Top 10 of 2008
MovieMaker magazine ranked Austin the best place to "live, work, and make movies," while Austin film folks raised $60,000 at the Spaghetti Western fundraiser toward efforts to convince the 2009 Legislature to increase Texas' film incentives to a level that is actually competitive with other states.
2) Malick plants one in Smithville.
The 65,000-pound tree had to be hauled about seven miles through the middle of Smithville, where auteur Terrence Malick shot The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt, who – along with a then-pregnant Angelina Jolie – attracted both gawkers and paparazzi.
3) Michigan stands in for Austin.
Drew Barrymore wanted to direct Whip It! in Austin. The Austin-set film was written by Shauna Cross, who grew up in Austin, and deals with the Roller Derby revival that began in Austin. Instead, it went to Michigan, where they offered up a whopping 42% financial incentive (Texas offers 5%).
4) HBO finally goes to Temple Grandin.
It had been in the works for a solid nine years, and finally HBO shot a film starring Claire Danes as Temple Grandin – who found great success despite suffering from autism – when an aching Austin film scene most needed it.
5) Indie films keep it real.
Heather Graham starred in Ex-Terminators, Will – now renamed Bandslam – was a coming-of-age "dramedy" featuring Vanessa Hudgens, and Conflict of Interest, a political thriller written by Austin's Bonnie Orr, featured Michael Madsen and Lee Majors.
6) Linklater goes abroad; Rodriguez keeps it short.
Richard Linklater shot Me and Orson Welles on the Isle of Man. Meanwhile back in Austin, Robert Rodriguez's kid film Shorts brought to town Jon Cryer, James Spader, and William H. Macy.
7) Dentler leaves SXSW nest; Pierson roosts.
Matt Dentler left the helm of the South by Southwest Film Festival. Stepping in was Janet Pierson, a four-year Austin resident and recent vice president of the Austin Film Society.
8) Raval is Austin's red-hot star of 2008.
PJ Raval saw his camerawork honored as Hurricane Katrina doc Trouble the Water was named best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. But he also directed (along with Jay Hodges) Trinidad, a doc about the sex-change capital of the world.
9) Doing the film studio hokeypokey.
Austin Studios' long-awaited renovations took place this year. Meanwhile Spiderwood Studios is quietly taking shape, and Ranch Studios remains busy. But the ambitious Villa Muse project said no to Austin after city leaders nixed releasing it from Austin's extraterritorial jurisdiction.
10) Platinum Dunes remakes it in Austin.
Friday the 13th opened an eight-week shoot here in April, from the same Platinum Dunes folks who brought you two Central Texas-shot The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes and The Hitcher reimagining.