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

By Alison Macor | Go to book overview

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


Introduction
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.

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