Archive | Press

RSS feed for this section

C. Thomas Howell signs up to fight Bigfoot Wars


Jul. 29, 2013by: Kevin Woods

Last month we shared the news that Origin Releasing had picked up the motion picture rights to "Bigfoot War", the literary series by science fiction author Eric S. Brown inspired by the legend of a monstrous Bigfoot type primate living in and around Boggy Creek, with the action-packed creature feature to be titled BIGFOOT WARS. Today we have word on casting on the Brian Jaynes (HUMANS VS. ZOMBIES) helmed flick, with THE HITCHER star C. Thomas Howell toplining.

Howell joins Danny Boaz, Juli Erickson, Frederic Doss, Holt Boggs, Elyse Bigler, Taylor Weaver, Jackey Hall, Mindy Raymond, Carl Savering, Billy Blair, Larry Jack Dotson, Monica Harmse, Chandler Allen and Audrey Ellis Fox. The screenplay duties are handled by Andrea Doss, Frederic Doss, and Jacob Mauldin.

Edgen Films and D Zone Films are producing.

Here's the synopsis for the book "Bigfoot War":

Jeff Taylor was an ordinary boy growing up in the small town of Babble Creek, North Carolina, until one night his life was changed forever when a Sasquatch brutally murdered his family. Taylor fled the town, hoping to leave the painful memory behind. Years later, after two tours of duty in the Iraq War, he's back in Babble Creek seeking vengeance. Taylor's lust for the blood of the monster that slew his family sets in motion a series of events that soon has the entire town fighting for its life as a tribe of Sasquatches descend from the forests and hills into Babble Creek to declare war upon its citizens. Babble Creek is about to find out Bigfoot is very real and there's more than one of the creatures that want to fill the streets with blood… Cameras begin rolling mid-August and the film is set for an early 2014 premiere. You can learn more about BIGFOOT WARS on Facebook right HERE. – See more at:


MovieMaker Magazine again ranks Austin among top destinations to live and make movies


January 31, 2012 Steve Alberts, 512-583-7210
Gary Bond, 512-583-7229


MovieMaker Magazine again ranks Austin among top destinations to live and make movies

Annual ranking praises city’s strong incentives and substantial infrastructure
AUSTIN, TX – Once again, Texas’ capital city has been recognized as a top destination to live and make movies. Austin was ranked #2 in MovieMaker magazine’s twelfth annual list of the “Top Ten Cities to be an Independent Moviemaker.” Austin has appeared on this notable list since it began more than a decade ago; last year, Austin was ranked #4.

“Independent moviemakers in particular benefit from a local government that seeks to make moviemaking more affordable,” says MovieMaker. “Most city-owned locations are made available at “cost,” and many permit fees for shooting on streets, sidewalks and alleys are waived.” The article goes on to mention Austin’s growing popularity with filmmakers because of such financial incentives as a film discount card and the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program which offers rebates for filming in Austin.

“Independent filmmakers have a wealth of resources in Austin,” says Gary Bond of the Austin Film Commission. “Aside from our office, the Texas Film Commission and a film-friendly government, Austin is home to the Austin Film Society (founded by Richard Linklater), which has awarded more than $100,000 to new filmmakers, local film support organizations, filmmaker newsgroups, networking communities and film festivals, notably the Austin Film Festival and SXSW.”

Within the last year, Edgen Films, a local independent film development / production company, working with D7 Studios shot the Feature Film The Curse of Babylon in Austin. The film is currently in active distribution talks. Other local projects included Cat Candler’s independent film Hellion and Peter Mackenzie’s Doonby.

Other cities listed among MovieMaker’s top ten cities include, in order: (1) New Orleans, LA (3) Albuquerque, NM (4) Seattle, WA (5) New York, NY (6) Boston, MA (7) Atlanta, GA (8) Chicago, IL (9) Richmond, VA and (10) Wichita, KS.

For more information about the Austin film industry, visit

About Austin CVB
The Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing and sales organization for the City of Austin. An accredited member of the Destination Marketing Association International, Austin CVB is charged with marketing Austin nationally and internationally as a premier business and leisure destination, thus enriching our community’s overall quality of life.

Storytelling Leads Orthodox Jewish Woman to Austin-Based Film Career

Storytelling Leads Orthodox Jewish Woman to Austin-Based Film Career

Leah WeinbergerWednesday, 01 February 2012

(Original Article)

By Andrea Abel

How does a nice Orthodox Jewish girl become a science fiction film producer and screenwriter?

As Austinite Leah Weinberger tells it, the job grew out of her love for telling stories to children at Chabad; the rest just seemed to fall into place. “I fell into it backwards,” she said.

A bit of a modest account, perhaps. But as Weinberger related her story, hers is a journey of being in the right place at the right time, a proper amount of self-confidence and chutzpah, and strong creative and business instincts.

“Adults would listen and say, ‘you are such a good story teller!’” Weinberger said describing her Chabad storytelling sessions in a recent interview. She told the children stories of shipwrecked Marrano Jews and made up a character named Golda Lox for another tale. “I kept these stories going back and forth,” she said, adding chapters each week.

In 2008 Weinberger reached a point in her life where she had more time to pursue her professional life. Given her passion for reading and her affinity for storytelling, Weinberger decided to try writing. “I went to a short-story meet-up,” she said.

She received positive feedback and the short story meet-up which gave her the confidence the drive to widen her professional search.
“Next, I wanted to learn how to write scripts,” said Weinberger. She heard about the Screenwriters of Austin and attended one of their meet-ups. “Within three months, Clint Watson and I are running (the group) together. I didn’t really have the background, but I can read a story,”

Weinberger said. The group, including Weinberger, decided to sponsor a Short Script and Pitch Contest. With the submission deadline the next day, Weinberger regretted that her role on the contest committee precluded her from submitting stories to the contest. She consulted with fellow committee members who encouraged her to submit anonymously. With the help of a late-night coffeehouse, Weinberger entered two stories which took first and second place in the contest.

This lead Weinberger to join a filmmakers meet-up run by H. Cherdon Bedford, executive director of Austin Film Meet which discusses screenwriting as well as the nuts-and-bolts business-end of film production. Weinberger discovered that she was drawn to the business end of the film industry.

In the meantime, filmmaker and composer Justin Durban picked up Bits and Pieces, one of Weinberger’s winning scripts, offering to make it into a short film. For a total cost of $300, Weinberger, Durban, and their crew headed to Elgin where they filmed in the back room of a curio shop. In 2009, the film won the second place jury vote and third place overall for the Horrorfest Short Film Competition, a competition held four times a year with a different theme each time.

The other script became the short film “Rack,” also produced by Weinberger and Durban. Entered into the 2010 Doorpost Film Project Short Film Contest, the film was selected as a top 20 finalist out of about 2,000 submissions.

Today, Durban, Weinberger, and Durban’s wife Nicholle Walton make up Edgen Films, a production company. According to Weinberger, she and Walton handle the business end of the company while Durban focuses on creative aspects.

“Anybody with a camera can shoot a film. The key is to shoot something good and do something with it afterwards and leverage that,” said Weinberger.

Weinberger likes the business aspect of film. “I never had a background in film. I never had a background in writing. But, I have good business sense. My father owns his own business. I think I absorbed a lot. Being smart doesn’t hurt. A lot of this stuff is patience and a certain sense of maturity. I don’t know if I were 20 if I would have done as well,” she said.

One of Edgen’s current projects is the film, “Curse of Babylon,” a feature length science fiction film made in association with D7 Studios. Walton and Weinberger worked in the film’s production office handling everything from permits, casting, and insurance. Now in post-production, Edgen is involved in furthering the film’s distribution and sales. “We pre-sold rights to China for top dollar. The Sci-Fi Channel (now known as Syfy) wants to see it when it’s done,” Weinberger said.

With a handful of other projects in various stages of development, the growing production company currently is seeking active investors.
Armed with a knack for business, a creative spirit, and a sense of adventure, Weinberger is ready to take on bigger and bigger professional challenges. Weinberger reflected, “I stop and think, how did this ever happen? But, I’ve found out I can do tons of stuff that I never thought I could do. I think it’s the 40+ age thing.”

For more information, visit, and


Community Event:
IndieBEST is an Austin based charitable organization that was initially created by independent artists as an emergency response to the Central Texas wildfires. However, with the incredible out pour of immediate public support, much of Bastrop County’s basic needs such as food, clothing and supplies were not only met but in several cases overwhelmingly exceeded that many donations had to be turned down.

In light of these circumstances, we determined that a shift in our focus was necessary. We came to realize that the devastating toll of the wildfires would require a long-term solution to bring relief to survivors. Rather than a single fundraiser event with a one-time disbursement of funds, we have decided to broaden our scope to better meet the ongoing needs of the community.

Austin Filmmaker Justin Durban’s Short Film “Bits And Pieces” Delivers Big Budget Fantasy on Indie Filmmaker Funds.

June 07, 2010

Posted By: Chris Weidner
Filed Under: Austin, Filmmaker Interviews, Short Films

Article Taken from Short Film

Austin Filmmaker Justin Durban’s Short Film “Bits And Pieces” Delivers Big Budget Fantasy on Indie Filmmaker Funds.


Film Title: Bits and Pieces
Director: Justin R. Durban
Writer: Leah Weinberger
Director of Photography: John Hafner
Cast: Aileen Davila, David Collier, Nicholle Walton

SHORTFILMTEXAS (SFT): What is your short film “Bits and Pieces” about?
JUSTIN R. DURBAN (JRD): A young girl terribly scarred is kidnapped by a lonely monster who feels a connection with her because of their shared monstrous appearance. They spend the day connecting as a family. When it is time for him to return her to her lonely life the girl begs to stay and be a family together. She accepts him completely as he is and begs for him to adopt her. He loves her so much that he finds a way for them to be together forever.


SFT: What did you shoot on? (Likes/Dislikes)
JRD: We shot “Bits and Pieces” on the DSLR canon 7d. John Hafner was the Director of Photography. The 7d encodes the footage as it records, so you have to convert the footage again so your editing system can actually take on the clips. Another disadvantage is tricky focusing and hand-held work with a DSLR is just out of the question. It’s so light that it feels like a home video. So, i prefer giving it some weight or lock it down on sticks. The advantage of the 7D is the film is basically straight from camera. VERY little Color Correction was used with this film. The trickiest part was getting the right lighting with all the fog from set.

SFT: What did you edit on? (Likes/Dislikes)
JRD: I used Sony Vegas to edit. I just find that the moving/adjusting the clips is very simple. I suppose it really didn’t matter what I used. I’ve used Premiere to edit films in the past too. They are all basically the same. Just different buttons with different names.


SFT: How did you come up with the story?
JRD: The screenplay was written by Leah Weinberger. She wrote the story from the Screenwriters of Austin group as a contest to pitch to the Austin Film Meet (AFM) group which consists of all sorts of people in the film industry. I told her I would be happy to do the music for the film, and she took it the wrong way and ask for me to direct instead.

SFT: That’s quite a leap in responsibility. I’ll have to try the old “I’ll do your music” trick sometime.
JRD: Right! It worked out great though. I mean come on…build a set, work with kids, and design a costume for a mummy in less than a month?… “Let’s do it!”


SFT: Tell me a bit about your cast and crew.
JRD: Most of the production Crew came from the Austin Film Meet group (AFM) or other people that I have met here in the Austin area. It’s truly great to have people willing to work on your project with such a limited budget. I suppose that’s why we all like to make films.

The casting of Bits and Pieces was an interesting experience. I originally wanted a ‘towering’ actor for the role of the mummy. But, finding an extremely tall skinny actor in the Austin, Texas area who could articulate movements was challenging. We more or less just ran out of time and then David Collier happened into the project. He ended up nailing an interesting voice and movement of the mummy and was able to work with our closely approaching deadline. Our little girl in the film, Aileen Davila, just nailed it in the auditions. She ended up driving down with her mom from Dallas, Texas to play the part as LeAnn. Luckily it all worked out and she was a wonderful little trooper willing to put in those extra long hours. Nicholle Walton played the part as Florence, the mean Orphanage keeper. We found a great wig and basically told her.. ‘action’ and that’s what we got.

SFT: That’s a pretty diverse cast, from creatures to kids. How would you describe your directing style?
JRD: I’ll usually let the actors do their thing when performing. For me.. If a line or action stood out as a bad performance, that’s usually when I’ll step in and suggest another direction. (time, money, and extra rehearsals would solve this in the pre-pro side of things. Again, we live and learn)


SFT: Do you have any advice for working with children on a film?
JRD: Find a great actor with great parents who are very supportive. Ours were phenomenal all around.  I do wish I had a little more time to work with them, but time and money were definitely not in the equation.

SFT: What was a favorite moment while making the film?
JRD: Happy accidents. We found a new location on the same hour that we were to set up the next shot. It was a matter of me, the DP (John Hafner), and the actress in a very tight and rickety old attic of this old empty house. We had to work on the fly as the landlord (a preacher) was breathing down our backs that he was leaving soon. Not to mention we had to run power across the street to a church by extension cord. Ahhhhh, the joys of indie filmmaking at its best.

SFT: Speaking of locations. Where was the film shot?
JRD: The main set was in the back of a small gift shop in Elgin, Texas run by David Smith. James McMahan provided the production design of the two sets with the help of some great people. It was amazing what we pulled off in a few days. The other locations was an old run down house owned by a preacher who’s church was across the street (that provided the power via extension cord) and the alleyway behind the gift shop in Elgin. We found an old building in Austin, Texas for the exterior shot of the orphanage.


SFT: Who did the creature design and FX? How did decide on a look?
JRD: We did an extensive search on google to find a cross between old leathery mummies to corpses and bodies. We settled with Jessica Isam gluing tea/coffee stained towels to David Collier’s face. She also created a small prosthetic nose and eye piece and covered that up as well.

SFT: Along with directing, editing and producing, you also did the beautiful music for the film? What is your composition process?
JRD: The music was the easiest part of the project. I imported/converted the locked film in my computer, loaded a sample set into Gigastudio, fired up Cakewalk’s Sonar and just hit record. Looking back, I do wish i could change up the score in some places, but for the most part I think it works. It’s the joy/curse of being able to score your own film. You don’t have to answer to anyone except yourself.

SHORTFILMTEXAS: So what’s next for Justin Durban?
JUSTIN R. DURBAN: We have a few things in the works over at Edgen Films. We’ve got a great core team capable of producing anything thrown to use. Most likely however; we tend to lean more towards the sci-fi and fantasy realms but our pallet is open to just about anything. You can view our latest projects at


(warning: contains a violent act. Parental Discretion advised.)



Full Film Credits:
Aileen Davila as “LeeAnn”
David Collier as “The Mummy”
Nicholle Walton as “Florence”

Millabella Vasquez as Orphanage Girl
Mikayla Valle as Orphanage Girl
Maitea Valle as Orphanage Girl

Directed by: Justin R. Durban –
Written by: Leah Weinberger
Director of Photography: John Hafner
Make Up: Jessica Isam
Production Designer: James McMahan
Main Title Design: Jonathan Grubbs
Set Photographer: Dale Kennemer
UPM: Sush Parmar
Set Owner: David L. Smith
PA: Elliot Cole
PA: Rochon Nicholas
PA: Reuel Meditz
Boom: H.Cherdon Bedford
Edited, VFX & SFX by: by: Justin R. Durban
Music Score by: Justin R. Durban
Sound Stage: David L. Smith – Elgin Texas
Produced by: Leah Weinberger, John Hafner, & Justin R. Durban –

Music that makes Hollywood listen – Video interview with film scorer Justin Durban

Austin-Artists brings you our interview with Justin Durban, a film score creator and director. Justin’s music has been used in promoting several feature films, including Avatar, Harry Potter-Order of the Phoenix, Australia, Mummy 3 and more. Justin and his family moved to Austin from Los Angeles about a year ago, and are thrilled with all of the helpful and creative types they’ve met here.