The Austin Pendleton Project: Where The Work Is

An intimate documentary film exploring the life and work of eccentric actor, director, writer and mentor Austin Pendleton.

Who is Austin Pendleton?

Austin is a bit of an enigma. He has been described as a magical little elf, a thespian Yoda, the Maharishi of drama, “the sexiest man I’ve ever met”, among others.
Austin has had an illustrious five-decade-long career appearing in over 77 movies and has been involved with more plays than any theater historian can count.  He has racked up a myriad of diverse credits, from Shakespeare in Central Park and Broadway to Christmas with the Cranks, plays by Chekhov, Miller, and Ibsen, to Finding Nemo.  He has also appeared in classics like What’s Up Doc? and Catch-22, to the HBO series Oz, The Muppet Movie and Mr. Nanny.  On top of all that, he’s taught acting for forty years, written seven plays and directed all over the country and recently The West End.
Despite Austin’s veteran status and the great respect he’s earned over the years, the path has never been certain.  Austin’s career has not been without major roadblocks, decades of harsh criticism, blacklisting from Broadway, and the battling a lifelong stutter.  Despite all of these ups and downs he continues to move with a pilgrim-like devotion from one project to the next.  Austin has always gone, and continues to go, where the work is.

The Project:

This film is about Austin, the man and the artist but more than that, it is an exploration of what it means to be successful.  Our production team is comprised of working actors and artists in New York, and Austin’s story has a very special meaning to us. The directors of the film met working on an off-Broadway production directed by Austin and have been students and peers of his ever since.  This film started with a camera and a simple objective of recording a how-to-video for actors, but has grown to encompass a human story of struggle, passion, and endurance.
Everyday for the last three years we have been working, fighting and contemplating how to bring this story to a wider audience.  While confronting our own insecurities and doubts during the making of this film we continually found ourselves looking to Austin for further inspiration.  His work and life as an artist reminds us to follow his example and go where the work is.
Captured in over 80 hours of footage, we have extensively interviewed Austin, watched him teach, act, direct, check his daily email, and even wash up in a sink after getting locked out of a backstage shower. 
This story will not just be told through our eyes but with the incredible support from his colleagues famous and unknown.  We are thankful for the artists that have donated their time in sharing how Austin has affected them, as an actor, director, mentor, and friend.  Interviews thus far include: Meryl Streep, Olympia Dukakis, Natalie Portman, Louis Zorich, Laurie Metcalf, Charles Evered, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and many others.

How Your Donations Will Help:


Additional Shooting

We have the majority of our film shot but still have a few key pieces to complete before we wrap.  These include Austin’s childhood home in Warren, Ohio and the first theater where Austin (and his mother) performed in Trumball, Ohio.  We also need to shoot a few more important interviews (which often require travel).  Due to the nature of our subject and his relentless pursuit of his art, our film requires the flexibility to follow and document Austin’s work to any place that it may take him between now and the completion of the film.  He is notoriously busy and this is a tremendously important part of our story!

Editing and Post Production

Once you stop shooting and adding to the footage, a film is MADE in the editing room.  This begins our Post Production phase.  Our greatest need is to hire an editor who is capable of handling the labor and the many, many hours it will take to bring this film to life. (We have had the generosity of an editor working for free for the last two years and would not have come this far without her!)  With over 80 hours of footage to date, hundreds of pages of transcripts, source materials, pictures and archival footage, this is a full time job and will take 3-4 months (we want to lock-in the final picture by January) to complete.  We need a FULL-TIME EDITOR to join the team and help us tell Austin’s story and put together the best film possible.

Archival Footage and Music Rights

After you lock picture on your film (the editing portion), you start down the path of securing festival rights to use archived footage (film and television work), photographs (theater work) and music (we all have our dream soundtrack) that aids in the telling of your story.  Austin has been putting work into the public sphere for five decades and we need to be able to include this footage, photography and music into the film!

Sound Mixing and Color Correction

After you have finished editing your film with your archival footage, your pictures and your dream soundtrack, you have to mix all of the sound from the interviews, scenes, and every bit of the film that has dialogue or ambiance into a beautiful score.  A great sound mix adds to the beauty and poignancy of your story and creates an emotional underside that is one of the most important aspects of a memorable film.  The best sound mixes can go unobserved while a bad sound mix will be noticed and immediately take the audience out of the experience.

Marketing, Promotions and Festivals

The LAST and most exciting stage of Post Production is when it becomes time to find and share it with an audience.  The purpose of making this documentary has always been to tell Austin’s story and bring him the recognition he deserves.  This is a universal story that applies to every walk of life.  Proper marketing and promotion give the film the greatest chance of finding a wider audience outside of the people who already know and love him.  In today’s independent film world, the film festival is an incredibly important tool to showcase your film to the companies that are able to put it into movie theaters and distribute to a larger market.  Plus, we can think of nowhere better to premiere this film than at the Tribeca Film Festival, in Austin’s home city, and the many, many other festivals that we trust will support and nurture this film.
We sincerely hope that we have piqued your interest, and we appreciate immensely any donation you can make to help us meet our goal.  We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for donating, and even if you can’t donate, please SPREAD THE WORD!
Gene, David, Peter and Satomi




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