Baylor alumnus brings ‘glamping’ to Austin Film Festival

Photo courtesy of Brandon Dickerson

By Kristina Valdez | Arts & Life Editor

Austin Film Festival: The Writer’s Festival began Thursday, welcoming writers, directors and filmmakers to share their art and stories until Sunday. Among the movies to be screened is Baylor alumnus Brandon Dickerson’s “Amanda & Jack Go Glamping.”

“The work is fiction, but I have to say that Jack certainly connects with my own story in terms of ‘fish out of water’ story,” Dickerson said. “And, somebody who has to wrestle with where they find their identity and that’s kind of what Jack’s going through. It was easy to write that.”

Brandon Dickerson

“Amanda & Jack Go Glamping” will be showing at 8 p.m. on Sunday at the Austin Film Festival. Dickerson and the actors who play Amanda and Jack, Amy Acker and David Arquette, will be speaking on a panel about the movie at 3 p.m.

The movie is about husband Jack (David Arquette) and wife Amanda (Amy Acker) leaving for a private glamping (glamorous camping) trip to rekindle their love. But, after they are double-booked, rejected author Jack must learn how let go and dive into love, friendship and peace.

Dickerson’s previous movies are “Sironia,” winning the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival in 2011, “Victor” and “A Single Frame.”

A group of film and digital media major students from Baylor will be attending the film festival. Houston sophomore Brian McAughan said he is excited for his first time at the festival.

“I want to go to the smaller screening, lesser known ones, so I can learn about how to create something on a smaller budget,” McAughan said.

San Antonio senior Jake Moore saw Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” opening night on Thursday.

“I think it is important to go to film festivals like this because you get to see films that may not otherwise be seen at all,” Moore said. “Indie filmmakers are able to share their art.”

Dickerson, originally from Southern California, graduated from Baylor in 1994 with a degree in English. Dickerson knew since he was 8 years old that he wanted to write and direct movies.

“I saw a movie called ‘The Champ’ and it made me cry,” Dickerson said. “I went back two weeks later to see the same film and it made me, cry again. I couldn’t believe knowing what was going to happen could still move me emotionally.”

After he graduated from Baylor, he got a job at a church in Albuquerque, N.M., making videos for their organization with the 16-mm film camera they bought him. Dickerson also made a short film while he was a part of New York University’s intensive program.

While in New Mexico, Dickerson began doing music videos for bands before leaving to work with a record label in the Bay Area. Dickerson has directed music videos for bands such as Switchfoot and Six Pence None the Richer. He has also been a part of projects with Disney and Pixar on their music video promotions, working on creative franchises like Narnia and Camp Rock.

“My early start was music videos then that turned into commercials, leading me into Hollywood,” Dickerson said.

In 2010, Dickerson, his wife Kirsten and his children moved back to Waco.

“We thought it was career-suicide, but that was when I wrote the film ‘Sironia,’” Dickerson said. “The interesting part of that story is that after a 15-year career getting record deals in Los Angeles, it wasn’t until I moved to Texas that I started writing feature films.”

After moving to Austin and shooting “Victor,” Dickerson and his wife bought a “glamping” retreat in 2013. Glamping, shortened for “glamorous camping,” moved Dickerson and his family into trailers 30 minutes outside of Austin.

“It’s the idea of unplugging, retreating and slow-living,” Dickerson said. “Life as a filmmaker is hectic, my wife owns a company called “Raven + Lily” and we have two children. We wanted simplicity and we radically downsized.”

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Breakfast scene from "Amanda & Jack Go Glamping"

Motivated by hospitality, Dickerson opened up the acres he was living on, Green Acres, to others who desired to experience the glamping lifestyle.

“It was liberating,” Dickerson said. “The tiny house part of our journey was really inspiring. We loved living simply.”

It took Dickerson wrote “Amanda & Jack Go Glamping” while living at his glamping retreat, Green Acres.

“I was writing on set,” Dickerson said. “I was literally writing on location. I loved the opportunity to dwell in the environment where the film takes place. I was able to pour all my personal perspective into the story.”

After a year of writing the script, Green Acres became a production set. Dickerson and his family moved out of their home for home to become a set. Dickerson slept in a couch in his office while his family rented an AirBNB.

“After we finished filming, it closed the chapter on our living there,” Dickerson said. “We exposed our home in such a way that it didn’t feel like our home — it felt like the world’s.”

Dickerson said it was a natural transition to move out of his glamping retreat, but living on Green Acres was an invaluable decision.

“The film would have never come about if it wasn’t for that experience,” Dickerson said.

For the Austin Film Festival, Dickerson said he is looking forward to people enjoying themselves.

“I have forgotten that I am supposed to be anxious,” Dickerson said. “I am more excited to share this film.”

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