Summer with the Dallas Skyline: James Wallace, Alamo Drafthouse Creative Manager, Has Crafted a Season of Awesome.

We recently got the opportunity to probe James Wallace’s brain about Alamo DFW’s
new summer lineup of fantastic events at the Vetted Well, his thoughts about Free Fire (and the Director’s Q&A), the MST3K showing with Frank Conniff and Trace Beauleiu, and some other items. It looks like he and his teams have gone out of their way to craft some really fun times.

Kate: So, it looks like we can look forward to a summer full of patio-themed entertainment events. I think the inspiration there is obvious, but if there’s something specific there, I’d love to discuss it. What’s your favorite aspect of the Vetted Well’s patio? It’s quite nice. 

James: Well, it’s hard to ignore that beautiful view of the skyline! I think that’s everyone’s favorite aspect so any excuse to have fun stuff going on outside when the weather is nice is a bonus.

Beyond that, it’s just coming up with creative ways to use the Vetted Well space outside of just being a place that people may grab a drink before or after their movie.

That was the concept of Vetted Well from the inception really – to go beyond just the movie theater lobby bar and have a multipurpose entertainment space that was connected to the theater and could tie into events there but could also exist on its own with its own programming. And it’s been great to see that happen; where people just come to Vetted Well for the karaoke rooms or Geeks Who Drink or Outdoor Comedy or any of the other signature programming we have had going on up there.

The Vetted Well is a great place for cocktails, brunch, karaoke, or just an overall good time.

I’d say our crowning jewel in the new programming is Funky Brunch (at least that’s my favorite!) and that inspiration came out of just trying to come up with a really fun and unique brunch on Sundays. Dallas is such a brunch city with a pretty competitive market for it, and everyone who does it has their hook. So we had to have ours, besides of course having great brunch offerings. I have to admit that the concept really started with the punny name and pretty naturally and quickly developed out of that.

That theme really informed the inspiration for the menu and the vibe. Then we found the perfect DJs for it in PICNICTYME & Cory Kilduff who are not only Funk & Soul aficionados but spin vinyl. And then it all came together!

Kate: Free Fire is a film I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Good to see you guys have set up an awesome Q&A. Are there any burning questions you’re looking forward to asking Ben Wheatley?

James: Me too! Yeah, you know Ben Wheatley is one of those filmmakers that I see as kind of part of the Alamo Drafthouse extended family. I remember when his first feature DOWN TERRACE has its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2009 (Alamo’s film festival in Austin).

I remember seeing the film there and just being blown away and so excited to see what else he was going to do. And here we are eight-years-later with KILL LIST, SIGHTSEERS, A FIELD IN ENGLAND (which Drafthouse Films released), HIGH-RISE, and now FREE FIRE.Looking at his filmography, I think he just makes the kind of films that we’re all about at Alamo. And FREE FIRE looks to be very much that type of movie. Not to mention it’s from A24 and we’re all such huge fans of the movies they release.

I do have a lot of questions I’d love to ask him but firstly I think I would have to ask him how it felt shooting a shirtless Tim League with paintballs.

Kate: It looks like we have a lot to look forward to when Frank Conniff and Trace Beauleiu come to visit Richardson at the end of the month. Do you have a favorite MST3K moment?

James: Oh man, you have no idea how excited I am that we get to have The Mads at Richardson! I mean it’s Dr. Clayton Forrester and TV’s Frank live and in-person riffing in the theater! And it couldn’t be better timing with the premiere of the new MST3K on Netflix. 

I have so many fond memories of watching the original run on Comedy Central when I was a kid and then later on the Sci-Fi Channel in my formative teenage years as a budding comedy nerd and genre film nerd. But there’s one that sticks out and, at the risk of being boring, I have to say it’s the episode with MANOS: HANDS OF FATE. That was the moment that my eyes were really open to the world of “best worst movies” that would inform so much of my tastes as a fan of those gems of obscure ’60s/’70s genre movies.

Side Note: Someone should do a movie mashup called MANOS: HANDS OF FATE OF THE FURIOUS

Tickets available in advance at

Kate: Are there any films on your radar you consider a Drafthouse must-see?

James: Well, there are the obvious big ones coming next month – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2… ALIEN: COVENANT….

But in terms of indie fare that might not be on people’s radars, there are a few in the next couple of months that I’m really excited about – IT COMES AT NIGHT, BABY DRIVER, and A GHOST STORY. COLOSSAL is also great and now playing at an Alamo Drafthouse near you!

TROPHY is a documentary unafraid to ask serious questions, even when they provide unexpected answers.

A rhinoceros is felled to the ground by an emission from a weapon fired. A group of people walk over. They cover its face. They hold its legs. They give it an injection. They saw off two horns. It’s a strange scene of barbarism.

And then the two parties walk away, for the most part, unscathed.

Documentaries about poaching, and as part of a contemporary trend, documentaries in general, are sometimes one-sided. Issues are often presented as a means of furthering a platform rather than remaining tools of exploration for staging the later presentation of facts.

Thankfully, this is not always the case, even when a documentarian sets out with a mission in mind.

TROPHY is a rare case in documentary filmmaking that shouldn’t be one. It changed everything about what it was doing midstream, and proudly admits it. That’s bold. Even if backers want filmmaker to see things a certain way,  even if there were convictions going into something, being able to learn from experience is critical.

Co-Director Christina Clusiau explained the situation she found herself in while making TROPHY Sunday night at the first screening of the film for Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF). She stated that even though she and Reel Peek Films co-founder Shaul Schwarz planned to hit the hunting industry hard, they encountered some situations that made their filmmaking decisions difficult.

It ultimately came down to considering the stances of a South African man named John Hume who is on a quest to farm black rhino horn as a matter of profit that will bring a sense of value to a creature facing extinction.

It seems that the domestication of animals keeps some people in the business of preserving animals, even when they’re being bred to later be hunted or otherwise exploited. For animal rights groups, this may be a hard pill to swallow. But in a world where compromise is sometimes necessary, the appeal of turning a rhino’s horn into a consumer product to be farmed rather than hunting trophy becomes easier to understand.

If only the whole world could be so flexible.

Filled with scenes of excruciating pain and beauty as hunters, farmers and conservationists make their case, it’s no wonder IndieWire called TROPHY “jaw-droppingly beautiful and appalling” in the same headline.

TROPHY is not always an easy documentary to stomach. But it’s important one to see.

This film has screened at DIFF as presented by EarthxFilm and premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Clusiau will continue the festival circuit, with her next stop being in Durham, North Carolina. 

Clusiau also shot the Emmy Award-nominated web series A Year in Space and the documentary feature AIDA’S SECRETS (2016).  

You’ll encounter this film again, even if you don’t see it in a theater. It’s been acquired by Orchard Films and CNN. It’s just got too much to add to a conversation on a subject with a lot of polar opinion.

Shaul Schwarz is a documentary filmmaker, award-winning photojournalist and co-founder of Reel Peak Films, a short films production company which makes documentary content for magazines and news outlets. Schwarz’s debut documentary feature, NARCO CULTURA (2013), premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He directed the Emmy Award-nominated web series A Year in Space, and co-directed the documentary feature AIDA’S SECRETS (2016). Schwarz also contributes to Time, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and CNN.

Christina Clusiau is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, photojournalist based in Brooklyn. She co-founded Reel Peak Films with Shaul Schwarz. Clusiau shot the Emmy Award-nominated web series A Year in Space and the documentary feature AIDA’S SECRETS (2016).

Christina explains the film’s mission in her statement below:

Follow Trophy on Social Media at @trophythefilm.


Star Power lights up new Texas short FAR FROM THE TREE.


When we think of the “American” filmmaker, a lot of people come to mind. There are the big names of course. Speilberg, Scorcese, Bay, Cameron, and Coppola (x2) — just to name a few.

But there’s something about a distinctly Texan film and something about friends making films together. That’s why Far from Tree is a short worth some of my attention right now, even though it is limited in the middle of DIFF.

It’s not every day a Southern short dealing with such powerful feminist subjects comes up. They’re the kind of material to get the right audiences buzzing.

Check out Cheryl Allison (NO LETTING GO, Broadway star), Angie Bolling (ROBOCOP, TEXASVILLE) and Gabriel Rush (MOONRISE KINGDOM, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL) as family dynamics and “apples” are explored.

See it at the USA Film Festival:

Sunday, April 30th, 7 pm
Full schedule of events and ticket info will be available in early April at



We are still coming along. This is the first fest we’ve decided to go for a full-on film themed blog, and we’re used to covering individual events with a lot of flair.

So we are starting a new thing. It might look a little rough, and if it does, we apologize.

If you’re so hungry for our brand of film news you want to check out my work as it’s appeared elsewhere, you can do it here:

The ABSOLUTE 7 Best Theaters to See a Movie in DFW

And of course, there is always that weird little patch of time we spent writing experimentally at that little collective known as “The Feast.”

You can also check out this video where I play “pretend professor” on a panel full of Star Wars geeks:

And my social media profiles, where a lot of my actual work is done.

I’ve also got a longer-running blog at Medium @kateelizabethmorgan — which is the work I have generally rested on to get me into events.

We’ll have our rhythm right soon, and what we choose to publish often depends on a whim and our fancy. It’s about what we find amazing.


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