You could say that I began growing up into my filmmaking life in Austin, TX. In the 70’s I went to college there at the University of Texas, mostly as an English major. I had written several short stories and lots of poetry, some of which were published. I also took lots of classes in quite a number of other disciplines. One of which was in the RTF (Radio-TV-Film) department.
I also took classes in the late 70’s, early 80’s at an organization called the ACMC, the Austin Community Movie Company. They had production, screenwriting, acting and editing classes. I tried to take as many as I could, in as many areas as I could. But my first love was writing, and I eventually tried my hand at screenwriting. I found it difficult, unintuitive, and very tedious.
A couple of things happened that loosened up for me. I took some acting classes at ACMC, and actually got cast in one of their productions. I also began running the video camera in the acting classes, and got to watch fledgling actors and directors work and grow. That all gave me more of a feel for writing scripts than anything else. Even reading very well-known, high quality scripts, which certainly helped, but in a dryer more academic way.
In the early 80’s I was lucky enough to be an extra for a couple of days on a little indie film called ‘Blood Simple,’ the first film by the Coen Brothers. They were fresh out of NYU grad having done their undergraduate work at UT. One of my professors at UT told me about the project. After a couple days as an extra they let me hang around for a few more days as a P.A.
I remember one night when shooting late that it suddenly all hit me. I was reading the ‘Blood Simple’ script for the first time while on set. And by the way I was also in the middle of a rewrite for my first screenplay. As I read the Coens’ script, I knew I had quite a bit ways to go to be at that level. I watched what they did on set as much as I could and got bit by the filmmaking bug, and of course never looked back.
Our Screening Video
In 1986 I was hired for the first time to write a screenplay, by a producer in Dallas. Wow, someone was actually willing to pay me to do this. The project never went anywhere, but now I was stoked. So I packed up my pregnant wife, my young son, and myself, and headed for the radiant lights of Hollywood.
It didn’t take me long to realize the streets were not paved in gold there. Far from it. It was just the beginning of the struggle. And over time I learned the lessons I needed to.
While living in L.A. I was lucky enough to procure a job a one of the major studios. That was an eye-opener, seeing how Hollywood actually works, from the business end. As time moved on I periodically got screenwriting assignments, where I was actually paid to write scripts. Most of the time the projects didn’t move forward, although there were a few that did, but not the full distance.
As the world of indie film grew, I eventually felt that might be the light at the end of the tunnel. That led me to working on a few indie films in various positions. Which then eventually led me getting it together to finally shoot my first indie, “Dreams Awake.”
Now we are putting together our next film, “One Hand Clapping,” and we shot a teaser trailer in the Austin, TX last year. And just recently we screened both “Dreams Awake” and the “One Hand Clapping” trailer to a full theater at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Lakeline. It was wonderful being back where it all started for me. Here are some pix from the screening –https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153483466465224.1073741826.126279460223
Our plan is to begin shooting in spring next year in the Austin area. I can hardly wait to return to my roots for the next chapter in my filmmaking life. But first we need to finish our own crowdfunding campaign. Check it out & help us out! – www.LaunchOurFilm.com.