Posts Tagged ‘the Tree of Life’

SatMar201210

Travels with Oscar, Smithville TX shines

 

This article is from the Orange County Register, Feb 23, 2012

 

Best Picture town: Smithville, Texas, in “The Tree of Life

People tend to either think Terrence Malick is one of the few artists left working in film, or the maker of insufferably obtuse movies. I have to admit I’m conflicted.

Though I’m a big military history buff, I couldn’t endure the endless shots of waving grass in “The Thin Red Line” and dropped out about 45 minutes into it. I know a lot of people didn’t make it that long into “The Tree of Life,” Malick’s defiantly nonnarrative rumination on the battle between the states of grace and nature over endless time. The opening sequences of the creation of the universe (dinosaurs?) and the corner of the world where Brad Pitt and family will live out their lives feel a lot like the start of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Maybe “The Tree of Life” just hit me at the right moment – it’s my favorite movie of the year. Battling congestion one late night in January, I popped “Tree of Life” into the DVD player. Maybe it was the combination: cold medicine, alone, dark and quiet house, Blu-ray on high-definition TV. I couldn’t take my eyes away.

The heart of the film is the town where Pitt alternately hugs and bullies his boys. I was transfixed by the simple beauty of the town – the trees, the houses, the shadows, the road and the faces. At the end of the movie, I scrambled to find where the film was shot. Though some shots were done in other parts of Texas, the core of the story is told in Smithville, just outside of Austin. I’ve explored the Hill Country west and north of Austin but never ventured to the east. The town of wide streets and an old-style downtown has been featured before, in “Hope Floats.” I want to go, though I don’t know what I’ll do when I get there or what I would see. Just life, I guess. Sounds like a Malick film.

P.S. Our B&B, the Katy House is eight blocks from the house used in “Tree of Life”  The Smithville Chamber has a new brochure listing most of the places in town used in the movies filmed in Smithville.


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


SunMay201122

“Tree of Life” wins at Cannes Film Festival

Breaking news: Here is a blog about “Tree of Life”.  Part of the movie was filmed here in Smithville, Texas, about 10 blocks from our Bed and Breakfast.  Most of Smithville will be in Austin to see the movie the first week it is out.  Read below about “Tree of Life” at the Cannes Film Festival.  I wish I had been there!  For more information on the Katy House Bed and Breakfast visit http://www.katyhouse.com/ or call (512) 237-4262.

Austin360 blogs

Director Malick wins Palme d’Or at Cannes for ‘Tree of Life’

By Charles Ealy | Sunday, May 22, 2011, 01:09 PM

CANNES, France — Austin director Terrence Malick  became the first Texan ever to win the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, for his ambitious, cosmic “The Tree of Life.”

The movie centers on a family in 1950s Waco, includes about a 20-minute segment that focuses on the birth of the universe and has been called a Texan “2001,” a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Malick, who does not make public appearances, did not show up at the Palais to accept the award, but two of his producers did. “He remains notoriously, infamously shy but quite humble,” said producer Bill Pohlad.

When the movie premiered Monday, it received a mixed reaction from the press, but support for the film, which was made in Smithville and Austin, has been growing in recent days. It stars Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn.


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


FriFeb20096

Smithville Dog picked for film “The Tree of Life”

Terri Krueger, ‘mom’ to Dexter Krueger, explains that Smithville, Tx is more than just a quiet community and home to the M.D.Anderson Science Park.  It’s also become a popular location for movies.  In 1997 it was the setting for “Hope Floats” starring Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr, and Gena Rowlands.   In the Spring of 2008, “The Tree of Life”, began filming in Smithville.   The film features actors Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.  But the real movie star is Smithville is Terri’s dog, Dexter. 

While visiting Galveston one summer, Terri had spotted a puppy lying in the rain outside an appartment complex.  It did not take her long to rescue the six-month-old Heeler, which showed signs of abuse, and bring him back home to Smithville.

Last Spring, Krueger entered Dexter in a casting call for “The Tree of Life”, and he was selected to play Brad Pitt’s family dog in the movie, which is set in the 1950s. The home used in many of the scenes is just two block from the “Hope Floats” house, and ten blocks from the Katy House Bed and Breakfast.

“I guess you could say that Dexter went from starvaion to stardom,” Terri says.  And yes, she did get to meet Brad Pitt.  “He was very nice, very friendly. I was very impressed how approachable he was…..and he love Dexter.”

After toting Dexter to and from the movie set, Krueger’s next adventure is writing a children’s book about him.  Terri say that “It’s occurred to me that no matter what I may accomplish in my life, it’s entirely possible that I could be known in the future only as Dexter’s ‘mom’.”


FriJan20099

Katy House Guests See Brad Pitt in Smithville, TX

The movie “The Tree of Life,” staring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, was being filmed about eight blocks from the Katy House B&B and two of our guests decided to walk over to the filming site to see if they could see Brad. These two young adults had been antique shopping all day in Round Top and Warrenton, but found the energy to check out the filming. As their moms sat on the front porch enjoying wine, the girls returned, very excited. They had been allowed to walk down the street between “takes” and saw Brad on a bike, not 50 feet from them. It made their day!

After they left the next day, I found the following entry in the guest book in their room:

 

April 6, 2008
Dear Sallie & Bruce,
            Thanks for the fabulous Katy House “Pitt” stop on the way to antique shopping in Warrenton and Round Top. It was a “Pitty” the rain fell the first day of our visit. We acquired a bottomless “Pitt” of memories when the “Pitt” bull sheriff almost arrested our dis-“Pitt”-able daughters for attempting to photograph Brad Pitt. The photos of Brad, however, caused all of our hearts to pal-“Pitt”-tate!
            We had such fun celebrating our 5th Anniversary at the Katy House while drinking wine on the Katy House porch among Sallie’s gorgeous “Pitt”unias.
            Thanks for an ever so much more exciting trip than one to “Pitt”sburg! This shall be a wonderful memory on our “Tree of Life”.
                                    Love and Hugs,
                                    J.G, M.G., S.A, and N.B.
                                    Seattle, WA, Corpus Christi, and New Braunfels