Short film ‘Frog’ shot in Liberty Hill
By Rachel Madison
If you’ve ever thought Liberty Hill was the perfect backdrop for a movie, you’re not the only one.
Austin resident Patricia Eakin feels the same way, which is why she just wrapped up filming an independent short film in Liberty Hill that she plans on submitting to film festivals worldwide.
The film, called “Frog,” is written and directed by Eakin, and is based on a character of the same name from a feature film Eakin also wrote that is currently in pre-production called “Texas Rose.”
“‘Texas Rose’ is about a girl who grows up in Shiner, Texas, on a farm and after a few twists of fate in her family she ends up alone on the farm being raised by the ghost of her godmother,” Eakin said. “Her uncle, Frog, checks in on her every now and then.”
Frog is a blue-collar worker in small town Texas who dreams of becoming a writer. The film “Frog” focuses on a specific time in Frog’s life when he has a failed attempt to commit suicide.
“Frog has a greater story line in ‘Texas Rose,’ but in the short film it’s about the time he decided to take his own life and it didn’t quite work out that way,” Eakin said. “The genre of the film is magical realism. That’s where you’re in a realistic setting, but magical things can happen. ‘Frog’ takes place in a small town where magical things happen. Even though the people in the town have their hardships, the town has this ethereal thing to it where everyone ends up okay. Frog tries to commit suicide, but there’s a twist of fate and it doesn’t work out for him and he has a change of perspective. The question is, was this just coincidence or another example of this town being just a little bit magical?”
Filming for “Frog” wrapped up earlier this week. The cinematographer for the film is David Ozmun, while Thom Hallum and Alyx Irene Gonzales star. Supporting roles include actors Josiah Marcel McLean, Magnus Xavier Bishop and Zander Tracy. The film will now be edited and go through post-production, and then it will be submitted to film festivals worldwide, like Cannes and Sundance. Eakin is hoping for acceptance into the 2019 festivals.
The entire film except for the narration was filmed in Liberty Hill. Most of the scenes were shot at 200 Hickman Street in downtown Liberty Hill, while a few other scenes were filmed in nondescript areas on the outskirts of town.
The home’s owner, David Furry, is used to having filming equipment around his home. Two years ago, right after he purchased the house, it was the site of a zombie horror film called “Beyond the Night.”
“This house was built in 1904 and was the first house in Liberty Hill to have electricity and running water,” he said. “The first bankers in Liberty Hill lived here. There was also another move filmed here in the 90s, long before I bought it.”
Eakin knew about the home as the ideal filming location for “Frog” because she acted in “Beyond the Night” and also runs a salsa dancing event business with Furry.
“When he had just purchased the place, I was acting in [‘Beyond the Night’],” Eakin said. “It needed another location so I asked him and we shot the movie here. The minute I saw Liberty Hill I knew I wanted to film here. That’s when I knew Liberty Hill had the look and feel of what I’m going for for ‘Texas Rose’ as well as ‘Frog.’ It just seemed like a very rich environment to film in. And the community here has been great.”
Eakin said production of ‘Texas Rose” is contingent on getting exposure and funding. A trailer has been produced as part of the pitch package, and she hopes to film it in summer 2019. She’s hoping “Frog” will help “Texas Rose” come to fruition.
“A lot of times short films are called proof of concept,” she said. “The short film is a proof of concept for ‘Texas Rose.’ Ideally people will see ‘Frog’ and say, ‘I like this. Do you think you could stretch it out?’”
Eakin grew up acting and participating in theaters in Austin, but when she started falling asleep in school due to a rigorous rehearsal schedule, her parents decided it wasn’t best for her.
“Fast forward to college and adulthood, and my dad on his deathbed asked me why I didn’t become an actor,” she said. “I thought my parents weren’t okay with that, but as soon as he said that, I signed up for an acting class and went from there. I’ve always written and enjoyed storytelling, so I hit the ground running and took every class I could and started interning at a studio. I started working in bars saving up money, and I started my salsa business with David. I saved up and bought a camera, and then a lens and then a tripod. I did whatever I could do and it’s built up to this point where I have people who have been involved in other projects I’ve done and were eager to work with me.”
Although Eakin has self-produced eight or nine projects, this is the first film she’s done that she intends to distribute.
“This was the first screenplay I’ve written,” she said. “It’s very near and dear to my heart. As we’ve filmed things, I’ve realized how much of myself and how much of the influences in my life are in the script. I thought I just had a story come into my head that I thought I better write down, but everything that’s in there I’ve mined out of my life, from things that have happened to me or stories people have told me. You realize as you’re watching it what your influences have been, but it wasn’t on purpose.”
Because Eakin is so emotionally tied to “Frog,” she didn’t want it to be another experimental film that she shot on her own. That’s why she hired a cinematographer, a sound engineer and professional actors.
“I really want this film to be done well,” she said. “A lot of people think of small-town Texas as the stereotype. I grew up in Austin in a completely urban situation, but I also know how to ride a horse and dig up thistles. In Texas, we are this mix of urban and rural, and that’s not explored [in film]. You’re either Dallas or a country bumpkin. I want to show people outside of Texas that we are urban and rural. I want to honor what it’s like to be from Texas.”
Per film festival regulations, “Frog” can’t be shown to the public before it does the festival circuit, Eakin said. However, after its festival run, she intends on putting it up on either Vimeo or YouTube.