“Muse,” one of the movies screening during this year’s Lone Star Film Festival, is a horror-fantasy film about an artist who encounters a spirit who becomes his, well, muse — and becomes lethally protective of the artist.
It was made on a low budget, but it doesn’t look like it, thanks to Damian Horan’s cinematography and John Burr’s direction. As you might imagine, since it’s a horror-fantasy film, it also has bursts of violence, some of it pretty bloody.
It has a relatively late time-slot — 9:45 p.m. Saturday at the AMC Palace — but producer Josh Mills says that it’s not because it’s a horror movie. It’s because there are other movies that have a bigger need of getting noticed.
“Fortunately for us, we were able to solidify distribution recently,” says Mills, co-chairman of Fort Worth-based Desert Wind Studios and a Fort Worth native. “The reason why we’re not in the 7 o’clock lineup is because [LSFF Executive Director] Chad [Mathews] was aware that there’s a good chance that we’ve already locked in our distributor.
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“He’s basically being a good steward of the festival, and the movies that are still in the hunt get better slots so they can get more awareness.”
John Burr, who’s also the writer and grew up in Dallas, says the film has done phenomenally well.
“We’ve gotten into probably 20 different festivals in the last couple of months,” Burr says.
Mills, whose grandfather was longtime KXAS-TV reporter Frank Mills, did an internship at KXAS around 1999. That got him interested in production, and he has been involved in movie production for the past 15 or so years in New York and Los Angeles. He recently moved back to Fort Worth, where he hopes to help build a film scene.
The Lone Star Film Society has been a big part of that, not just doing the annual fest but screening classic films throughout the year.
North Texas-bred Mills and Burr say they feel particularly close to this festival.
“[It’s] essentially what I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid,” Burr says in a release. “To have a screening at such a prestigious festival in the community I grew up in, in front of family and friends, is quite literally a dream come true.”
Mills and Burr will have a Q&A after the screening.
Many degrees of Bill Paxton
This year’s festival, which begins Wednesday with the Lone Star Film Festival Ball and runs through Nov. 12, has an adventurous lineup, with dozens of shorts and features that don’t all have familiar names that jump out at you.
But a few names do: Cybill Shepherd; Texas musicians Terry Allen, Lloyd Maines and Joe Ely — and, of course, the late Bill Paxton.
This will be the first LSFF since Paxton, a longtime supporter of the festival and of Fort Worth arts in general, died in February at the age of 61. The Lone Star Film Festival Ball will include a tribute to Paxton, and several of his films — ones he filmed, ones he starred in and even an oddball music video — will be screened.
Expect there to be a lot of nostalgia: After each of the Paxton-related features, producers David Blocker and/or Tom Huckabee will do a Q&A, and for “Frailty” (Paxton’s feature-directing debut), writer Joe R. Lansdale will also be in attendance.
During the opening-night ball, the festival will present Shepherd with its first Bill Paxton Achievement in Film Award for Acting. At 8 p.m. Thursday at Four Day Weekend Theater, she will attend the world premiere of her latest movie, “Rose,” which is the story of a widowed ex-cop who discovers that she may have a life-threatening illness and takes a motorized-wheelchair journey through the Southwest, where she meets and falls in love with an old cowboy (James Brolin).
The movie also features Pam Grier and Fort Worth’s Julio Cedillo.
Shepherd, director Rod McCall and producer Greg Clonts will do a Q&A afterward. Shepherd will also introduce her 1989 movie, “Chances Are,” which will follow “Rose.”
Allen will receive the Stephen Bruton Award, named for the late Fort Worth musician. Lloyd Maines, like Allen a product of Lubbock, will present the award, and yet another South Plains-bred musician, Joe Ely, will perform with Allen and Maines — for ball attendees.
After Bruton died in 2009, Paxton wrote a tribute to him for The Huffington Post, in which Paxton also mentions that he took his first guitar lesson at Record Town, the Bruton family’s South University Drive record store.
Even “Muse” producer Mills, who never met Paxton, has a Paxton story.
When President John F. Kennedy appeared in Fort Worth on the morning of the day he was assassinated in Dallas, Mills’ grandfather Frank interviewed the president. Also in the crowd outside what was then the Hotel Texas in downtown Fort Worth was an 8-year-old Paxton, sitting on his father’s shoulders as they watched JFK speak.
Lone Star Film Festival
- Thursday-Nov. 12 at the AMC Palace Theater and Four Day Weekend Theater
- All-Access badge: $300. (Fall discount of $255 available through Nov. 5).
- Individual screenings are $10. Tickets sold in advance or at the door.
- Lone Star Film Festival Ball (6 p.m. Wednesday, Bass Hall) is a separate event not covered by All-Access Badge.
Five films to check out at the Lone Star Film Festival
“I Hate the Man in My Basement”: This movie’s synopsis (“After his wife's death, Claude struggles to appear normal while living with a secret”) sounds pretty genre-standard. But then you realize that writer-director Justin Cook is better-known as professional wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and you begin to expect the unexpected. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, AMC Palace
“Martini Ranch: Reach”: Sure, you should check out “Traveller,” one of Paxton’s most-respected movies, in its 8 p.m. Saturday slot at Four Day Weekend Theater. Get there on time, though, because it will preceded by the music video for “Reach” by Martini Ranch, Paxton’s late-’80s new-wave band. Directed by frequent Paxton collaborator James Cameron, the seven-minute-plus short looks like what might have happened if spaghetti-Western master Sergio Leone directed a video for a Devo-influenced band. Loads of cameos: Look quick for Adrian Pasdar, Judge Reinhold, Paul Reiser, Bud Cort and Lance Henriksen and for Cameron’s then-wife, director Kathryn Bigelow.
“Every Night’s a Saturday Night”: Born in Lubbock, sax player Bobby Keys is probably best-known for his work with the Rolling Stones — that’s his sax solo on “Brown Sugar,” and that just scratches the surface of his decades-long work with the band — but he worked with lots of others, including Buddy Holly and Fort Worth’s King Curtis. The documentary includes a raft of notables: Richards, of course, and fellow Stones Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, as well as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, former Stone Mick Taylor, Texas musician Joe Ely and more. 8:15 p.m. Nov. 11, AMC Palace.
“An American in Texas”: More Paxton — but this time it’s Bill’s son, James, who is one of the stars of this fact-based story about lifelong friends and punk-rockers trying to escape from small-town Texas and get to Los Angeles in the early ’90s. Director Anthony Pedone, writer Stephen Floyd and James Paxton will be in attendance. 10:30 p.m. Friday, AMC Palace
“Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town”: Why is Izzy trying to get the … heck across town? To crash her ex-boyfriend’s engagement party. But she has many misadventures along the way. 8:30 p.m. Nov. 12, Four Day Weekend Theater
There is, however, tons more to see and do at the fest. For a full schedule, visit lonestarfilmfestival.com/