Film News

Local production heats up, and a UT professor makes it to the Oscar doc short list

A hot, scary start to 2008

Usually the winter months mark hibernation for the Texas film industry, but, perhaps spurred by a combo of the Writers Guild of America strike on the two coasts and a new film-incentives program, this year it's smoking hot. Already scouting locations are the retreaders at Platinum Dunes, who have an unnamed film in the works that most certainly is the announced Friday the 13th remake and most likely will be shooting hereabouts by February with Marcus Nispel, who directed the first Dunes' Chainsaw film. In addition, industry insiders note a spike in inquiries for films in the $3 million to $6 million range. Speaking of Fridays, NBC will neither confirm nor deny rumors that if the strike stretches out, they will keep the Friday Night Lights crew busy by shooting a couple of pilots for a new series here. An NBC rep did firmly deny Internet rumors that the series would be picked up by ESPN.

Remember the Alamo

Quietly filming this week on the former The Alamo set in Dripping Springs is Appaloosa, a Western directed by and starring Ed Harris. Also in the cast are Renée Zellweger and Viggo Mortensen. The bulk of the project was shot in New Mexico, but according to New Line, a "climactic shootout" is lensing here. It's good news for The Alamo set, which has been sitting idle since filming ended in 2003, save the occasional commercial shoot and some filming of the low-budget Gary the Tennis Coach. Harris' crew spiffed up the Mexican town set, something it sorely needed, says Bob Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission. "We're hoping to save the Alamo," he says, and a couple of more films shooting there and restoring the set in the process might just do the trick.

'Body of War' on Oscar short list

Ellen Spiro's Body of War has made the short list of 15 docs up for the Best Documentary Feature category for this year's Academy Awards. Spiro, a University of Texas film prof, worked with former talk-show host Phil Donahue on this story of the postwar life of Iraq vet Tomas Young, who was paralyzed by a bullet to the spine. Spiro's longtime collaborator Karen Bernstein co-produced the film, and Bernadine Colish edited it. The five doc Oscar nominees will be announced Jan. 22, with the awards set for Feb. 24.

And the rest...

Get jingly with it at Reel Women's holiday party from 7 to 11pm, Dec. 3, at Hi-Lo for a mere $5, and dance/mingle the night away. While you're at it, bring some new socks, gloves, hats, and blankets to help out those in need... The South by Southwest Film Conference has paired with ON Networks for the Greenlight Awards honoring the best digital series. Submissions will be taken from December through Feb. 15, with the winners announced during SXSW in March. Look for updates at

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Film News, Friday the 13th, Platinum Dunes, Marcus Nispel, Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Appaloosa, Renée Zellweger, Bob Hudgins, Ellen Spiro, Body of War, Phil Donahue

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