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SXSW '06 Interview: 'The Cassidy Kids' Director Jacob Vaughan

by Scott Weinberg

The 'Cassidy Kids' Pitch: Murder, memory and Saturday morning television collide in The Cassidy Kids. Five suburban kids solve a murder in 1980 and a popular children's TV show is based on their real-life adventures. Twenty five years later,the estranged friends reunite for the DVD release of the series but one of them arrives with a dark secret.

Describe your movie using the smallest number of words possible.
Five kids who solved a mystery in 1980 reunite 25 years later for the DVD release of a TV series based on their exploits, only to discover that their juvenile detective work didn¹t quite connect all the dots.

Is this your first trip to SXSW? Got any other film festival experience? If you’re a festival veteran, let us know your favorite and least-favorite parts of the ride.
I've had 2 shorts and 1 feature that I produced/edited (Dear Pillow) in the SXSW festival in years past. Dear Pillow and Pleasureland went around the world and I did my best to travel with it, but at some point you just have to throw in towel. Festivals are a lot of fun and then you wake up with a headache and you realize that you're getting too old to be drinking this much. Though nothing beats catching a film that leaves your jaw on the ground, your heart in your mouth, or your stomach in a knot. It doesn't happen very often, but that's part of what makes the experience special.

Back when you were a little kid, and you were asked that inevitable question, your answer would always be “When I grow up I want to be a …” what?
I wanted to be an engineer. I had this idea (probably because everyone told me) that engineers designed and built cool stuff, and that's what I wanted to do, design and build cool stuff. Eventually that morphed into an aeronautical and astronautical engineer as I became more interested in airplanes. I started flying when I was 14 and received my private pilots license when I was 18. I enrolled in Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana (hometown of Axel Rose) where I began to trod thru the ice, snow, physics, and chemistry. But it wasn't to be. I just couldn't dig the math out of my mind and my desires drove me to that ever present attraction to film which began long before I was born. I had to make a change and so I transferred to the University of Texas and started taking production classes. My grades went from C's to A's but in film A's don't even matter, so I tried to make interesting films. I'm still trying.

Not including your backyard and your Dad’s Handycam, how did you get your real “start” in filmmaking?
Before I transferred from Purdue to UT, I spent a semester at the University of Houston in attempt to boost my GPA. While in Houston I pestered some producers at the local PBS station, KUHT, into hiring me. I landed a job as an assistant editor on a hour-long documentary about World War II airplanes that had been restored to flying condition. That was my first real start. After that I started experimenting with super-8 film, and then I began production classes at UT.

Of all the Muppets, which one do you most relate to?
Fozzy Bear. He tries, he really tries.

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
During shooting I try to stay focused on the work that needs to get done that day. The tunnel of filmmaking is long and dark and there's a feeling that the end is far far away. But now that we're 3 weeks away from our premiere, I can now let myself anticipate and get excited about how people/critics will react.

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition? Did you watch any movies in pre-production and yell “This! I want something JUST like this …only different.”?
Growing up I wanted to be a Goonie -- a Spielberg kid. I loved everything he did. And then Cassavettes came along and tore that dream apart, gave me something to be uncertain about in terms of what I wanted to do with film. I never wanted to be just like anyone else, though I've wished I could have been a part of some of the great pieces of cinema history.

Say you landed a big studio contract tomorrow, and they offered you a semi-huge budget to remake, adapt, or sequelize something. What projects would you tackle?
The books of Carlos Castaneda. The Teachings of Don Juan, Journey to Ixtlan, and the rest.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
Tiger Darrow. Because she's amazing and the camera loves her and she's intelligent enough to know what matters in life and what doesn't.

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d almost definitely be... architect.

Who’s an actor you’d kill a small dog to work with? (Don’t worry; nobody would know.)
Jeffrey Tambor.

You’re told that your next movie must have one “product placement” on board, but you can pick the product. What would it be?
KageLiner - -- My mother made it.


The Cassidy Kids, starring Kadeem Hardison, Anne Ramsay, Judah Friedlander, and Tiger Darrow, will premiere at the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for festival information, and be sure to check out the official The Cassidy Kids website.

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originally posted: 02/19/06 06:36:02
last updated: 02/19/06 06:36:53
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