Austin Film Festival awardee Paul Feig talks ‘Alf,’ female comedies, movie jail, Donald Trump and more

Paul Feig at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)
Paul Feig at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)

He may be now be known as that guy who makes all the really good female comedies, but Paul Feig is so much more. In addition to directing “Bridesmaids,” “Spy” and “Ghostbusters,” the latter two he also wrote, Feig created “Freaks and Geeks” and has directed episodes of some of the best TV shows of the past decade, including “Arrested Development” and “Mad Men.” The dapper director with the voice of an NPR affiliate station in Michigan received the Extraordinary Contribution to Film award at this year’s Austin Film Festival and appeared in conversation Sunday with the festival’s executive director Barbara Morgan. Below are 10 takeaways from that chat:

  1. This ain’t Feig’s first rodeo. He has been coming to AFF since 2002 and won an audience award for his second feature, “I Am David,” at the fest in 2003.
  2. Feig got his start in “show business” when he moved to Los Angeles as a young man to serve as a tour guide at Universal Studios. He was under the impression that the “tour guide was the conduit between lay people and showbiz.”
  3. He turned to “The $25,000 Pyramid” to earn some money during his nascent stand-up comedy career. It worked. He won $29,000, which helped support him for five years a comedian.
  4. Before cracking into the industry, the former script reader wrote many spec scripts, including one for “a very special episode” of “Alf,” in which Alf worked at a suicide prevention hotline. He teased the audience with the idea that one day he may offer a script reading for that at AFF.
  5. “Freaks and Geeks” started as a memoir that he translated to a television show. The dodgeball scene from the pilot was torn from the pages of his real life, as were most of the characters. The only character not based on someone Feig actually knew? Lindsay Weird, played by Linda Caredellini. She was the platonic ideal of the kind of big sister Feig always wished he could have had.
  6. Feig’s stand-up career informed his filmmaking. He would tape his stand-up act and go back and listed for what jokes got laughs and what didn’t work. He applied that same technique to test screenings of films, looking to see what resonated with audiences and what needed to be excised or honed.
  7. Feel the pain. Feig said that the painful personal stories are the ones that give you the best and most relatable material.
  8. Big tip on writing comedy: “Don’t try to be funny.”
  9. On why he wasn’t a good actor: He thought too much and you could see it in his performances.
  10. Turn out the lights. “The only true way to end a series is to kill everybody. That is why ‘Six Feet Under’ was the best ending ever.” #spoileralert
  11. Biggest lesson he ever learned: Jason Segel killed in his audition for “Freaks and Geeks,” but he wasn’t the kind of person Feig had envisioned for the role, so he was prepared to pass on the 6’4″ kid from Southern California. But producer Judd Apatow convinced him to hire Segel and figure it out from there. “If you get a great person, tailor that role for them. Take the strength,” Feig said.
  12. Why comedy? “Life is too short to try and depress people.”
  13. After two box office bombs, Feig was making promotional movies for Macy’s. One of them included Donald Trump and a bake sale, apparently. Feig was stressed out from the work and said Trump, whom they wanted to get in and out as efficiently as possible, “was so nerve wracking to work with.” Feig said he almost had a nervous breakdown working on the project and was suffering what sounded like something of an existential crisis surrounding his career and his future. A day or two later he got a call alerting him that the long-gestating comedy about bridesmaids was back on. He was hired to direct soon thereafter. And the rest is history.
  14. Feig said finding his groove as the man who directs women was “the happiest day of my life.” He admits that he isn’t great at writing male characters, in part because he doesn’t relate to hyper masculinity and he’s always related better to women.
  15. As for the state of female comedies, “It’s better than it was but it should be way better than it is.”

Tony Hale talks Tim Conway, ‘Arrested Development,’ ‘Veep,’ YouTube and more at Austin Film Festival

Austin Film Festival executive director Barbara Morgan (left) and Tony Hale in conversation at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)
Austin Film Festival executive director Barbara Morgan (left) and Tony Hale in conversation at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)

Tony Hale has made a name for himself playing lovable oddball that can hold discomfort and tension in their wrought faces until the wires snap and the comedy boils over in fits of hilarity.

Following the Saturday world premiere of dark comedy “Brave New Jersey” Saturday night at the Austin Film Festival, Hale appeared at the Driskill Hotel ballroom Sunday to talk about his career with AFF executive director Barbara Morgan. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Hale currently plays the neurotic and overprotective bag man to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ president Selina Meyer on HBO’s “Veep.” True to form, when Morgan’s phone buzzed in her purse at the back of the stage, Hale transformed into his Gary Walsh character and retrieved the phone from the purse of AFF’s commander in chief. Later in the talk, Morgan’s water bottle fell and Hale dutifully returned it.
  2. Hale says he has dealt with anxiety in the past, which he has gotten a handle on through therapy but that he’s been able to “use it for good” in portraying a character who often looks twisted in knots on the inside.
  3. Not surprisingly, Tim Conway and Bob Newhart are both huge comedic influences on Hale, who says those two greats, “didn’t push comedy; they sat with the tension.” Audiences would often laugh at the two actors because you could tell what was happening in their heads. Since Gary can’t often speak up in his role on the president’s team, Hale has found ways to use a raised eyebrow or a sigh to deliver his point (and laughs).
  4. When Hale is finally able to let Gary blow off some steam when he loses patience with Meyers’ team, Hale describes it as “Five years of build up watching idiots around Jesus.” Indeed, Hale says Gary loves Meyer so much that his spare time his spent practicing how fast he can retrieve things from her bag.
  5. Asked to reflect on some moments from his time on the short-lived series “Andy Barker, P.I.,” Hale (who drew a blank on specific memories) used the opportunity to praise star Andy Richter as “the coolest guy.” In discussing his high regard and appreciation for Richter, whom he called “a very normal guy,” Hale explained how “arrogance sucks the creative energy out of the room.” He likes an atmosphere of respect and giving, which he says he found on “Brave New Jersey,” as well.
  6. Don’t ask Hale about his favorite aired episodes. He doesn’t watch his shows over again. He does, however, watch the blooper reels from his shows because he says that they make him laugh and remind him of the great camaraderie and energy on set.
  7. Echoing something Jason Segel said Friday, Hale said that his biggest challenge is to stay present. That is something which must be practiced, he said. “If you don’t practice being content where you are, you are not going to be content when you get where you want to go.”
  8. On whether he wants to break from his typecast (that of Bust Bluth and Gary Walsh), Hale, joked, “I am very comfortable in emasculation.”
  9. Hale obviously has had much fun with his work on “Veep” and “Arrested Development,” and some of his favorite moments are not being able to contain his laughter. He says he cracked most often at Will Arnett’s outrageous alpha male on the latter. As for the former, he said one time Louis-Dreyfus looked at him after cracking and said, “Tony, you know you’re not watching the show; you’re on the show.” Hale doesn’t just enjoy cracking on his own shows; he said he loved the “Saturday Night Live” Debbie Downer at Disney World sketch (featuring a rattled Jimmy Fallon everyone) so much that he’s watched it 500 times.
  10. What else does he watch in his spare time? Apparently not a lot of scripted television. But he loves YouTube. Bloopers for a laugh and soldiers-coming-home videos for a good cry.

See Tony Hale for yourself. “Brave New Jersey” screens again Monday night during AFF at Alamo Village.

Chris Hemsworth is a funny man and other revelations from the “Ghostbusters” script to screen

Paul Feig, the man who directed and co-wrote the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, joined co-writer Katie Dippold and moderator Christopher Boone for a script-to-screen unpacking of the bizarrely controversial and often very funny comedy.

mpw-115398“Neither one of us took this job to destroy childhoods,” Feig said of the bonkers internet backlash against the very idea of the 2016 reboot. “You kind of put your head down and say you’re pure of heart and just want to make a good movie. You can only have death wished upon you so many times before it loses it sting.”

Dippold described herself as a very neurotic person and said it’s gotten to the point where what once made her upset barely registers a blip on her emotional radar anymore. “I got used to it” she said, adding that it’s made her “a little less afraid” to try genuinely scary things.

The Post-It Notes. During the shoot, Dippold would write jokes on Post-It Notes and hand them to Feig.  “Our goal is always to have shot as many jokes as we can,” Feig says. “You put together the best script you can, you have plenty of “alts” (alternative lines) on those jokes because you just never know what an audience is going to like.” This means lots and lots and lots of takes. “You know a scene is fine when the crew wants to murder you,” Feig said.

 Kate McKinnon might be as odd and smart as Holtzmann.  “She is a beautiful weirdo,” Feig said. To get a feel for the character, Feig interviewed McKinnon as Holtzmann for “like an hour, and she said all this really great awesome stuff and I sent it to Katie.”

“Holtzmann is the kind of person I want to be,” Dippold said. “Anything that would make someone anxious, she wouldn’t feel any anxiety.” McKinnon sent the two an email with a list of traits Holtzmann might have. “Some were really heavy,” Dippold said, “like Holtzmann would be afraid to fall in love because she couldn’t handle that person dying and I was like, ‘OH MY GOD.'”

Feig keeps a model of the Titanic and a bust of Shakespeare on his desk.  “No matter how good everything is going, it could still go down” and “None of us are Shakespeare. If you are so religious about your words (that you don’t have improvisation_ you are cutting off such a font of talent (in good comic actors). I don’t even do rehearsals anymore because I’ve been burned too many times (by the best moment in rehearsal).”

Feig is a big believer in test screenings. “A comedy director must have no ego,” he said, noting that two big microphones record test screening laughs so he knows what does and doesn’t work.

and finally, Kevin’s interview was largely improvised during a five hour shoot.  The entire subplot of Kristin Wiig’s character having a crush on Kevin, the moronic assistant played by Chris “Thor” Hemsworth, was improvised by Wiig.

At one point, light reflected off Hemsworth’s glasses, the lens were taken out, and Hemsworth scratched his eye through the empty lens, resulting in riffing on that.

Hemsworth was also responsible for the “Michael Hat” riff.

“He made the comment about the dog being named ‘My cat,'” Feig said, “and I thought, ‘Eh, that joke is OK,’ then he made the ‘Mike Hat’ joke and then ‘His full name is Michael Hat’ line and suddenly I noticed, “Oh God, this is actually a brilliant run.'”

Don’t expect a “Friends” reunion and seven other things we learned from Marta Kauffman’s AFF interview

Austin Film Festival head honcho Barbara Morgan chatted with “Dream On,” “Friends” and “Grace and Frankie” creator Marta Kauffman Friday afternoon at AFF. Here are eight things that we learned:

kaufmannNorman Lear passed on “Dream On.” “When she and creative partner David Crane worked developing projects for Norman Lear, they pitched “Dream On” to Lear’s people. He was not a fan. “He comes over to me takes my hand and says ‘Shallow.'” Kauffman said. “He grabs David Crane by the shoulders and says ‘It’s superficial.’ Boy, did I steal my stapler. “Dream On” became HBO’s first comedy.

“Friends” came out of Kauffman’s experience with a group of six…friends. “The show is about that time in your life when your friends are your family,” Kauffman said. “After you have your own family, everything changes.”  Kauffman was also inspired by seeing a restaurant called the Insomnia Cafe, which birthed Central Perk: “The pilot wrote itself in three days.”

NBC wanted an older character on “Friends” from whom they could get advice. “We called him ‘Pat the Cop’ and we said absolutely not.” Nor was the Joey character written as a doofus. “We had had no idea how funny Matt LeBlanc at playing dumb,” Kauffman said. “You set out to do things, and then actors come in and they breathe life into it, and it’s not quite what you imagined it was going to be”

The accidental birth of “Grace and Frankie.” Kaufman misheard a message that Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda were interested in TV and  thought they wanted to do TV together and made inquires asking if Tomlin and Fonda wanted to do a show together. “Twenty minutes, I get a call: ‘They do now,'” Kauffman said.

The Netflix model can be scary. Instead of writing a script and getting approval and shooting a pilot and waiting for response on the pilot from the network, if Netflix approves the first script, a producer gets an automatic order for 13 episodes. “You don’t have a pilot to make mistakes,” Kauffman said. “I don’t think we hit our stride until the fourth or fifth episode”

The four leads on “Grace and Frankie” have very different processes and are all lovely people. “Martin (Sheen) can be laughing and telling story and then crying on camera the next second,” Kauffman said. ” Jane works form the inside out, Lilly loves props and wig, Sam (Waterston) comes in with a (finished) performance.  They are all pros: They come in with their lines memorized and kind and work hard and are gracious to everyone.”

She would never make something like a 9-11 episode. Shooting immediately after 9-11. Kauffman said they had to make two changes to an episode: they tossed a joke where Chandler makes a bomb joke in line in an airport and they had to change the Etch-A-Sketch on Joey’s door that had  King Kong swiping at the Empire State Building.

“I don’t know if I would ever do (something like a 9-11) episode in a comedy,” Kauffman said. “I don’t think it’s my place.”

Would Kauffman ever pull an “Arrested Development” or “Gilmore Girls” and do another run of Friends on Net– “NO.”

(much laughter)

“They’d all be older, and it wouldn’t be the same,” she said, adding that such a thing would only be done for other people, fans wouldn’t like it and “I would feel bad about myself.”

Video: Muppets, ‘Freaks’ and more with Jason Segel at the Austin Film Festival

I sat down with actor/writer/producer Jason Segel today at the Austin Film Festival to discuss his colorful career. Since I was holding a microphone instead of pen and paper, I didn’t get great notes on the talk or exact quotes, but these are few of the winning anecdotes from an artist who is as affable, humble and approachable as fans of his imagine him to be. (All quotes are paraphrases based on my memory.)

Jason Segel signs some Austin Film Festival posters after his moderated conversation at the conference. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Jason Segel signs some Austin Film Festival posters after his moderated conversation at the conference. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
  1. Not the cool dude. When auditioning for “Freaks and Geeks,” Segel was worried that he and a young James Franco might be trying out for the same part. When they were told they both got hired, Segel somewhat perplexed told Franco on the way to their cars that, “I guess I’ll play the awkward guy and you’ll play the cool guy.” To which Franco cooly responded, “Uh, yea.”
  2. Segel loves the ethos surrounding “The Muppets,” a franchise which he helped reboot — “A bunch of weirdos make a family.”
  3. The Muppet to which he best relates: Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear.
  4. When doing a table read of “The Muppets” script, Kermit appeared out of a trunk about 20 minutes into the reading and an unsuspecting Segel burst into tears.
  5. Segel didn’t originally write the Dracula puppet musical for the end of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” He wrote it after “Freaks and Geeks” got cancelled and before making “Sarah Marshall.” Judd Apatow had instructed Segel to write his own material. So, after finishing that musical around midnight one night, Segel called Apatow and asked if he could come show him something. Apatow relented and Segel showed up to screen the Dracula love story. Segel intended it as an earnest artistic expression. When it ended, Apatow looked at Segel and said, “You can never show this to anyone.”
  6. The first thing Segel, who suffers from night terrors, wrote was a screenplay entitled “Nightmares Beware,” about a kid who battles his nightmares. He has since turned the idea into a series of children’s books.
  7. Segel loved musicals as a child and when he attended his older (much cooler, alpha male) brother’s camps, he jumped up at the chance to perform a talent and sang “Castle on a Cloud,” a song usually performed by a young girl, in its entirety.
  8. Two informative pieces for Segel as an artist: the documentary “Beauty is Embarrassing,” which encouraged him to identify himself as an artist and own it, and the Christopher Vogler book “The Writer’s Journey,” which helped him understand story structure.
  9. Being in the moment. Segel said that as they filmed the dancing scene for “The Muppets,” a large billboard of Jim Henson installed at a museum was overlooking the shot, by complete coincidence. Here was in the middle of a scenario you could never dream to imagine — a young man remaking one of his most beloved childhood movies — and all he could think about was, “What am I going to do next.” Segel said that hindsight has allowed him to realize he needs to be more present and appreciative of the moment.
  10. His advice to a young writer looking to write autobiographical material: I write about one of the hardest, most embarrassing moments in your life and set it on a tropical island.

After his chat, I talked to Segel about his final day of shooting “How I Met Your Mother” and what he learned from “Freaks and Geeks” creator and 2016 Austin Film Festival Extraordinary Contribution to Film awardee Paul Feig.

Jason Segel, Paul Feig, Phil Rosenthal to program AFF retrospective

mv5bmje0mtm4ntc3nf5bml5banbnxkftztcwmjyzotixng-_v1_uy1200_cr8906301200_al_Jason Segel, Paul Fieg and Phil Rosenthal are some of the guest programmers who will present the 2016 Retrospective Film Program at this year’s Austin Film Festival, it was announced Thursday.

Segel will present his “The Muppets,” which he wrote, starred in and executive produced. Feig is presenting Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy “What’s Up, Doc?” “Everybody Loves Raymond”creator Phil Rosenthal is presenting a special tribute to the late Gene Wilder. Tim Herlihy, Adam Gilmore’s longtime creative partner,images is presenting a 20th anniversary screening of his cult classic “Happy Gilmore.” Writer/Producer duo Richard LaGravenese & Mark Johnson will present “A Little Princess.”

Segel will also join the 2016 Conference program for an in-depth conversation on storytelling, how he approaches his process, and themes that emerge in his work.

Other speakers recently added to the Conference slate include “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” writer/producer/actress Tracy Oliver,  “Se7en” writer Andrew Kevin Walker, “Veep” actor Tony Hale, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke (President, ), “Blind Side” writer/director John Lee Hancock, and “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” writer Michael McCullers

The 23rd annual Festival runs this October 13 to 20, featuring a slate of over 150 films, 175 panels, and almost 200 confirmed guest speakers.

 

 

 

 

AFF’s full schedule will be released next week; more information, the full list of panelists, and confirmed programming can be found at http://www.austinfilmfestival.com.

 

 

Jeff Nichols’ “Loving” will open Austin Film Festival

LOVING_onesheetAustin-based filmmaker Jeff Nichols‘ latest film, “Loving” will open the Austin Film Festival in October.

Nichols, whose “Midnight Special” has become one of the year’s best and least-seen sci-fi movies,  premiered “Loving” at Cannes in May. “Loving” is a look at the struggle of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), whose civil rights case, “Loving v. Virginia,” made Supreme Court history.

The complete list of programming at the 23rd annual AFF, including short films, competition titles, and conference panels, will be announced in mid-September, but here is the second wave of films announced:

 

 

Loving

Opening Night Film
Texas Premiere

Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols*

Cast: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Nick Kroll

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star in the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who waged a decade-long legal battle that led to the overturning of the state of Virginia’s law prohibiting interracial marriage.


The Big Spoon

World Premiere
Writers: Mallory Culbert*, Carlyn Hudson*

Director: Carlyn Hudson

Cast: Zach Knighton*, Nick Stevenson*

Long-term couple Mallory and Ben plan to enjoy a romantic weekend alone in Mallory’s house, but their plans are ruined when Elle, Mallory’s flighty roommate, shows up with a surprise lover. As tensions rise, each couple is forced to question the strength of their relationship.

The Harvest Run

World Premiere

Writers/Directors: Steven Balvanz*, Aaron McAdams*

The Colby’s, a third generation farming family, gear up for the annual Harvest Run – a demanding seven-month journey that is essential to producing America’s annual yield of wheat and corn. Faced with the insurmountable hardships of the American economy and climate change, the year’s run proves more challenging than ever.

 

Holding Patterns

World Premiere

Writers/Director: Jake Goldberger*

Cast: Freddie Highmore, Odeya Rush, Haley Joel Osment, Christopher Meloni

Mid-twenties, unmotivated, and still living at home with his mother and stepfather, Charlie Brenner is given a surprising boost of confidence when he meets Amber (Odeya Rush,) a local barista. As they become closer, the line between friendship and intimacy is blurred, and the situation forces both of them to examine where they are in their respective lives. Charlie’s situation is further complicated by the sudden appearance of his estranged father.

 

Lion
Texas Premiere

Writer: Luke Davies

Director: Garth Davis

Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara

Adapted from the non-fiction book A Long Way Home, Lion follows the challenges a young Indian boy faces after taking a wrong train, being separated from his family, and being adopted by Australians. Twenty-five years later, armed only with sparse information and Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family.

 

The Man Who Was Thursday

North American Premiere

Writer/Director: Balazs Juszt*

In a mind-bending metaphysical thriller, disgraced local parish, Father Smith, is called to Rome for spiritual rehabilitation. Upon Smith’s arrival, his spiritual mentor, Charles, tasks him with a mission to go underground to ascertain the mysterious leader of an archaist group of renegades.

 

No Retreat
World Premiere
Writers: J.D. Singer, Nicholas Zafonte*

Director: Nicholas Zafonte*
Fifteen years after graduating college, two college friends reconnect at a weekend writers’ retreat. As they struggle to attempt one last shot at a creative lifestyle, the drama of old regrets, insecurity, and unfinished romantic business takes its toll.

 

Suburban Cowboy

World Premiere

Writer: Ryan Colucci*

Directors: Ryan Colucci*, Dragan Roganovic

In this gritty story based on real events, a Long Island drug dealer find himself in over his head once one of his soldiers robs a dealer with a connection to ruthless Serbian gangsters. Now responsible for the debt, he is forced to take drastic measures.

Stooges doc “Gimme Danger,” new Rooster Teeth series will play Austin Film Festival

Man alive, that is an awesome poster
Man alive, that is an awesome poster

“Gimme Danger,” Jim Jarmush’s documentary on the Stooges, the entire first season of Rooster Teeth’s new comedic series “Crunch Time,” and the comedy “Brave New Jersey” are just a few of the films that will play the Austin Film Festival, .

The annual festival, which takes place Oct. 13 to 20, released its first 10 bookings Tuesday.

The complete list of programming, including over 100 more films, will be announced in mid-September.

Here are the first 10, including five world premiers

  •    5 Doctors

World Premiere.  Writers/Directors: Max Azulay, Matt Porter.

Convinced that he’s dying from a bizarre array of symptoms, struggling comedian Spencer travels to his childhood home to visit five of his doctors in one day, all while trying to hide news of his visit from everyone with the exception of his sweet, emotionally repressed friend Jay.

In Attendance: Writers/directors/actors Max Azulay, Matt Porter.

  •    Brave New Jersey
"Brave New Jersey"
“Brave New Jersey”

World Premiere. Writers: Michael Dowling, Jody Lambert. Director: Jody Lambert.

A small New Jersey town in 1938 is overcome with mass hysteria on the night of Orson Welles’s legendary 1938 ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast, the hoax which fooled millions into believing America was being invaded by Martians.

In Attendance: Writer/Director Jody Lambert; Cast Tony Hale, Anna Camp, Heather Burns, Dan Bakkedahl, Sam Jaeger, Mel Rodriguez, Erika Alexander and others.

  •    Crunch Time – Season 1

World Premiere.  Writers: Andrew Disney, Bradley Jackson. Director: Andrew Disney.

In a highly classified location, a gang of misfit grad students are interrogated by government operatives. Why? Because the world is about to end, and it’s all their fault. How did it all start? With a last ditch effort to win back love… by way of an extremely dangerous, untested, lucid dreaming machine.

  •    Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse

World Premiere.  Writers/Directors: Etta Devine, Gabriel Diani.

When all power and communication systems mysteriously shut off, couple and performing comedy duo Gabe and Etta pack up their troubles and hit the road with their trusty dog, Watson and their miserable cat Mrs. Peel in search of a safe haven to wait out the possible extinction event.

In attendance: Writers/Directors/Cast Etta Devine, Gabriel Diani.

  •    Forushande (The Salesman)

Texas Premiere. Writer/Director: Asghar Farhadi.

After their old flat becomes damaged, Emad and Rana, a young couple living in Tehran, are forced to move into a new apartment. Eventually, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes the couple’s life, and creates a simmering tension between husband and wife.

  •    Gimme Danger

Texas Premiere. Director: Jim Jarmusch.

Gimme Danger presents the story of iconic punk legends the Stooges and their legendary frontman Iggy Pop. Director Jim Jarmusch tracks their emergence and adventures and misadventures while charting their inspirations, challenges, and long-lasting legacy.

  •    Good Fortune

North American Premiere. Directors: Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell.

Good Fortune tells the heartwarming rags to riches life story of John Paul DeJoria, the poster boy of “conscious capitalism” and follows him as he uses business to make the world a better place.

In Attendance: Directors Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell, subject John Paul DeJoria

  •    Monogamish

North American Premiere. Director Tao Ruspoli.

Recovering from a very public divorce, independent filmmaker and Italian Prince Tao Ruspoli takes to the road to talk to his relatives, advice columnists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, artists, philosophers, sex workers, sex therapists, and ordinary couples about love, sex & monogamy in our culture.

In Attendance: Director Tao Ruspoli

  •    ProGamer

World Premiere. Director: Justin Agnew.

ProGamer explores the emerging world of electronic sports by following professional Starcraft II gamers Naniwa and White-Ra, who navigate worldwide gaming tournaments and their own personal lives

In Attendance: Director Justin Agnew.

  •    Quaker Oaths

World Premiere. Writer/Director: Louisiana Kreutz.

In order for Emily and Joe to get a divorce, they will need to take a trip across the country and convince each wedding guest to cross their name off of the wedding certificate, per Quaker tradition.

In Attendance: Writer/director Louisiana Kreutz, cast Alex Dobrenko, Fede Rangel, other cast and crew.

SXSW winner ‘Transpecos’ gets distribution deal

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Here’s an uplifting tale for aspiring filmmakers out there. And it also illustrates why festivals like South by Southwest, Fantastic Fest and the Austin Film Festival are so important.

Austin resident Greg Kwedar got his debut feature, “Transpecos,” into the narrative feature competition this March at South by Southwest. It was unheralded, and few people in the Austin film crowd even knew who Kwedar was.

But securing a spot in the competition – and providing an early screener to critics – helped build buzz,, and the  thriller about the Border Patrol went on to win the audience award – which means festival attendees thought it to be the best of the bunch.

Kwedar and his team had no distributor for the film, however. And without a distributor, most movies just end up screening here and there, at places like the Austin Film Society and various festivals, without reaching a wide audience.

But that’s what festivals are for – raising the profile of small, independent films. And this week, Kwedar got the best news possible. Samuel Goldwyn Films is buying the rights to “Transpecos” and plans a theatrical release in the fall.

And in May, Screen Media Ventures will be attending the Cannes Film Festival, trying to sell distribution rights to international territories.

The deal was first reported by Deadline.com. And Peter Goldwyn of Samuel Goldwyn Films said, “Greg is a raw talent in independent cinema. ‘Transpecos’ is an accomplished first feature that we’re eager to deliver to audiences in theaters and in homes across the country.”

Details of the deal were not disclosed.

The thriller stars Johnny Simmons, Gabriel Luna and Clifton Collins Jr. Kwedar co-wrote the script with Clint Bentley.

 

 

Austin Film Festival 2015: Here are all of your award winners!

 Austin Film Festival (AFF) announced its 2015 Jury and Hiscox Audience and Courage Award Winners in Film, as well as the Screenplay & Teleplay Competition winners.

 

The following Jury award winners were selected by category:

Narrative Feature: The Exile, written by Arturo Ruiz Serrano

Documentary Feature: Monsterman, directed by Antti Haase

Comedy Vanguard Feature: Baby, Baby, Baby, written by Brian Klugman

Dark Matters Feature: Sunny Side Up, written by Willem Bosch

Dark Matters Feature Honorable Mention: The Lion’s Path, written by Sophie-Anne Beaudry

Narrative Short: Vainilla, written by Susana López Rubio

Narrative Student Short: Kimi Kabuki, written by Yoko Okumura

Documentary Short: Chau, Beyond the Lines, directed by Courtney Marsh

Animated Short: The Meek, written by Joe Brumm

Scripted Digital Series: School Nurse, created by Tom Beach, Laura Boersma, and John Stewart Muller

 

After each Festival screening, audiences voted for the Hiscox Audience Awards, recognizing film favorites among the 2015 slate. The following Hiscox Audience Award winners were selected by category:

 

Narrative Feature: Keep In Touch, written by Sam Kretchmar and Michael Covino

Documentary Feature: Mully directed by Scott Haze

Documentary Feature Honorable Mention: Of Dogs and Men directed by Michael Ozias

Dark Matters Feature:Reparation written by Kyle Ham and Steve Timm

Comedy Vanguard Feature: Baby, Baby, Baby written by Brian Klugman

Narrative Short: Best Wishes from Millwood written by Max Baker

Documentary Short: The Trials of Constance Baker Motley directed by Rick Rodgers

Animated Short: The Present written by Fabio Cavalcanti and Jacob Frey

Narrative Student Short: Amateur Dictator written by Zach Carver

Scripted Digital Series: Master Class created by Justin Wright Neufeld

Heart of Film: A Single Frame directed by Brandon Dickerson

Stories From Abroad: El Jeremías written by Ana Sofía Clerici

Texas Independent: Jack’s Apocalypse written by Will Moore

Marquee Feature: Until 20 directed by Jamila Paksima and written by Geraldine Moriba

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“Until 20”

The first ever Courage Award went to Jamila Paksima’s and Geraldine Moriba’s Until 20, the story of Texan James Ragan’s quest to live a full  life despite his terminal battle with osteosarcoma.

In continuation of AFF’s mission to find and support independent filmmakers, three films were already picked up for distribution at this year’s Festival including Comedy Vanguard “3rd Street Blackout,” “The Teller and the Truth” picked up by FilmBuff, and James Franco’s “Memoria” acquired by Monterey Media.
The following Screenplay Competition winners were selected by category:

Drama Screenplay Award presented by the Writers Guild of America, East: Detroit by Robert Rue

Comedy Screenplay Award: Maxwell 2.0 by Paul Sanford

Enderby Entertainment Award: The Great Debate by David Hoffman

Darkwoods Productions Sci-Fi Award: The Innkeeper by Michael Catinari

Horror Award: 77 Minutes by Shani Grewal

AMC One-Hour Teleplay Pilot Award: Friend of the Devil by Michael Ouellette

Sitcom Teleplay Pilot Award: Newsperson by Michael Drake

Short Screenplay Award: The New World by Brian Rawlins

Scripted Digital Series Award: Creepypasta by Will Zech& Alex Cope

One-Hour Teleplay Spec Award: The Americans: Custody by Larry Caldwell

Sitcom Teleplay Spec Award: Workaholics: Bring Your Kid To Work Day by Greg Brainos