Evidently the American Independent Film movement can trace its roots back to a movie made in Austin in 1979 entitled "The Whole Shootin' Match." Eagle Pennell was 26 years old when he made the film for somewhere between $30,000 and $45,000, and Robert Redford has cited it as one of his inspirations for starting the Sundance Institute. Roger Ebert wrote an influential review of the movie in 1980 and reviewed it again in 2007 after the film was restored from a print discovered in Germany (of all places). Up to that point the film and its negatives were believed to be lost forever to the ravages of time.
Eagle Pennell died in 2002. He had few mourners as he had spent the last two decades of his life drinking away every ounce of goodwill that his little movie about a pair of perpetually hungover slackers had earned him. The actor who played one of those slackers was Lou Perryman. Perryman had achieved a certain cult status during his modest acting career and was recently murdered in his South Austin home by an imbalanced 26-year-old. The second half of the duo, Sonny Carl Davis, spent much of the 80's and 90's taking small supporting roles in film and television. Recollections of their experiences in making the landmark movie and working with Pennell are captured in an interview here.
A copy of "The Whole Shootin' Match" is sitting in a Netflix sleeve in our entertainment center. I'll let you know what I think about it over here soon.