joe's d col
Fort Worth native Tom Huckabee returns home to finish his dream film
12:00 AM CST on Friday, January 29, 2010
* *By JOE O'CONNELL / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
If you want a primer on the frustrations of Hollywood filmmaking, just
ask Tom Huckabee, who didn't see his dream film to fruition until he
returned to North Texas.
Huckabee's semiautobiographical /Carried Away /follows a man who breaks
his grandmother out of a Fort Worth nursing home and is chased
cross-country by his dysfunctional family. The low-budget film is
beautifully shot with a smart story that digs deeply into very human
The film will premiere Feb. 6 in Mississippi at the Oxford Film
Festival, about 20 years after Huckabee wrote the original script. In
the intervening years the story was optioned, and high-profile directors
were approached, but the film was never made.
Huckabee worked in Los Angeles with his longtime pal, actor Bill Paxton,
often polishing the scripts on projects that included /Frailty/. He also
worked in quality control for Lucasfilms before returning to his
hometown of Fort Worth after the deaths of his wife and mother. He
briefly headed the Lone Star International Film Festival, but he knew it
was time to take the big leap.
So he sold his Los Angeles home and used the proceeds to finance the
film. "I'm in the process of sawing the limb off," Huckabee said. "I'm
the cartoon character who has jumped off the cliff and is furiously
pumping his legs. My wife passed in May 2006, and nothing could be worse
than that. I don't sweat the small stuff like I used to."
Huckabee talked to actor-filmmaker Gabriel Horn at a cast-and-crew
screening of the Cleburne-shot horror film /Night Crawlers/, and Horn,
who ended up with a breakout lead performance in /Carried Away/, urged
"I decided to make a movie and have it done in a year," Huckabee said of
/Carried Away/. "I'd spent the past 15 years working on projects, most
that didn't ever get made."
Huckabee knows the do-it-yourself work ethic, dating back to teenage
films made with his father's camera and to his college days drumming for
the infamous Texas band the Huns – their first show in 1978 at Raul's in
Austin was raided by the police and sparked that city's punk-rock scene.
More film festivals and targeted screenings in retirement centers are in
the film's future.
"I'd love to travel the country like a band with a film in my
briefcase," Huckabee said.
Fox series /Jack and Dan/ is now titled /Code 58/, and the title may
change again before all is said and done. It's at the start of a
13-episode Dallas shoot. The Matt Nix (/Burn Notice/) creation is set to
premiere at 8 p.m. June 7, with special previews May 12 and May 19. The
new title is supposedly Dallas cop talk for a routine investigation. Fox
describes the comedic drama starring Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford as
"what happens when an old-school cop and a modern-day detective expose
the big picture of small crime." Whitford sported a monstrous '80s-style
mustache for the show's recent press meet. ... Will ABC order more
episodes of North Texas-shot /The Deep End/? The premiere episode
finished fourth among major networks in its time slot.
SHOT IN TEXAS: Texan Nick Krause gets breakout role in film with Oscar buzz
BY JOE O'CONNELL
Special to The Dallas Morning News
It was a surreal moment for young Texan Nick Krause as he stepped on the red carpet for The Descendants during the Toronto International Film Festival last week.
Krause, 19, portrays Sid, a goofy beach bum friend to George Clooney’s on-screen daughter in the film. The Hawaii-set and -filmed tale of a father in crisis, directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways), is already getting Oscar buzz.
Atherton woke him at 5 a.m. to make an audition tape that led to a meeting with Payne. Krause figured the laid-back character Sid would be a Cheetos fan and gifted Payne with a small bag of them. He got the part.
“The audition process had taken months, and we weren’t sure if Nick was still even in the running,” Atherton said. “We set up a Hawaiian shrine by the phones, hoping the call would come. When it did, not only did we celebrate, I’m sure the neighbors are still talking about the screams.”
He’s not the only actor in the family. His sister, Kate Krause, played Tabby Garrity for three seasons on Austin-shot Friday Night Lights, and two older brothers dabbled in acting when they were young.
It marks a major leap for Nick Krause from small roles in films such as How to Eat Fried Worms. Atherton believes it was his involvement in Richard Linklater’s ongoing 12-year independent project, Boyhood, that piqued Payne’s interest.
“He’s a very cool guy,” Krause said. “He’s superprofessional but down-to-earth. One minute he’s joking around with extras and hanging out with crew. Five minutes later, he’s in character and on time.”
Krause also scored a role in the Dallas-shot Good Christian Belles television pilot but was written out of the series when it moved to Los Angeles, where he is now living and riding this wave wherever it takes him.
“It’s really about sticking with it,” he said. “When you get turned down at your first audition, you just have to forget it and keep going.”
Atherton, who 15 years ago bought an existing Central Texas talent agency that counted her other sons as clients, worries that Krause will have a hard time furthering his career in Texas.
“I think we are at risk of losing film and TV as an integral part of our economic fabric: Plain and simple, our incentive program is not competitive enough,” she said. “I recently spoke at length with a high-profile producer friend of mine who is presently packaging his next film — a film centered on a Texas theme — and he will likely film in Louisiana. Why? Because it just makes more business sense.”
Film studios get haunted
Filming wrapped this month in North Texas on The Ghost of Goodnight Lane . The horror tale starring Billy Zane (Titanic) claims to be based on reality, in the tradition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre . The kicker is this new film is about ghosts purported to haunt Alin Bijan’s Media World Studios; most of the film was shot in the studios themselves. The studio’s ghosts have been said to move heavy equipment and once slapped someone’s face. Also in the cast are Lacey Chabert ( Mean Girls), Danielle Harris (Halloween), Matt Dallas (Kyle XY) and Richard Tyson (Black Hawk Down). J.D. Sanders’ FTG Media Group served as executive producer on the film. Check out a production blog at ghostofgoodnightlane.com.
Joe O’Connell is an Austin-based freelance writer.