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Texas Filmmaker's Production Fund Gives A Grant To A 12 Year Old's Zombie Film!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with genuine "Cool News"! Ya know - I've done my fair share of praising of the Austin Film Society and the Texas Filmmaker's Production fund... But I've never seen any of its money go to a filmmaker I personally knew - and knew what a difference it would make. Intellectually - I know that their grants keep filmmakers alive through the process, allow film stock to be developed, finance entire documentaries... I get it, totally behind it... But still, I never saw the money touch anyone that I knew that was a scrape & save filmmakers - it did, it always went to the absolute most worthy folks... but most of the food stamp film freaks I know - use their food stamps for Karo Syrup and Red Dye #5 and Hershey Syrup and flour and oatmeal - the building blocks of low budget horror. Oven latex baking. Truly the most wonderful world of low low low no budget film. Pure joy of filmmaking.

Well - this year, as in every year - I get the Austin Film Society's TEXAS FILMMAKER'S PRODUCTION fund press release and I do what I do every year... I skip down to the list to see who in the state of Texas got the Fairy Godmother Grant (as I call it). This year, more than in previous years - I saw people who I knew. Kyle Henry - got into Cannes this year, Kat Candler - made a wonderful film a few years back and recently got the mayor of Austin to leap off a bridge here - seriously. And Emily Hagins. WHAT?!!!?

PATHOGEN - EMILY HAGINS... 90 Minute Narrative - $1000 Production / Post-Production / Distribution???!?!?!?!?!?! WHAT?!?!?!

I started smiling like a crazy monkey boy. Actual tears came out of my eyes, I was so happy. You see - Emily Hagins is a 12 year old girl. I first met her when she was 9 at my Saturday Morning Kids Clubs that I host. She was at first - that crazy girl that loved LORD OF THE RINGS. I first heard her name - when her mother sent me a letter she had received from Peter Jackson - that suggested that she contact his friend Harry Knowles in Austin. Emily was intoxicated with film. Started shooting little video films - I really had a blast taking a look at them and giving her advice. And she listened. Then her mom wrote me - saying that Emily wanted to go to BUTT-NUMB-A-THON 5 more than anything else on the planet Earth. Knowing that Peter Jackson was scheduled to attend BNAT 5 - I knew she'd love it - but... BNAT is not for children - and at age 10 - Emily - well I don't program BNAT for kids. I warned her mother of the sort of imagery that might be on screen - and if she as a responsible parent was willing and ready to handle that sort of subject matter with her child - then by golly - welcome, but I also warned her - that this festival would complete warp her sweet little girl. It would open up a Pandora's Box of badass other side of the tracks films that Emily had never been exposed to.

Oddly - while she loved films like RETURN OF THE KING, OLDBOY, Buster Keaton's THE GENERAL, PASSION OF THE CHRIST and the other films of the fest... it was the Spierig Brother's low-budget Aussie Zombie film that wormed it's way into her noggin. This was... her first zombie film. She started renting zombie films at my sister's video store, PEDAZO CHUNK... Sister Satan being the strict moralist was providing zombie films for Emily's unending thirst. Next thing I know - I'm hearing that Emily is writing a feature length zombie film script that she wants to direct as her next project. That summer - she wanted to enter into a film school for kids, but she was still too young - Her mom again asked me for advice. There was this place up in Dallas she could go, but it was too expensive - and Emily's family was having severe financial difficulties at the time. Hearing that Emily was infected with the horror film bug - I hooked her up as an intern on some friend of mine's low low low budget indie suspense flick - ORGANIC - which is still in post-production. I figured, she'd learn more from a group of low budget filmmakers that love horror in a gleeful innocently evil way. She wound up shooting the behind the scenes documentary for the film - as well as helping with Continuity. At like 10-11. Then this year she shot PATHOGEN. For her birthday - Dad and I gave her TONS of make-up. Not young pre-teen make-up... but horror make-up. Couple hundred bucks worth of the stuff - that was our "grant" for Emily's film. Nearly everyone in Austin that I know is somehow touched by this film and is used in it. My nephew is a zombie child in it. Massawyrm causes the zombie-armageddon through his typical incompetence. Annette Kellerman is the scientist that develops the virus. My brother-in-law is a scientist/doctor of some type. My sis is in it, and one of the main characters is named after her. I provide a radio voice for the film. The wrap-party was last Saturday at Pedazo Chunk where she debuted a trailer to the cheers of all.

But this TEXAS FILMMAKERS' PRODUCTION FUND didn't stop there. As you probably are aware - this is a remarkable little girl. Who has the concentration at age 10-11 to write a feature length Zombie script. That's 90 pages of text created from her wee noggin. And a pair of documentary filmmakers thought so too - they decided to shoot a documentary they call ZOMBIE GIRL on the now 12 year old Emily Hagins. Well that documentary ALSO got a small grant from the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund.

I just got off the phone with young Emily to congratulate her and she sounded as though - Santa, the Easter Bunny, Jack Skellington and the Tooth Fairy all showed up to help her with her movie. "I just started back a school yesterday, and like, the teachers were all, if you're not exactly perfectly behaved we'll TASER you... well, not really, but when I heard about the grant, I was jumping up and down and it just makes going back to school better, ya know?" Yes, I do.

There's film production funds all over the world - support yours - you'll never know when it'll touch a dreamer you know with the help they need to make their dreams come true. This is soo cool!


(Austin, TX) - The Austin Film Society is proud to announce the recipients of this year's Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund. Twenty-seven projects from across Texas received a total of $77,000 in awards ranging in amounts from $300 to $8,800. TFPF has now given away $550,000 to more than 200 filmmakers since its creation in 1996.

Award recipients include Kyle Henry's A. O. K., Kat Candler's "jumping off bridges," Heather Courtney's WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM, Susan Youssef's HABIBI RASAK KHARBAN and SHORES FROM ANOTHER SEA, a student-made zombie movie. For a complete list of recipients, see below or visit our website at

Filmmakers Rose Troche, Dominic Angerame and Jocelyn Glatzer were this year's TFPF panelists. During their three-day visit to Austin, they reviewed the 158 applications received this summer and determined the grant awards. AFS Director of Artist Services and TFPF Program Officer Elisabeth Sikes was assisted by coordinators Tai-San Choo, Chris Hadlock and Meagan Stewart.

Special thanks to Kodak and Media Toolbox, who donated filmstock and tapestock as part of the awards.

The Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund is an annual grant awarded to emerging film and video artists in the state of Texas. Funded through revenues from benefit film premieres and private and corporate donations, and the Texas Commission on the Arts, TFPF is an effort to redress the loss of public funds for filmmakers.

Austin Film Society, celebrating 20 years in 2005, promotes the appreciation of film and supports creative filmmaking by screening rarely seen films, giving grants and other support to emerging filmmakers, and providing access and education about film to youth and the public. Through Austin Studios, which AFS opened in 2000 in partnership with the City of Austin, AFS helps attract film development and production to Austin and Texas. Gala film premieres and the annual Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards raise funds as well as awareness of the impact of film on economy and community. The Austin Film Society is ranked among the top film centers in the country and recognized by the Nation Endowment for the Arts and Directors Guild of America.

For more information on Austin Film Society, visit

2005 TFPF recipients, in alphabetical order by filmmaker:

60 min. documentary
$5,000 production

ROMEO by Robert Byington
7 min. narrative
$1,000 production, $500 Kodak filmstock

jumping off bridges by Kat Candler
100 min. narrative
$5,000 post-production

86 min. documentary
$4,000 production, $200 Media Toolbox tapestock

100 min. narrative
$4,000 production

QUILTY AS CHARGED by Spike Gillespie
56 min. documentary
$1,500 production / post-production / distribution

ESCAPING JUAREZ by Cristina Gurrola
26 min. narrative
$2,000 production, $1000 Kodak filmstock

PATHOGEN by Emily Hagins
90 min. narrative
$1,000 production / post-production / distribution

A. O. K. by Kyle Henry
90 min. narrative
$8,000 production, $500 Kodak filmstock

OLD MAN by Chris Howell
29 min. documentary
$2,500 post-production

ZOMBIE GIRL by Justin Johnson & Erik Mauck
56 min. documentary
$300 Media Toolbox tapestock post-production

SHORES FROM ANOTHER SEA by Rusty Kelley, Natalie Aston, Charles Heidrich, Carleton Ranney, Eva Billingsley, Ben Foster & Renan McFarland
80 min. narrative
$2,000 Kodak filmstock post-production

OLD PHOTOS by June Lee
18 min. narrative
$1,000 production, $1,000 Kodak filmstock

THE OUTLAW SON by David Lowery
15 min. experimental narrative
$1,000 production / post-production, $1,000 Kodak filmstock

BOX by Larry McMahan
4 min. animation
$2,000 production / post-production / distribution

7 min. animation narrative
$3,000 production

60 min. documentary
$2,000 post-production

STARRY NIGHT by Keun Pyo Park
10 min. narrative
$2,000 post-production

ON THE LINE by Nancy Schiesari
53 min. documentary
$3,500 production

BOCCE by Ivana Slavnic
60 min. documentary
$2,500 production, $200 Media Toolbox tapestock

87.5 min. narrative
$2,000 production / post-production

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT by Debra Sugerman
90 min. documentary
$4,000 production

AN OLD BOLERO by Maria Loreto Caro-Valdes
25 min. narrative
$1,000 post-production / distribution

IRIS MOON by Iskra Valtcheva
7 min. experimental narrative
$1,000 production / post-production

WAX by Monica Walters & John P. Crowley
53 min. documentary
$1,500 post-production

84 min. documentary
$1,000 production

90 min. experimental narrative
$8,500 production, $300 Media Toolbox tapestock

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