Film News

It's Texas vs. Arizona in the 'Friday Night Lights' Bowl, but we might have a secret weapon: the new TXMPA

Will 'Lights' shine again in incentive-free Texas?

Friday Night Lights has officially been picked up by NBC for the fall television schedule with Kyle Chandler (Early Edition) playing the coach role Billy Bob Thornton won kudos for on the big screen. But will the series shoot in the Austin area? No definite answer yet, but so far so good, local film-industry leaders say. That comes after early hints that Arizona – one of the latest states to enter the film incentive derby – was close to stealing it away. "My sense is they like Austin, and they like what Austin has to offer," says Vincent Kitch, Cultural Arts Division manager for the city of Austin. "They just have to get it all lined up to make it work. We're looking at any ways we can to make something they'd be interested in." One sticking point appears to be finding a good facility in which to shoot. Austin Studios is full to the brim for the time being with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grind House, Platinum Dunes' The Hitcher remake, and the untitled Kimberly Peirce Iraq war film formerly known as Stop-Loss, which is back in preproduction.

That Austin is having to fight for the project despite director/producer Peter Berg's obvious preference – he shot much of both the film and the TV pilot here – is testament to the power filming incentives play in attracting studio projects. Gary Bond of the Austin Film Office has seen the pilot, which he said is "damn good," but warns that despite its Texas storyline, a local shoot is no certainty. "If we lose it because of incentives, that will be a pretty strong message to the powers that be over in the dome," he says. "If they go somewhere else, that will be proof that incentives work."

With that in mind, leaders of film commissions around the state have banded together to form the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, with Bob Hudgins, Texas film commish, leading organizational meetings. The Austin meet is slated for 7-9pm, June 1, in City Council chambers. The plan is to create a unified voice for the film industry as it aims to convince the Legislature to finally fund a film incentives program. Learn more about the alliance at

And the rest ...

Checking out Austin locations of late is The Highwaymen, about the Texas Rangers who tracked Bonnie and Clyde. Robert Redford is rumored to be involved with the project, which wouldn't start until at least the fall... Remix a trailer for Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly (which was a hot commodity internationally at the Cannes Film Festival) and win tickets to the film's premiere. Deadline is June 7, with more info at The hot TV series Prison Break will shoot at least 20 episodes in Dallas for the coming season. Austin was also in the running and might still host a few episodes... Steve Bilich's "Native New Yorker" won best documentary short at the Tribeca Film Festival and told our Marc Savlov that it led to a meeting with the Weinsteins... Got an RV and want to spend the summer in Marfa? There Will Be Blood needs extras of all ages for June and July and will provide RV hookups. Contact University of Texas student Lisa Kaselak's documentary "Let Them Eat Cake" is one of 34 finalists for the Student Academy Awards. Soupies like yours truly know Kaselak as the director of the doc "The Soup Peddler"... Congrats to filmmaker Kat Candler, who got married in the Dobie Theatre's Egyptian Room, then had the reception at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown. Also, best wishes to filmmaker Paul Alvarado-Dykstra and wife, Allison, who recently welcomed a baby boy into the world... Last Best Hope, a documentary about Nazi-occupied Belgium that was produced by Ramona Kelly and David Grosvenor and written and directed by Mat Hames, took gold at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival and is set to air on PBS nationally this fall... Vicky Boone and Leslie Belt's Attack of the Bride Monster was named best comedy by the online ZoieFest. See the film at Fans of Adobe Flash should mark their calendars for the Flashforward Film Festival on Sept. 13 in Austin... Could Richard Rush make his next film in Austin? Rush's fave stuntman, Gary Kent, speaking at a showing of Rush's Hells Angels on Wheels at the Alamo Drafthouse, says that's the plan.

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Friday Night Lights, Peter Berg, Bob Hudgins, Vincent Kitch, Gary Bond, Texas Motion Picture Alliance, Lisa Kaselak, Steve Bilich, Let Them Eat Cake, Last Best Hope, Attack of the Bride Monster

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