Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas

Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas

Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas

Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas


During the 1990s, Austin achieved "overnight" success and celebrity as a vital place for independent filmmaking. Directors Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez proved that locally made films with regional themes such as Slacker and El Mariachi could capture a national audience. Their success helped transform Austin's homegrown film community into a professional film industry staffed with talented, experienced filmmakers and equipped with state-of-the art-production facilities. Today, Austin struggles to balance the growth and expansion of its film community with an ongoing commitment to nurture the next generation of independent filmmakers.

Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kidschronicles the evolution of this struggle by re-creating Austin's colorful movie history. Based on revealing interviews with Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Mike Judge, Quentin Tarantino, Matthew McConaughey, George Lucas, and more than one hundred other players in the local and national film industries, Alison Macor explores how Austin has become a proving ground for contemporary independent cinema. She begins in the early 1970s with Tobe Hooper's horror classic,The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and follows the development of the Austin film scene through 2001 with the production and release of Rodriguez's $100-million blockbuster,Spy Kids. Each chapter explores the behind-the-scenes story of a specific movie, such as Linklater'sDazed and Confusedand Judge'sOffice Space, against the backdrop of Austin's ever-expanding film community.


I think Austin just became a magnet for people who had a different take on things. Out of that, a scene emerged. mike simpson

The Hippies and the Cowboys All Looked Alike

Austin’s insular film community is a lot like the Texas high school Richard Linklater dramatized in Dazed and Confused (1993): it has its cliques, its hazing rituals, its small-scale dramas, and plenty of comedy. Nowhere was this more in evidence than at the first Texas Film Hall of Fame, which took place on March 8, 2001, on the eve of the annual South by Southwest Film Festival. Pulled together in less than six weeks, the spectacle was the brainchild of Louis Black and Evan Smith. Black is the editor of Austin’s alternative weekly newspaper the Austin Chronicle and was at the time president of the Austin Film Society (AFS), a nonprofit film organization that Linklater and friends had created in 1985. Smith had recently been promoted to editor of Texas Monthly magazine and was a newly appointed afs board member. the Texas Film Hall of Fame honored such Texans as actor Sissy Spacek and screenwriters Robert Benton and Bill Wittliff. Writer-director Quentin Tarantino, Cookie’s Fortune screenwriter Anne Rapp, actor Rip Torn, and other celebrities were on hand to pass out the awards. the eclectic mix of honorees, while certainly deserving, also spoke to who was available on such short notice. As the afs artistic director and a self-proclaimed film purist, Linklater had his doubts about the AFS-sponsored event. the Texas Film Hall of Fame seemed to be less about honoring the art of filmmaking and more about the spectacle of celebrity. Other naysayers worried that they’d quickly run out of deserving Texans.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.