Hellion

Sundance Institute

Kat Candler expands her short film of the same name to feature-length with Hellion, in which she explores the warm-tinted indie trend of faux-nostalgia for small Southern towns, where the ruffians – or hellions – learn to be men. Subplots abound in this tale of men on the Texan coastline, but there’s no strong central plot to be found. Aaron Paul plays Hollis Wilson, a grieving husband who’s lost his wife and is trying to keep custody of his two sons. Paul brings a level of emotional depth to the character that audiences have come to expect from the Breaking Bad actor, but it’s really 15-year-old Josh Wiggins who steals the show – in his first film to date – as the older son, Jacob. Deke Garner and Juliette Lewis round out the cast as Wes, the younger brother, and Pam, the boys’ aunt. A combination of Hollis’s parental absence and Jacob’s delinquent behavior eventually exposes the family to Child Protective Services, putting Wes in the custody of Aunt Pam and pushing the father and protective older brother to a breaking point.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

As many of you probably know, I have been juggling an all-consuming day job with various writing gigs, essentially leaving no time for anything else (life, sleep); and, as the saying goes, all work and no play makes Don a dull boy. We have enough Jack Torrance’s in this world, and before I start running around abandoned hotels with an ax, I figured it was in my best interest to start hacking away at my current workload.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

How many movie fans does it take to paddle down the Guadalupe River to a Drafthouse Films screening of Klown? Even after the Ultimate Klown Canoe Trip on Saturday, there’s still no answer for that. All I know is that film critics are much better at being witty and snarky than they are at canoeing. Nonetheless, the endless amounts of free beer definitely helped distract us from the fact that we were outside and exercising. The weather was even somewhat pleasant — low 90s and cloudy. Twitch’s Josh Hurtado and I did not know each other beforehand, but everyone else had already paired up and we were the odd men out. So, we grabbed our life jackets, paddles and canoe, hit the river and became fast friends. Right at the onset of our journey there was a massive pile up of canoes (and we had not even reached the “canoe-eating tree” yet!). Once we cleared ourselves of that mess, Josh and I opted to distance ourselves from the pack and never look back… We navigated the shallow river quite well — only having to get our feet wet a few times — and if it was a race, Josh and I won (just barely beating Tim and Karrie League who came out of nowhere in the closing quarter mile). Sure, we did not get to paddle in the pack of critics alongside Klown‘s Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam (though I did sit beside Hvam on the bus ride), but Josh […]

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Austin Cinematic Limits

I first became aware of Jonny Mars during SXSW 2010, thanks to his role as Donnie in The Happy Poet. I have never been one to judge an actor on one performance, so it was not until I saw Mars the next time – as Steve Worth in Wuss – that I realized his talents as an actor. I remember wondering to myself, why hasn’t Mars run off to Los Angeles to become a big star? Then, after watching Mars truly own his couple minutes of screen time in Hellion, I knew it was time to pose that question to the man himself. Before I got a chance to speak with Mars, a funny thing happened: I learned that Mars is also a director, and his directorial debut, America’s Parking Lot (which premiered at SXSW 2012), is a multi-faceted documentary about the renowned Dallas Cowboys’ Gate 6 tailgaters. Mars once again astounded me, this time for his astute understanding of the documentary form. In terms of its narrative arc and development of conflict, America’s Parking Lot is damn near perfect. If I didn’t know any better, I would have assumed America’s Parking Lot was directed by a seasoned veteran, not a first-time director. Now I really needed to chat with Mars, post-haste!

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Austin Cinematic Limits

Writer-director Kat Candler (Cicadas, Jumping Off Bridges) has an undeniable knack for creating lush atmospheres within her films, developing cinematic worlds that relish in youthful ecstasy and naivete. The dreamlike visual qualities of Candler’s films play like not-so-distant memories of youth; yet the characters and their actions are incredibly realistic. All of Candler’s films remind me in one way or another of my own youth, and that right there is something very few filmmakers have ever captured. I hate to play favorites, but Candler is one of my favorite Austin-based filmmakers. Her latest film Hellion (which premiered at Sundance 2012) is programmed in what is clearly the strongest Texas Shorts program in SXSW Film history. I chatted with Candler on the eve of her regional premiere of Hellion to discuss her career as a filmmaker in Austin…

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Austin Cinematic Limits

Occasionally, Austin Cinematic Limits is going to post interviews with key players in Austin’s film community. It might be common knowledge that there is a rich pool of directors in Austin, but there are also a ton of fantastic actors, cinematographers, composers, animators, make-up artists, and other cinematic people with whom we also want to converse. Maybe — just maybe — we will gain a better understanding of why all of these talented people have chosen to live and work in Austin rather than Los Angeles or New York City. We are starting with producer Kelly Williams — partly because there are only a handful of producers who actually live and work in Austin, but also because he is currently juggling so many great projects. Since resigning from his role as Film Program Director at the Austin Film Festival in June 2011, Williams has already produced Kat Candler’s Hellion (premiered at Sundance 2012), the anthology film Holiday Road (premiered at Slamdance 2012) and Mark Pott’s Cinema Six (scheduled to premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival in April 2012). Don Swaynos’ Pictures of Superheroes just completed post-production and Williams has two more films already in the pipeline, the feature-length version of Hellion and Yen Tan’s Pit Stop.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

As Austin’s filmmaking community migrates back to Austin from the snowy slopes of Park City, everyone is anxiously awaiting to hear whether or not their latest film(s) has been accepted into the 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival (March 9-17, 2012). According to SXSW,  “no news is good news! If you haven’t heard from [SXSW] yet it means your film is still in the running.” All filmmakers will be sent notification one way or another by Thursday, February 9, 2012.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

I promise not to begin every Austin Cinematic Limits post with a discussion on Richard Linklater’s significance to Austin’s filmmaking community, but he is an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to Austin’s long-standing relationship with the Sundance Film Festival. Other Austin filmmakers may have traveled with films to Sundance before him (though I am not sure who they are), but Linklater deserves the credit for initially spraying Austin’s mark on the snowy slopes of Sundance with his regional premiere of Slacker in 1991 — and Linklater did not end his relationship with Sundance there, as he holds the distinction of being the Austin director who has screened the most feature films at Sundance (Slacker [1991], Before Sunrise [1995], SubUrbia [1996], Waking Life [2001] and Tape [2001]). Ever since Linklater plowed that initial path in January 1991, Austin filmmakers have frequented the silver screens at Sundance year after year. In fact, no matter how you define an Austin filmmaker or Austin film production, I guarantee that Austin ranks extremely high on the list of cities that have sent the most films to Sundance. In turn, Sundance has done a lot for Austin’s reputation as the “Third Coast” of filmmaking in the United States; Sundance has also helped launch the careers of several now-famous Austin filmmakers including Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket [13 min short]), Catherine Hardwicke (thirteen), and the Duplass brothers (The Puffy Chair).

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