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

By Alison Macor | Go to book overview

The Whole Shootin’Match more or
less defines what is meant by the
phrase “independent film.”
VINCENT CANBY


2
Eagle Pennell and the
Rise of Regional Filmmaking

A few months after Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel settled their lawsuit with Bryanston Pictures in 1977, twenty-three-year-old University of Texas film school dropout Eagle Pennell was shooting his first independent feature and using The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s storied box office success to sell his own project. Chainsaw’s financial picture in reality may have been bleak for those who made the film, but its reputation already was taking on a life of its own. Pennell and his writing partner Lin Sutherland spent the summer of 1977 calling on friends and family to raise funds for a blue-collar comedy called The Whole Shootin’ Match. They began filming in the fall, and by December the cast and crew had assembled at Steiner Ranch, about eleven miles northwest of Austin, to shoot the movie’s final scenes.

They were running behind as the afternoon light faded and the camera ran out of film. “It was foggy, and if we came back we couldn’t match the light,” remembered Chainsaw’s Lou Perryman, who co-starred in the film. “You all stay here,” Pennell told the cast and crew, and he drove back to Austin to buy more film. Pennell arrived at Photo Processors, a lab on Congress Avenue, but couldn’t find the owner. Night had fallen by the time Pennell finagled the film stock he needed, and Pennell decided to stay in town. The cast and crew fell asleep waiting for him to return, which he did around five the next morning with a number of 100-foot rolls of film and no explana-

-48-

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