I met DAVID HECK one day at Dry Creek Café in the Heights and he told me about his short film, “The Kid,” (www.imdb.com/title/tt3439758/) which was filmed in the Heights and was based on Charlie Chaplin’s hugely successful 1921 film of the same name. David is a father, an actor, a middle school drama teacher and a filmmaker — and I was intrigued. I was curious to see Heck’s interpretation of the silent film classic and how he would shoot it in Houston’s most historic neighborhood. The modern version had the same storyline:
a baby is abandoned by his mom (played by New York-based actor Emily Neves) and a “tramp” (played by Heck in this film and by Chaplin in the original) who adopts him. Many adventures ensue – including running from the Heights constable, hanging out by Venus Hair Salon and running past the Heights Theatre. The kid grows up (played by Heck’s son, Isaiah) and breaks the law and gets into trouble with his adopted dad. But there are also homemade pancakes and matching hats and a father and son love that grows and becomes the anchor for the film. The mother becomes a famous star and lives in a beautiful historic Heights home – owned by my dear friend Bart Truxillo. There’s a happy ending and all is well with the mom, the kid and the tramp. The storyline had some of the same plot holes as the original but the production values were great and the haunting soundtrack by Houston-based Two Star Symphony was a perfect accompaniment. Heck tells me the film will be released online at some point.
I paired the viewing of this film with a short one by my friend and filmmaker CRESSANDRA THIBODEAUX – “Houston Heights,” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b9-NcCwQ9s) which is a cinematic love letter to the Heights. While Heck’s film took place in dozens of Heights locations, “Houston Heights” focused more on the people who live in the Heights and what makes it unique. Truxillo’s beautiful home was also featured in this film and Bart gave the opening interview. Much of the film focused on the activities of the Houston Heights Association (www.houstonheights.org) interspersed with interviews and clips of Heights residents, including designer Chloe Dao, holistic health practitioner Cheryl Hensley, art collector/gallery owner Gus Kopriva, and realtor Bill Baldwin.
The Houston Heights was Houston’s first planned community and is known for its eclectic, historic, artistic flair. These two films showcase it well.
Editor’s note: Two days before we were scheduled to go to press, Bart Truxillo died from a brain aneurysm. We join his many friends in the Houston community in mourning the loss of a universally loved visionary. – T.M.
WANT TO SEE MORE ART FILMS?
CHECK OUT THESE VENUES
14 Pews (www.14pews.org)
Alamo Drafthouse (www.drafthouse.com)
Asia Society (www.asiasociety.org/texas)
Aurora Picture Show (www.aurorapictureshow.org)
Blaffer Art Museum (www.blafferartmuseum.org)
Café Brasil (www.cafe-brasil.net)
Contemporary Arts Museum (www.camh.org)
Discovery Green (www.discoverygreen.com)
Holocaust Museum (www.hmh.org)
Jewish Community Center (www.erjcchouston.org)
Landmark River Oaks Theatre (www.landmarktheatres.com)
Menil Collection (www.menil.org)
Miller Outdoor Theatre (www.milleroutdoortheatre.com)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (www.mfah.org/films)
Orange Show (www.orangeshow.org)
Rice Cinema (www.ricecinema.rice.edu)
Sundance Cinemas (www.sundancecinemas.com)