Film Reviews: Wednesday, September 03, 2008
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Church Caper

Dallas filmmaker Casey Gooden pays for his funny short films as he goes.

By KRISTIAN LIN

Last year’s Lone Star International Film Festival saw the unusual sight of a program of short films playing to a packed house, and among the entries screening for an appreciative crowd was Casey Gooden’s Intervention. Written and shot in less than a week during January 2007, the film is a comedy about two down-and-out criminals who try to rob a church that they think is empty.
“I wanted a short film with a clever little twist,” Gooden said, drawing on his experience near such institutions — his father is a pastor, and his wife, who can be seen in the film, has worked in a church as an administrator.
Intervention, which has played at various other festivals and can be seen online at www.pedalboy.com/intervention, marks a long distance from Gooden’s first effort (which he dismisses as “unwatchable”) but also may be an indication of better things to come. For his next project, Gooden is working on a comedic short film about marriage that he hopes to shoot this fall. He’s also writing a DELETE for a feature Western, citing such works as The Proposition and High Plains Drifter as his inspiration.
“I mostly pay for my films myself,” said Gooden, whose regular job is as a senior associate at Barnes & Roberts Multimedia Productions, a company that creates video and PowerPoint presentations for lawyers to use at proceedings. “I get a lot of time off, and I use vacation time to shoot.” The firm is small, but Gooden reported that business is plentiful. “There’s usually people suing each other,” he said matter-of-factly.
The 30-year-old Gooden, who projects seriousness without coming off as pompous, is a native of East Texas, identifying Longview as the place where he spent the most time growing up. Unlike other filmmakers who spent their childhoods toting cameras around, he started out in the editing room. His father would videotape him and his siblings playing sports. (Casey played baseball and ran cross-country.) Gooden would then edit the footage into highlight reels.
He was attending film school at Baylor when he got his start in the industry. His friend David Sullivan had been cast as a co-lead in Shane Carruth’s locally made sci-fi thriller Primer, and when one of the supporting actors dropped out, Gooden was asked to play the role. “I built a lot of relationships [with fellow filmmakers] working on that film,” he said. “I went to Sundance, and after I came back, I wrote a feature DELETE over four weekends.”
That DELETE is now in a drawer, and Gooden took his current job shortly thereafter, but far from stopping his filmmaking activities, it has actually encouraged them. Despite not working on as many projects as he would like, Gooden has been able to direct four short films. All the while, he’s focused on honing his craft rather than making grand statements. “It’s a hard thing to do, telling a good story from start to finish,” he said. “A really good story is something to work at.”


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