Film News

Austin Studios gets an upgrade, plus the fall festival season begins

Austin Studios Gets Pretty

Hey, film productions. Austin Studios doesn't need you. Uh, at least not for a few months while they spruce up a bit. Then, please, come a-calling. Yes, long-awaited studio renovations finally began last week via $5 million Austin voters approved in November 2006. Austin Energy has thrown another $1 million into the project, which has four guys currently ripping out temporary insulation on Stage 5. It and Stage 1 are slated to be the flagships for the studios, once soundproofing and air-conditioning are in place come December, says Rebecca Campbell, executive director of the Austin Film Society, which operates Austin Studios. The other sound stages will get sprinklers, digital infrastructure, and security upgrades. "We finally get to pull the trigger," Campbell says. "Now if we can [increase state] incentives, we'll be rocking and rolling again."

Did Somebody Say Film Festival?

Fantastic Fest, set for Sept. 18-25 at the Alamo Drafthouse South, has unleashed its second wave of film announcements ( Alamo mastermind Tim League sez check out the world premieres of Santos, a Chilean superhero flick with visual effects provided by Austin's Troublemaker Studios, and Seventh Moon, directed by Eduardo Sánchez of The Blair Witch Project fame. There's also the world premiere of Zombie Girl, a doc about then-12-year-old Emily Hagins of Austin and her quest to make the zombie film Pathogen, and the regional premiere of The Wild Man of the Navidad, the Texas-shot bigfoot film from Duane Graves and Justin Meeks. Graves reports that IFC Films has picked up the North American rights to the film and plans to release it as part of their Festival Direct series on pay-per-view and video-on-demand outlets later this year and later on DVD.

And The Rest ...

Austin actor Jackson Hurst has been cast in a leading role in Drop Dead Diva, a Lifetime series pilot, according to his agent, Heather Collier. The show, about a model who dies and comes back in a rather unattractive form, also will feature Margaret Cho... They're still locking down financing, but Kristoffer Aaron Morgan and Eric Vespe (Ain't It Cool News fans know them as Kraken and Quint) have penned a deal with Weta Workshop, Peter Jackson's effects offshoot, to do creature effects on their indie horror film, The Home... If you preorder Laura Dunn's enviro doc The Unforeseen at, she'll give you a DVD of her film Green. The Unforeseen is out on DVD on Sept. 23 and is popping up on the Sundance Channel... Bob Ray's short "Night of the Kung Fu Zombie Bastards From Hell! Redux" is part of the Slamdance Film Festival's online Anarchy Short Film Competition. The winner shows in Park City next January. Check it out at Austin-made "Chickenfüt" continues its winning ways, named Best Film at the Blacklist Arts and Film Festival in Lake Tahoe Aug. 2. Written and directed by Harrison Witt and produced by Jourdan Henderson, the 18-minute short stars local theatre mainstays Jeffery Mills and Cyndi Williams.

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Austin Studios, Rebecca Campbell, Fantastic Fest, Tim League, Bob Ray, Laura Dunn, Jackson Hurst, Drop Dead Diva, Kristoffer Aaron Morgan, Eric Vespe, The Home, "Night of the Kung Fu Zombie Bastards From Hell! Redux", Emily Hagins, Zombie Girl, Pinny Grylls, "Peter and Ben"

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