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On Location: Lone Star Moviemaking

Residents of Austin and Houston sound off


Texas may be a half-country away from California and New York, but the Lone Star State seems appropriately situated, given the amount of film production that takes place here from both the Hollywood and independent film worlds.

Austin continues to lead the state in film productivity, with at least 175 major feature films and television movies coming out of the city over the last two decades. That includes the work of Austin-based Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez, who is creating an industry unto himself as a one-man cinema band (writer-director-producer-cinematographer-editor-composer-etc.). But don’t let the big names give you the wrong impression—hundreds of indie auteurs are also based here, working hard to carve their names out of the city’s diverse landscape. Many of them seem to be succeeding, as evidenced by the quotes you’ll read here.

Austin may arguably be the state’s number one city for indies, but its neighbor to the southeast, Houston, is quickly gaining ground. And with good reason—tax-free equipment and services, tax-free hotel stays and permit-free shooting! Not to mention the fact that it shares many of Austin’s more attractive attributes: moderate weather, beautiful landscapes, diverse urban locations, low cost of living and very talented crews.

Jake Coe

For our Fall 2003 “On Location” report, more than a dozen moviemakers sound off about life and moviemaking in the capital city, and Space City, respectively. 

The diversity of people and the overall energy that this city produces makes for a very cool pool of creativity to pull from. As an actor, there is no comparison to the quality of hip and professional people to work with. Austin is the place to be for making flicks.
Jake Coe, Actor  

All the knowledge I possess as a moviemaker has been learned through hands-on experience while working on local projects. Austin’s greatest educational resource is its moviemakers and their willingness to donate time and energy in an effort to see other local moviemakers’ dreams become reality.
Will Moore, Bandwagon Films 

Chris Ohlson

More than its vendors, studios, user-friendly film commissions and locations, Austin offers up an amazing talent pool of people to collaborate with—both in front of and behind the camera. Simply put, that’s the reason to shoot, live and work in Austin: the people.
Chris Ohlson, Moviemaker 

Austin is a more than an adequate place to make films. While the
city lacks viable job opportunities compared to the demand, young moviemakers have a place to work creatively, most importantly, and learn low-budget filmmaking with good crews. The Austin Studios are a great resource for a relatively young film production city and two of the best film festivals in the country take place in the spring and the fall: SXSW and the Austin Film Festival.
Mel Rodriguez, Writer/Director (Mockingbird) 

Austin’s film community is as eclectic as its inhabitants. The scene is growing so fast and everyone is kind of doing their own thing. When we all start working together and getting involved in larger projects locally, the whole process will be much easier. The train is leaving the station. We just have to make sure and get on board.
Jarod Neece, Moviemaker

Juan Garcia

Austin is an amazing center of artistic, cultural and technological activity. It’s no wonder why so many moviemakers are born and bred here. Rapidly being respected as a true “Third Coast,” Austin has a real sense of community. It’s that Texas “can do” spirit meets Hollywood’s “let’s do lunch” attitude.
Juan Garcia, Writer/Producer 

Austin has become a haven for moviemakers at every level. Cast and crew routinely jump from big studio productions to small independent films. Because of this cooperative environment, I’ve been able to make low-budget movies that have played at prestigious film festivals and aired on the Independent Film Channel. In Austin, it’s all about making the movie, no matter what the budget.
Jim Stedman, Writer/Director/Producer/Editor, 05minute Productions 

Austin is a city in love with cinema. From free screenings of Luchino Visconti gems to huge premieres of Spy Kids 3, Austin embraces and supports its own budding and seasoned filmmakers, financially and theatrically. It’s absolute heaven making films here.
Kat Candler, Writer/Director/Producer (The Absence of Wings, The Disease Trilogy) 

Damon Brown

Walk 20 paces in Austin and you’ll run into someone who’s making an independent film, or composing the music, or projecting it onto the side of their apartment building at two in the morning. It’s less a business here, and more like those altruistic movie dreams I had as a kid.
Damon Brown, Director (Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock)

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