Documentaries Filmed in Austin, Texas

Documentary films have been quickly gaining popularity worldwide… And it isn’t just the film-festival crowds anymore.  Documentaries have gone mainstream. In late 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued new requirements for feature-length documentary entries.  To be eligible for an Oscar nomination, documentaries must be screened for seven days in either Los Angeles or New York City, as well as in 14 theatres in at least 10 states.

“Documentaries have become more popular as a distrust of mainstream media has grown…Viewers see documentarians as truth tellers. Documentaries make a different promise to viewers…A promise of a story told honestly with goodwill about something real. But the techniques used to tell the stories in fiction and nonfiction are the same. Editing, photography and sound techniques are just as important for documentaries as they are for fiction.”” -Patricia Aufderheide, an expert on documentary film at American University’s School of Communication.

Austin is home to many documentary filmmakers, and many documentaries have been filmed in the Austin area.  Here is a short list of Documentaries filmed (or at least partially filmed) in the Austin and Central Texas area.

The Unforeseen (2007)

A documentary about the development around Barton Springs in Austin, Texas, and nature’s unexpected response to being threatened by human interference.

Echotone (2010)

Echotone, a documentary about music culture in Austin, can best be described as a cultural portrait of the modern American city examined through the lyrics and lens of its creative class. Join us for the Echotone Sneak Preview Tour this Oct. 4 – Oct. 10 as we visit the west coast with the film and featured artists Sunset, The White White Lights, and Dana Falconberry.

American Drug War: The Last White Hope (2007)

Inspired by the death of four family members from “legal drugs” Texas filmmaker Kevin Booth sets out to discover why the Drug War has become such a big failure. Three and a half years in the making the film follows gang members, former DEA agents, CIA officers, narcotics officers, judges, politicians, prisoners and celebrities.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity, and love. The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a stunning portrait of a musical and artistic genius who nearly slipped away. Director Jeff Feurezeig exquisitely depicts a perfect example of brilliance and madness going hand in hand with subject Daniel Johnston.

Killer at Large (2008)

Killer at Large begins with a local obesity story from Austin (which made national headlines) and transitions into the epidemic of obesity in the U.S. Killer at Large 2008 An overview of the politics, social effects and problems associated with the rising epidemic of American obesity. Exploring the issue from individual, political, scientific and cultural perspectives, the film features appearances by Bill Clinton, Ralph Nader, Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona and others.

New Orleans Music in Exile (2006)

A documentary about the many well-known New Orleans musicians who were forced to leave the city by Hurricane Katrina, where they wound up, how (and if) they plan to return to the city.

Before the Music Dies (2006)

Made by Austin filmmakers Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen, This documentary tells the story of how the music industry has abandoned both artists and fans in its single-minded pursuit of corporate profits, the reason why so few companies currently control the music played on the radio and for sale at retail stores, and whether corporations really have the power to silence musical innovation.