First Thursday: September 1, 2016

For quite a while Amanda & I have been looking for a place to do our own little film review - Las Vegas Nevada, Midland & Austin Texas to name a few - and we finally found a home...a place that wanted to experiment with us to see if people & film makers would be open to experience an actual film festival, but in a relaxed and fun setting of a restaurant & bar type of an atmosphere.

As it turns out, a Tacos Y Tequila atmosphere.

We were lucky to get a little press in the local paper:

Forrest Chalmers put up a poster at his store:

So when 7:00 pm rolled around on the first Thursday in September, Amanda, myself, Viejo's, and the audience were ready to go...!  We thought we'd start out with a fast-paced comedy we saw at this year's Twister Alley Film Festival by Ben Berman, a writer/director working primarily in the comedy television world, with such credits as Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012), I'm a Mitzvah (2014), and this gem:

CLICK on the image above to see the ENTIRE FILM...

We couldn't arrange for Ben to SKYPE in, but it was nice of him to post his film so all those who didn't make to the very first FIRST THURSDAYS FILM FESTIVAL could see it...

Next up...

Then we changed the pace and mood a complete 180 degrees with 
a psychological thriller, one that is pure psychological TERROR on film...and there's a reason it won all those awards you see on the poster below, click HERE to learn more about this short film & Rovolutionfilm..

Stefanie von Poser plays the eager, wholesome, job applicant perfectly, and realistically.  Sinikka Schubert is like a female Jack Nickolson in The Shining. Eeeeee!

Amanda said she was never more frightened by any movie she had ever seen that didn’t have any zombies, aliens, or monsters in it. This was pure terror simply using the mind and imagination. Excellent story!  Fabulously made....!

The last time I was at the edge of my seat totally scared for a full 10 minutes was watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie when I was 9 years old.  Over 50 years later, Frau Director Julia Walter has done it again, and keeps us guessing until the very, very end. Along the way you think you understand where this film headed, then it gets a little strange and you see this job interview is not what it seems at all.  Then it gets creepy, really creepy...

                                  CLICK on the image below to check out the trailer and see for yourself:

SKYPE Session - Stephanie von Poser

As well as being an audience favorite, Stefanie won the BEST ACTRESS at this month's showing...

After seeing Job Interview the entire city of Bastrop was able to experience a taste of nobility not seen since the times Felipe Enrique Neri (Baron de Bastrop) was running around these parts as Stephen F. Austin's land commissioner in 1827.

SKYPING in all the way from Münich Germany was
Stefanie von Poser
star of both stage and screen all over Europe (a "von" in front of someone's name in Germany means 'from', indicating where ever they are 'from' they usually own, which is usually a city or duchy, which usually translates to royalty) and in Stefanie's case, she's not only a princess but even has her own Wikipedia page. 

Stephanie was so kind to join us - at 2:30 am her time, even though she had to film the next day - letting us know all the details on this film and how she almost didn't play the part.

We're so glad she did....the chemistry between her and Sinikka Schubert is what really made this film have the intensity of The Silence of the LambsThe ShiningPsychoTaxi Driver and Basic Instinct all rolled into one...!

Next up...

Special Guest - IN PERSON -  James Christopher

The one.  The only.  Without a doubt the hardest working film maker in Central Texas...

...or perhaps all of Texas for that matter.  We were truly honored to have James Christopher stop by... to not only show his newest trailer (one of 18 as a director and 24 as a producer) but to give everyone at Viejo's - movie goer and film maker alike - some words of wisdom about the art and business of film making, and especially about film making in the heart of Texas.

To give you an idea of some of the Q & A:

Advice you'd give to those who wish to do films?  

Get the word no out of your vocabulary. Lots of people will tell you can’t do something. Just ignore it and move forward.

What have you done to get this and your films ‘out there’? How do you feel distribution is changing? 

Distribution is a tough thing to handle and is really the last nut to crack as it were. Lots of deals are out there. Lots of deals that will pay filmmakers nothing. For me, if I don’t get a cash up front deal, then I would rather self distribute and use the big following we have to help get the film out there. We’ve done it so far and it works. 

Where do you see the future of films heading? As an industry?  As content? 

People are saying its dying. That all the good stuff is on TV. I think there will be a change, but nothing that will doom movies. It’ll ebb, flow and adapt. We might see a point where super big budgets are not being done as much as they prove dangerous for studios. Maybe a pivot to smaller films at that point. it’s the wild wild west out there for sure.

We couldn't possibility fit all of the film credits that James Christopher has done here, so CLICK HERE to go to his IMDb page to see the rest...

It was not only an honor to have James drive all the way down from Austin to Bastop just to visit with us, but the fact that he had a 5:00 am flight to L.A. the next morning for yet another film festival one of his movies is being recognized for, really had the entire audience appreciate his willingness to take time out of his busy (and we do mean busy) schedule to stop by and share his insights

For besides making films, James Christopher is also the man behind Twitchy Dolphin Flix AND the Austin Revolution Film Festival...

See...?  We told you...the hardest working film maker in all Texas....right here in Bastrop.

Next up...

The clues are everywhere in this 17 minute short over a mother dealing with a tragic loss of her own doing – but both Amanda & I bet you won’t get half of them.  We didn’t the first time, nor the second...or third…   

Not only are ‘the clues’ important to the story, but deep down your subconscious (which since cavemen times has been psychologically wired to solve puzzles to begin with) already knows the clues are important, and that this film is important.

You’ll see clues, sure.  Subconsciously you’ll know they are there. But your conscious mind probably won't know they’re clues, you may just go: “Wow, that’s weird”. 

 But something deep, deep inside of you will scream out you need to remember what you just saw, because every little detail is important.   And it will be important, for the story, and your mind. 

Besides the trailer, we're going to also let you get a sneak peek at how the film was made. 

Why? Because this is one of the most innovative films special effects-wise for an independent film, and in some respects has some ground-breaking,  and even more amazing is done on the cheap...that's right the Bontrager Twins are absolute geniuses when it comes to making the most - visually - with the least.

And are ground breaking in the process...

CLICK on poster below to see the trailer...

CLICK on the image below to check out how they made the special effects in their film: 

SKYPE Session - Bontrager Twins (Lawayne & Dewayne)

We think the Bontrager Twins had just as much fun as the audience, especially when they get compliments from some members of the audience who compared their work to Rod Serling (Twilight Zone).  SKYPING in from Atlanta Georgia, Bastropians were able to see what it was like to juggle a film career and family, as well as get some valuable insights into the incentives and culture that brought the Atlanta area into one of the biggest film and TV production areas in the nation.

We are also looking forward to speaking with them next month, when they SKYPE in with more perspectives and yet another of their award winning films.  Wheels go Round was certainly one of the audience favorites here, with everyone deeply affected by the twists, turns, and outcome of the story.... for some, that outcome is still unresolved.

Next up...

CLICK on the image above to see this Oscar Award Winning Film...

Ask ANYONE who was at Viejo's on our 
inaugural night, and they will tell you this is a film you will want to watch several times, and something you will want all your friends and family to see, and something you will want to pass down to your children, and their children.

It always amazes us how in such a short time (in this case, 12 minutes) a film can totally captivate and move you emotionally.  Deeply emotionally.

Writer/Director Benjamin Cleary's first attempt at directing can certainly be labeled an unqualified success, for one, you will see countless awards listed on their website:

Not shown on the site - yet - is that is was up for an Academy Award in 2016...

...and won.

Get the film and see of the best films - feature or short - we've ever any category.

And it wouldn't surprise me one bit if we get a LOT of requests at the next festival for people who want to see this AGAIN

We couldn't arrange for this Ben to SKYPE in either (well, that happens when you win an Oscar, you get real busy with everyone wanting a piece of you) so we try again on a future FIRST THURSDAY when we can all get together, show his film again and let him tell us all about it.

Next up...

It’s 2067. A service truck stops in front of a neglected old house. A government technician gets out and walks to the back where he severs a “Life-Link Cable.” 

His name is Cal Jenner and he’s here to terminate Mr. Cooper, a digitized person whose been malfunctioning for years…

...we don’t think we need to add anything more to describe this film, for if you are any type of science fiction fan, you probably already want to see this just on what was mentioned already. 

But wait. There's more... 

One of the best trailers ever made.  


You get the perfect amount of information to let you know what's the movie about - the premise - but without giving the story away.  

CLICK on the poster on the right to see the trailer...we guarantee you'll love it as well as agree with everything we've just mentioned...

...besides wanting to watch the film.

SKYPE Session - Laddie Ervin

Writer, Director, VFX master Laddie Ervin is also the CEO of  WE MAKE VFX, a company you are about to hear a LOT of real soon...

Central Texans were blown away by the originality of the VFX that Laddie put together in the making of Welcome to Forever. Amanda & I first saw this film at the Riverbend Film Festival (South Bend, IN) and we were blown away too.

Still are.

Laddie always seems to give the kind of insight that is life changing, one doesn't just say "Oh, that's cool", but more like "Yea, he's right, I'm going to start doing it THAT way now".  

There were probably 20 film makers in the audience saying those very lines as Laddie SKYPED in sharing his perspectives on producing, filming, casting, and financing a film.

Thanks for all those words of wisdom from years in Hollywood, Laddie...!

We aren't sure if Laddie is, or ever was a teacher, for sure he must have been in a past life, for as we mentioned above, everyone always learns so much when they are around him, and we love the fact that he even a made a short film to give everyone an idea of all the layers upon layers of work that goes into one of his VFX creations - sometimes taking months - for an sequence that may appear in the film for only a few seconds.  For example... 

...CLICK on the image below to check out this VFX tutorial:

Before Laddie signed off, Central Texans were given a special treat: a sneak peek at some of the special effects Laddie and We Make VFX have created for the upcoming Clive Hawkins, Kacper Skowron & Chris Collins' film:


which will be coming out later in the year...

 CLICK on the image below to see a few clips of  VALCORIAN

Cool, huh?  We think it is so cool that Laddie could easily work at Industrial Light & Magic (San Francisco), Weta Digital (New Zealand), Digital Domain (Los Angeles), or any one of the other Top Ten special effects studio, but instead wants to do things on his own...his way.  We like that Frank Sinatra philosophy too, Laddie.

Next up...

CLICK on poster above to see the trailer...

All those at Viejo's then received another treat - a preview of the feature film Hamlet's Ghost - which we will be showing at next month's event (October 6th), which stars Glen Mac (Law & Order, Inforgettable), Creagen Dow (Big Bang Theory, CSI: NY, Numb3rs, Zoey 101), Stephanie Zimbalist (Remington Stelle, Judging Amy, Nash Bridges), Ida Anderson (Greg's Anatomy, Hawaii, Lovesick), John Loprieno (As the World Turns, One Life to Live, Search for Tomorrow), & Barbara Niven (Chesapeake Shores, Cedar Cove, Eli Stone) name a few.

Central Texans, mark THAT date on your calendars right now...!

This may sound strange, but we have a long history with Walker Haynes (who wrote, directed, & acted in this suspense/Sci-fi thriller), but have never met him in person.  Sure there are a lot of "ships passing in the night" stories in the film world, but this one is rather unique, for this refers to not only meeting him, but also for us to see his recent award winning feature.

After attending four or five film festivals where his intriguing film was also an official selection, we were never able to actually see it until we got to the Twister Alley Film Festival (where it won Best Sci-fi Feature and where there was also an interesting 'after-the-film-philosophical-disussion' on time travel, a major element of the film).  

Bastropians were lucky not having to experience the "just missed you" scenario, for Walker Haynes joined us for the final segment of the evening right then and there and gave the audience one of the biggest surprises about the film industry.

SKYPE Session - Walker Haynes

No one in Bastrop knew the man who was involved in and helped shape so many of the movies and TV shows they all knew and loved.  They soon learned that Writer / Actor / Director / Stuntman Haynes is no new-comer to the film industry...

... a few of his credits being the TV movie Samuel Adams (2014), Revenge (2013), Gunfight at La Mesa (2010), and a reoccurring character on the TV series Whodunnit (2013) and CSI: NY (2006-2012) where he is also the stunt double for Gary Sinise.

Walker also said he could probably come to our premier showing of his feature film Hamlet's Ghost in October if we can make the arrangements most film festivals do for film makers who have their films get him over here, share some of our wonderful BBQ and find a place for him to crash for an evening, can we do that, Bastrop?

To see all of Walker Haynes film credits, go to:

Walker also gave the film makers in the audience some great advice:

"I have found that people respect someone who shows up and works hard.  If you earn the respect of people in the industry, then their help is a natural consequence.  You cannot make a film without help.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  Understand that making a film is a long and arduous journey, with many pitfalls along the way, so remove yourself from negativity.  I was surprised at how often I had to block out the comments and energy of people who seemed compelled to be critical of the work I was doing.  Many people talk about making a movie, but few actually do it.... do it!"

Steve Jacques, Walker Haynes & crew joke around during a break in the action on the set of the soon to be released thriller Flight 192

To close the evening, Walker shared with us his thoughts on how film is at a crossroad between quantity and quality.  

"Studios are gambling on big-budget sequels and, with exceptions, poorly scripted blockbusters; box office numbers reflect this reality.  There will always be a place for these films, but the pendulum may be shifting from “franchise-based content” as an article in the Hollywood Reporter calls it (  Additionally, studios are gambling with casting social media celebrities who lack professional training or experience, but bring millions of followers as a built-in audience.  ("

To cap off the evening, everyone was able see the preview and get some behind the scenes stories on Walker's soon to be released next acting role - as the pilot - in Nadeem Soumah's Flight 192..

CLICK on the movie poster below to see the trailer:

And finally...

THIS LOOKS COOL....what film is this...?

Well, actually this is currently a screenplay, and yes, we are going to recognize the BEST SCREENPLAYS we've run across here at the FIRST THURSDAYS FILM FESTIVAL as well.  As an adjunct Professor of Screenplay Writing at Midland College, as well as winning a few awards myself in this area, after reading literally hundreds of scripts from around the world (as well as many of the classics) one can say I have an eye for a good story.

Well, this screenplay has a FABULOUS in our debut Festival, RALLY POINT wins:


Notice the one liner up there on the top of the poster?  "The only way back home dead

That is a key element and twist to this exciting action/adventure (and we should add survival) story.  Unfortunately I can't tell you any more than that because then I'd ruin the all this stuff is classified, for RALLY POINT is also a glimpse into the future of combat medicine. You know, Tom Clancy type stuff...

However, I can tell you this, in the same way you read that line and probably thought: "I understand the sentence, but...what the heck does that mean?" that line plays out in the script will blow your mind.  

In fact it will make you go "OOOOOOOOOOhhhh...!!!" in the same way you did when finding out with Jack Nickolson's character Jake in Chinatown that Faye Dunneway's Mrs. Mulray's character was raped by her father, so the girl Jake was hired to find was indeed Mrs. Mulray's "sister AND daughter"... When it all comes together so artfully like that in film, you go:


What really grabs you right away in this script is the realism, and who better to write it than someone who has been there and done it?

With three decades of service in many areas of Combat Medicine  (for example, Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC), Ret. Major Frances A. Cheever is also active in getting Veterans in Film & Television, a Film Military Production Coordinator & Consultant and just completed her Masters in Producing Film, Television, and Video from American University.  She also heads Squeaky Reel Productions and is a military liaison for casting & production on big name films & TV shows...

Besides being a great story, this story is needed.  How many films or TV shows are out there now that give you a realistic view of the military?  How many show an amputee in an active combat role.? Also, how many shows or films give an honest portrayal of women commanders in the military?  Rally Point does, and does it well, while entertaining and educating us on the medical side of the military (the last time we got a glimpse of that was in the TV series M.A.S.H - and that was set in the military of the 1950's).  

We've come a long way, baby.  A long way.  Even the evolution of the prior name Mobile Army Surgical Hospital to today's Combat Medicine should give you an idea that today's military medical units are much more intense....and Rally Point jacks up that intensity 100% for today's action hungry audience.

Let's see a modern Tactical Trauma Team in action....and in this screenplay, you get plenty of it...!

Until next time...

We want to thank everyone who came out to Viejo's on the FIRST THURSDAY in September 2016 to help us get this new kind of film festival started. The audience was FABULOUS and even via SKYPE gave the film makers a BIG TEXAS WELCOME that we are certain was felt even over the internet.  Everyone had a blast experiencing new and innovative films - some seen for the first time - and we are looking forward to doing it once again on the First Thursday of each month.

Also, a big thank-you our good friend Jeremy of Jeremy Green Photography

who won the audience "Drove the Furthest to Get Here" Award for the evening...we appreciate that, partner!

Well, that's a wrap, and what fun it was for everyone involved, what we of course can not even begin to describe here was the amount of networking that went on over so many levels - in person - online - business cards - and even a LOT of follow-ups that occurred after the festival...

That's what we love to hear....!

By the way, if you are a film maker who would like submit to our festival, we'd love to see your work!

Jeremy Green is a photographer who enjoys visual problem solving and communication. He has worked as a freelance photographer and has traveled on assignment extensively for more than 30 years, gaining national recognition and winning awards from numerous photographic, advertising and graphic design societies for his work for corporations, universities, hospitals, museums, graphic design firms, architects, and advertising agencies. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. 

Jeremy continues to shoot assignments nationwide, and occasionally serves as an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Austin Community College. He is also available as an instructor for workshops or personal tutoring.

You can enter your feature film, short film, animation or screenplay either on the home page, or by clicking on your favorite film festival submission portal below: