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

By Alison Macor | Go to book overview

I always had the myopia that the traditional way
to break into Hollywood is you go out to Hollywood,
you make it as a writer, and you work within that
system. I knew about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it never occurred to me [to do that]. It
wasn’t until Rick Linklater and Robert Rodriguez
just made their damn movies that I realized,
“Shoot! I could do that.”
TIM MCCANLIES


8
The Company Man
Tim McCanlies and Dancer, Texas Pop. 81

In the early afternoon hours of Sunday, April 27, 1997, two armed men and a woman forced their way into the home of Joe and Margaret Rowe in the Davis Mountains Resort subdivision about ten miles outside of Fort Davis, Texas. The three individuals were members of the Republic of Texas, a militia group that believed the state of Texas to be a sovereign nation. The militia targeted the retired couple because Mr. Rowe was head of a homeowners’ group that had been battling against the Republic of Texas and its members, whose headquarters was located in the same subdivision. The militia group’s leader, Richard McLaren, explained to a San Antonio radio station that the Rowes were being held in exchange for the release of two of its members who had recently been arrested. Additionally, McLaren wanted state and local authorities to “agree to a referendum to allow Texans to vote on the independence issue.”1

More than four hundred miles away in Rosanky, just east of Austin, fortyfour-year-old screenwriter Tim McCanlies and his wife, Suzanne, were in the midst of final preparations for a trip to Fort Davis the following day. McCanlies was four weeks out from making his directorial debut with a script about four high-school seniors stuck in a tiny West Texas town. Named for the fictional place his characters inhabited, the screenplay for Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 was written in 1987 as a “fuck you” to his bosses at Disney when they placed McCanlies on probation for refusing to choose his next writing project from among three of the studio’s ideas.

-221-

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