With a number of state and local officials in the audience at the sprawling Austin Studios, an expansive complex renovated from the city’s former Mueller Airport and now operated by the Austin Film Society, presenters and honorees at last night’s Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards took the opportunity to stump for funding and incentive programs from state government to support local filmmaking.
Emcee Thomas Haden Church offered the extensive, pointed remarks on the subject, during a speech that he branded a “call to arms.” And he was supported by honoree Larry Hagman, who sported a big cowboy hat and played up a bit of his former TV personality, JR Ewing on TV’s “Dallas.” On stage he tossed handfuls of fake cash into the air, the way his ’80s oil baron villain might have on the long running night time soap. Advocating that politicians approve tens of millions of dollars to back production in the state, Hagman said, “$40 million, give me a break, they’ll get that money back real quick.”
“If you give some, you’re gonna get some,” Hagman emphasized, adding, “Go for it, you can’t miss.”
Numerous speakers touted the work of Austin Film Society head Rebecca Campbell. In notes on the proposed incentive program, she highlighted the recent testimony of 20th Century Fox’s Gary Brown and AFS founder Richard Linklater. “As quick as the industry has left, it will be back that fast,” Linklater said, “because people desperately want to live and work in this state.” He added, “Like most of you, I live in Texas and that is where I’d rather be.”
Last night’s event, an important fundraiser to support the Austin Film Society, offered attendees numerous opportunities to donate to the organization, from a $50 candy raffle (with accompanying scratch-offs for potential prizes) to a live auction that drew thousands of dollars from guests, even if it took the auctioneer a while to get there. Many premium prizes drew smaller than expected bids – compared to previous years- but an opportunity for a walk-on role in the next Richard Linklater film garnered $9000 for AFS.
Other recipients on Friday included Billy Bob Thornton, praised as an honorary Texan, Catherine Hardwick who received the Ann Richards Award, Powers Boothe, and the film “Rushmore” was honored with the Tiffany & Co. Star of Texas Award.