In recent years, Denton’s Thin Line Film Festival didn’t seem to get much exposure. The festival, centered on documentary films, competes with other film events that already have large followings, including the Dallas International Film Festival, the Lone Star Film Festival and the Oak Cliff Film Festival.
For its eighth installment, Thin Line picked up a handsome amount of steam online weeks before the festival kicks off on Wednesday. Among the highlights: a documentary on the Denton folk rock band Midlake, co-directed by skateboarder turned actor Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl), called Midlake: Live in Denton, TX.
Thin Line will also feature eclectic music acts every night during the festival’s five-day run at various locations around Denton. On the film side, the opening-night attraction Midlake is perhaps the most anticipated screening at the festival.
It was shot at Dan’s Silverleaf, in Midlake’s hometown of Denton. The band still has a studio in town, and members own the bar Paschall. The band’s drummer, McKenzie Smith, will soon open a restaurant, 940’s, within walking distance of Paschall. These guys are true Dentonites.
Lee and Midlake frontman Eric Pulido, who co-directed with Lee, discussed the challenges of turning a live show into a documentary and keeping it innovative and fun while sticking with a theme.
“We were talking about wanting to do something new and Pulido had mentioned while they were touring for the album Antiphon they were going to be doing some shows at Dan’s Silverleaf,” Lee said. “Then it clicked: Let’s film it as a concert.”
Pulido added, “We thought it would be cool to actually capture a full live show, which we had never successfully done.”
Since the film’s focus is on Midlake playing an entire set, Lee and his team had to get creative by using clips of Denton throughout the documentary to set the scene.
“This is the band’s hometown, so instead of it being in the venue the whole time, I said, ‘Let’s get some B-roll footage of the town,’” Lee said. “We cut away to the town’s landmarks and local Dentonites hanging out to get a vibe of the world of Midlake and where they’re from — just show the world as it exists in Denton. There’s a lot in this town that’s photographable. It’s that kind of small-town Americana.”
“We wanted to try to get in as much stuff as possible but make it purposeful,” Pulido added.
Lee has also rekindled his passion for skateboarding, and he’s planning to build a skate park in Denton. “I’m working on it now,” he said. “I still want to get some property and maybe get some acreage just to have a place to go when I’m there. I was considering just building it on that property and letting people skate it.”
Chase Whale is a Denton freelance writer.
Plan your life
Midlake: Live in Denton, TX screens at 7:30 p.m. February 18 at the Campus Theatre, 214 W Hickory St., Denton. Lee and Midlake will attend for a Q&A afterward. Tickets and information at thinlinefilmfest.com.