AFF scene report: Chat with writer-director of “OXV: The Manual”
The Austin Film Festival started Wednesday night with the annual Film & Food gala, the unofficial kick-off held each year at the Driskill Hotel. The event, hosted this year by honorary chair Shane Black (writer-director of “Iron Man 3”), featured small bites from Austin restaurants and food purveyors and silent and live auctions benefiting AFF”s young filmmaker program.
Registrants mixed with panelists and visiting filmmakers and writers, including “X-Men: First Class” writer Ashley Miller and Michener Center alumnus Brian McGreevy, creator of the Netflix show “Hemlock Grove,” based on his novel of the same name.
I ran into AFF director of programming Bears Fonte at the event and started to pick his brain about some movie recommendations for the festival. The first movie he mentioned to me was “OXV: The Manual,” playing in the Dark Matters category. And in one of those serendipitous moments, just as he was telling me about it, the film’s writer-director Darren Paul Fisher walked up.
I chatted with the native Londoner (and Arsenal supporter) now living in Australia about his film, which makes its U.S. premiere Friday night at the IMAX. Fonte had described the “thinky sci-fi” movie as “Primer”-meets-“(500) Days of Summer,” and without having heard that description, Fisher called it “Primer”-meets-“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” What that tells me is that the movie is not only intriguing but very well executed to the filmmaker’s vision. Anytime somebody can describe a film in similar terms as the filmmaker, that’s got to be a credit to the filmmaking.
This is Fisher’s third feature but the first time he’s screened one of his movies in the United States. I asked why he chose the Austin Film Festival, and the affable Fisher said he considered all of the biggest-name festivals in the U.S. Meaning: AFF has built a reputation outside of the country. Fisher is not the only filmmaker in from Australia. Fonte says seven Australian and New Zealand films (shorts and features) are playing the festival.
Fisher and I chatted about TV in England and Australia (apparently “Bing Bang Theory” is also big Down Under, and the Brit does a bear a bit of a resemblance to Jim Parsons). When discussing the TV writing culture of England, where legendary shows like “Fawlty Towers” and “The Office” ran for only about a dozen episodes, Fisher says the big difference between U.S. and British TV is the writer’s room. Whereas most TV shows here rely on a team of writers contributing ideas, the shows in the U.K. are powered by just one or two writers.
As often happens with me, the conversation eventually turned to food, and Fisher wanted to know where he could get some good Texas smoked meats. I gave him a couple of ideas before we parted ways. I look forward to checking out his sci-fi love story either Friday night or Tuesday night, when it screens again at the Galaxy Highland at 7.