Other Side Drive: Tuesday Segments

todayJanuary 29, 2013 15

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osd_tuesdayThe Fourth Wall

-Jordan Gass-Poore

San Marcos has played a long-standing role in the history of the media industry. But the process of filming in the city may be foreign to some, with a permitting process that varies on the chosen location and the type of filming proposed.

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    Other Side Drive: Tuesday Segments

EP1 The Fourth Wall

The beauty of the San Marcos River, the city’s small town charm and the majestic rolling hills of the Texas State campus have awed and inspired filmmakers for decades. But what does it take to film here? San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau director Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez has not only felt the effects of the media industry on a professional basis, serving as the city’s film liaison, but says some of her neighbors’ homes have been used in films…which is information kept tight-lipped by the residents of the private property; making it difficult to count the number of San Marcos-based projects.

SB: “We have quite a few films that come in: commercials, documentaries, so forth that come in and we don’t even know about it until after the fact because they come in and you don’t see them or it’s quick, two hours, three hours, and people call our offices quite often and ask, ‘You know what’s being filmed?’ And we’re like, ‘No, but when you do find out please let us know.’”

Ybarra-Ramirez says San Marcos officials would like to know what is being filmed locally, but location scouts, no city tax incentives for filmmakers, no promotion by the studios and, in most cases, no filming permits required, are some of the reasons why it’s difficult to keep tabs on local media projects.

SB: “Filming within any kind of public right of way owned by the city, of course, it’s an easy task. Anyone can come in and film, as long as they don’t block off a certain area or expect no one to be in that area. There is no permit required; as long as there’s no obstruction of everyday activity in the community no permits are required.”

Filmmakers who do want to block off certain areas in San Marcos are required to go through the San Marcos Police Department to fill out paperwork and pay a small fee, Ybarra-Ramirez says.

As early as 1949, San Marcos has been the backdrop for films. Independent and entrepreneurial filmmaker Shadrack “Shad” Graham incorporated the city into his “Our Home Town” series — short films that were meant to encourage commerce and activity in rural communities. The former Hollywood director showcased the former State Bank and Trust Building, now The Vault, as the site of the 1924 robbery by the infamous Newton Gang. More than 40 years later, director Sam Peckinpah brought an all-star cast to the same location for the film “The Getaway,” about a recently released ex-con and his wife who go on the run after a heist goes awry.

Films like “The Getaway” encouraged San Marcos residents to get involved by being cast as extras, much like the TV series “Friday Night Lights” did decades later for Austinites and other locals. Other locally filmed movies include “Courage Under Fire,” starring Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan; “The War at Home,” about a Vietnam veteran who has returned home and is struggling to cope with his experiences overseas; the Peter Fonda-driven “Race With The Devil”; 2005’s “The Ringer”; Texas-based director Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”; and “Campus Radio,” which was filmed in-and-around the city, using the facade of Tantra Coffeehouse and incorporated a unicycle football game into its plot.

Ybarra-Ramirez says some of the reasons it may be hard to spot a San Marcos location in a film is because filmmakers change the name of San Marcos or Texas State because if they used the proper names they feel like they may be compelled to donate money or have to pay a fee.

So, viewers may want to keep an eye out for recognizable San Marcos locations the next time the city makes its big screen appearance.

Film Crunch

-Andrea Rodriguez

Halloween may be over along with the thought of a zombie apocalypse, but Andrea Rodriguez has a zombie themed movie for you to check out!

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    Other Side Drive: Tuesday Segments

EP1 Film Crunch

For the zombie film buffs who can’t get enough of the dead’s awakening starving for the taste of human flesh well, do I have a film that will satisfy your zombie fetish.
Harold’s Going Stiff, is the most inventive zombie film of its time.
Director Keith Wright in his interview with JunsuiFilms, says that he wanted to create a place so realistic where the audience would forget that it is only a movie they were seeing. He accomplished this goal brilliantly.
Harold’s Going Stiff starring Stan Rowe, is about an old-aged lonely pensioner suffering from a new neurological disease that is slowly turning him into a zombie-like state. With every passing day Harold’s stiffness worsens to where he can’t even move his neck. Penny Rudge, played by Sarah Spencer, is a nurse who is sent to relieve Harold’s stiffness by engaging him in therapy everyday. She is a happy woman as well as a lonely one who is dedicated to helping Harold and finding love. With time they build a strong friendship. In the UK more men are being diagnosed with this disease, and are being murdered by a trio of local men who think they are protecting the public from these flesh starving “zombies,” as they drive around killing any they happen to find. While Harold waits for a cure his friendship with Penny builds as does his stiffness. He soon loses all his mental faculties and his behavior becomes violent. It’s the last scene before the curtain falls…will a cure be found…what happens between his friendship with Penny…and do the group of vigilantes take him out like so many before him?
This is unlike any other comedy/horror film. It won the 2011 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL, the audience winner for DEAD BY DAWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF 2011, the winner for best script for 6TH CINEFANTASY INT. FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL OF 2011, and so many other awards from festivals around.
I’ve always thought that having such a low budget is no excuse for creating a bad film, and this independent film has proven my opinion correct. It’s a wonderful story that doesn’t sit in one genre but draws on elements from comedy, horror, drama, and thriller. I highly recommend this indie to anyone who is interested in seeing an amazing zombie film. Harold’s Going Stiff is a well crafted film that will tug on your heartstrings without a battle.


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