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Kat Candler: Catching the Love Bug for Texas Filmmaking

by Mashal Noor 23 Sep 2014 5:35 PM

Kat Candler, an Austin based filmmaker, is being showcased on this week’s episode of Frame of Mind.


  • This week on Frame of Mind, we will be featuring a set of shorts created by Kat Candler, an independent filmmaker based in Austin, Texas.  This episode will include Love Bug, Roberta Wells, and Quarter to Noon.
  • Tune into KERA TV on Thursday, September 25 at 10 PM to catch this week’s episode.
Photo: Lauren Logan

Photo: Lauren Logan

On Love Bug:

I had written a one act play in college called The Spider in the Bathtub and my playwriting professor told me that I should think about turning it into a screenplay or a short film.  I hadn’t really thought about making movies – I had worked in a movie theater from the age of 15 all the way through college, but I didn’t really know how movies were made and that was one of my early thoughts of “Oh, maybe I should make movies!”

So when I moved to Austin, I decided to turn that one act play into a feature screenplay.  I tucked it into my writing folder and then years later, I got it back out and started rewriting it and then I got into this development program at Tribeca to try and get it off of the ground.  So as a sample from the feature, I pulled a scene and refashioned it into a 7 minute script.  That was how Love Bug came to be.

On Roberta Wells:

Photo: Kurt Volk

Photo: Kurt Volk

I was going through a terrible breakup and I had sworn off film for a little while and then I got the interest to make something again.  So I gathered up some of my friends and I kept thinking of my Great Aunt Urna, who had emphysema and had to carry her box around, and kept thinking about the elderly in my family and how in big gatherings, they become overlooked and a little bit forgotten about.  I wanted to take a slice of life and make something.  I gathered a bunch of friends for a really quick weekend shoot.

This was shot back in 2004 or 2003 so we were still back in the mini DV phase.  But I wanted it to have a kind of documentary style to it where you are questioning at first whether it is a documentary.  I also played with the idea of having two cameras filming from the beginning to the very end and following around these characters to see where they went.  So it was just a fun little experiment exercise to help me get back into filmmaking.

Photo: Kurt Volk

Photo: Kurt Volk

On Quarter to Noon:

I was working a desk job at an artificial intelligence software company at the time.  I had worked a day job all my life and it’s just sitting at a desk for 8-9 hours.  At that particular job I didn’t even have any windows in my office, it felt so isolated and cave like.  So I wanted to explore just getting out of that and following your dreams and your passions and what really makes you happy.

Making this film was actually really fun because it’s the only thing that I’ve ever done that had some kind of fantastical element to it.  So it was a lot of fun trying to figure out the design.  Also, because there’s no dialogue at all, I got to talk to my actors during actual shooting.  So I was actually able to talk to her through the whole thing, like “oh, what’s out the window?” or “oh, let’s go look.”  Things like that were really fun.  My sound designer and my composer were also really close friends, so they cooperated really well.  I also spoke with my composer about that Tim Burton-esque feel of magical realism.


On her most challenging short:

Quarter to Moon was probably the most challenging to make because it had more visual effects that we had to figure out and play with.  We literally brought this huge window into a park and had to set it up and figure out all of that.  That was in 2008 or 2007, it all feels like a really long time ago.

Photo: Rogelio Puente

Photo: Rogelio Puente

At the same time, Love Bug was really challenging because 9 year olds only last 4-5 hours and then they’re done.  You have to kind of squeeze in everything you can into the first half of the day and then they’re out and wanting to go play their gameboy.  But equally, they’re just a lot of fun and silly to hang out with and you get to do some really fun stuff with them.

On Indie filmmaking in Texas:

I think it’s something special.  I’ve grown up with so many of the filmmakers in Austin and Dallas, from the time we were making shorts and our first features, to now when so many of us are having successes over the last couple of years.  It’s been a really rewarding experience to share that with this many beautiful and unique voices from Texas.  Each person has their own style and voice and is very different and I think that’s something that makes Texas filmmaking and Texas filmmakers very unique.

On her favorite Texas filmmaker:

I have so many!  They’re all so great, from the Zellner brothers, to David Lowery, to Yen Tan, to Jeff Nichols, to the great David Gordon Green, to Heather Courtney, all of these folks are all really great storytellers who are taking interesting approaches to filmmaking; from the wacky kind of zany brand of humor, to the lyrical poetry of David Lowery, to the phenomenal storytelling of Jeff Nichols.  We all support each other and help each other out – David just gave me notes on a new script, and I’m actually going to lunch with David Zellner in a little bit – it’s a really tight knit group of folks and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the community.  There’s no competition either, which I feel like you may find in other cities, specifically in LA and New York, which is very rare.

On her future projects:

I had a short called Black Metal that was at Sundance in 2013 and I am currently expanding that into a feature right now.  I’m also reading a lot of books and writing scripts and trying to find something to adapt.

On being included in Frame of Mind

I think it’s awesome!  In Dallas, Bart Weiss and KERA have been a part of my growing up as a filmmaker for well over a decade.  I had a short in 2001 or 2002 that was on KERA, so it’s nice to go full circle and now have a collection of shorts to show as a full body of work.


You can find more of Kat Candler’s work on her website.