Two Austin Producers Head to Sundance Labs, Alamo Tries Reserved Seating, and More

By  · Published on July 23rd, 2012

I had no intentions of making this another “news” post (this was supposed to be a rambling soliloquy on micro-budget genre filmmaking in Austin), but shortly after I had published last week’s Austin Cinematic Limits column on The Latest Austin Movie Success Stories, I heard yet another fantastic Austin movie success story. Two of the eleven projects selected for the Sundance Creative Producing Labs this year are from Austin! Color me impressed…and incredibly proud.

Kelly Williams (who was featured in Austin Cinematic Limits in February 2012) has been selected to participate in the Feature Film Creative Producing Lab, a five-day Lab where narrative feature film producers work with an accomplished group of Creative Advisors to develop their creative instincts, communication and problem-solving skills in all stages of film production. This year’s Creative Advisors include producers Anne Carey (The American, Adventureland), Karin Chien (Circumstance, Exploding Girl), Lynette Howell (Terri, Blue Valentine) and Paul Mezey (Beasts of the Southern Wild, Sugar). Williams was selected for his work on writer-director Kat Candler’s Hellion, which premiered at Sundance 2012 as a short film and is now in the early stages of being developed into a feature-length production.

Producer-director-cinematographer PJ Raval has been selected to participate in the Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab, a five-day Lab where Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund grantees are invited to work intensively with award-winning Creative Advisors to hone the craft of producing documentaries. The Lab includes workshops on financing, production and creative distribution for documentary films. This year’s Creative Advisors include Bonni Cohen (The Island President), Jess Search (CEO, BritDoc Foundation), publicist Nancy Willen (Acme PR) and sales agent Josh Braun (Submarine Entertainment). Raval was selected for his currently in-progress Untitled Gay Retiree Project.

Okay, and now since I have already started with the news, I might as well roll with it…

As many of you probably know, the Alamo Drafthouse has been playing around with various ways to allow its patrons to reserve seats ahead of time. No matter what they have tried to do, there has been a lot of very vocal naysayers. Nonetheless, as of next Monday (July 30th), the Alamo Village will be biting the bullet and going to an all reserved seating format. Alamo patrons will choose their seats at the point of purchase, and there will not be an upcharge.

Considering that reserved seating is one of the main reasons I love the Violet Crown Cinema so much, the Alamo certainly has my support on this decision. That said, I totally understand the other perspective that this does away with the social interaction some Alamo film-goers enjoy while “hanging out” in line. I for one am not a line-waiter, nor am I a social butterfly. I also tend to watch films alone or in small groups, so coordinating seat reservations is typically not an issue for me. Above all, I hate having to arrive at the Alamo an hour (or more) before the film’s start time to secure a decent seat. I do still think that there should be some opportunity for compromise here. Personally, I thought the optional reserved seating model worked well enough and I am curious to see how this all works out.

I have noticed that the next seven days on my calendar are jam packed with highly anticipated film screenings. Rather than running through the entire list, I figured I would focus on two particular screenings that I am most excited about, both occurring on Sunday (July 29).

First is the Alamo Ritz’s Cinema Club screening of In Cold Blood with special guest Kat Candler (writer-director of Hellion). If you have been following this column, you have probably noticed that Kat’s name has appeared more often than any other filmmaker. It is pretty awesome that Cinema Club gives members of the local film community (as well as occasional international talent) a chance to lead discussions on their favorite films. I really love In Cold Blood, and I am very curious to hear Kat’s thoughts about it.

After In Cold Blood, I am going to hoof it a few blocks east of I-35 to Cheer Up Charlie’s (1104 E 6th St) for a special Texas premiere screening of Onur Tukel’s latest directorial effort Richard’s Wedding. Tukel is coming to Austin to act in a short film directed by Bob Byington, and Cinema East obviously could not pass up this golden opportunity. Up until now, Tukel’s directing resume has relished in micro-budget obscurity, but you will definitely recognize Tukel from his scene-stealing performances in Michael Tully’s Septien (as Amos) and Alex Karpovsky’s Red Flag (as Henry). And if any film is to put Tukel on the map as a director, it will almost certainly be Richard’s Wedding.

Richard’s Wedding maintains a breathless barrage of rapid fire dialogue akin to the screenplays of David Mamet, Woody Allen, Richard Linklater and Neil Labute throughout the near real time narrative. Many will most likely find the film’s darkly comedic tone to be offensive, borderline racist, self-absorbed, pretentious, negative, cynical, showboating and shocking – the list of adjectives goes on forever… Admittedly, Richard’s Wedding is a tough sell because the tone is so damn negative and the characters are so detestable but, aside from that, the film features a lot of great performances (including a very amusing turn by Bad Fever director Dustin Guy Defa).

This Cinema East screening is free and will feature a Q&A with Tukel afterwards. Considering the nature of the film and Cinema East audiences’ knack for asking blunt questions, I guarantee that the Q&A alone will make this event worth attending.

Austin Movie Events This Week:

7/23 – Alamo Ritz – Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man screens as part of a miniseries of The Alamo Ritz’s favorite Hitchcock titles. (More Info)

7/24 – Alamo South Lamar – AFS’s Essential Cinema Series features Las Malas Intenciones. (More info)

7/24–7/26 – Stateside at the Paramount – In coordination with Horror Week at the Paramount Theatre, the Stateside will screen William Castle’s The House On Haunted Hill not once, but three times. The screenings with be preceded by a selection of classic horror trailers, shorts and cartoons. (More info)

7/24–7/29 – Paramount Theatre – Some of my favorite classic horror films of all time screen at the Paramount this week, including Nosferatu (1922), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Freaks (1932), Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and The Exorcist (1973). (More info)

7/27 – Blue Starlite Drive-In – Austin Film Society Summer Series @ The Blue presents a double feature of Grindhouse: Planet Terror and Night of the Living Dead. (More info)

7/28 – Blue Starlite Drive-In – Austin Film Society Summer Series @ The Blue presents a screening of Spy Kids and Office Space. (More info)

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