San Antonio writer/director Mark Dennis and Austin producer/director Ben Foster continue to receive more praise and accolade for their movie STRINGS, as it won the Audience Choice Award at the 2011 White Sands International Film Festival (WSIFF) this weekend.
STRINGS, filmed in Austin, San Antonio, and Queens, NY, has been named official selections for the upcoming Hollywood, Tulsa, and Route 66 film festivals.
The movie, debuting at various festivals this summer, recently won Dennis and Foster the Best Director Award at the Long Island International Film Expo.
STRINGS also won Best Cinematography by Mike Simpson, Best Supporting Actor by Jack Lee, and honorable mention for Best Supporting Actress by 10-year-old Olivia Draguicevich from Austin at the New York based festival. It was nominated for Best Feature, Best Story, and Best First Feature.
The filmmaking duo shared directing and producing duties on STRINGS, the independent dramatic thriller written by Dennis.
Draguicevich, Dennis, and Foster were on hand with other cast and crew members in Las Cruces as the WSIFF presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to actor Val Kilmer.
Other celebrities attending the event were Linda Hamilton, Tony Award winner Mark Medoff, Chris Payne Gilbert and Lena Georgas.
Billy Harvey, an Austin actor-musician, plays the lead character in STRINGS.
It’s the tale of a troubled man who, after the death of his daughter, undergoes experimental therapy to turn his life around, Foster explains.
“When the therapist calls for him to leave everything behind and take on a new identity, the musician realizes his new life isn’t what it seems and his therapist is using patients to commit vigilante crimes,” Foster summarizes. “After eight years as a criminal, he sneaks back to visit the life he left behind.”
STRINGS includes “The Greatest Escape,” a song by Harvey that was awarded Best Original Song at the Breckenridge Film Festival recently.
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST, BEST THRILLER
Harvey, Elle LaMont, Karl Anderson, Jack Lee, Draguicevich, Chris Potter, and Danny Dasent won the Best Ensemble Cast for their performances in STRINGS at the San Francisco Best Actors Film Festival.
The Best Thriller award will be presented to STRINGS at the upcoming Route 66 Film Festival in Springfield, IL next month.
Dennis indicates that part of the movie was filmed in San Antonio.
“We actually were able to use a wing of the downtown Baptist Hospital while it was vacant for remodeling for an entire day of shooting,” Dennis said.
Dennis was inspired at age 13 by reading a book by Robert Rodriguez, who made the movie ‘El Mariachi.
Dennis recalled “His ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ showed me that if he was from San Antonio and could make a movie, then I can too.”
SAN ANTONIO AND BOERNE
Dennis grew up in the Brookhollow neighborhood and attended Thousand Oaks Elementary School. His family moved to Boerne in 1995 where he went to Boerne High School and graduated from Vanguard Institute “where I first discovered I could make films with friends.”
A graduate of St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in Westlake, Foster attended the University of Texas at Austin where he teamed up with Dennis on several short films.
“Living in Austin was so encouraging to learning more about shooting film,” Foster explains. “In high school I developed a presence for being the go to guy for working on video projects.”
Foster attributes the creative world of movie making in Austin as being a friendly, receptive, and encouraging environment to learn in.
“This was a movie that wanted to be made,” states Foster. “Every struggle, every obstacle, and all the challenges we faced at each point forced Mark into rewrites that made the story even better.”