of just providing entertainment," Travis says. "It's rewarding to be a part of." The local Salvation Army is involved, as well as an unnamed Austin businessman. Oh, and the ultra-busy Travis recently produced and directed second unit on Cake, a romantic comedy about a wedding gone wrong, which shot partially in Austin. It stars William Zabka (Johnny in The Karate Kid), Ann Cusack, Joe Estevez, Thomas Calabro, and G.W. Bailey.

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Kat Candler, How to Eat Fried Worms, Jeffrey Travis, jumping off bridges, Except for Danny, Coyote

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