Texans Spliced Into Film
Young artists part of ‘Something Wild’
by Michael Point
Special to the American – Statesman
Jonathan Demme’s new comedy / thriller Something Wild, opening Friday, is a major return to commercial glory for the director of Melvin and Howard and Stop Making Sense. It’s also a movie with strong ties to Texas.
Something Wild follows straight-laced young businessman Ted Daniel (Purple Rose of Cairo) as he becomes a passive kidnap victim of Melanie Griffith (Body Double) for a weekend of thrills and chills that escalates with deadly rapidity.
In addition to an excellent soundtrack with Texas music by Austin’s Timbuk 3 and Houston’s The Judys, Austin’s film community is represented, but you have to look fast to catch it.
The work of local filmmakers Brian Hansen (Speed of Light) and David Boone (Invasion of the Aluminum People) receive fleeting exposure, courtesy of television programs within the movie. And with the box-office potential of Something Wild, their work will reach several million more eyes than ever before.
Hansen said Demme’s inclusion of the local films is indicative of the director’s decidedly non-Hollywood approach to filmmaking.
“Jonathan has been successful enough that he could do anything he wants, but he likes to keep his feet planted in the underground,” he said. “He’s very supportive of independent filmmakers and it’s not just a matter of lip service.”
Hansen said the Demme / Texas connection is not a new one. “I’ve known Jonathan for about four years now,” he added. “He came to Austin at that time for a small festival of his films and saw some of our work. We hit it off right away and he offered to help in any way he could. I thought that was nice, but I didn’t really expect much to come of it. But he took our films around with him and opened them in New York and a bunch of other places.
The relationship was reaffirmed when Demme was in Texas shooting the Talking Heads concerts that eventually became Stop Making Sense. Hansen and Boone also worked with the head Head, David Byrne, on the music video for Naive Melody, which included generous helpings of Hill Country locales like Wimberly and Bastrop.
Hansen said his participation in Something Wild was unexpected despite the previous working relationship. “I got a call from Jonathan and he said there would be some opportunities to squeeze in some of our work if we were interested,” he said. “It didn’t take us long to say yes.” Hansen, whose Speed of Light has been shown in its entirety locally, is hoping the attention drawn to his work by Something Wild will benefit his future work.
“I have a feature film, a sort of high tech espionage black comedy, that starts production in December. It’s called Forward Lateral and it’s very much in the independent style that Demme has done so much to promote. There’s even a brief homage to Jonathan in it. I admire his work anyway, but it seemed particularly proper and fitting to do it in light of how much he’s helped our local filmmakers.”