Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Waco in 12 photos

Moments from a day in Waco, Texas.

The first thing I saw when driving in. Waco, like many cities, is tearing itself down, reinventing. ©Joe O'Connell

Downtown triangles. ©Joe O'Connell

Church Under the Bridge. ©Joe O'Connell

Animatronic and very lifelike. ©Joe O'Connell

Dr Pepper horse. ©Joe O'Connell

The past alive today. ©Joe O'Connell

Waco remains the only city where I've seen Klansmen in their full outfits. Not sure what that has to do with this photo... ©Joe O'Connell

25 years ago people came from all over to dance here. ©Joe O'Connell
Five sisters and their mother at Ninfa's restaurant.
©Joe O'Connell

The Praetorian houses both lofts and an art collective. ©Joe O'Connell

Sorry, Schmaltz's fans, the very similar (black olives?) Schlotzsky's opened in South Austin four years before this place, which is pretty good. I like the garlic butter they add to the sourdough. ©Joe O'Connell

The last image burned in my mind as we left town. ©Joe O'Connell

10 weird Austin moments

10 weird things seen in Austin on a Sunday while Christmas shopping:

#1: Darth Vader.
 ©Joe O'Connell

#2: Smoke bomb (by the time I could get the camera out they had mostly run away).
 ©Joe O'Connell

#3 This chicken.  
©Joe O'Connell

#4: Jesus.
©Joe O'Connell
#5: "Thai, how are you?" (The sign at the church across the street features another Daniel Johnston-ish image and says "Stressed out? Come pray with us.")
©Joe O'Connell

#6: Bill's pale blue eyes.
©Joe O'Connell

#7: Grinch, makeup artist.
©Joe O'Connell

#8: Guitarist Darin Layne at Mother's. I recognized the St. Edward's University music teacher eating at the bar, he gifted me with his latest CD and then sat down across the room to perform.
©Joe O'Connell

#9: A sloth being fed grapes.
©Joe O'Connell

#10 A dork, a nerd and a geek.
©Joe O'Connell

Monday, December 15, 2014

Terrence Malick's 'Cups' head to Berlin, has first trailer

Austin resident Terrence Malick has two movies in the works (not counting the big Imax project about the history of the world). One is Knight of Cups set in Los Angeles. It's set to premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, we learned today. And there's a first trailer on Youtube.

The Austin film? It's set in the music scene and out there somewhere. Here's the best lowdown on it that I've seen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bill Wittliff goes deep in film, fiction and photography

I interviewed the screenwriter Bill Wittliff (Lonesome Dove, Legends of the Fall) for the cover story in this week's Austin Chronicle about his novel The Devil's Backbone. One part of the interview that didn't make it into print involved a picture on his office wall from his photo book Boystown.  Right under a photo he took of Willie Nelson and above Wittliff's hat hangs a photo that intrigues.

(This blog post will also appear over at the Elephant Gun photo collective, which claims me as a member.)

Here's what Wittliff had to say:

Back in 1974 I was working on the screenplay for what would become the film A Night in Old Mexico. Part of the action ran through Boystown. I got in a lot of trouble there with my two cameras. But I went back the next night and fell in with a photographer who for $2 will take your picture with your drunk friend and some prostitute. They were all shooting these old Argus C3s. We went on these back streets of Boystown. Here was their little studio. There was a guy in a closet with an old Durst enlarger and three pans of chemicals. They would take a piece of 35mm frame, lay it in the back of their camera, close it, take one picture and run back. This guy would stick them in the Durst, make one little print, run it through the chemicals, wipe it on his pants and dry it with a hair dryer. He’d staple it in a little cardboard frame. Off they’d go to get their two bucks. I looked behind the enlarger and there was a stack of cut 35mm frames. They were all stuck together. I peeled one off, looked at it in the light and knew no gringo could ever get these pictures. I said, “quantos pesos?” They said, “no, no, the Federales.” But I said, “For history, for posterity.” One of them said, “Maybe for money.” I bought that stack of negatives and soaked them in the lavatory in my motel. Even in that 40 negatives there were five or six that I knew were really human. I had a friend who ran a shop in Nuevo Laredo. He went with me the next morning and found one of those guys. I said, “I want to buy your negatives every week.” He’d bring them to my friend. I bought their negatives for a year and a month. Then they got scared. I wound up with somewhere close to 7,000 negatives.

That’s one of the ones I liked the most.  They were cracked. Cut. Chemical stains. Smears from wiping it on their jeans to dry. This is before computers. I would sit there and retouch. Not that one. It wasn’t as bad. There were some where I’d take one print and get my retouch deals--not trying to totally clean them up, but just where they were presentable, where a scar or scratch through the picture didn’t interrupt the content. I would turn the TV on to watch a pro game. I’d start when the game started and I’d still be working when it was over.

Look at that picture. That’s his toolbox on the table. No doubt he’s got a pickup parked outside. He’s going home from work. He’s stopped, I don’t think for sex. I think he stopped for a little companionship. She’s somebody who doesn’t want to be owned. She’s turning slightly away. This is how she makes her living. He whole world is in that little change purse. She’s got a gold tooth. If you go close to it, you’ll see there’s one tooth that’s kind of shining. I just think that’s a whole world in that picture. I think that picture is real art. But these photographers are not trying to make art. They’re trying to make a couple of bucks.

It’s a very cool picture just in terms of composition, the toolbox and all that, but the real content is human.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Step and repeat at the Austin Film Festival

The folks at the Austin Film Commission were find enough to hire me to shoot the "step and repeat" at their opening party for the Austin Film Festival. In case you're unaware of the term, it's the red carpet-ish procedure where folks step in front of a backdrop, a photo is snapped and you move on. I brought my able assistant Drew Thomas along and we shot a few hundred photos of the night.

Drew Thomas snaps a cell phone shot for attendees.

Austin Film Society head honcho Gary Bond (r) with attendees.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Andrew Shapter beats cancer while making art

Since August I've been tailing Andrew Shapter, a former fashion photographer turned documentary filmmaker, through his 
aggressive treatment of chemotherapy and radiation aimed at sucker punching cancer. In the midst of it, he's been working to get his magical feature film debut The Teller and the Truth out to the world.

My resulting article is the cover story of the current Austin Chronicle. It's a twofer as my photos run with the story, including this cover image.

Here's how the story begins:

The air outside Texas Oncology in South Austin smells of burnt electricity. The scent lingers as Andrew Shapter is summoned to radiation. White confetti covers the floor outside the room Shapter visits five days a week. It signals that someone – not Shapter – has completed treatment. Two emergency medical technicians steer a man reclined on a stretcher near a sign that reads CAUTION. VERY HIGH RADIATION AREA. Shapter greets the man, and they compare radiation treatments. The man has 35 scheduled, Shap­ter 33. "You can have my extras," the man says with a smile. Inside, Shapter strips his shirt off, dons a white mask molded precisely for his face, opens his laptop to a playlist he's put together for just this moment, and braces himself for the X-ray beam that will burn into his neck. Louis Armstrong sings, "What a Wonderful World."

Andrew Shapter, 47, has been many things in this life: a high school class clown who concocted homemade fart devices, an actor, a political junkie toiling in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., a successful fashion photographer, a documentary filmmaker, a husband, a father. Today he focuses on three challenges: Ford, a doe-eyed infant son crawling across the floor and urging his dad to play; a feature film, The Teller & the Truth, five years in the making; and squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer that claims about 2,500 lives each year. "I had a choice of either going for the fierce fight or the long road," Shapter says. "With my son in mind, I decided I was going to take it hard and fast." The 20-minute radiation treatments are capped by once-a-week, six-hour chemotherapy sessions. On weekends, he crashes. Hard.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Linklater's bitchin' early '80s movie is a go

Yes, Richard Linklater's long-awaited early '80s college film, tentatively titled That's What I'm Talking About, appears ready to shoot in Austin in October and November. It will "center on the start of something new, with the story about college freshman who are trying to make the baseball team."

Early casting has offers out for the three lead baseball players:  Glee’s Blake Jenner, Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechlin, and 22 Jump Street’s Wyatt Russell.

And, more important to Austin folk, here's the scoop from the extras casting notice: 

SEEKING EXTRAS: male and female, all ethnicities, all ages!!

**THIS IS A PERIOD PIECE from the LATE 70's to early 80's - will require longer hair on all guys and the ability to style to an 80's look on ladies!!

--Some specific types include:
-Experienced Baseball Players ages 18-25 (Should not currently be or intending to play college baseball as will jeopardize your NCAA eligibility)
-Frat Guys ages 18-25
-Sorority Girls ages 18-25
-Bartenders and Waitresses (experience preferred) ages 21-35
-Punk Rockers ages 18-30
-Country Western types ages 18-30
-Experienced Two-Steppers ages 18-30
-Baseball Coaches ages 25-55
-College Girls and Guys ages 18-25
-Experienced Disco Dancers ages 18-25
-Nightclub Doormen ages 21-35
-Experienced Pool Players ages 18-25
-College Professors ages 30-65
-Jerry Garcia types
-African American men and women
-Asian men and women
-Hispanic men and women
-People with Pre-1981 vehicles
-People with cars from the 70s
--and many other general extra roles!

So the "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused (in which most of the high school kids were hippies) will include punkers, kickers, disco ducks and frat daddies. Plus, of course, lots of baseball players.

How do you apply to be an extra? Go to On Location Casting's Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Linklater: More school and rock, less fish

Photo by Joe O'Connell

Richard Linklater must feel the adrenaline surging through his veins lately. First there's major critical acclaim for his 12-year project Boyhood. Now comes word that both his long-delayed college project and a TV version of School of Rock are in the works, but he's the latest director punt on the fishy Incredible Mr. Limpet remake.

The Hollywood Reporter: "According to sources, Linklater wants to concentrate on That's What I'm Talking About, a 1980s, university-set project that is akin to his cult hit, Dazed & Confused, which was set in the 1970s and set in high school. The project, which is based on Linklater's life, follows freshmen as they navigate through the first year of college life, while trying to make the baseball team."

Linklater played baseball briefly at Sam Houston State. The project may shoot in the fall.

Meanwhile, Linklater is producing a 13-episode Nickelodeon order of School of Rock based on the film he directed starring Jack Black. No word on whether this would shoot in Austin, but it probably depends on Linklater's level of involvement. It's also set to lens in the fall. Look for a casting announcement soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's official: Corpus Christi will junk replica Columbus ships

Photo by Joe O'Connell
The Columbus ships were once a source of pride for Corpus Christi, Texas. But now two of the three will go to the junk heap.

Read my story in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine for the full history of the problem/lost tourism opportunity.

Here's the gist of it:

"Over at the museum, the Pinta’s paint is chipped, but the deck looks solid. The Santa Maria’s hull has taken on a greenish hue, with rot so severe that tourists are no longer allowed on board.

The vestiges of decay tell a story with only the bleakest hope for any kind of happy ending.
“There’s not a future for them,” says Wes Pierson, Corpus Christi assistant city manager. “We’re talking about significant dollars to do anything for those ships. It would cost more to restore the Santa Maria than to buy a new one.”

Pierson thinks the ships are irreparable, citing the original Spanish shipbuilder, who went to Corpus Christi to assess the ships.

“He said they’re in really bad shape,” Pierson recalls. “I think his word was ‘deplorable.’”
It’s an unlikely fate for once-international icons of American and Spanish history. The ships were built in Spain using materials and methods matching those of the 15th century. While there are unknown details about the appearance of the original ships, the replicas were designed with meticulous attention to research. For example, hand-forged nails replicated those found in shipwreck remains.

A few modern adaptations were made. Additional headroom was provided for today’s taller sailors. The sails were made of linen, though the originals were hemp. Modern engines were added for emergency use.

The ships, which are surprisingly small, toured Spain, France, Italy and Portugal before crossing the Atlan­tic for a tour of the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and finally a string of coastal U.S. cities. The first stop was Miami, where a thousand private boats guided the replicas while a crowd of 5,000 cheered from the shore.

The Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria weren’t originally scheduled to go to Corpus Christi, but a Quincentenary Commission was formed to lure the ships to Texas. Nelida Ortiz was a member of that group and recalls watching the ships sail in to town.

“It was a hot, gorgeous, sunny day,” she says. “People were standing in line to get on the ships for more than two hours at a time. I’ve been here for 30 years and I haven’t seen a turnout for anything like that.”

Corpus Christi crowds were estimated at more than 100,000 over 10 days. The celebration went on for a month, and the excitement led to the formation of the Columbus Fleet Association, which put together a proposal for a 50-year lease of the three ships from the Spanish government. Local beer distributor/developer Dusty Durrill gave the group $1.1 million for the effort, and local schoolchildren wrote pleading letters to Spain. Corpus Christi won.

Read the rest.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Texas as seen through recent fiction

I regularly interview Texas authors for the San Antonio Express-News. Tomorrow they'll run my interview with Bret Anthony Johnston, a Corpus Christi native who sets his debut novel Remember Me Like this there. Here's how my piece begins:

Bret Anthony Johnston's fiction shapes Corpus Christi into a literary character, but he has a confession: He hates the beach. The sand itches; the salt water clings.

“I never felt the pull that everyone else had,” Johnston said by phone from New York City, his latest stop on a whirlwind national tour for “Remember Me Like This,” a deeply human novel that follows a broken, battered family dealing with the return of a son four years after his kidnapping in a fictional Corpus Christi suburb.

The beach may get short shrift, but the Sparkling City by the Sea glistens in Johnston's taut prose.

“The longer I'm away from South Texas in general and Corpus Christi specifically, the more clearly I see potential for stories that can only happen there,” said Johnston, who was born and raised in the city but now directs the creative writing program at Harvard University.

Read the rest here.

I also recently interviewed Jim Sanderson, whose two new books are set in West and East Texas. Here's a taste:

East Texas and West Texas might as well be on separate planets, but Jim Sanderson straddles the divide and puts both under the microscope in his two recent books of fiction.

The San Antonio native's “Nothing to Lose” is a mystery novel set in Beaumont where Sanderson, chair of Lamar University's Department of English and Modern Languages, has long taught writing. The story collection “Trashy Behavior” is primarily set in Odessa, where he was a college instructor for seven years before that.

Sanderson evokes the names of other Texas writers — Tom Pilkington, J. Frank Dobie and Billy Lee Brammer — who saw the state as a borderland with a mindset focused on the “end of things.”

“Within 200 miles in much of any direction you're almost in a different state,” he said. “The geography changes, the culture even changes a little.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dry-docked dreams

I was in Corpus Christi last summer when my family visited the crumbling Columbus ships. I learned they were soon to be scrapped and sensed a story, which finally appeared this month in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.

Here's how it begins:

As a child, Louie Cortinas researched Christopher Columbus’ journey from Spain to the New World and constructed a model of the Pinta, one of the adventurer’s three famous ships. He dreamed of sailing on those ships, as children often do.

In 1992, when Cortinas was 23, full-size replicas of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria arrived in Texas as part of a U.S. tour honoring the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. He yearned to be a sailor on one of the ships, but his volunteer application was rejected. Disap­pointed but still fascinated, the young man could only watch as los tres barcos (the three boats) sailed up to Corpus Christi. “I went on a tour, and they were brand-spanking new,” Cortinas recalls.

One day last winter, Cortinas, now a professional diver, took another guided tour of the Pinta, resting beside the Santa Maria on a concrete slab behind the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.

“All of this was varnished and shiny,” he says. “It’s changed so much. It’s heartbreaking to see.”

Tourists probably won’t be able to view the two replicas for long. No exact date has been set, but the two ships are expected to be removed from the museum, their remains carted away as junk.

Read the rest here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

'Hysteria' overtakes Austin, TX

Not sure where TV drama pilot Hysteria from Amazon Studios is headed, but it's got some interesting star power both in front of and behind the camera and is currently shooting in Austin.

Mena Suvari (American Beauty) stars as "an exceptionally bright, driven, complicated, charming but socially awkward neurologist/psychiatrist at the University of Texas Medical School who travels to her hometown of Austin to investigate a mysterious epidemic among high school girls that may be spreading through technology."

Her brother is played by Grey's Anatomy alum T.R. Knight as "a fiercely intense man who’s been on death row since he was 19 years old and is two months away from execution. In the last few days of his life, and after attempting to kill himself by setting fire to his cell, he tries to convince his sister that the panic currently swallowing Austin is the same hysteria that sent him to prison 25 years ago, and if she will help to exonerate him, he’ll give her the clues she needs to resolve the crisis."

 Also in the cast is Mixology star Adan Canto.

Once-upon-a-time teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy turned writer/producer  (American Gothic) is behind the project.

Friday, June 20, 2014

'Boychoir' films in Taylor, Texas

Most of the film was shot in Connecticut, but the Texas-set film Boychoir stopped in Taylor, Texas, for a brief two-day shoot this week at a former school and a few other locations.

Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates and Debra Winger (who replaced Sissy Spacek) star in the story of a troubled Texas teen who gets rescued by a prestigious N.J., choral group. Connecticut got the bulk of the filming because of generous 30 percent state incentives, which have now been put on hold for two years.

Odessa officials were apparently not happy with how their city is to be portrayed in the film.

'Sonny' finally set for HBO

The conjecture is Lawrence Wright's God Save Texas will make fun of Rick Perry, Wendy Davis and company, and it very well might. But the truth is the series just put into development by HBO dates back to 2000 when Pulitzer-winning author Wright penned a screenplay called Sonny's Last Shot with hopes of directing it himself. Then he transformed the screenplay into a stage play after HBO at that time nixed the story.

That story was inspired by Texas Democrats hiding out in 1979 to kill a bill in the Legislature, only in Wright's story they hid out in the back of the Alamo. Right before the stage play premiered in 2003, Dems did in fact run off--to Oklahoma--to unsuccessfully kill a bill.

The potential HBO series is described thus: "... an idealistic cowboy who, looking to save his ranch and marriage, tries to get elected to the Texas Legislature, where he becomes the target of the powerful energy lobby and learns how to survive in the crazy, brutal world of Texas politics." The original screenplay also had that cowboy, Rep. Sonny Lamb of West Texas, fathering a love child with feisty Rep. Angela Jackson of Houston, a character with a hint of Rep. Dawnna Dukes of Austin, Wright previously said.

Back in 2000 the play got a table reading with newby actor Dan Gattis taking the lead role. Gattis went on to serve as a state representative from 2002-2010.  His father, Dan A. Gattis, is currently Williamson County Judge.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Yep, NBC cancels Texas-shot 'Revolution'

Photo by Joe O'Connell
It's official. The Bartlett, Texas, (and Austin) shot NBC series Revolution has been canceled.

Wasn't I just predicting this would happen?

Over on Twitter, hopeful fans are latching onto the hashtag #RelocateRevolution. 

Will 'Revolution' get a third seasion (a second in Texas)?

Photo by Joe O'Connell
I drove through Bartlett, Texas, the other day and saw the courthouse facade for NBC series Revolution was packed up, the headless statue that usually rests in front of it moved behind a fence. The show's metal gate remained in place. I took these (and word from solid sources) as signs the folks behind the show are ready to come back to the small town not too far from Austin.

The show moved to Texas after a first season shot in North Carolina. I wrote a bit about it for The Austin Chronicle.

Photo by Joe O'Connell
But will the series survive into a third season? The final word is expected in the next couple of days, but Variety hints it's not looking good: "Revolution started out with promise in 2012-13 when it was assisted by a lead-in from The Voice. But its sophomore year has been an uphill climb after it moved last fall to the lead off slot on Wednesday."

The bottom line, as always, is cash, and Revolution may be too expensive. Stay tuned. And while you're at it, here are some more photos from the set and a few more and some folks in costume.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The homeless man who became a movie star

From Gary Poulter's Facebook page.
Gary Poulter looked like the stereotypical homeless guy you might see in Austin: big smile, skin wrinkled from the sun and alcohol abuse, hair like white cotton candy. He's been my obsession for recent months as I tried to track down his real, human story. I didn't want to just know the guy on the streets. I wanted to know the guy who played Little League, the guy who fell in love, the guy who went off the tracks.

Courtesy Debbie Altis.
Read my piece in today's Austin Chronicle for the results. Poulter's sisters Maria and Debbie opened up to me. The casting agents who chose Gary for David Gordon Green's film Joe (which by no coincidence opens today) sat down with me and production coordinator Shanti Delsante. Without these folks there would have been no story. I give them big thanks.

In the modern meta-world, there's also at least one article about the article, this one at Gawker. Now that level of writing about writing makes me smile.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kat Candler's long journey to overnight film success

Photo by Joe O'Connell
I sat down to talk to Kat Candler for The Austin Chronicle about her adventures along the way to Hellion, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and screens at South by Southwest in the next few days.

I was the first person to ever interview Kat back in 2000. It's an honor to interview her again now. Hellion is a fine film. Check it out.

Timothy Hutton joins Austin-shot 'American Crime' pilot

Add Timothy Hutton to the cast of American Crime, the ABC pilot about to shoot in Austin and red-hot with its creator John Ridley fresh from Oscar love for his 12 Years a Slave.

Read more about the show, including the extras call,  here.

'From Dusk Till Dawn' comes to SXSW, TV and Netflix

Robert Rodriguez's El Rey network will premiere the TV version of From Dusk Till Dawn in the U.S. on March 11, Austin audiences can see the pilot at South by Southwest and you foreigners can look to Netflix for the show shot in the Central Texas area (A former downtown Taylor bank turned art gallery stands in as that robbed Abilene bank).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Extras sought for 'American Crime'

I wrote about ABC's American Crime series pilot earlier this week. Here comes the extras casting call. Note they seem to want "real" doctor, cops, etc. to play those roles. But you don't have to be unemployed to play a jobless person! Note that black and Latino extra are particularly being sought, and we have a start date of March 10.

*NEW PROJECT* – AUSTIN, TX Casting Notice: ABC Television Pilot “American Crime”


**Please share this notice with friends, family and anyone who might be interested!!
Extras Casting: On Location Casting
Project: “American Crime” – ABC Television Pilot
Shoot dates: We will be filming on a Monday – Friday schedule from 3/10/13 – 3/26/14. Various time requirements depending on role cast in.
Shoot times: Times vary depending on role cast in. Extras should be prepared to work a 12 hour+ day on the day chosen.
Shoot location: Austin, TX and surrounding areas
Compensation: NON-UNION Extra Rate is TBD but will be minimum wage or higher. Overtime will be paid after 8 hours. Lunch and snacks provided.
Talent Specs: *NOTE: ALL TALENT MUST HAVE PROOF OF TEXAS RESIDENCY in order to work this project!!!
EXTRAS: male and female, all ethnicities, all ages!!
–Some specific types include:
-Law Enforcement/Police Officers/Detectives (real – with experience preferred)
-Hospital Staff – Nurses/Doctors/Orderlies/ER Staff/ etc. (real – with experience preferred)
-Airline Ground Crew (real – with experience preferred)
-Flight Attendants (real – with experience preferred)
-Bartenders and Waitresses (real – with experience preferred)
-Reporters and Journalists (real – with experience preferred)
-News Crews (real – with experience preferred)
-Social Workers (real – with experience preferred)
-Coroner’s Office Staff – Coroner, Medical Examiner (real – with experience preferred)
-Cab Driver (real – with experience preferred)
-Security Guards (real – with experience preferred)
-Unemployed Job Seekers (for unemployment office scenes – do NOT have to be real!)
-Hospital Patients
-Restaurant Customers
-Garage Workers and Mechanics (real – with experience preferred)
-African American Party Goers
-Hispanic Party Goers
-Burly Bouncers (real – with experience preferred)
-Dive Bar Customers
-People with ‘beater’ old cars
-Hip Hop types
–and many other general extra roles!
STAND-INS – for Lead actors. More detailed information will be posted later.

**We will be needing A LOT of African American and Hispanic talent. Please share this notice with friends, family, co-workers, strangers!

Overall Talent Considerations: NO professional acting experience required! NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! Your OLC talent profile and photos MUST be UP TO DATE within the last 6 month! Children under 18 MUST have updated photos taken within the past 3 months! ALL TALENT MUST HAVE PROOF OF TEXAS RESIDENCY in order to work this project!!!

HOW TO SIGN UP: (*If you are already in the OLC database (from “Friday Night Lights”, “My Generation”, “Revolution” or other projects, DO NOT CREATE A NEW PROFILE for this project – just log-in to your original account and you will automatically be considered. If you do not remember your log-in info, send us an email to request it). Once signed up, make sure to follow our page on facebook at www.facebook.com/onlocationcasting  to get updated casting notices.

Submissions to our website ASAP at: www.onlocationcasting.net .
Enter on Talent, Click Register and Talent Application. Complete application and upload 1-2 photos. It is FREE to register so you should NOT pay for the suggested ‘active’ account upgrades that will be offered twice a month. There is NO charge and you can be booked for work with the basic ‘not-active’ profile. DO NOT PAY FOR AN ‘active’ ACCOUNT!!!

-Recent photos of yourself should be taken within the past (6) months. Please submit one head/face shot and one full body shot if possible.

-**PHOTOS should be of clear good quality, facing forward to camera, NO sunglasses, NO hats, NO silly gestures or faces, and should include ONLY those being submitted for the project. Photos should not be date stamped with any year other than 2014! Try to take a photo against a solid color background – take one from just mid-chest up and one from mid-calf up if possible.

IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE to create an online talent profile – feel free to CALL us at 512-696-4233 and we will make arrangements to have you come in for an in-person photograph.
If you have additional questions about this project or On Location Casting – please feel free to email us at: onlocationcastingTX@yahoo.com  with subject line “American Crime”. Please do NOT email just to ask to be booked – we will not begin booking until approx. 3/7/14.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yes, Mike Judge's 'Office Space' (sorta) would make a great HBO series

It's actually called Silicon Valley, but it's clearly a reimagining/updating of Mike Judge's Austin-shot cult classic Office Space, which, by the way, according to my totally and completely unscientific polling has finally fallen off the radar of current college students.

Watch the HBO series trailer and argue amongst yourselves. The show premieres April 6.

'American Crime' TV pilot comes to Austin

John Ridley
ABC's series pilot American Crime is gearing up for a mid-March shoot in Austin (can you say SXSW time?).

Set in Modesto, CA (here's guessing if picked up to series this series will shoot in California), it's about a murder with racist undertones. John Ridley, who is up for an an Oscar for his penning of12 Years a Slave, wrote the pilot, which follows the accused, the victims and their families through the trial.

Elvis Nolasco and Caitlin Girard lead the cast as veteran and his beauty queen wife. Richard Cabral portrays a hustler who is linked to the murder and attack on the couple, and Johnny Ortiz is Cabral's character's restless son.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Will the real 'Lost in Austin' please stand up?

Lost in Austin is in low-budget film in pre-production for, naturally, an Austin shoot soon with a cast that is knee-deep in comedy cool: Linda Cardellini (Mad Men, Freaks and Geeks), Craig Robinson (The Office), Kristen Schaal (30 Rock, The Daily Show) and quite possibly Jane Krakowski (30 Rock).

Producers include Austin Film Society board member Suzanne Weinart, who was talking up the film as a Parker Posey vehicle a little more than a year ago. Will Raee will direct from a script he co-wrote with Brenna Graziano. The plot goes something like this: "A woman who is fed up with her mundane lifestyle hatches a scheme to make her family instant celebrities by having her ex-boyfriend kidnap her 11-year-old daughter for a month."

Don't confuse this indie with the micro-budget Lost in Austin, a series of vignettes put together by UT film students. Their version was completed in 2013 and is being submitted to film festivals as we speak.  

And really, truly don't confuse it with the potentially sleazy Lost in Austin reality show that was dubbed the Austin version of Jersey Shore back in 2011 when it cast twentysomethings who "rule the bar scene, rope in the hottest of the hot, drink anyone under the table."

And it's surely not the song--tip of the hat to Gary Bond of the Austin Film Commission--by Tommy Hancock or an album by Marc Benno (see above).

Maybe they could rename this new film something more unique like Austin Stories?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wendy Davis pulls a presser at ACC

Wendy Davis wants to be Texas' next governor. She kept a chilly press corps waiting outside Austin Community College-Rio Grande this morning to talk education. I watched and snapped some pix.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Killen plays 'Mind Games' earlier than expected

So sometimes Austinite Kyle Killen, whose Dallas-shot series Lone Star was cancelled by Fox after only two episodes in 2010, sees his new (not-Texas-shot) show Mind Games premiere early (Feb. 25) when ABC pulls Killer Women after two episodes (the first of which was shot in Austin). Got that? There will be a quiz later.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

'Thieves' tells fictional truths about a writer's life

This piece ran in today's San Antonio Express-News. It's behind a paywall, so here it is in its entirety (along with a photo I took of David):

By Joe O'Connell, For the Express-News

January 12, 2014
SAN ANTONIO — A sign by David Marion Wilkinson's writing desk reads “Joy.” It was his guiding principle as he attempted to write the ultimate comic novel, but life and the book took a different turn.

The result is “Where the Mountains are Thieves,” a solid novel that is equal parts funny and tragic, but 100 percent honest about human failings and what it means to be a writer today.

“I came to this place where writing a comic novel wasn't possible,” said Wilkinson, who is best known for writing historical novels of the West.

“Thieves” follows Jesse Reverchon, a middle-aged author fresh from rehab and an affair who moves with his wife and young son Travis to Alpine to patch their lives together. Reverchon coaches his son's baseball team and tries to buckle down and get his writing career back on track. Along the way, the reader is warned of an accident lurking in the pages ahead that will rock Jesse's world.

Jesse says, “I came to understand that most novelists are strictly observers. At first I struggled with it, agonized over it. And then, about the time Travis was born, I accepted it.”

But in heartwarming and funny moments, Little League baseball proves Jesse's salvation. Á la “The Bad News Bears,” he tries to whip a ragtag group of misfits into a team.

“It's his catalyst to getting connected,” Wilkinson said. “His only success is impacting the lives of fatherless boys, but what he comes realize is they are saving his life.”

Wilkinson's latest novel is itself a lesson in the vagaries of the publishing industry and the human heart.

Like his main character, Wilkinson had moved his family to Alpine (he has two sons and, unlike his character, no history of drug or alcohol abuse) to make a new life in the Big Bend region. He became writer-in-residence at Sul Ross State University, built a house overlooking Cathedral Peak, and befriended the sometimes-eccentric residents of the beautiful but isolated place. But his real-life marriage was falling apart.


David Marion Wilkin-son's new novel, “Where the Mountains Are Thieves,” follows a middle-aged author who moves with his wife and young son to rebuild their lives.

“You could sit there and watch the sun go down with a sense of peace and a feeling that everything's OK, but then you look around and see it's not,” he said.

Careerwise, it actually started in 2001. After three years of work, Wilkinson's last novel, “Oblivion's Altar,” was hot off the presses and receiving positive reviews when the events of 9/11 changed everything. The nation was in turmoil, and no one was reading fiction. Wilkinson turned instead to nonfiction with “One Ranger,” a biography co-written with famed Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson.

Suddenly nonfiction agents were hitting him up with work-for-hire projects, and he realized they saw writers as interchangeable widgets. Like his character Jesse, Wilkinson was desperate to prove he still had fiction-writing chops.

Nearly broke and recently divorced, he found himself back working oil fields as he had in his youth. He didn't write for two years. When the words came, “Where the Mountains are Thieves” became a different, better, more honest book.

“There's a little anger in the book, along with frustration, sorrow, regret,” he admitted.

It's the writer's story of when art meets commerce. Wilkinson cites Herman Melville, who stopped writing and became a customs inspector. Only after his death did perhaps his best novel, “Billy Budd,” see publication.

These days, Wilkinson is not sure about his next novel. His writing career has taken another turn. He's been working as a writer on a History Channel miniseries about the Texas Rangers, and another in development about women spies during the Civil War.

“It changes every day,” he said of writing for television. “I'm good at that from what I've been through.”

Joe O'Connell is an Austin writer. Reach him at therealjoeo@gmail.com.