Film News

How to spend $5 million, get signed at Sundance, and get Caught in the Act

(l-r) Brewster McCracken, Richard Linklater, Robert Steinbomer, and Rebecca Campbell
(l-r) Brewster McCracken, Richard Linklater, Robert Steinbomer, and Rebecca Campbell (Photo By John Anderson)

Austin Studios looks to the future

Expect a new and improved Austin Studios by next summer. Much of the $5 million that voters approved for upgrades to soundproofing, air conditioning, and digital infrastructure will be spent on the Austin Film Society facility that since 2000 has been host to more than 40 feature films collectively worth about $800 million to the local economy. "Seven years ago we had this idea, and the city took a leap of faith with us," said director and AFS founder Richard Linklater of the former Mueller Airport site last week. "We realized it was needed as we competed with film industries around the country. The partnership is unique to Austin, and many of the films being made here are unique to Austin." Improvements will focus on two hangars and will add 100 tons of air-conditioning equipment to each. Austin Studios also will take over a Texas National Guard facility that AFS Executive Director Rebecca Campbell envisions as a "hive of activity" with space for low-budget editing and script-writing. "To invest in this will truly pay off for the city in economic repercussions," said film producer Elizabeth Avellán, who, along with Robert Rodriguez, also was key to Austin Studios' creation. "This is not happening anywhere else, no matter how many incentives they put down." Speaking of incentives, the Texas Motion Picture Alliance is having a film incentives party Wednesday from 7 to 10pm at Scholz Beer Garden. It's free, so come join Campbell, actress Dana Wheeler-Nicholson and SXSW Film producer Matt Dentler in support of the cause.

Swinging, baby, like a firefly with new chompers

Yes, the Weinstein Co. and Lions Gate jointly bit into Austin-shot horror flick Teeth following its Sundance Film Festival premiere to the tune of either $1 million or $2.5 million, depending on who's talking. Soon the world will embrace the term vagina dentate. Will CBS pilot Swing Town also get down and dirty in Austin? The television show about three swinging Seventies married couples living in the Chicago suburbs examines different views of open marriage and apparently has the hots for the Texas capital. Also likely to shoot here is Fireflies in the Garden, an independent film from 2003 Student Academy Award winner Dennis Lee. The title comes from the Robert Frost poem of the same name: "Here come real stars to fill the upper skies/And here on earth come emulating flies."

And the rest ...

Malas Frontera (aka Harvest of Redemption), a film shot on the Texas border, has been chosen for the 12th annual International Family Film Festival at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Among its producers are Laura Perez and director Javier Chapa; Ryan Brooks is an executive producer... While watching a sneak screening of John McLean's fun and funny Z: A Zombie Musical (it includes a cameo by yours truly as a scary zombie casting director), I thumbed through the premiere issue of Caught in the Act, a new magazine that will highlight the film scene. Look for it in the usual spots... No, Shoot Out of Luck hasn't shot yet. The Willie Nelson starrer has been pushed to the spring.

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Austin Studios upgrades, Richard Linklater, Elizabeth Avellan, Rebecca Campbell, Teeth, Swing Town, Fireflies in the Garden, Malas Frontera (Harvest of Redemption), Z:A Zombie Musical

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