Posts Tagged ‘Natural Selection’

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