Monday, January 31, 2011

Moviemaker mag names Austin #4 best film city

In its yearly tradition Moviemaker has named Austin the fourth best place to "live, work and make movies." Boston leads the list this time, followed by Albuquerque, NM, and a resurgent New Orleans, La. Last year, Austin was fifth on the list, and has been known to claim the top spot in previous years. Gary Bond of the Austin Film Office said he believes the Capital City may well have been on the list more than any other city, but don't quote him on it. Oops.

The usual suspects are credited with the Austin praise: Robert Rodriguez, Richard Linklater and a strong crew base. Also heaped with praise in the Texas film incentives program, which may not get so much lauding next year if the Legislature follows through on talk of scalping the program.

Dallas did not make the list this year.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kids, adults sought for Harry Connick film

More info on When Angels Sing, the adaptation of Turk Pipkin's Christmas story to be directed by Tim McCanlies, produced by Elizabeth Avellan, and starring Harry Connick Jr., Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Sara Hickman and a spare Jonas brother. It's shooting in Austin and Bastrop:

"Seeking homeschooled kids or w/ extremely flexible schedules for Feb. & March for When Angels Sing" Email contact number, photo, ages, height, weight, shirt size, pant size + shoe size to LABEL SUBJECT "HOMESCHOOLED KIDS- WHEN ANGELS SING."

For your older folks:
We are seeking all types for our new project When Angels Sing. Please make sure your file is up to date by emailing your photo, contact number, height and weight to or mailing a new registration (download from to Third Coast Extras, 501 N. IH-35, Austin, TX 78702. PLEASE INDICATE YOUR AVAILABILITY FOR FEBRUARY AND MARCH. Thanks and see you on set!

Good luck out there...

See more about the film here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Harry Connick, Kris Kristofferson, a Jonas brother and Willie Nelson make a film?

UPDATE: That should be "a" Jonas brother, as in the youngest one. and Sara Hickman and her daughter are also likely to have a role in this very musical cast.

Extras info is here.

I've been hearing rumblings about the film adaptation of Turk Pipkin's story When Angels Sing, and it looks like it's about to start filming in Bastrop.

A casting call from Beth Sepko Casting & Third Coast Extras for photo doubles today asks for:

Adult Male- light-gray hair 5'9 - 5'11 thin to medium build
Adult Male- brown hair 6'2 - 6'7 medium build

The first is likely Kris Kristofferson, the second Lyle Lovett, (or perhaps extra-tall Pipkin, who surely will have a cameo role at the least) who are both set to star with Harry Connick Jr. and Willie Nelson. Hometown hero Tim McCanlies (Secondhand Lions) is directing and Elizabeth Avellan is among the producers. Oh, and the Jonas brothers are somehow in this one, too.

Looks like a February and March shoot.

The story:
Michael was eight years old on the Christmas Day he lost his brother David. The day had started out well-Michael and David opened their presents and, much to their delight, they both received ice skates from Santa. With great excitement they set out to the pond behind their grandparents' house in New Mexico to try them out. But the pond wasn't safe, and David never made it out from its icy cold depths. For Michael, the meaning of Christmas changed forever that day.

Thirty years later Michael (Connick) is the neighborhood Grinch. "To me the only wonder of Christmas is not why that tragedy marked me so," Michael says, "but how the rest of my family can seem so completely unscathed." He scowls at his neighbors' fervent holiday traditions and at his own children, who want nothing more than to string Christmas lights through their front yard. But when another holiday disaster strikes and his own cherished young son loses his spirit to live, Michael searches deep within himself to root out the anger, the fear, and the pain of the past. Can he bear to remember exactly what happened that Christmas day? And will he make peace with this past for the sake of his own children?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hailee Steinfeld wins Acadamy Award...Wait a minute!

OK, it's just a nomination at this point, but Hailee Steinfeld lucked out to be put in the supporting actress category, and should be a major favorite to win for her role in True Grit (which was really a leading role).

Oh, and, yes, True Grit is also up for a few other awards, including best picture and best director(s) for the Coen brothers!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Remnants of 'True Grit' remain in Granger

Granger, Texas, is Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the Coen brothers' True Grit. I took a lot of photos of the set during its formation and right up until filming. (You can also find photos of the filming on my site if you look around. Just do a search for "Granger.")Today, I again visited the town to see what remnants of the filming remain and to provide a bookend to earlier photos. You can see some of the Old West signage remains on the mostly vacant buildings in the one block of downtown Granger. Buildings constructed specifically for the film are gone--most were only facades.

Take a look and compare to earlier photos here that were taken right before filming began.

Signs for the undertaker remain on this building, which is quite vacant.

This funky shop looks as out of place in modern-day Granger as it would in the film.

More of the signage from the film. Granger's red brick was covered with dirt for the filming and is now returned to its original state.

This bank is next door to where the film's gallows were.

The Granger post office was hidden behind a facade during filming, though customers were led into it by crew to do business during filming.

You can see why the filmmakers liked the look of the wide road.

More signage remaining from the shoot.

This mural was painted over the filming in such a manner that they could restore it to its original look. Nice trick!

A funky antique store was in the thick of things during filming when the sign outside read "post office."

A church is near the corner where antique wagons were stored for the shoot.

Some more film signage.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Joe Lansdale to make film of his Xmas zombie tale

Joe Lansdale is one of Texas' finest writers (here's an interview I did with him in 2009, and he's got a little cred in the movie biz as well after Don Coscarelli made his short story "Bubba Hotep" into a film of the same name a few years ago. Now Lansdale is beating the filmmakers to the punch. His son Keith Lansdale is adapting Joe's about-to-be-released story "Christmas with the Dead" for the big screen. Joe will executive produce and they'll do it all in his hometown of Nacogdoches in June with students from Stephen F. Austin State University assisting.

Here's the story: "“It was a foolish thing to do, and Calvin had not bothered with it the past two years, not since the death of his wife and child. But this year he decided, quite suddenly, that tomorrow was Christmas Eve. And zombies be damned, the lights and decorations are going up…”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An entire film shot on an iPhone4?

That's what Austin filmmaker Elizabeth Spear and other folks behind Brokedown Films claim is the case with Afghanistan war feature Little Gods, which was shot on an iPhone4 in a Georgetown, Texas, quarry. She is offering the film for $3.99 as a download.

Here's what she says about it: "Little Gods has done what has never been done before - making a movie with no perceived cost. What does this mean for Apple and its iPhone4 users? Everything."

UPDATE: Apparently South Korean director Park Chan-wook also has made a film on an iPhone. Who was first? I dunno.

Rob Thomas sets little league pilot

Austin resident Rob Thomas has sold a pilot to Fox titled Little in Common. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it's about families whose children play little league sports.

It's not all the guy behind Veronica Mars has in the works.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jeff Nichols' 'Take Shelter' sold to Sony

Even before his film Take Shelter is to bow at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories) is celebrating its sale to Sony Pictures Classics.

In the film, "Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Boardwalk Empire) and Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life) star as two parents living in Ohio with a six-year-old deaf daughter. When Shannon starts to have nightmares, he keeps his fears and anxieties to himself and obsessively erects a storm shelter in the backyard. His concerned family and community come second to his unspoken fears of what his dreams signify."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Austin-shot 'Forgiveness' returns as 'Esther's Diary'

I had a nice chat with Mariusz Kotowski in 2007 on the Austin set of Forgiveness. He was shooting at Austin Community College, where I teach, so I literary ran into the film.

The former dance instructor and choreographer also shot a documentary about Polish actress Pola Negri, who spent her last days in San Antonio. Forgiveness is about two women, one Jewish and the other Christian, who discover their families' histories are intertwined through events of World War II.

Now comes word that the film has been recut and retitled Esther's Diary. A screening is planned in Austin later this month. Here's some good insight into the film.

Decoding Malick's 'The Tree of Life'

Very interesting interview with Emanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, the cinematographer on Terrence Malick's mostly Smithville-shot The Tree of Life. He talks about shooting more to convey an emotion than to present a scene and how the camera often stayed off of the actors as they spoke. Fascinating stuff.

If you haven't seen the trailer yet, this explanation puts it very much in focus.

How to get Texas incentives? Give Rick Perry a cameo

That's right, Texas Gov. Rick Perry this past Thursday appeared as himself in Deep in the Heart, a film we recently told you about that is shooting in Austin. According to this report, the film stands to get 29 percent of its small budget back from Texas film incentives if approved. Film incentives run through the Texas Film Commission, which is housed in Perry's office. I'm guessing they'll get the bucks...

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Big Sky Where I Live

Facebook is full of photos of the sunset tonight. I was snapping away, too. This is the view out my back door. Yes, I live in the sticks.

TNT's 'Dallas' looms, but will it shoot in Big D?

Still no word on where the TNT reboot of Dallas will shoot and how much of it will be actually in Dallas. The last word I had was incentive-rich Louisiana and New Mexico are very much in consideration. This from today's Variety is interesting because it makes clear production is not very far away:

"If summer sensation Rizzoli & Isles came as a pleasant but somewhat unexpected surprise to TNT, Dallas won't have that luxury.

The iconic series is receiving a Turner reboot as production on the pilot begins in only a few months. At the Television Critics Tour in Pasadena, TNT-TBS programming chief Michael Wright told Daily Variety that expectations remain extraordinarily high, but he believes writer Cynthia Cidre has offered a compelling updated scenario to capture auds not familiar with what made 'Who Shot J.R?' a national catchphrase.

'I don't want to give away the plot, but she found something authentic to business and to Dallas that allows them to trade on the same dynamic of the super wealthy,' Wright said. 'Dallas was always something of an Upstairs Downstairs paradigm. If it wasn't the rich and poor, it was attitude – entitlement versus a populist point of view. This covers all that.' "

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Open casting call for 'Deep in the Heart'

The biggest interest I get on my blog has to do with extras casting. Here's your chance with the indie film Deep in the Heart, starring Jon Gries of Napoleon Dynamite fame. The open call is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, at Austin Studios (the red building), 1901 E. 51st, in Austin, TX.

The film is "the true story of Richard Wallrath and his family. The story begins in 1938 when he is eight years old and spans his lifetime as a Texan. He started the Richard Wallrath Education Foundation which is still awarding thousands of dollars to help FFA kids go to college. Looking for men,women, teens, kids, and babies of all ethnicities and ages. We are looking for non-speaking roles to participate in this feature film to be shot in and around Austin. Filming starts January 10th through February 4th (Shooting will be Monday - Friday). NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! We are looking for real people! Specifically looking for these types: babies, 2 year old – 4year old boys and girls, kids and teens, high school students, college students, livestock show attendees, former FFA participants of all ages, and we will also need adults of all ages to populate our rural environment (bar, coffee shop, restaurant, and wedding). All you need to bring is yourself and your friends and family.

*Background Extras Pay is $7.25 an hour with a guarantee of at least 4 hours. A meal will be provided for anyone working during our official break for lunch.

For more information please email brockallencasting at Office ph# 512-992-1956 If you are unable to attend our open call, please email for alternate registration.

Rick Schroder in Austin-shot 'Meet Jane'

UPDATE: On Location Casting says word on a series pickup could come as early as mid-February. The pilot is officially wrapped as of today.

OK, this one totally slipped past me in the holiday rush: Rick(y) Schroder is in the cast of Meet Jane, the Lifetimes series pilot that recently shot (it was still in production yesterday, actually) in Austin with Molly Parker as the lead.

The show is about "Jane Bilinski (Parker) whose stale life as an unhappily married mother of two daughters in the Washington, DC area is suddenly re-energized and empowered when the FBI enlists her to spy on her husband (Schroder), a computer technician the government suspects is selling top-secret information to Russia."

Here's what I wrote about the show in early December.