Great filmmakers come from everywhere. Austin Tolin is proof.
With a Vimeo page that’s a delightful mixture of under-viewed alt gems, docu-shorts, and a surprisingly well-shot wedding video from what I’d assume was the front end of Tolin’s career, his work dispels any notion that the craft evaporates in the space between JFK and LAX.
As an Austin-based creator, Tolin has championed the work of many local standouts, including the late, great Lashonda Lester (who appears in Detective Calzone). I was brought to Tolin’s page by way of a tweet asking me to have a look at the very silly Jamie’s Car featuring the multi-hyphenate creator’s muse, Byron Brown. Like much of Tolin’s work, Jamie’s Car is rooted in downplayed, straight-faced absurdity. I then discovered Lily’s Birthday, which launches from the same space and then flirts with a parody that skews more surreal. Finally, and unconsciously building toward Tolin’s magnum opus, I clicked on Detective Calzone.
Only after reading that SXSW said it “strikes the perfect balance of the sublime and the ridiculous” and that the Austin Chronicle dubbed it “CSI meets Naked Gun” did I look at the upload date and realize how far behind I was. Tolin’s eight-minute gem of a short about a beret-wearing detective (Brown) trying to eek out a place in the world after a nasty divorce was made over three years ago.
Numerous screenings and accolades later, this sliver of pure comedy gold solidifies Tolin as an important new comedic voice with a deft sense of narrative pacing and a rare ear for dialogue. How did I miss this? Where the hell was I in 2015?
Better late than never, I suppose. My apologies to Detective Calzone.
Luke is executive producer at Big Breakfast and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.