Monday, March 25, 2013

Michigan throws $20 million at 'Transformers 4'

You read it here last December that Michael Bay and company are expected to come to Austin to shoot part of Transformers 4. Now comes word that Michigan is offering $20 million in incentives if $81.9 million is spent in that film-hungry state. What's more amazing this is part of a "reduction" in film incentive spending in the state, which is still tossing around $120 million a year.

Meanwhile, don't count out my earlier claim about a shoot in Austin. As the article states, "Michigan will be one of several locations for the film." Stay tuned.

The film's crew is apparently looking at the GM plant as a location.  Oh, and the Michigan film folk revealed some Transformers Quatro plot details before Bay turned around and denied everything. Imagine that...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Scenes from San Antonio

San Antonio Elvis
We stopped in San Antonio and soaked up the culture. See the full set of photos here.

Traveling salesman

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Views from South by Southwest

Photo by Joe O'Connell

     Photo by Joe O'Connell
I cover the South by Southwest Film Festival every year. For me that began today. Here are two photos that show the essence of the SXSW fest.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Dallas natives in Texas Film Hall of Fame

Here' s my report for the Dallas Morning News from the Texas Film Hall of Fame. It should soon be behind a paywall, so I present it here in its entirety.

Special Contributor

AUSTIN — On the way to school in Oak Cliff, young Stephen Tobolowsky would act out plays. On Thursday, the character actor whose name you don’t know but whose face you do was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.

He was joined by fellow Dallas native Robin Wright, San Antonio’s Henry Thomas (E.T., All the Pretty Horses) and Houston’s Annette O’Toole (TV’s Smallville) at Austin Studios on the former site of the city’s airport.
Photo by Joe O'Connell

Tobolowsky, who has acted in more than 100 film and TV projects, including Groundhog Day and Memento, said he had a revelation about his career while playing the role of a professional bass fisherman years ago. A car arrived, he thought to take him to the set, but the driver had mistaken Tobolowsky for a pilot he’d been sent to pick up. Then, said pilot showed up, thinking Tobolowsky must be the cabbie.

“In one day, I was mistaken for both a jet pilot and a taxi driver en route to my role as a bass fisherman,” he said. “That is the life of a character actor.”
Photo by Joe O'Connell

Princess Bride director Rob Reiner introduced Wright at the ceremony and said he had seen more than 100 young actresses before Wright arrived. “She walked in the room and I said, ‘Oh, my God, she is the princess bride.’ ”

While born in Dallas, Wright was raised in California. However, she returned yearly and fondly recalls jaunts to Cedar Creek Lake, where she swam and ate watermelon.

Wright, with a recent role in Netflix’s House of Cards, said the joy of her career has been “sharing stories and receiving them on a daily basis and getting paid for it.”

It’s the 13th year the Austin Film Society has inducted new members to the Texas Film Hall of Fame, which raises funds to aid independent filmmakers and serves as a kickoff to the South by Southwest Film Festival. Also honored this year was Richard Linklater’s 1993 teen film, Dazed and Confused, which received the Star of Texas Award.

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, an old Linklater pal, presented the award for what he called one of his favorite films of the 1990s.

Austin Film Society founder Linklater said he was still learning his craft while making Dazed and Confused and had his uneasy moments.

“I had such high ambitions for what I was doing,” he said. “If I ever felt less than certain, I could see how hard the cast was working and realize how much it meant to them.”

Actress Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (TV’s Friday Night Lights) serenaded the cast with a sultry rendition of the Led Zeppelin song “Dazed and Confused.” Linklater’s film is named for the song, but he was unable to get rights to use it in the film.

E.T.'s Henry Thomas in Texas Film Hall of Fame

                                                                                    Photo by Joe O'Connell
 My report from the Texas Film Hall of Fame for the San Antonio Express-News:

AUSTIN — If Henry Thomas hadn't become an actor, he'd likely have spent his adult life saving and rehabilitating horses. Instead he was inducted Thursday into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.
Save for a lucky break in an open audition for the 1981 film “Raggedy Man” (directed by Jack Fisk and starring Fisk's wife, Sissy Spacek), Thomas, who called himself a “pretty good horseman,” might have missed out on a career spanning more than 30 years — including memorable roles in films such as “All the Pretty Horses” and “A River Runs Through It.”

Read more here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The female 'Walker, Texas Ranger' shoots Austin pilot

It's called Killer Women and the ABC television pilot is set to shoot in Austin from March 11-26, though the show is actually set in San Antonio.

Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer plays the lead in the pilot about the only female in the Texas Rangers (the law enforcers, not the ball players). The male lead is DEA agent Marc Blucas of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Necessary Roughness fame. He also had a small part in The Alamo when it shot outside of Austin where I met the likeable ex-jock. He is a former Wake Forest basketball player, and his teammate and pal is some guy named Tim Duncan.

Blame this all on Modern Family's Sofia Vergara, A native of Colombia who is exec producing the adaptation of Argentine TVseries, Mueres Asesinas, which itself is based on the book trilogy of the same name by Marisa Grinstein.

Third Coast Extras is seeking all sorts of background folks as well as a mariachi band for the pilot shoot. Check them out on Facebook here. Would the series shoot here? Your guess is as good as mine. Often these projects vamoose for LA once they're picked up. If it stays put, maybe Chuck Norris can make a cameo.