While the Austin film scene was born out of energy harnessed by Richard Linklater more than twenty years ago, it was apparently bolstered on a sidewalk in Southern California.
It was 1994 and both Linklater and Quentin Tarantino were in Santa Monica for a midnight repertory screening of Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”
“Hey, are you Quentin Tarantino?” the Austin director asked the L.A. filmmaker at nearly 3 a.m. after the Altman showing. “I’m Richard Linklater,” the “Slacker” director said.
Tarantino, who was finishing “Pulp Fiction” at the time, found a fast friend in self-proclaimed movie geek Linklater. Add in Robert Rodriguez as a third in the high-profile triumvirate and you have a solid foundation of boosters for filmmaking here in Austin today.
In the many years since that California meeting, Tarantino has spent a lot of time here in Austin, hosting his occasional QT fests and bringing benefit premieres to the city to benefit Linklater’s twenty-six year-old organization that screens movies year round and funds local filmmaking.
The Texas capital city has become, as Tarantino called it last night, “My hometown away from hometowns.”
Last night at Austin Studios, the former airport that has been converted to film and TV production soundstages by Linklater’s Austin Film Society, the group welcomed Tarantino as an honorary Texan.
The 10th Texas Film Hall of Fame saluted the pillars of the film scene here at last night’s fundraiser for Linklater’s Film Society.
The Austin Chronicle’s Louis Black, a co-founder of South by Southwest (which kicks off tonight), called out just some of the names crucial to the success of the Austin scene over the years, from Linklater, Rodriguez and producer Elizabeth Avellan, to John and Janet Pierson, Mike Judge, Tim & Karrie League, Paul Stekler, Matt Dentler, Tim McCanlies, Elizabeth Peters, Tobe Hooper and others.
But last night, the spotlight was saved for Tarantino, with fellow Oscar nominee Jason Reitman among those in the audience to applaud him.
“[Quentin Tarantino] is a lover, promoter, protector of the underground or the underdog,” praised Linklater last night.
“The thing that actually brought me to Austin was cinema,” Tarantino said, seeming a bit drained after what was an undoubtedly long awards season back in Los Angeles. His full speech is available on Thompson On Hollywood.
“I start relaxing tomorrow,” he told Thompson at the bar just before the show began.
As the presentation came to a close hours later, Robert Rodriguez jumped on stage and placed a cowboy hat on Quentin’s head and the Austin film scene’s big name founding fathers made their way off stage to cheers.