It may not be Hollywood but Austin has made a name for itself on the silver screen with its fair share of movies that all display the diversity the city has to offer.
These movies will have you pointing at the screen, shouting "I've been there!"
Directed by quintessential Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater, who started the Austin Film Society, "Boyhood" takes place in a small town in Texas and follows the life of Mason Jr. and his childhood in its entirety. The movie was filmed over the course of 12 years, using the same actors throughout. "Boyhood" has been credited with putting several Texas locations on the map. This movie is truly an Austin showcase—putting Texas at the forefront tends to be Linklater's niche—and there are plenty of icons to choose from.
"Boyhood" showcased Dart Bowl Cafe, formerly located on 5700 Grover Avenue, when Mason's father, played by Austin native Ethan Hawk, took him and his sister bowling after an untimely divorce. The institution closed in July due to the pandemic. The hybrid bowling alley and eatery had been open for 60 years.
Next, Mason heads to Pedernales Falls State Park, in Blanco County, where he and his father spend a few days camping together in the Hill Country.
Though it is certainly not the end of the Austin references in the film, Mason and his girlfriend Sheena also visit the Continental Club, at 1315 South Congress Avenue, which is widely renowned for cultivating South Congress and the live music scene in Austin.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Another Linklater classic, "Dazed and Confused" is a retroactive Austin A-list film. From the movie that brought you Matthew McConaughey's first feature film and his iconic line, "Alright, alright, alright," this classic is yet another that is full of Austin landmarks.
The immediately recognizable Top Notch Hamburgers, at 7525 Burnet Road, serves as the film's local burger joint. And to wash it down, you might want to run over to the Centennial Liquor, long closed but formerly on 6534 N. Lamar Blvd., and pick up a "sixer." After that, we heard there's a party at the moon tower going on at West Enfield Park, 2008 Enfield Road.
Heartbreak Hotel (1988)
This 1988 comedy, written by Chris Columbus, was filmed entirely in Austin. Sharing the same name as the famous Elvis Presley song, the film follows Johnny Wolfe's kidnapping of the singer to send him on a date with his mother. Though everything you see in the movie came from either Austin or Taylor, Texas, as the end credits state, the movie was filmed at Green Pastures, a historic Victorian house and restaurant located at 811 W Live Oak St.
Office Space (1999)
From soul-crushing job to revenge plan adventure, "Office Space" is a new age classic. The Initech Office is real, though it goes by a different name, and it's right here in Austin, located at 4120 Freidrich Lane. That isn't all, in fact, many of the mundane scenes you see in the movie are in Austin. Watch closely as Peter drives to work and you might see a few familiar sights along Braker Lane, stop by Chase Bank on 9739 Great Hills Trail to see the exterior of Chotchkie's, where Jennifer Aniston was forced to wear her "flair," or head home to the Morningwood Apartments, actually called the Trails at Walnut Creek, located on 11511 Metric Blvd.
Temple Grandin (2010)
This moving biopic recounts a girl who overcomes the challenges of autism during a time when the disorder was very misunderstood. Out of several filming locations in the running, including Arizona and New Mexico, Austin won out for the production of "Temple Grandin," a true story revolving around a girl of the same name, who was born autistic and non-communicative. The film started production at Austin studios in 2008 and ended the movie with a scene at the Austin Convention Center.
True Grit (2010)
Following teenager Mattie, with help from U.S. Marshal Reuben Cogburn, tracking down her father's murderer in a trek across the Texan frontier, "True Grit" was filmed all over Texas. Even though the movie takes place in Texas, the scene filmed in Austin passes as Memphis, Tennessee in the film. Stop by 110 East 9th St. and look for the Austin Club, formerly the Millett Opera House, to see where the film closes off. The filming was very careful—not a high rise in sight!
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Following a family in an Iowa small town just trying to get by, the oldest brother, Gilbert, must take charge of his severely overweight mother and mentally impaired brother. Although this drama, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, wasn't technically filmed within Austin city limits, head just 16 miles east to Manor and you'll see a lot of familiar Endora landmarks. Just about everything was filmed in Manor: the water tower, downtown, the Carver house and Becky's campsite. The one thing that wasn't filmed there was the Grape house, which stood on Hodde Lane outside Pflugerville. It isn't there anymore but fans of the movie know why—if it still was, there would be no ending.
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Six days a week, thousands of onlookers tune in to live streams to watch the pros rake it all in at high-stakes poker tournaments. The big-name poker players aren't in Las Vegas or even Oklahoma's finest casinos—instead, they're where Texas Hold 'Em gets its name.
Gambling may be illegal in Texas, but over a hundred poker houses are using a loophole to open up shop across the state, especially in Austin and Dallas.
The classic poker game is finally getting played for real cash around the Lone Star State thanks to an exception in Texas' gambling ban that allows poker games to be played in private residences. Instead of taking a cut from the pot like traditional gambling ventures, private poker houses don't make money from the results of a game; instead, they get their revenue from membership and hourly fees.
It's a business strategy that's gone (mostly) unchallenged by Texas politicians, especially as the industry begins to heat up.
Austin may now have around 20 poker houses around town, but it wasn't long ago that one stood alone like a small town saloon. The city's premiere poker house, Texas Card House, was founded in 2015 and has since grown to include a YouTube channel with over 30,000 subscribers, a wide range of gameplay and regular visits from big-name poker gurus like Brad Owen and Doug Pope.
David Lagana, a content creator who has worked in college sports and Hollywood, was brought into the scene in May as the house's live streams began to blow up. He said the live streaming battleground is only beginning.
"The space is ever-growing," Lagana said. "It's been interesting to try and find a lane that everybody can succeed. It's all about finding something that people want to watch on a nightly basis."
Can Player BLUFF Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen on LIVE Stream?
Watch now - https://t.co/4Wt4s5Z0V7@TheBradOwen @andrewneeme pic.twitter.com/Yg4R0c0sj2
— Texas Card House (@texascardhouse) August 25, 2021
Carolyn Hapgood, who has worked for Texas Card House for three years, has made a name for herself as a live stream producer, dealer and player herself with the company. She's seen Texas Card House grow from a two-room card house to the most well-known poker venue in Austin with another branch in Dallas.
"It was a teeny tiny little house with five tables, and that was the first legal card house in the state," Hapgood said. "And since then it's blown up."
Texas Card House dealer Carolyn Hapgood has been working with Austin's premier poker house since 2018. (Texas Poker House Austin/Facebook)
From $100 pots to buy-ins of $15,000 or more, Texas Card House has it all, especially as in-state players learn more about the game. Hapgood said there isn't really a typical poker player at the house—instead, the poker table forms an "interesting little ecosystem" that includes college students, a 93-year old Vietnam War veteran, online gamblers, old-school players and everyone in between. The diversity at the table has been enhanced even further by COVID as people clamor to return to in-person events.
But Texas Card House no longer holds a "royal flush" in Austin's poker culture. The Lodge, based in Round Rock, is now expanding to over 60 tables, the largest in Texas, while Palms Social Club, owned by Texas Card Houses' original owner Sam Von Kennel, brought service staff and a refined atmosphere to the Austin scene.
Hapgood said the base of poker players is very large and continues to grow, forming a community as players form friendships on and off the table.
"My favorite part of the poker community is how much fun we have," Hapgood said. "You sit at a table with eight of your friends, everyone's kind of just having a good time. There's a lot of players who will, you know, call or text each other after they're done playing, and they end up inviting each other barbecues, and going out to dinner with their families and stuff like that... those are my favorite people to hang out with."
Getting involved in the poker scene is as easy as tuning into a live stream, and Lagana hopes to see more outsiders like himself get inspired by poker in the future.
"It's kind of like life," Lagana said. "Life isn't just one hand to play... you're only in control of sort of what's in your hand (and) you can't play the card that you weren't dealt with. So it's really been a fascinating life lesson for me."
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From four-time Grammy-nominee turned big-screen actor, Black Pumas frontman Eric Burton will debut in the sci-fi short film "Devexity," which is written, directed by and stars Austinites.
The film, brought to life by Austin-based filmmaker Luke Lidell, will premiere on Oct. 7 at the Native Hostel while Burton is in town for Austin City Limits Fest. Then, "Devexity" will head off to film festival screenings, according to a report by The Austin Chronicle.
Following Burton as the film's protagonist, named Jean, "Devexity" takes place across several different settings and surfaces an existential response from the watcher. Burton stars alongside fellow Austinites Ali Pentecost, Dominique Pitts and New Yorker Madison Murrah in the partially black-and-white film.
The film was shot over the course of four days in October 2020, which Lidell said was a challenge of "focus" and "trust" to create. With a variety of scenes and intertwining narratives, the film dives into the topic of virtual reality.
A musician in addition to a filmmaker, Lidell previously directed the film "Telekinetic" in 2018. The script for "Devexity" was written by Lidell with Burton in mind for the lead after meeting him during a music video project in 2017—Lidell said Burton helped him shape the characters along the way.
Now that the door has been opened for work between Burton and Lidell, you're likely to see the pair collaborate again—a Black Pumas documentary is being rumored.
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The University of Texas at Austin welcomed more incoming freshmen than ever before, with 9,060 new Longhorns, thanks to the rise of on-time graduations allowing the university to admit more undergraduates.
The count was taken on the 12th day of class, Sept. 10, beating out the previous high of 8,960 from 2018. The new class is also setting records for its diversity, citing a rise of Black, Hispanic and Asian undergrads.
@UTAustin is serving more first-generation and historically underrepresented groups than ever, while raising grad rates for all, including our growing population of Pell-eligible students pic.twitter.com/qYQPEfUXG4
— Jay Hartzell (@JCHartzell) September 20, 2021
"People all across the UT community have been working hard to recruit, attract, retain and support even more talented and diverse students, staff members and faculty members who can change the world," UT President Jay Hartzell said. "I'm proud that our combined enrollment of historically underrepresented groups has reached record levels for the second year in a row."
A 3% enrollment rise can be attributed to UT's all-time high graduation rates: the four-year graduation rate rose from 72.2% to 72.7%, while the six-year student rate rose from 87.6% to 87.7%.
Of the 51,992 students on UT's campus, 13,366, or 29.6%, come from historically underrepresented groups—including Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander—one of the highest totals out of the Association of American Universities and a record-breaking percentage.
With this new class, the university is also serving more first-generation students and Hispanic students than ever before, making up 22.9% and 27.1% of the undergrad student body, respectively. Last year, UT hit a quota of 25% Hispanic students to qualify as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and received the Seal of Excelencia for its commitment to the success of Latin students.
Black students fell just a bit, from 5.3% to 5.2% university-wide, though the actual enrollment amount is up, from 2,193 to 2,219.
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