Film News

Poyser to take control; plus, remembering Gary Graver

Poyser in charge

Bryan Poyser knows a thing or two about the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund. He has been awarded grants three times, twice for his critically acclaimed Dear Pillow and once for a short film. Now, as the new director of artist services for the Austin Film Society, one of his duties is to oversee the fund process. "It's an exciting time for me," Poyser says. "I'm going to continue to pursue films and write screenplays. This gives me the opportunity to survive and still stay involved." The Cassidy Kids – co-written with Tasca Shadix and Tom Willett and directed by collaborator Jacob Vaughan for Burnt Orange Productions – premiered earlier this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival and is still seeking distribution. Poyser was nominated for the 2005 Independent Spirit Someone to Watch award and believes the latest Austin film to be up for an Independent Spirit, Chalk, which also has secured a distribution deal through Morgan Spurlock and Hart Sharp Video, as well as Sundance selections Teeth and The Unforeseen are a sign of the film community's growing rep. "Austin filmmakers are really kicking butt and continue to do so every year," says Poyser, whose new job also will have him organizing works-in-progress screenings and, he hopes, several initiatives.

Showing Our Sundance Shorts

Last week I told you about Texas-connected features accepted to Sundance, but what about those shorts culled out of more than 4,000 entries? David and Nathan Zellner are back with "Aftermath on Meadowlark Lane." Plus, Jesus "Chin" Beltran's Fort Worth-shot "The Grass Grows Green" is in. Meanwhile, one feature I failed to mention is the story of John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, in Chapter 27, directed by Jarrett Schaeffer, who went to high school in Grapevine.

Goodbye to Welles' Right-Hand Man

Famed cinematographer Gary Graver, who recently passed away after a long battle with cancer, will be remembered by Texans as the shooter for the 1986 television remake of Stagecoach, shot partially in the state, starring Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. But Graver's credits list is a mile long and highlighted by a long partnership with Orson Welles. Graver had fought for years to piece together and release Welles' last, unfinished film, The Other Side of the Wind, about a great director's decline. Graver also worked with Roger Corman and shot Ron Howard's Grand Theft Auto (see "DVD Reviews," p.62). Graver's brother Geoff lives in Austin.

True Western Independents

Director Glenn Helm and producer Toby Thomas may be the combined definition of persistence. The date they started shooting the 1880 period Western Blood on the Brazos, their financial backer walked out. As Helm says, with "no script and a bunch of nobodies with a little experience," they steered true and, years later, finally have a finished film from their production company, Sindinero ("without money" en español). The film was shot in the Texas town of Nemo, a name that means either "nowhere" or "no man," depending on whom you ask.

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Bryan Poyser, Zellner Brothers, Gary Graver

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