You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Small Grants Help Filmmakers Make Giant Leaps, Richard Linklater Says

Texan filmmaker attends screening of 1990 movie 'Slacker' at Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Emerging filmmakers can parlay even the smallest of financial grants into major career-advancing moves, per director Richard Linklater.

Interviewed by Variety film critic Peter Debruge, the helmer was speaking at the Variety Critics Corner series at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival. He was referring to the types of funds awarded by the Austin Film Society, a nonprofit organization he established in 1985 in his hometown of Austin, Texas – originally to screen classic and auteur films.

AFS – which is being showcased as part of the Made in Texas program at Karlovy Vary – has grown to own a cinema, manage local soundstages, and provide funding to help Texas-based artists at the script stage, in post, or in any other way that will advance their projects. These modest grants, he said, are a way to incubate or jump-start new films.

Linklater came to Karlovy Vary to accompany Made in Texas, as well as to present a screening of his 1990 picture “Slacker.” His oeuvre also includes “Dazed and Confused,” “Boyhood,” and the series “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight.”

The director, who also writes, recalled his own starting years, during which a lucky financial break made all the difference. “Early on I heard you could sell something to European TV,” he said, “and sure enough, I got $35,000 from a German TV sale and was able to finish that particular project.” He added, “If you’re a smart filmmaker, you have to be kind of a hustler.”

Since its inception, AFS has awarded more than $2 million in filmmaker grants. This money has supported the production of hundreds of Texas films and spurred careers of such filmmakers as David Lowery (“A Ghost Story,” “Pete’s Dragon”), Athina Tsangari (“Attenberg”), Kat Candler (“Queen Sugar”), and David and Nathan Zellner (“Damsel,” “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”).

“Damsel,” a western comedy starring Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska, is screening at Karlovy Vary, and Pattinson will be on hand to accept the President’s Award at the fest’s closing ceremony.

Clearly pleased with the results of AFS initiatives, Linklater called the Zellner brothers “creative and brilliant filmmakers.”

Linklater also stressed the often critical role of actors in a film’s creative process. “Pattinson clearly used the profile he gained in the ‘Twilight’ series to go on and work with great directors,” he said. “And Kirsten Stewart, his counterpart, did the same thing. That’s a lesson for all young actors. It’s not about the money. It’s about great stories and exploring yourself.”

Stars, he said, have a lot of power in the industry because “they can get movies made by electing to work in them. What films get made are often actors’ choices.”

Linklater is content to stay put in Austin. In Hollywood, he said, “it’s like, I love your film, how much money did it make on its opening weekend? That’s so boring.”

In the future, he sees himself doing exactly what he does now. “In thirty [years’ time] I want to be an old guy that still makes movies.”

More Film

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Celebrities Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes Following Fan Bingbing Scandal

    Chinese film and TV stars have paid some $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) of additional taxes, following the mid-2018 scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing. The figure was announced Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the taxation affairs of the entertainment sector in October. Companies and individuals were asked to examine [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are leaving Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” out of their upcoming annual showings of the contenders for [...]

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

  • Paul DavidsonVariety Big Data Summit Presented

    Listen: The Orchard's Paul Davidson on Surviving Sundance Bidding Wars

    Hollywood heads to Park City, Utah this week in the hopes of finding the next big Sundance Film Festival breakout. Paul Davidson, executive vice president of film and television at The Orchard, plans to be in the thick of it. In today’s edition of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, Davidson opens up about The Orchard’s strategy [...]

  • Young Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie:

    James Gandolfini's Son Michael Gandolfini Cast as Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie

    Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, will play the young Tony Soprano in “The Many Saints of Newark,” the  prequel movie to the television series “The Sopranos.” “It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini said. “I’m thrilled that I am [...]

  • Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born

    The Message of the Oscar Nominations: You'd Better Have a Social Message

    Each year at the Left Coast crack of dawn, when the Oscar nominations are announced, there’s generally at least one major nomination many pundits were predicting that fails to materialize. When that happens, entertainment media tends to rise up as one and say the s-word: snub. In truth, it’s not usually a snub; it’s just [...]

  • Elton John and Mark Ronson

    Elton John to 'Shallow' Songwriter Mark Ronson: 'You're Going to Win the Oscar'

    Elton John is willing to bet that Mark Ronson will win the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.” The nominations were announced this morning. The legendary performer spoke to Ronson on the latest episode of his radio show “Elton John’s Rocket Hour” on Apple Music’s Beats 1.  “You’re having a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content