Archive for the ‘Hope Floats’ Category

TueJun201121

Smithville, TX Goes Hollywood

 Who would have thought that we would get to meet movie stars and have them stay in our Bed and Breakfast?  Check out  this new  article from the Houston Chronicle. I love the last line: “They are beyond film-friendly,” Patterson says. “There’s something almost magical about filming in Smithville.”

Texas’ quaint Smithville goes Hollywood

By MELANIE WARNER SPENCER
Copyright 2011, HOUSTON CHRONICLE

June 21, 2011, 12:09AM

 Road trippers, business travelers and other rambling types who have driven the stretch of highway between Houston and Austin likely have spied the big “Smithville, Home of Hope Floats sign off of Texas 71. Despite the town’s proud history with the 1998 Sandra Bullock movie, Smithville likely isn’t the first place to spring to mind when most people think about Texas film. Since 2008, however, when Texas writer/director Terrence Malick shot much of his Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or award-winning opus The Tree of Life in Smithville, the sleepy hamlet has served as the backdrop for nine feature films and a variety of shorts, commercials and Web series. “It’s a beautiful town,” says John Patterson, location manager for The Tree of Life. “For six weeks, we filmed in one neighborhood. Part of the idea was having a neighborhood in the ’50s where the boys could run yard to yard without fences and without knowing whose yard they are in.”The film is set in the Midwest and focuses on the relationship of the eldest of three sons, Jack (played by Sean Penn), with his father (Brad Pitt). It tackles questions about relationships, faith, innocence lost and the meaning of life. Smithville offers a wealth of virtually untouched ’50s-era architecture, as well as Victorian, ’60s, ’70s and contemporary suburban streetscapes.The former made it a natural location for the movie, but according to Patterson, Smithville had much more to offer than just a great look. “We really got to know the town,” Patterson says. “Some of the cast and crew lived right in town and rented houses and rode their bikes to the set. It’s a pretty unique way to make a film.” Rather than using the ubiquitous trucks and trailers for hair and makeup, wardrobe and stars dressing rooms, they rented out a house for each department or actor to use as a base. While logistics and location are key, there is one thing that comes up every time you talk to a person who has worked on a film in Smithville: “It comes down to the people who live there,” Patterson says. “They all know it’s a special place. They are happy to be there and happy to show it off.” Quenby Iandiorio, a wardrobe supervisor and set costumer who moved to Austin from Los Angeles in 2010, has worked on three movies in Smithville in the past year: Beneath the Darkness, a thriller starring Dennis Quaid; Doonby, a drama featuring John Schneider; and Natural Selection, a dark comedy starring Rachael Harris by writer-director and Houston-native Robbie Pickering.The latter swept Austin’s South by Southwest film festival in March, nabbing the Grand Jury Prize for narrative feature filmmaking, the festival Audience Award and jury prizes for music, editing and screenplay, as well as breakthrough performance honors for Harris and Matt O’Leary. Iandiorio has both commuted to Smithville and lived there during production. (Beneath the Darkness is due in theaters in October; Doonby and Natural Selection are awaiting distribution deals.)”I totally dug it,” Iandiorio says. “It was a small town, and it’s really easy to get to work every day and change locations. When I was living there, it was magnificent. To be able to ride your bike to set blew my mind, coming from L.A.”While it was at times challenging to find clothing at the last minute, Iandiorio says it’s just part of doing this kind of work in Central Texas. “No matter how much you prepare for a trip, something comes up,” Iandiorio says. “Even in Austin there aren’t the resources that I’m used to having (in L.A.). It’s more challenging to get what the director wants if it’s not already in your collection. But nobody is going to have everything. … You have to shop for it and go secondhand and vintage.”Echoing Patterson’s sentiments, Iandiorio says it’s all about the residents, who are quick to assist the crew and for whom hometown hospitality is matter-of-fact. “Everyone lends themselves to the production,” Iandiorio says. “The small filmmakers wouldn’t be able to do these productions without their assistance. Film commissioner Sheila Tamble really rolls out the red carpet for people and opens up her house. Her husband’s cooking is amazing. Robert would cook for 70 people for lunch at night when we are shooting.” For Tamble, a Smithville native and real estate broker who got into the business quite by accident after showing a house to Malick prior to the shooting of The Tree of Life, it’s about bringing something unique to her community. “What I like is exposing our youth to different opportunities,” Tamble says. “They use the kids a lot in the films. They see the hair, the wardrobe. Our school district, like a lot all over Texas, can’t afford the arts. It’s the best way to show the children up front what it is.”Tamble and other enterprising community leaders in Smithville also recognize the economic benefits of being a film-friendly community. They have made permitting, security and other processes and procedures quick and easy for filmmakers. The mayor allows crews to office out of and hold casting calls at City Hall, and the police department is available to lead directors through the proper steps of a crime scene investigation. In return, thousands of movie-making dollars flood into the town and into the hands of its business owners and residents, who rent out their businesses, homes and guesthouses to crews. They have been known to lend or lease personal property, including planes, vehicles, a bottle of champagne in the middle of the night, farm equipment and even livestock to productions. Tamble’s rooster, Colonel Sanders struts his stuff in Doonby and Five Time Champion. (The latter was an indie favorite at SXSW and Dallas film festivals.)Local nonprofits reap the benefits from the industry, too. Tamble says producers from The Tree of Life, donated fruit trees to the community gardens. During the filming of Beneath the Darkness, Quaid participated in a Blue Santa benefit that raised more than $10,000. And Darkness director Martin Guigui is planning to return in October for the Smithville Music Festival. “The economic impact is something we see more because we are a small community,” Tamble says. “Tree of Life’s impact was about $725,000, not including what cast and crew spent on their own time.”The chamber of commerce has also gotten in on the action, creating a city map that pinpoints locations from the various movies and revamping its website, http://www.smithvilletx.org/, to include up-to-date details on current and past movies. Its tagline is: “A film-, family- and business-friendly community.” “They are beyond film-friendly,” Patterson says. “There’s something almost magical about filming in Smithville.”

melanie.spencer@chron.com
Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/7618946.html#ixzz1Pwdol9q9


SunFeb201021

Smithville, TX off the beaten path

This is from a cute couple that just stayed with us. This is Dave’s blog:

An Occasion To Remember

Many men fall victim to their own memory when it comes to anniversaries. Fortunately, my anniversary falls in the same ten-day period as Valentine’s Day and my wife’s birthday. While making this easy to remember, it does have its issues, but nothing I can’t handle.

On our wedding day, we drove to Smithville Texas, the site of the movie “Hope Floats” featuring Sandra Bullock (yes, it is a chick-flick, but it is a good one) and stayed at a bed and breakfast called The Katy House. Now, for those who read this blog (yes, I am talking to you) you may remember that Michelle and I love to tour small towns off the beaten path. Well, Smithville—with a whopping population of 3,900—certainly qualifies as small and it does sit just off of state highway 71, which is a beaten path.

This town has a quaint old style main street with buildings built around the turn of the century (not the recent one, mind you) and a train depot (which is not really a functioning depot anymore, but it serves as the chamber of commerce and a railway museum). Most of the buildings that are occupied house antique stores or craft boutiques, while many sit empty. The other streets are filled with old houses dating back to the late 1800’s when this town was built by the MKT railroad. The Katy House is one such home.

Built in 1909, it was originally named the Chancellor Residence after its first occupant. Many others have lived in it since, but it is now a very comfortable B&B run by Sallie and Bruce Blalock. They made our wedding night stay quite pleasant, setting us up with a bottle of bubbly and getting us reservations at the town’s pre-eminent restaurant, The Back Door Café (make the trip if for no other reason than to eat here, it is that good). Because the stay was so memorable, we come back every year to celebrate our anniversary with them….


SunFeb20107

Smithville High athlete signs scholarship

Here is a great story about one of our Smithville, Texas boys.

This is from the American Statesman, from Feb 4th, 2010. Smithville High athlete with cystic fibrosis signs scholarship!

For the full story see  http://www.statesman.com/sports/smithville-high-athlete-with-cystic-fibrosis-signs-scholarship-211151.html


“SMITHVILLE— Back in the summer of 2004, the Nieto family of Pflugerville shared their story with this newspaper, and it was a story of hope and salvation through the primal act of running.”

“Brice Nieto, who was 12 years old and struggling to manage cystic fibrosis, was about to compete in the 38th National Junior Olympic Games.”

“His parents, Laura and Jimmy, started Brice in running when he was a younger boy with too much mucus in his lungs. Their story included the strong belief that Brice would be better prepared to manage the genetic disease if he were in top physical shape.”

“Brice discovered that he actually loved running. He ran varsity track as a freshman in high school, and when his family moved 45 miles east of Austin to a 10-acre plot of land with fishing tanks and a couple of horses, he made the varsity track team at Smithville High School.”

“He ran in the Texas Relays.

He earned his letter jacket at Smithville High.

The story gets even better.

On Wednesday, Brice sent his letter of intent to Oklahoma City University, where he will join the track team in the fall.”

“Brice earned an athletic and academic scholarship at the private school of 2,100 undergraduate students. Brice and his mother toured the campus on his official visit. It felt like home, they said.”

“The coaches told Laura Nieto they expected Brice to grow. As an athlete. As a person.”

“I liked to hear that,” she said.

“Life changes for all college students when they leave home. For Brice, the change will be drastic.”

“He soon will be individually responsible for taking his medicines, wearing the vibrating chest that loosens his lungs and going to the hospital, if he needs to, when he needs to. Because he has to.”

“I think I’m ready for it,” Brice said.

“His parents worry. They also see reasons for optimism and opportunity.”

“Brice said he believes his running helps him stay one long stride ahead of the cystic fibrosis, which has no cure.”

“Jimmy and Laura Nieto take comfort in that fact. They know their son will do what he has to.”

“I need to,” Brice said.

“Brice is a year-round runner. After school, he runs three 400-meter sprints and three 500-meter sprints. On weekends, he stretches and performs lunges and high-knee kicks that keep his body moving the way he wants it to.”

“If people told him what he couldn’t do,” said Smithville athletic director Justin Wiley, “he wouldn’t be here today.”

“When Brice was diagnosed at the age of 9, his parents reasoned that scaling the bleachers and running around the track at Connally High School would make Brice stronger.”

“I’m really glad they did it,” Brice Nieto said. “Now that I look back on it, I’m really glad. It made me who I am.”

“His story begins with running.”

“For us it’s working,” Jimmy Nieto said. “So we’re not going to stop.”

“It continues with running.”

“He has a willingness to do whatever’s necessary,” said Oklahoma City University track coach Micheal L. Houston , who noted that Brice has “the heart of an athlete.”

“And he has the mind of a student. Brice took a chemistry class as a junior at Smithville. He enjoyed it. Chemistry made sense to him, he said.”

P.S.   All of us in town are proud of Brice.  I invite you to visit our small town.  Smithville Texas is 43 miles from Austin.  Come see many beautiful historic homes and old buildings.   There are lots of antique shops on Main Street and super small restaurents in town.  But lately, the town is getting known for being “Texas Film Friendly!”  We have had 2 major motion pictures filmed here in Smithville, “Hope Floats” and “The Tree of Life.”  There have been a number of smaller films, also.  Check out the Chamber Web Site for a listing of productions.  Our Bed and Breakfast is just off of Main Street. Come stay with us and explore Smithville.  Sallie Blalock, Innkeeper – Katy House Bed and Breakfast www.KatyHouse.com


MonFeb20099

Brits invade Smithville

 

 Our visit to the Friendly Texas Town of Smithville:

We’re still not really sure why we picked Smithville as a night stop during our short trip from Houston to Austin but are we sure glad we did.

We knew we had 24 hours to make the trip as our reservations for Austin were not good until the Monday but we didn’t really fancy a Sunday night in Houston.

Smithville looked kind of in the middle on Google maps and a quick accommodation search pointed us towards the impressive looking Katy House B&B website. The property was situated right in the middle of the small town.

Our initial call to owner/proprietor Sallie left us with a problem though. We were just an hour or so away but she was in Austin running errands and would be at least a couple of hours. She did have a suggestion, “You could park up and head across to Huebel’s Bier Garden. A few scenes of the movie, “Hope Floats”, staring Sandra Bullock, were filmed in that bar.”

This seemed like a plan as we were (well, I was) gasping for some beer and the idea of some accommodation within crawling distance of a bar is always appealing to us Brits.

There was one other point we needed to cover though. Apparently something called the ’Superbowl’ was taking place on this Sunday evening and as most of America would be watching it we felt we should too. “Oh, they do have a large TV screen,” confirmed Sallie.

We reached Smithville at about 5pm, parked outside the beautiful (but empty) Katy House B&B and headed straight over to the bar. I must have looked helpless when asked what beer I wanted but as it was my first visit to Texas I asked for something local. I was passed a ‘Lone Star’.

Jo panicked when all she thought she could see was a beer list but was soon calmed by a cold Chardonnay. There was just one other table in use as we sat there cooling off from the drive and it was soon apparent these were the sort of friendly locals we would never have met in Houston. And that wasn’t just because some of them were dressed in cowboy hats and boots.

I guess English accents aren’t heard too often in Smithville so within a few minutes one of them, Tom, had joined us, within five he had bought us another drink each.

It was at this point I remembered a recommendation in one of our guide books that went something like this – just because somebody in Texas comes up to you and says ’hello’ doesn’t mean they are the local lunatic. Trust me, if this had happened in London we would have already been collecting our coats to make a quick exit.

Within a half hour or so Sallie was on the phone informing us she was home. We finished our second drinks, said a temporary goodbye and headed over to unload our bags into the fabulous Bluebonnet room we had been assigned at the Katy House.

Here we got our second warm Texas welcome, this time from Sallie and her dogs, but hey the ‘Superbowl’ was about to start so having freshened up we soon left her in peace and headed back to see our new friends in Huebel’s.

By now we were invited to join their table and settle down for the ‘Superbowl’. Now to us ‘football’ is normally a game played with ‘feet’ and the last time I remember seeing the Cardinals on TV they were playing out of St.Louis but I think we could just about follow what was going on on the big screen.

Some excellent wings and pizza (and some great complimentary cinnamon sticks) came from the ‘Pizza Shack’ opposite and we continued to neck further beer and wine as we were given a fine rundown on the history and economy of our new favourite little town in Texas by our friends. And it seemed there was always another beer or wine on ice waiting for us.

By the end of the evening, after an exciting Superbowl was decided in favour of the Steelers with just a minute or so left on the clock, the bar jukebox was switched on and it wasn’t long before Jo was whisked onto the dance floor by Don (after he politely asked if I minded). Unfortunately his attempts to teach her the two-step were doomed to failure.

At some indeterminable point in the evening we said our goodbyes and headed back to the Katy House, a little the worse for wear but feeling right at home in Texas, for a restful night’s sleep. After an awesome breakfast with Sallie the following morning and an interesting look around Smithville we headed onto Austin.

We won’t forget our night in friendly Smithville in a hurry. Maybe we’ll be back for the 2010 Superbowl. Keep the beers (and wine) on ice.

Matt and Jo, London, England.

P.S. I did go swimming in Barton Springs.  Matt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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