Friday, February 19, 2010

Why shoot a TV series in Dallas?

Code 58 producer says why the television show came to Dallas to shoot 13 episodes. My SHOT IN TEXAS column in The Dallas Morning News.

Coen brother find their Mattie for 'True Grit'

This just in from multiple extremely reliable sources:

The winner of the national search for the role of Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers' True Grit is relative unknown Hailee Steinfeld. She's Los Angeles based, so probably didn't come from those Texas casting calls. The film is set to start shooting next month in the Austin area.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Austin plane bomber is apparently another nut

I go the news this morning with a phone call. Pat, a former student, had heard the airplane went into a building that was used some by St. Edward's University where I teach. She was checking on me and relieved I was fine.

As the events leaked out, we had yet again a guy who felt put upon by outside forces and thus decided to take on "the man." Unfortunately, he probably actually killed a lot (actually it looks like one person other than himself) of innocent folks who were anything but "the man."

Here is his "manifesto."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On getting stuck in writing fiction

Writer Suzy Spencer asked me to guest on her blog this week talking about getting stuck while working on a longer piece of fiction. This is a very appropriate discussion give my novella-in-a-semester graduate students at St. Edward's University officially began writing their books this week (I'm writing alongside them!). They'll log 4,000 words a week toward completing a 40,000-word draft in 10 weeks. The race is on!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Make that three TV pilots shooting in Texas soon

This will run in tomorrow's Dallas Morning News:

Three television pilots set to shoot in Texas: two in Dallas, one in Austin


Two major network television pilots are expected to shoot in North Texas this spring and a third is headed to Austin, offering clear indications that television production is the big prize from recent increases in the state’s filming incentives program.

Midland, a drama for the Fox network will shoot here March 16 to April 1, Janis Burklund, head of the Dallas Film Commission, confirmed in a Facebook posting that called for potential crew members to email resumes to According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show is “a soap set against the backdrop of an oil business that centers on a polygamist living a double life.”
The pilot will be directed by Marc Webb—who will also helm the next Spider-man film—from a script by The Beaver screenwriter Kyle Killen. No cast has been announced.

Also shooting here in March is the NBC pilot Chase from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, which the network describes as about “a crucial fugitive apprehension team comprised of U.S. Marshals that tracks down the nation's most notorious criminals.” Reports have Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives) portraying a preppy marshal.

In Austin, Generation Y, the documentary-style story of a group of twentysomethings that flashes back to their high school days 10 year earlier, is set to shoot for ABC in March, said Bob Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission.

Hudgins said the sudden onslaught of television production can be credited largely to the influcnce of producers Garry Brown and Nan Burnstein. Brown worked on Walker, Texas Ranger, and was instrumental in bringing Prison Break, The Deep End and currently shooting Code 58 (formerly known as Jack and Dan) to North Texas. He will also produce Chase, but not Midland. Burnstein produces Austin-shot Friday Night Lights, which begins filming a fifth season there in April. Neither could be reached for comment at press time.

“These things don’t happen by accident,” Hudgins said. “It’s really those line producers who are our biggest advocates right now.”

Gen Y was strongly considering a North Carolina shoot before Burnstein’s advice and assistance turned the tide, Hudgins said.

The Texas Legislature in 2009 increased the size of financial rebates given to filmmakers based either on total in-state spending or as a percentage of wages paid to cast and crew who are Texas residents. Texas offers up to 15 percent of in-state spending or up to 25 percent of wages, with both figures increased slightly for filming in areas deemed underutilized. Previously, the state offered 5 percent rebates.

“It’s because we have an incentive that these things are falling into place,” Hudgins said. “They know we have the crews and we have the capacity to get these things done.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fox to shoot 'Midland' TV pilot in Dallas

The Dallas Film Commission just leaked word that Fox TV pilot Midland will shoot in Dallas from March 16 to April 1. It's an odd oil biz/polygamy drama. Marc Webb, the guy directing the next Spider-man film, will direct the show's pilot as well from a script by The Beaver screenwriter Kyle Killen.

Dallas is on a roll with cop show Code 58 (formerly known as Jack and Dan) shooting currently in the Metroplex starring Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks (Tom Hanks' son). Plus, The Deep End, now airing on ABC, also recently shot in Dallas and is waiting for word of any additional episode orders.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

True Grit extras casting call!

Here's the official info you've been waiting for, cowboys:


The film shoots in TX (Austin area, including Granger & Blanco) during March, April & May of 2010.

Looking for reliable people to portray looks specific to the 1870's and 1900. Start growing your hair now!

Seeking: Unique "character" faces. We are most interested in people with natural features.

HAIR NOTES: If you want to be considered- start growing your hair now!
Women should have long hair that is not colored in anyway- no highlights, full head colors or semi permanent colors. Men should have some length, especially on top. Crew cuts are not suitable- as the hair will not have time enough to grow. Men should grow their facial hair, incl beard, moustache, sideburns.

BODY TYPES: People from this time period did not have modern enhancements- meaning they did not have braces, implants, etc. They weren't weight lifters- people worked hard, but not in a gym. Body types were most often average to slim. Women will be wearing corsettes and long dresses.

OTHER: We are most interested in people willing to work more than one day. Looking for responsible people w/ flexible schedules. 10 years of age & older. All minors must have consent of parent/guardian & must indicate date of birth. If you don't have a resume- please list any performing/background experience you may have.

TO SUBMIT: There are two ways to submit. Preferred is in-person (ONLY on dates, below)! If this is impossible, you may submit by mail. Follow instructions below.

In-Person Interviews: (bring legal form & copy of id) SEE SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS BELOW!
Austin Studios
1901 East 51st. St. (Red Bldg)
Austin TX 78723
- Thurs, Feb 4 11am - 7pm
- Fri, Feb 5 11am - 7pm
- Sat, Feb 6 11am - 7pm

Austin Studios
c/o Extras Cstg / Debbie DeLisi
1901 East 51st. St. (Red Bldg)
Austin TX 78723

SUBMISSIONS MUST INCLUDE: Headshot & one page resume, if you have them. Also, you MUST include CURRENT SNAPSHOTS (face & body). List all pertinent contact information, incl your place of residency & anything else we should know about you. Remember- THIS A PERIOD FILM. If you want to be considered- it's best to send us a natural, current photos (no makeup or glamour). All submissions are non-returnable. Incl age, height, weight, measurements, etc. List any scheduling conflicts (4/23 - 5/26). Preference will be given to those w/ flexible schedules. If you want to be considered- start growing your hair now!

Families & TX residents encouraged to submit.

Extras Casting Director: Debbie DeLisi
HOTLINE: 212-330-9357 (Submissions will NOT be accepted via email. Email address is for general inquiries only)

Terrence Malick eyes a Taliban film?

That's the interesting rumor about the reclusive Austin resident we call Terrence Malick. Red-hot director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) is also said to be circling this story.

Writing a novella in a semester

I'm teaching a graduate class at St. Edward's University this semester where we will write a 40,000-word novella in one semester--10 weeks to be precise. I say we because I am joining in. It seemed unfair to ask them to write like this while I stood on the sidelines. My experience is that you learn to write a novel by writing a novel. We're also reading five novellas as models.

Last night the author Jeff Abbott spoke to the class about his writing process, which is in many ways like what my students and I will be doing. The notion is to create a basic plan--structure, the main set pieces, some good character exploration--and then write without revision. This is exactly the opposite of the usual writing workshops I teach which are heavy on critique and require revision. That's why workshops are better attuned to short stories. For longer works, the march is the thing. Once the draft is done, revision can and must commence.

Why this post? What I'm already noticing is shadow writers who are going to follow us along outside of the classroom. Go for it! If you want to be one of our shadow students, see the syllabus and check back here. The main thing is to do the work.

For our second meeting last night, along with hearing words of wisdom from Abbott, students created a vision board--photos and text made into a collage to be looked at as the writing process continues. Sounds goofy, but it's a great way to daydream about your story as you look for those set pieces (the big moments of explosion in the story). They also did some deep character work on the the main three characters in their work--protagonist, antagonist and a third character who is perhaps a love interest.

For next week, they must write a 4- to 8-page synopsis of the novella in first person. They also must pitch their stories to the class. If this sounds like screenwriting, it is indeed very influenced by that form. The notion is if we can get a good foundation, we'll have the freedom to continue forward and write. At the end of that discussion, we will begin to write.

If you want to follow along with us, check back here for our progress reports.