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Augustine Frizzell: Tackling Challenging Issues Through Film

by Mashal Noor 6 Nov 2014 2:41 PM

This week on Frame of Mind, watch a selection of shorts from the Dallas International Film Festival!


This week on Frame of Mind, watch a selection of shorts from the Dallas International Film Festival!

  • Tune in to KERA TV on Thursday at 10 PM to catch this week’s episode!

Here is a list of the shorts being shown as a part of this week’s episode:

  • Blur by Courtney Ware – This short follows a woman struggling to work on her next commissioned painting, causing her to be pulled into the blurring realities.
  • I Was A Teenage Girl by Augustine Frizzell – One night, after an intense breakup, close friends Emma and Jesse have a heartfelt conversation that challenges the boundaries of their friendship in an unexpected way.
  • Dig by Toby HalbrooksDig tells of a young girl making a connection with her father, after watching him dig a hole in their backyard.


Claire Stuart Meiner (left) and Atheena Frizzell (right) starring as Emma and Jesse in I Was A Teenage Girl.

On the idea behind this short:

It started because I have a daughter myself – she is 15, so she was 14 at the time.  I noticed her going through a lot of challenging things in her life.  Nothing like what happened in the movie, but just various things.  I had noticed her eyes being opened to things that, maybe a year before, she hadn’t known existed.  At that time in a girl’s life, there are a lot of changes, and I just wanted to explore some that maybe me or my daughter had never experienced, but that maybe other girls were going through.  So I initially made three shorts and all three of them were about issues like this.  I made all three of them on the same weekend and I Was A Teenage Girl was just one of the three.  That was the idea – to explore these different events that are challenging at that age.

On working with her daughter:

Working with my daughter was great!  She’s awesome!  We’ve had a good relationship from the get go, so it would only make sense that it was easy to work with her.  She’s a great actress and takes directions really well, so she was great!

On the process of creating this short:

I started by writing one short, but it was longer than what I had wanted it to be and had too many elements.  When you’re working on a short, you want to keep it pretty simple and streamlined with a focus on and explore just one topic.  The short that I wrote was covering too much, so I decided to split it up into three.  Then I got in touch with a friend of mine, Hutch [Muselessmime], she’s the one who shot it.  I told him about the idea, that I had my daughter, we could find another girl that we know, and that we could just shoot it on her [Canon] 5D, which is a pretty simple camera.  He told me that he thought we could get access to this really really nice camera, so if I wanted to use the Alexa, I could use the Alexa.  At that point, you can’t really say not to the offer of using a camera like that, so I said okay.  From then, it became a lot bigger than what it had been after the camera came on board, which is kind of silly.  At first, we were just going to shoot it at our house, with my daughter, in her room, and with natural life because it was no big deal.  But it turned into a much bigger production – we had a whole crew, we had access to an empty condo and our production designer dressed the whole thing.  It was kind of crazy because it just got so big.  The one that will be showing, I Was A Teenage Girl, was actually shot in my daughter’s room.  We got all sorts of new set decorations, added some lights, and did makeup and hair of course.

Augustine Frizzell. Photo: Sergio Garcia

Augustine Frizzell. Photo: Sergio Garcia

On the biggest challenge:

Everything was fairly straightforward and fairly easy.  I guess the biggest challenge was the subject matter.  The two girls, my daughter being one of them, ahead of time they were really excited, but when the day came, it was really nerve wracking and scary.  Neither of them had ever kissed anyone before and here they were, doing their first kiss, with another girl, on camera.  It was a little bit heavy.  So that day that we were shooting was a little tense, we had to make sure everyone stayed calm because both girls were just so young.  They were both 14 and the other girl had actually never had any film experience.  As soon as we got past the first take, everything was simple from then on.  They were like “Oh! That wasn’t hard – that was actually pretty easy!”

On making indie films in Texas:

It’s really supportive and great.  We have a lot of outlets – not only in Dallas, but organizations like the Austin Film Society is huge.  Even here in Dallas, Bart Weiss is huge and awesome, and there are organizations like the Dallas Video Fest that are great.  I wrote a feature, submitted it, and got a grant from Austin Film Society, which is huge.  I would not have been able to move forward without that grant – but we would have found a way eventually.  It wasn’t just helpful financially, but it was also a sense of credibility added to the project so it’s just really great.

On her favorite Texas filmmaker:

Umm, I don’t know – that’s really hard because my husband’s a Texas filmmaker [David Lowery]!  I would feel really biased I said he was my favorite, but he’s just really awesome.

On her future filmmaking plans:

I just finished my feature, which is where all my time and energy has been going recently.  I’m actually editing that right now.  I have more scripts ready.  It was a big decision to make the one that I made over another one that I was really fond of.  Once I’m finished with the edit process and another festival circuit with that one (I hope), I’m looking forward to getting to work on my next film.

On being included in the Frame of Mind series on KERA:

I’m so excited – I think it’s so great!  It’s really, really special to bring these shorts together.  You know we make shorts for a number of reasons, but ultimately, for me, I make films to show them and to let other people see my work and be touched by my work.  It’s a huge advantage and helpful to have this short being shown on Frame of Mind.  I’m super excited and super, super pleased about being chosen!

You can learn more about I Was A Teenage Girl on its Facebook page.