Ann Richards Is The President of the Magnited States of America

The Alamo Drafthouse #DontTalk PSA bracket has a winner, and we talked to the director of the spot.

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(AP Photo/Amy E. Conn)

The results are in for our Alamo Drafthouse #DontTalk PSA bracket, and the winner is clear: Governor Ann Richards is now also the President of the Magnited States of America. She clobbered the angry voicemail caller by a final tally of 55 to 45 percent, a margin almost four times as large as her gubernatorial victory over Clayton Williams.

Ultimately, it makes sense—while the Drafthouse is a national brand, it’s ultimately a Texas company (it literally has the word “Alamo” right there in the name!). Texas likes to support its icons, and Ann Richards is definitely one. The bracket victor is also a sentimental favorite for the franchise—after the PSA was filmed, Richards, a frequent Alamo visitor, liked to prank moviegoers by hiding in the hall and surprising them in their seats.

Taking the victory lap on behalf of Ann Richards is Carlos Funes, the Austin-based filmmaker who directed Richards in her #DontTalk PSA. We caught up with Funes to learn what Richards was like on set, how well she took direction, and what his big plans are if he can get Willie Nelson in front of a camera.

How did you get tapped to direct the Ann Richards PSA?

I had worked with the Alamo Drafthouse before—we had entered a lot of contests that they were holding, and we were winning a lot of those. I had sent them an email for one thing or another, and they said, “By the way, can you shoot a PSA for us? Ann Richards will be in it.” I didn’t even ask if they meant the real Ann Richards—I just said “where is it, sure, we’ll do it.” When I got there, I was expecting someone else to play Ann Richards, but no. It was Ann Richards.

What was it like to show up at a film shoot and Ann Richards is there?

They were like, “Okay, you guys have a couple of hours,” and I was like, “Oh, crap.” I think we just had one hour with Ann Richards. She was a good sport, and it was a lot of fun.

How was she at taking direction?

That was the part that was scary—how do you tell a former Governor of Texas what to do as an unknown director? She was actually very good. I would ask her to do things a couple of times, and she would say, “Again? I thought that was perfect.” And I was like, “I agree, let’s just do one more,” and she would sigh a little bit, and then do it again, and she would always do a good job, so maybe it was me, and I should have just listened to her. But she was good—she was very directable.

Is the fact that this spot lives on important to you?

It definitely is. I’m always trying to work on new stuff, or get some of my own film projects off the ground, but whenever I talk to new people and they ask me about my background, I mention Ann Richards and they’re very, very happy to hear about it. It changes everything, at least for people in Texas. It’s something I was hired to do, and then assemble a crew—I thought it was just pretty okay. [Former Alamo Drafthouse programmer] Lars [Nilsen] had written a script. I was like, “I think this is okay, I don’t think it’s that good,” but I’m glad I was wrong and that he was right. I’m grateful that the Alamo gave me the opportunity, and that Ann showed up.

What was she like on set?

I was the only person to witness this, and I don’t even know if it’s true or not, or if I just made it up—but as I was moving some lights around, I remember her saying to one of the staff members, “Why couldn’t you get Woody Allen for this?” And I overheard it, and I couldn’t figure out what she meant—did she mean Woody Allen the director, or Woody Allen the actor? But I was the only one who heard it. I think it’s funny, if she did say that.

Nobody would remember that part anyway at this point.

You know, getting work as a director isn’t an easy thing. But having this on my resume helps. I have a project that I’m working on, a feature length movie called South Of Bexar. I worked with a Texas icon on this PSA, and we’re trying to get another Texas icon for the movie—I’m hoping the fact that I worked with Ann Richards will help get the project off the ground.

Who are you trying to get for that one?

Oh, man. On the record or off the record? [sighs]  I’m trying to get Willie Nelson. I would love to work with Willie Nelson on this project. It’s a small cameo role, but if people like what I did with Ann, they would like what I can do with Willie.

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  • Dirk Diggler

    Willy, call your agent. This spot is great, however, and we all miss Ann.