Father & Daughter Film Report

The first thing you read on the Big As Texas Short Film Festival web site is:

"We are a festival of filmmakers, for filmmakers."

Well, yes, we get it, since that applies to 99.99% of the film festivals out there.

However reading further, we find:

"The Big As Texas Short Film Festival is dedicated to independent short films whose

standards meet professional levels of quality in all aspects of production; From acting, to sound to cinematography and everything in between."


Wait a minute - now we have spoken to a lot of film makers who have put on film festivals - one can certainly get the impression from their comments and efforts the above statement relays most of their perceived intentions... 

However...we can't recall anyone ever posting it right up there - front & center on their website -  that standards of professional levels of quality in all aspects of production is part of their



Now, after attending the Big As Texas Short Film Festival, all we can say is:


What film maker & Big As Texas Short Film Festival director Kevin Machate has put together is truly an amazing feat:

Every one of the independent short films shown were of standards that meet professional levels of quality in all aspects of production...that's right...from acting, to sound to cinematography and everything in between.

Just like it says on the web site.

 We're sure you can see just from the posters above from one of the blocks that these are all top notch productions....and the same can be said of all the other blocks, and every other film shown.


When asked what made the Big As Texas Short Film Festival unique, Kevin gave us variety of perspectives:

"I think there are a few things...I know that some of the things we do are atypical, although I also know that everything that we do is done by (some) other festivals.

First, we accept more films than we can screen. I chose to do this because I know that most of the filmmakers won't attend. Most filmmakers enter festivals so that they can say they got into a festival (or 10 or 100). As a filmmaker myself, sometimes the OFFICIAL SELECTION is all you want, especially if the festival is far away. The laurel is often the prize. By giving more laurels than we had screening slots, I know it helps give some filmmakers a bit of a boost. 

Also, it's great for networking. I keep in touch with most of the filmmakers that we accepted last year.

Win a category at the Big As Texas Short Film Festival and you'll have something you can take home & put on the mantel piece , or to the bank....

"Second, we give away real trophies. So many, the vast majority, of festivals either don't give anything...Maybe a winner's laurel or a paper certificate. 

I'm not complaining about all the paper I've gotten over the years, but a physical statuette that sits on a shelf is a little more special than some wood pulp. 

People like 'stuff'.

Third, we have a very holistic, yet professional manner of selection. Above everything, we look at how the film made us feel during and after it's over. 

That's very subjective, so what we love, someone else may hate. A lot of festival directors sit back and let other people pick the films. Todd Rodgers (our Programming Director) and I have very similar tastes and standards for quality, so we watch every single film. 

No film gets to the screeners & jury without us watching it.

Finally, we're super cheap! We have the lowest submission fees of any other festival in Austin. Even our regular fee is lower than most other festivals earlybird fee."

(Well, Kevin, the submission fees maybe super cheap, but those gold trophies certainly aren't...Wow, that's about as close to an Oscar as you can get...!!!)

Speaking of trophies, shall we take a look at some of the films that won one of these beautiful awards...?



 First, to get a quick preview of several of the films featured, check out one of the trailers for the festival by clicking the image or the link below: 

Big As Texas 

Short Film Festival 

Teaser Roll #1


And now, on to some of the films found at the Big As Texas Short Film Festival that caught our eye:


Director Felipe Mucci won Best of Fest and Best Actor of Fest went to Bernardo De Paula

A fictionalized portrayal of the night before real-life Brazilian journalist Vladimir Herzog, turned himself in for questioning to the Brazilian police, and was never heard from again.

Set in San Paulo in 1975, in the context of the Brazilian military dictatorship, the story set to illustrate one of man's final moments and the build-up to a decision that would eventually change the course of an entire country.

From a typical morning going to work, to the moments where, unbeknownst to him, his actions would culminate setting the stage for the beginning of revolution against the militarized dictatorship.


Click image below to see the ENTIRE FILM...!!!



We first saw this film in 2014 where it won at the Jive Azz Film Festival held in the Columbia School of Broadcasting in Los Angeles. We weren't reporters back then, dad was getting a Best Screenplay award for Hitler's Astrologer.

We loved Pink Elephant then, and we absolutely loved seeing it again...

Hunter told us the idea came while trying to take a photo of his dad next to an antique car at Disneyland while clueless people from around the world ruined the photo attempts enough to create the concept for the film.

Ironically, the Pink Elephant originated in Disneyland, and now sits across the street from the famous Fabulous Las Vegas sign, where Hunter calls home.

Hunter Hopewell is a 40+ time award winning film maker, musician, & comedian, majoring in Film at the UNLV Honors College.

Already working for MetLife, Coldwell Banker, Staples, Lawry's, Kikkoman, Best Foods, Hellmann's & Unilever, his work has aired on national television spots, and has even made an appearance on the Conan O'Brian Show!


"We shot Pink Elephant with no crew in a single afternoon in the 100 degree heat of the Mojave Desert.  That shoot taught me that sunburns at temporary, but film is forever."  - HH




Click on above image to see the entire film!

 Now I've been a serious Star Trek fan since 7th grade when the first episode aired in September of 1966, and for the life of me have no idea how I missed this Star Trek development.

It's called a 'fan film' and apparently its OK to make such film of 'already done concepts' as long as you don't make any money on it, which is what was done here with Prelude to Axanar

However, apparently Paramount is upset over the success of this short film - which as of this writing is close to 2 million views - so surprise, there is now a lawsuit. As you can see from the cast below, they have some heavy hitters and the visuals are simply stunning. If you are a Star Trek fan and have seen this, then good for you, so go to the link below to the Axanar Production web site and get your donation in so they can make the feature film. If you are a Strar Trek fan and haven't seen this, then, really...

You are in for a real treat:



Now before we go any further, 2015 was the first year of the festival, and we're looking at some pretty top notch films here, so we had to ask Kevin; 

What did you do to get your film festival ‘out there’ for entries & attendance?


Film maker & Big as Texas Short Film Festival director Kevin Machate makes a point at one of the festival's many Q & A sessions. 

"For one, I post on Facebook regularly, especially nearing deadlines or when something big happens. Because we are international, it doesn't matter where the submitter is from.

As a contributor to a British film e-zine that we will be partnering with, and that will get us a few hits, but as for attendance...that's a littler harder.

Being two weeks before Christmas is always going to be a challenge. There's another festival the week before ours, and I would never want to try and compete with them. Not only is their director a really nice guy, I don't think we COULD compete, since he's very well known in the industry.



      Click on above image to see the entire film! 

  Nic Barker's film of a wedding guest going from one blunder to another is an excellent example of how comedy can be delivered in a short film.

The genius behind Barker's writing is that all of the blunders the ill-fated protagonist goes through are the very ones we've all experienced, thought of, worried over, or prayed that would not happen to us.

Because of this you can't help but put yourself in guest's shoes, and apparently this is what writer/director Barker did to learn about his main character, as well as the entire wedding. In his words:

"I think the thing I learned most about myself was my ability to focus on the scene, story and characters in the midst of a large scale production. We had 50 extras, a large crew, quite a few principal cast so it was a huge exercise in time management and concentration. What resulted was an amazing collaboration - allowing myself to refocus on each shot and how it contributed to the story, and by doing that we were actually able to maximize the people that we had at our disposal. It was fun and collaborative set - though full on, as we shot about 120 setups in 2 days!"


Zoe vanishes off the grid & out of her fiancée Marie's life, leaving behind one cryptic message via post-it note: 

I need space. 

Marie searches for answers across social media channels & becomes obsessed to discover the real meaning behind every tweet, email, text, and online profile that is associated with Zoe. 


Director Lisa Donator won for Best LGBT Film and Fawzia Mirza for Best Actress 


Both Amanda & I are fully aware of all the organization, promotion, and business elements that are required to host a film festival, so we had to ask:

What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with in producing the Big As Texas Short Film Festival...?

A few more of the many films selected for the Big As Texas Short Film Festival.


"Not knowing if anyone would submit, and if they did, would it be any good? 

Getting sponsors is really hard. We are still new, so we have a name to make, and until that time, it's a struggle. That, and there is a lot of competition, with about 30 festivals in Austin now. 

I suspect that will always be an issue, but everyone that attended had a good time, and it's just a matter of time before sponsors are coming to us. Just a matter of patience and diligence."


This had us ask the next logical follow up question after a film maker reflects on all of the difficulties they had to over come in creating something for the first time, and has visions of the next one: 

Where do you see the future of films heading? As an industry? Creatively? In distribution?  

"Since everything is digital and getting less expensive, it's gotten to where anyone can be a filmmaker. 

That's good and bad. 

Good because it offers those without a lot of resources the ability to create and learn. It 's bad because any yahoo can pick up a camera and call themselves a director. 

I can say for certain that those are not the films we will program, but everyone starts somewhere. There are a lot more platforms, websites, and distribution options. VOD is big... Everything is evolving. I don't think anyone can really predict exactly what is to happen to the industry. We've already seen the major decline of actual film, and now it's almost all digital."



Click on image above to see the trailer 

Amanda & I would like to note that Kevin's latest film PROMISE ME, has been selected to over 30 film festivals throughout the world in such prestigious events in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Austin Film Festival, and the International Independent Film Awards.  The film just took its 5th Best Screenplay award in Barcelona. 



And coming back to more selected films of the Big As Texas Film Festival:



There’s a mole in the organization, and Lionel doesn’t like moles. 

So, he’s brought his right hand men Nicky and Frank together, and he’s going to find out just who has a loose tongue, whatever it takes…

Director Richard Higson creates a tense mood for this gripping tale with superb lighting, pans, cuts, and camera movement.

The acting is first class with Danny Webb, Russell Tovey, David Schaal, & Martha Cope.  Check it out...here's how to tell a story in basically one location. 

Click on the image above to see the entire film! 



Click on the image above to see the entire film! 

The story is interwoven with motives of Slavic mythology, through which the authors are reviving nearly forgotten historical heritage & draw attention tot he often overlooked potential of the fantasy film genre in Slovenia.

While this can be described as a coming of age film, it also covers some other themes of growing up - independence, friendship, self-confidence, courage - in a very unique & mystical fashion.

Besides a great story, one gets to become entwined with Slavic culture, which in the age of encouraging diversity, its about time someone gave the Eastern Europeans their due.


 On a cold winter night, Laura reads to her brother David the story of a strange, frightening creature that attacks children. Suddenly a shiver runs throughout Laura's body... a feeling...of a strange presence in the house....

It's him!

Guess that's about all we can tell you without giving anything away...

But we can say this film has been accepted to nearly 350 film festivals around the world & has won nearly 100 "Best of..." awards.  

Director Ivan Villamel won here to, for Best Horror Film.



Of course, we are only showing you the tip of the iceberg of this fabulous festival...but whenever we run across someone who apparently nailed it on their first try we have to ask: 

What advice can you give others who wish to have a festival?


Kevin Machate, Filmmaker & Big As Texas Short Film Festival Director 

"Do it how YOU want to do it. 

There are some festivals that I didn't particularly enjoy, but the organizers did their own thing. That's great. Do that. I'm going to do my thing, and this is it. 

I talk to a lot of other festival organizers, and we all have pretty much identical issues. Talk to a few of us before starting anything like this, because when you hear the repeated stories from several people, you'll know what to expect."


 Great advice, Kevin, thank-you so much for sharing that, and all your time to create a great festival, as well as to help us get this report out...!