The Long and Short of It
A new program showcases the Zellner Bros.' evolution from home movies to shorts handpicked by Sundance
By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 2, 2010
Austin's most prolific fraternal pairing, the Zellner Bros., are men of many accents. In their ridiculously funny short films, they've played poncy Brits dueling over a primate's hand in marriage, a Kiwi man of the cloth and the nonbeliever he mowed over on a bender, and a Scottish thug delivering a deathbed speech to his dog. On April 12, the brothers will presumably be speaking their native Texan, as they showcase their many short films in an Alamo Drafthouse show called Zellneroids!
The Chronicle recently traded e-mails with elder brother David Zellner, whose bit of brief nudity in fellow Austinite Andrew Bujalski's Beeswax figures prominently in an ongoing contest tied to that film's DVD release (see austinchronicle.com/pip for details).
Austin Chronicle: Talk a little about the lineup at the Zellneroids! show. Do you have a special favorite?
David Zellner: It's a compilation of most of our shorts that have played at film festivals over the past several years. At some point we plan on releasing a big snazzy DVD with all of our short films and other tidbits, music videos, etc; until then we have Zellneroids. Personally it's hard to pick a favorite since we tried to accomplish something different with each one. "Flotsam/Jetsam" was probably the most fun, because it was a genuine adventure out in shark-infested waters. Nathan concurs, even though he definitely suffered for his art on that one.
AC: In your films, you've co-starred with a cat, a dog, a gibbon, and your brother Nathan. Who gives the most back?
DZ: I think the correct answer would be my brother. We love working with animals but have no expectations with them; they're mostly untrained and we like it that way. We just let them do whatever the hell they want and try to work off of them, attempt to forge some sort of "natural" moment.
AC: In the description of the show on the Alamo website, it says you and your brother are "collectively referred to as 'the Idi Amin of the Austin film universe.'" I'm not sure our younger readership is savvy about deposed Ugandan dictators.
DZ: That description cracks me up but I have to credit [Alamo programmer] Zack Carlson for coming up with it. For the record neither Nathan nor myself have ever staged a military coup or engaged in cannibalism.
AC: That description also promises "additional surprises to be included!" Can you give a tease of what those surprises might entail?
DZ: There's a live element included, we're doing our best to make it a memorable event. And as part of the pre-show shenanigans we'll be showing some less than memorable cringe-inducing home movies circa 1986.
AC: The last time we swapped e-mails, you confirmed that, yes, y'all are working on a new feature. Care to expound?
DZ: I'm hesitant to say anything until it's actually happening, but we're hoping to get a new feature off the ground this year. All I can say is we're very excited about it.
AC: A film strip of your exposed ass in Beeswax is being used as the "golden ticket" item in a contest. Career high or career low?
DZ: Definitely a career high. Bujalski is a great filmmaker. I'm proud of the movie and proud of my glorious buttocks.
Zellneroids!: The Zellner Bros. Short Film Cavalcade takes place Monday, April 12, 7pm, at the Alamo Ritz. For more info, visit www.zellnerbros.com or www.originalalamo.com.