- HOME: OCTOBER 3, 2008: SCREENS
BY JOE O'CONNELL
Spaghetti Western takes aim at incentives battle
Set decorator Jeanette Scott may be the perfect example of the impact of
ineffective Texas film incentives, and thus it's no surprise to see her
artistic hand in an event aimed at turning the tide. It's called
Spaghetti Western and planned for Nov. 7 at Star Hill Ranch, an Old West
set that has been used in a few films in its time. Scenes from Italian
Westerns will screen in the background on the Alamo Drafthouse's
inflatable screen during the seated dinner for 500 as local film celebs
wander about. Gary Clark Jr.'s band will play. A silent auction will be
Most important, Scott hopes it will raise $20,000 for the Central Texas
region of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, a film lobbying group
working to convince the Legislature in 2009 to increase the current 5%
financial incentives offered to somewhere in the 15% range, so Texas can
regain the Hollywood films that now bypass the Lone Star State in favor
of more incentive-rich states such as Louisiana and New Mexico at 25%
and Michigan, which is offering up to 42%. "If we're not successful,
nothing is going to be shooting," Scott says. "Our feature film industry
is gasping for breath. We have to make this happen this [legislative]
session, or it's too late."
As we said, Scott could well be the Texas film industry's poster child:
She's been hard at work for 20 years on such films as Selena, Richard
Linklater's The Newton Boys, most of Robert Rodriguez's films, and, most
recently, Terrence Malick's Tree of Life. "I've managed to stay right
here at home and work continuously in Austin," she says. "Two years ago,
that just disappeared." She's been offered two film projects out of
state recently, one in Louisiana and the other in Puerto Rico, which
just began offering 40% incentives. Her commitment to the Texas
incentives battle and the Spaghetti Western fundraising event convinced
her to say no. See more at www.centraltxmpa.org.
And the rest ...
Join Reel Women for its First Monday Mix from 6 to 8pm Monday at Opal
Divine's. It's free and open to the public... The 4th annual Seguin Film
& Arts Festival is now accepting short films for this year's
competition, Oct. 24-26, at the Palace Theatre. More at
www.seguinfestival.org... HBO's currently shooting Temple Grandin
biopic, starring Claire Danes, is still seeking extras, particularly
hikers, swimmers, joggers, and square dancers. Send your photo to
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Shot in Texas: "12 Mighty Orphans" first up for new film company(My column tends to be behind a firewall, so here is the latest in its entirety.)
By Joe O'Connell Special Contributor
The Dallas Morning News
@joemoconnell on Twitter
Todd Allen hopes Fort Worth’s Mighty Mites are the start of something big for the Texas film scene.
Allen, an Austin native who has worked for decades as an actor, has formed Presidio Pictures. The company plans to first shoot 12 Mighty Orphans, an adaptation of Jim Dent’s true story of the Masonic Home of Fort Worth’s Depression-era Mighty Mites football team.
Preproduction for a spring Fort Worth shoot would start a string of Texas-made Presidio features with budgets ranging from $8 million to $30 million.
“The financing for most independent films is cobbled together with duct tape,” said Allen, who is raising funds in Texas for not just the cost of film production but also much of the distribution. “I think [Presidio] will have a substantial impact on the industry here. If it works, it’ll put a lot of people to work.”
Robert Duvall , Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Aaron Eckhart and Andy Garcia are already attached to a planned second Presidio feature, The Last Full Measure, a true story of a father’s efforts to honor his son killed during the Vietnam War.
Presidio — with former Sundance Institute chairman, Orion Pictures director and Imagine Entertainment chairman Jack Crosby on its board — could prove a shot in the arm for the Texas film industry as major films choose locations offering larger financial incentives. Jerry Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter this week that his revived The Lone Ranger movie starring Johnny Depp will shoot in New Mexico and possibly Louisiana because of those states’ heftier incentives. Texas had been looked at as the movie’s shooting location.
“My fear is it’s going to be a hokey cartoon,” Allen said of The Lone Ranger. “It’s going to cost $200 million and, if it doesn’t make its money back, it’s going to be another nail in the coffin of the genre.” (Bruckheimer says it will cost $215 million to be exact, trimmed back from $260 million.)
Allen knows the Western genre well, having acted in such films as Wyatt Earp and Silverado. “I can’t think of a single actor I’ve met who didn’t want to do a Western,” he said. “I think that’s where my mojo is at.”
Thus he’s also planning Rio Grande, a feature adaptation of Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson’s memoir co-written by David Marion Wilkinson; a television miniseries of Wilkinson’s early-Texas novel Not Between Brothers made in partnership with Kevin Costner; and the big-screen film noir Western The Deserters based on Luke Short’s novel.
Allen got his start when he happened upon the ranch set of Honeysuckle Rose (1980) in Johnson City and was mistaken for the ranch owner’s son. Director Jerry Schatzberg asked if he wanted to be an extra, and Allen caught the acting bug.
Throughout his career, Allen said he tried to stay out of his trailer and on the set figuring out the film business.
He moved back to Austin from L.A. with the expectation that acting would take a back seat to producing. But Quentin Tarantino, whom he met in a Los Angeles acting class 25 years ago, tapped him for a role in Django Unchained, a Western about slave traders featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.
“When I first talked to Quentin he said he wanted to shoot in Texas,” Allen said.
But his acting gig starts in February in Louisiana, the land of attractive film incentives.