Back from Los Angeles, Austin indie filmmaker Bradley Jackson and his three teammates already are planning their next big thing.
Still riding high from the success of their short film "The Man Who Never Cried" and the $100,000 prize that came with it, Jackson is hoping to make his first feature film — what he calls a dramatic comedy.
The as-yet-untitled film, Jackson said, will emulate indie movies filmed in Austin by the Duplass brothers, but the aim is not to follow directly in their footsteps but rather to cement their place in the film industry and get one step closer to getting that big break.
"Before 'The Man Who Never Cried,' I had only made comedies, just pure comedy, and I knew that if I wanted to grow as a filmmaker, that I needed to try something a little different — have something that was a little bit more weightier, a little bit more dramatic," said Jackson, who wrote and directed "The Man Who Never Cried."
Audiences will have to wait a while longer, however, before details about the new movie come out. For now, Jackson said, he wants to keep the script a secret. The team is working on a second draft, but the project is still very much in its infancy.
Last year, Jackson and his three editors and producers — Andrew Lee, Dave Ward and Russell Groves — put together a short 24-minute film about a man who had never cried, not even as a baby. Starring Keir O'Donnell and Jess Weixler, the film has an omnipresent narrator and numerous flashbacks, as well as many conventions associated with old fables. In fact, the film almost emulates other magical realism of the past decade like Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Amélie." The film was submitted to the Doorpost Film Project's short film contest and won the competition.
"This script is definitely not as mythical, not as fantasy-oriented. It's definitely a bit more realistic," Jackson said. He did admit his next film takes after his latest short in that it combines comedy and drama. "That's the route that I've always enjoyed — or have started to enjoy going in — trying to make it as funny as possible and at the same time have some dramatic weight."
Jackson and his team plan on staying in Austin, despite the lure of Los Angeles.
"L.A. tends to focus a lot on the studio aspect of making films, and Austin still embodies, not necessarily the do-it-yourself, but the independent feel," Groves said. "Hollywood has tried to mimic the indie feel for years to make it seem that they are connected with the little guys.
"And Austin is that — so there is a big difference between trying to be something that you are not and letting Austin be what it is. That is why there is some success coming to Austin, because people know this is true, it's real, it's not something that's being created nonorganically."
The team is putting its prize money to good use. They moved into an East Austin apartment in February and spend most of their time on side projects at this point.
Jackson and Groves are in London until early April finishing a documentary. Jackson also is working on a script with mentor Dan Ireland and has another script being auctioned in L.A. Lee and Groves submitted some materials of their own to Sundance for a creative producing lab, and Ward is editing a movie.
Groves said he hopes the four of them will be in post-production on the new movie by the end of the year and estimates the cost to be between $300,000 and $500,000.
In the short term, however, the team is trying to become a regular production company, said Lee.
Jackson and his team have generated some buzz since winning the Doorpost competition, but Jackson stresses humility.
"We are trying to stay humble in the sense that we have not made it by any means," he said.
"We climbed Mount Bonnell only to see the Himalayas. We're incredibly proud of the success and the acceptance of ('The Man Who Never Cried'), and people seem to be responding to it, but at the same time we still haven't made a feature film yet.
"And that, in my opinion — if we can make a feature film that gets an audience and can make its money back — that's when I'll be able to breathe a little easier. We just need to have perspective."