Film News

Is the Texas film scene resuscitating itself?

SXSW, Fantastic Fest and Incentives: A Hunka Hunka Filmic Love Brewing

Is the Texas film scene resuscitating itself? Positive signs: State Rep. Dawnna Dukes of Austin has filed legislation for a new and improved state film-incentives program aimed at drawing Hollywood back to the Lone Star State. How could House Bill 873 change the current incentives game? The big answer is flexibility. After months of an unofficial goal of increasing the film incentive from 5% to 15% of in-state spending, the actual legislation leaves that number flexible, with the Texas Film Commission setting the bar on a case-by-case basis. The bill also lowers the threshold to qualify for incentives from $1 million to $250,000. "We want to generate new projects and keep those projects from Texas in Texas," says Don Stokes, president of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance film lobbying group. "It's vital [that Texas film cast/crews] can make a living in Texas." Stokes and others say a handful of network television pilots are eyeing Texas for the coming season, and early action may turn the tide.

Meanwhile, the South by Southwest Film Festival (March 13-21) is showing a lot of Texas love this year, including the world premieres of Tim McCanlies' The Two Bobs, about a pair of video-game legends whose latest game is stolen; Kevin Triplett's long-awaited documentary of the late musician Blaze Foley; and Karen Skloss' Sunshine, about two generations of single mothers. On the panel side, John Pierson will moderate a discussion with indie distribution sage Bob Berney (The Passion of the Christ, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), the Chronicle's own Marjorie Baumgarten is part of a panel that will examine the shrinking film criticism marketplace, and Jeffrey Tambor is back with more profound (and hilarious) advice for actors. Oh, and another esteemed Austin festival, Fantastic Fest, is pushing its way in the SXSW door with a series of special midnight screenings of the sci-fi/horror tilt that has made Fantastic Fest a force to be reckoned with.

And the Rest…

Billy Bob Thornton may be from Arkansas, but he plays Texans on film (Friday Night Lights, The Alamo), hence his induction into the Texas Film Hall of Fame on March 12; Dennis Quaid will do the inducting. Thornton joins previously announced inductees Powers Boothe, who will be introduced by Keith Carradine, and Catherine Hardwicke, who will receive her award from John Cusack... Bigfoot film The Wild Man of the Navidad from Duane Graves and Justin Meeks premieres this week on IFC's Festival Direct. You'll find it in the IFC in Theaters section of the movies on demand/pay-per-view area on Time Warner... McCallum High School students are shooting a dramatic TV pilot featuring a fictional family with kids attending the school's very real Fine Arts Academy and lots of local actors. Teacher Ken Rogers wrote the script, and 14-year-old Zach Aguilar is directing. See a clip at
… Writer/Director William J. Orendorff's crime drama Proper Villains, about some bookies who accidentally off a hit man, is shooting locally with J-M Specht, Spencer Gibb, and Cilton J. Beard III... First-time scribe Jeff Heckler's screenplay Dark Men is a semifinalist in the Vail Film Festival competition.

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SXSW, team incentives, Dawnna Dukes, Texas Film Commission, Texas Motion Picture Alliance, Don Stokes, Tim McCanlies, The Two Bobs, Kevin Triplett, Blaze Foley, Karen Skoss, Sunshine, John Pierson, Bob Berney, Marjorie Baumgarten, Jeffrey Tambor, Fantastic Fest, Billy Bob Thornton, Texas Film Hall of Fame, The Wild Man of the Navidad

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