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Austin Actors
Kirk-O-Matic

City of Dreams
by Kirk-O-Matic

December 2001

The reason David Boone's picture is here is because he would have loved to have written an article about the trials and tribulations of making a small movie here in Austin, Texas. David died this year. He and I made films together in Austin for 20 years. I know that there is not enough room here for all the film work that David and I and our small group of filmmakers did way before there was "Slacker" or "El Mariachi." At least there was a time when we worked in the trenches here in Austin, the "City of Dreams."

Watch for some of his films on Austin access channel 10,16:
"Invasion of the Alunimum People" 30 min super8 short
"Everyman" 30 minute 16mm short
"Brujeria" 3min 16mm trailer
"Cheap Peeks" 33 shows for TV (David was the movie reviewer ghost host)
"Big Shadow" Doc on Brian Hansen life
"Film Pulse" Doc on the film biz in Austin (1991)
Clips from the making of "Mad night of Tacos"
"Midnight Taco"

There are countless miles of films and TV show that David worked on.

Despite all the bad things (which I rant about later on in this article), there are many good things about life here in Austin. This year more movies came and went, I got more work, and met new friends. Here is an email that inspired me to write this article, because I still think that there is hope that this industry will emerge in Austin.

"From: m
"To: <kirk-o@austinactors.net>
"Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 15:04:45 -0600

"Kirk, I was referred to your site by a client. I am currently established as a hair and make-up artist. I was curious to know what "Austin Actors" offers besides all the fabulous info for actors. Is there a department that keeps resumes on file for productions to view? Do you have newsletters? I must say that in my department I manage to get work on fine projects (The Life of David Gale, The New Guy, Miss Congeniality), but I'm eager to excel beyond being an "additional" hairstylist. I need to know what I can do to establish myself further. Kirk, if there's anything you can tell me to help me grow, all would be appreciated. Thanks so much for your time. m"

I would say that you are very lucky to have worked on the three films of such caliber. Many actors, myself included, would love to work on those films as day players rather than just as extras, or - Yes!! - I would like to work as crew! If you write Dan E. he will put you on the listserv for inclusion of the newsletter of many low budgets and very high budget films other than just the ones on the Texas Film Commission Hotline and Website. You can go to the website AustinActors.net, and Dan has indicated that there is a way to put your resume on file at Yahoo and include a picture, which is great for actors. AustinActors.net has no dues and it's great because you can meet all types at the Happy Hour monthly meetings at Momo's. They had one the other day. I usually can't make them because I am working but I used to go to them when we met at Brad's.

I work as a filmmaker here in Austin too, and I find that the more connections you have to the actors the better. I also have an agent, BLVD Talent. You do have to do it all. I can't imagine that one would want more than to work on the big budget films. This is how you build your reputation, and get eligible for becoming a member of the union, etc. Growing beyond what you're currently doing is difficult in a small market. There are only just so many big-paying jobs that come along. I have a couple of friends who used to do makeup and effects, and one did them for feature films, but now they can't get hired on the big productions like you're doing - so count your self lucky. I think you just have to find something to latch on to and do it well. I hope that you're happy there, because that's the key to this film biz: do what you like doing, be good at it and be happy doing it. Because it doesn't last forever.

You know, I met Tom Copland doing a couple of commercials 20 years ago. He was doing makeup for Chef Boyardee, banks and etc. and then he went over to the Film Commission. Be glad that you are in the trenches for now. I think that the Film Commission manual and list of movies is only way to go unless you get work with some of the many production companies in town. As far as I know, everyone is calling people out of the book, going to SXSW every year to schmooze and working on small productions. The only other thing I can suggest is that you go to Hollywood, and work there, or try to produce your own work as a producer. Take care on all your projects. kirk-o


A Kirk-O-Matic Retrospective on the Year of 2001:

Cussing and ranting and (expletives deleted). !! 2001 is one major bummer! Sheeeeeesh. This year, 2001 has been the most screwed up year yet. I know that this is a little early to finish before the year is really over but I thought since that I am thankful that I am still here that would give me points toward 2002. This might be therapeutic.

The year 2001 evoked such expectation of greatness. I thought by now that I had reached it and with my 46 years with many great memories of growing up here in Austin and living through booms, busts n' bastards I would - at the very least - be zooming around by now in an electric car on true high-end overpasses and eating fine food with my wife and three munchkins. I thought I would be living in a Spaceport like the Jetsons and that I'd have a 2-boat garage, be working for a major film company making commercials and music videos, and producing feature films on HD cameras out at the lake. Occasionally flying off to some foreign island shooting a reality TV show. But Noooooooooo!!

There IS no HAL!! Where is my talking computer?!! Where is my beautiful house?? Empty buildings downtown and Dotcoms are our black monoliths. Was this not going to be some great year? The history of the future is now!! And there is none. What I got here is the failure to communicate. So I'm cussing up a storm. The gods are cussing at me with THEIR storms.

I was at Disneyland with my nephews in Florida when the year 2001 started out. I had high hopes to see Mickey Mouse, all the parades, etc. Walking on the beach in Florida was a great start for a new year. The beginning of 2001 was to be FUN.

Shoot Forward to March. I organized my friends to get a booth at SXSW, which was a good idea. That let people and possible clients know that we have a stake in the biz and can do something. Or at least rant against the Machine. Or at least compose our own conference on the trade show floor: "How Not To Make Your Dv Feature In Austin!!" I still want to give this exhibit. We had 30 people at our booth at one time asking about all the things we had: ideas, 12-foot jib arm monitors, new Sony camera, etcetera, etcetera. Also some old some stuff, including the movie I helped produce in 1993 titled "Barn of the Blood Llama." Signed copies anyone? This is one dead llama.

It was fun, 'cause this year I got a free pass to SXSW - because I was a writer for the mag/rag "Salt for Slugs." I had written some articles. It was great. I got a Press Pass, so I got more party material, went more films and busted down some walls. The parties were not as great as in years passed. I did get to see a lot of the films and ran a booth with five other filmmakers. I tried to write and schmooze and win prizes. All that was very difficult, but I survived it. I got some gigs out of it, but not as much as I had expected. The payoff was not equal to the work I put into SXSW.

Other work I was doing was going fine. Then my old friend David Boone called and said he was going to take off work from Dell to make the film "Midnight Taco." At first I was reluctant, 'cause I felt that the biz was a little different. But he had already lined up some locations and people and some things in Kentucky. I read the script and rethought it. It was possible. He bought a camera and we were in business again. I was skeptical, but after reading the script I thought that it would be something to do in the early summer. My only stipulation was that we finish shooting by July 14th. I helped get some things started - locations, props and people. That was in February. Then David got let go from Dell. That was great, because then he could work on the film full time. The production of "Midnight Taco" got off to a shaky start, but we had the auditions and found the best actors and everyone was getting paid. So that was cool. The day we left, the ditch-diggers showed up at the front door with a giant chainsaw to dig up the sewer system. Ooooooh Noooo!

Then we went to Louisville, Kentucky. Murphy was along for the ride. On the way to Memphis, we got the shakedown on Beale Street and scammed for dollars. Booneski is very gullible. I'm not, because I 've been around some. Everything went all right. We had smoke machine troubles in one of the house locations, and another store location overcharged for the location. Maybe they thought we were big-time producers from Texas. We were feeling ripped off for sure. One of the vans we used got stuck in a field out in the middle of Indiana. We shot for 20 hours that day because we had another location secured for that night.

Everything seemed to go on fine with KY fry. Then we came back to Austin via Graceland. That was a highlight. Booneski loves Elvis. We got back to Austin and dealing with locations and extras and the taco van and other cars, locations, there were the typical breakdowns - no-shows, no money, people not happy with living conditions, etc., etc. Oh yeah - and now there was a 12-foot ditch in the front road of my house and every passing car created a huge dust storm. New shocks and washings were needed for all cars in the area.

Down on a warehouse location it started to rain, so we put the equipment in one of the cars. One of the lights got stolen! Don't every say you're making a movie. We had left the car for only a few moments to get out of the rain and somebody broke into the car. We called the police, but well, we never saw that light again. That was an expense for which we had no insurance, so maybe it is good to get insurance on these small no-budget films. The production went on, with all its problems, with all the enthusiasm that we could muster. Lots of flubs, misdirects and effects and shoots and people coming and going, etc. But we got through it and the famous Austin Heat and in spite of the trenches in the front yard.

The summer started out all right, but sheeesh! It was soooo hot and dusty that when I finally got out of Austin it was the most relief that I could stand. We took a break for a week. They planned to start up for one more week while I was gone. I went on vacation to Wyoming in July, and when I came back...?!!

David R. Boone died. He was a friend for 20 years. We made many pictures together and did hundreds of TV shows. He was just finishing wrapping his first feature film "Midnight Taco." Some of you may have even auditioned for the film last May.

I went to Boone's wake and made a little video of the times we had on Midnight Taco. His whole family made it out to the house that he had built. It was a wonderful evening ending with a Full Moon. I got drunk and was yakking at the moon. I slept on the porch. Saw some old friends I had not seen for ten years. His wife and kids are devastated, and now everyone is wondering what to do with the film. It may cost a lot to edit.

Now it is November and we are still wondering. The politics of what to do will always haunt this film. "Midnight Taco" was a good idea, and it was shot with a good crew and the best actors we had worked with in a long time. Now I have fears that the film never get finished.

That Is One Major Bummer!!

I cleaned up the warehouse we used, and took back all the props and equipment. Sandy tried to clean up the bills and debts to people owed on the film. I went off to do something totally different in August. I started to buying and selling junk at flea markets. That was a great diversion. I just kept thinking that it was end of another era. End of some old friends and time to maybe make some new friends and do something different.

Just checking channels to see if the week's weather was to be good for a flea market and horrific scenes in New York City! I am holey pissed off at some people. Planes crashing LIVE?!! World Trade Center went down. What the **** is going on here? This is one week of unspeakable horrors. Who to blame, what politics, who are those people, ANOTHER war?

I knew that Halloween was going to be no good 'cause back in the old days 6th Street was cooler. Crawling into a van and crashing parties in bad costumes was whole lot more fun back then than it is now. Yeah, the props and smoke machines and costumes are more expensive now. But in the old days we had caves to visit and hayrides, and haunted houses were cheaper.

What else is new? They are asking filmmakers to come up with scenarios for terrorists? Now if that is the coolest idea yet that come from the CIA and the FBI that has to be the most outrageous. Until it hits home.

The movie I worked on in 1999, "Jetblast," is ready to go after two years of effects work and editing. It got pulled from the lineup at the Austin Heart of Film Fest. This might mean that I will NOT get paid on the film because it needs distribution. This is the pits. And if you think that I am not cussing up a storm, you have to be CRAZY!!! One of the reasons that you work on a film deferred is to get the back-end deal. Getting paid upfront will have to be the rule of thumb now I guess.

Although it was fun to work on the film, and everyone involved was great. You don't to eat or buy new DVDs. Such is the life of no-budget DV-films. They did have a showing of the film for the cast and crew. At least it is done and could go to some fests. At least that they didn't cut my one line. Now if people can get over the war.

So, to pump up the economy I buy a new computer - or least try to get one. I had to send the hard drives and the RAM back to the mail order company twice! Then eventually I had to send the whole computer back to be looked at. I have lost a lot of faith in the Mac computers these days. WOW. That took a month off my life. Finally it came back and works burning disks, making new demos. Happy Camper.

Anthrax scare! My brother caught the worst of colds. General depression is just out of this world. What next?? I am building up a huge - Horrenooudous - immunity to this crap now!!! The Red Cross is not giving the money that they got for the victims to the victims. They were once so trusted. And what about all the other tragedies? Sheeeeeessh.

My room flooded with 2 inches of water. I had to mop all night to get rid of that. Ready for the mold and some more Anthrax scares and spores to come out of the walls! At the same time my front yard that is already dug up for septic systems for the City is flooded with 10 feet of water. Another loss of major time and energy. Another plane ****ing plane crash.

I got to do some auditions but got no jobs. I keep on trucking, still working toward something. Through it all I am happy to be alive and not in the harm's way working in a post office or offshore some strange planet. Every day is a winding road and I just can't seem to break the turn. Now I hear the women who were sent to jail over in an Afghan town want go back. Now that is Courage.

Now I am ready for some snow and great pictures of cars careening in to embankments and guardrails.

Take care - kirk-o

Kirk-O-Matic is still living on the Video Ranch here in Austin, Texas. He produces those wacky little video art shows on Austin's ACTV Channels 10 and 16. He occasionally teaches the digital cameras and works on feature films. He can be contacted through this website or at kirkomatic@hotmail.com.

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