Film Reviews: Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Friends With Cameras

Two guys from North Texas try to make movies on the cheap and keep their integrity.


How do you make a donkey climb a tree? If you’re a Hollywood filmmaker with the backing of a major studio and access to the latest computer animation technology, it’s relatively easy. If you’re two guys from North Texas whose budget for filmmaking runs in the lower four figures, it’s somewhat harder. That’s the problem writer-director Stuart Kincaid and producer Antonio Brazil are staring down as they work on their current project, Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday. Based on a script by Alex Cox, the writer-director of the 1984 cult comedy Repo Man, the new film is described by Brazil as a “sci-fi comedy with social undertones,” and by Kincaid as a “quasi-sequel to Repo Man.”

The beefy Kincaid and the wiry Brazil first met at a party about five years ago, when Brazil was playing in the punk-rock band Fourside Circle. “Stuart was wearing a kilt,” said Brazil. “I thought, ‘I gotta meet this dude.’ “ Brazil learned that Kincaid was an engineer at Lockheed Martin whose background in the entertainment industry included performing and writing for Sid & Marty Krofft’s production company as well as working in Las Vegas on the MGM Grand Hotel’s stage shows. Brazil asked the kilted one to shoot a promotional video for the band, and he agreed.

The video greatly pleased Brazil and the band. The two then collaborated first on a three-minute black comedy short called The Funeral and then on a technically ambitious 42-minute short entitled Birthdays. “Stuart is very mechanically inclined,” said Brazil, who has a major role in Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday. “He figured out how to build [the equivalent of ] a Steadicam and a dolly crane. I’m a graphic designer, so I’m used to approaching our stories from the artistic side.”

Parts of Birthdays were shot in New Mexico and Leicester, England, by their friend and collaborator Paul Mattlock, who has his own production company in the U.K. Yet Kincaid and Brazil prefer to work out of Fort Worth and Arlington, citing the ease with which they obtained permission to shoot scenes at Meacham Airport and compared to their difficulties shooting in Dallas or at White Sands National Monument. The animation sequences for Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday, such as the one that will enable the donkey to climb the tree, are being done by friends with computers. The duo’s lack of funds means they have to film scenes piecemeal — the production of Birthdays was stretched out over two years. For Hawaiian Holiday, they drove to East Texas during Hurricane Rita to film a scene that required Brazil to talk at a pay phone in the rain. “All the things we would have had to set up were already in place there because of the storm,” said Kincaid.

As they continue their filmmaking “adventure,” the two seem determined not to sell out or move to L.A. In shopping Birthdays around to film festivals, “We met a lot of people we thought were cool,” said Kincaid. “We found out that even in the indie community there are lots of people who are totally Hollywood and pretentious. Even when we go to supposedly indie film festivals, we feel like outsiders.” For this reason, Kincaid has arranged a system by which his actors will be paid the same as card-carrying Screen Actors Guild members, and everyone in his production company, Antstuie Productions, will receive the same share of the profits, if they ever materialize. Not that he’s expecting to become wealthy. “Filmmaking is more complex than a hobby,” he said. “But it’s better than sitting on a couch.”

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