HOUSTON CRABB 001  Last summer, Women in Film & Television (Houston) and the Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) invited me to give a presentation on the expanding roles of a location manager. As a native Texan who worked there for almost 20 years in the media business, I was happy to return. This three-city lecture series provided me with the chance  to revisit Austin, Dallas and Houston – three different views of a vast state.  Texas is over 800 miles from El Paso to Houston, and.  Here is just a snapshot of what the state offers.

Houston – Space City – Bayou City – My HometownHOUSTON CRABB 007

Going back to my hometown was bittersweet. Old haunts of great restaurants, clubs and places you went as kid are faded, regenerated or torn down. Despite it being hotter than Hades, Houston Film Commission Deputy Director, Alfred Cervantes, took location scout, Ellen Warren, and myself scouting for a couple of days. We toured my old favorite spots and some great new ones. The newest twist was scouting via the Houston B-Cycle, a public bike share program for downtown. Every sixty minutes you drop the bike at a rack and switch to another one.

Houston, the fourth largest city in the nation in population, is green and has great roads with city landscapes, old 1900 buildings mixed in with Philip Johnson designed high rises. The Downtown has state of the art Metro trains; in minutes you can be across town to the Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros, and then be in what looks like the rural South.

Dallas – Big D

DALLAS CRABB 003I scouted Dallas with Susan Fowler, TXMPA president, and local LMGA Location Manager, Kim Davis, LMGA as my guides. I was given an insider’s look into this prosperous old money town.

Dallas has its brick buildings and modern, graphic skyscrapers, old bridges are flanked by new ones: a hodge podge of history and present day. Hotels like The Belmont, a 1940’s top-notch motor court, contrasts with the Omni Hotel overlooking the city – both hotels  illustrate the dynamic backdrops Dallas poses. Fair Park, with the largest collection of 1930’s Art Deco architecture in the US,  is a National Historic Landmark. Fairpark is home to the only 1950’s unaltered World’s Fair site in the nation.
Sitting on 80 acres, Architect George Dahl oversaw the redesign of these buildings as part of the 1950s World’s Fair—over 80 acres of architectural history! Bart Weiss, founder of the Video Association and VideoFest, the oldest and largest video festival in the US believes that Dallas offers independent, alternative and non commercial media makers a place to make and show their works. There is a vibrant arts scene that hosts musicians, artists and filmmakers. Neighborhoods are keeping their small town feel, while others are full of mansions from old and new Texas money.

Austin – The Capital  – Keep Austin Weird

AUSTIN  001Austin is a city that also mixes the old and new. Full of free thinkers, artists, political advocates and ‘Silicon of the South types’, the steps of the Capital building still host daily  demonstrations and picketing.

Some of the streets look like 1950’s. Sixth Street is row after row of bars with live music and great food.  It’s a college town with University of Texas students everywhere, dogs swimming in Town Lake and people trying to stay cool in the Texas heat.

It’s a scene, but come hell or high water, Austinites love their river city – young and old mixed into one.  It also provides a variety of locations with Lake Austin minutes away to area small towns, and their old time townsquare, quaint shops, country roads and Texas hill country.

Host of the SXSW Music and Film Festival, Austin is a creative mecca for  filmmakers. The City of Austin leased an old airport to the Film Society of Austin, a nonprofit created by Richard Linklater in 1986. As a result, the production property has space for independent and studio projects. FSA has been one of the leaders in keeping independent filmmaking alive in Texas.

Texas is big in size and opportunity, all with great locales for the right story.  You can hang your hat on it!

Kim Crabb is a Los Angeles-based Location Manager.