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The L: I liked the colors. You put together a palette that suggests a sense of place without showing landmarks or whatnot.
AB: There's no production designer on the movie. We sometimes move things around or we frame things in a certain intentionality, but we didn't paint a single wall in the movie. We knew that we were looking for colors and certainly were finding them everywhere we went. There was a certain Austin palette. I've done three films now and we've never shot a film in the city where I was writing it. But every time, when we've picked the city, it ends up being [like] a character. To me Beeswax is definitely an Austin movie, and it would have been very different if it was set anywhere else. And whether or not the city is a "character" is very similar to casting actors: once you plug someone in a world, the world becomes theirs.
The L: This is your third film working on a small scale. How was it this go-round — is the hustle getting old?
AB: I've only begun to scratch the surface of the world of big movies, and I don't think you have to hustle any less in that world, at least not until you're really fully established yourself. We might have passed the historical era where it's possible without hustling to get a film made. In many ways I'm a lazy person, so I would love not to have to climb a mountain every time, but I think that's the name of the game. It's felt like it's gotten more difficult every time: even though we've had a little more experience and a little more credibility, the challenges have mounted faster than the comfort or ease of getting it done.
I certainly feel like I'm at some sort of crossroads, but I don't know what's next for me. Broadly speaking, it seems that there are three categories of options, and within them a million subcategories. You know, try to do what everybody's been telling me to do since the first film: go big. Or try to stay on this path that we've been on, which I kind of like, perversely, because nobody will ever advise you to keep making smaller and medium-sized films that lose money. But part of what's always appealed to me about the films I've made is that I like making the film that nobody else is going to make. Either I'd do it and it exists in the world, or it doesn't exist in the world. And it's kind of maybe what's kept me from trying to sit down and write a more conventional genre piece. I have yet to figure out how I would do it in a way that couldn't be topped by a thousand other struggling screenwriters who are trying to do the same thing. The third option of course is that I should be making smaller, cheaper, weirder things, and that has an appeal too.