A native daughter of Seguin has spread her wings and stars in a new independently produced feature film.
Ivy Koehler Meehan has the lead female role in “A Room Full of Nothing,” the first feature film produced by Austin-based TurtleDove Films. The new flick will get its Texas premiere during two screenings later this month at the Austin Film Festival, and Koehler Meehan is beyond excited.
“It’s made by Texas people. It’s set in Texas,” she said. “I’d say Austin, but there are a couple scenes we had to go to the coast to film and then some in Odessa. “It’s very Texan. It feels good to be bringing it back home for our Texas premier. It’s going to feel really nice to be able to share our work with the people in the town it was intended to be viewed in.”
Native Texas filmmakers — and husband and wife team — Duncan Coe and Elena Weinberg own TurtleDove Films and produce “A Room Full of Nothing.” Coe wrote the script and stars in the male lead role opposite Koehler Meehan. Weinberg directed the movie.
The film is described as a sardonic look at the life of artists when they’re fed up with the world around them, according to information provided by TurtleDove Films. In the movie, Coe’s character Barry Klein is married to Koehler Meehan’s character Phyllis Klein, both of whom are artists.
The Austin couple accidentally wills away everyone else in the world and have to navigate manage their sanity in a state of increasing isolation and fractured reality. It’s kind of a dark romance, Weinberg said.
“She is a fine artist, he is an actor and they both get pretty terrible reviews on their work. They’re fed up,” she said. “They will away the rest of the world. They manifest to the moon jokingly and then it works.”
The movie leads the viewer to ask some difficult questions. The characters within the film struggle to answer those same questions, Weinberg said.
“It’s a story about, as a couple do you need society to balance your life or can you really just live with one other person for the rest of your life,” she said. “It begs the questions ‘what is art without an audience?’ Can a couple survive without anyone else around them? Like, what does that do to a relationship?”
“A Room Full of Nothing” is 85 minutes long and airs 4:15 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Galaxy Highland Theatre, and 1:45 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Hideout Theatre during the festival which lasts from Oct. 24 to Oct. 31.
Having filmed the movie on location in Austin, Seguin, Wimberley, Spicewood, Port Aransas and Monahans Sandhills Start Park, the filmmakers are eager for Texans to see what they were about to accomplish, Weinberg said. They hope people who see the movie enjoy it as much as the team enjoyed making it, and pass the word about how good it is, she said.
“We’re really hoping to build audience and connect with our audience on a personal level. After we finish playing film festivals, we’re working with a distributor to get on streaming platforms,” Weinberg said. “Knowing that our release will be strictly digital when we do the release date, we’re hoping to use festivals like Austin Film Festival to see people and talk to people personally hopefully to get that word of mouth and personal connection to the story.”
In the beginning, while reading the script, getting a hold of just what the movie represented proved a bit elusive for her, Koehler Meehan said. But as time went on and production continued, it all started to take shape and proved to be a fascinating film, she said.
She owes the life-like portrayal she turned in for the movie to her roots right here where she participated in community theater in Seguin. But the spark that lit the fuse was a pair of instructors she had at Seguin High School, Koehler Meehan said.
“I had two really great teachers in Sheila Lucas and her partner in crime, Rebecca Phillips. They taught honesty,” she said. “As an actor, that’s what we try to do is just have an honest performance. They taught theater and they showed me how to take a character and give them secrets.”
Since then, she has continued to carry the city of Seguin wherever she might go, Koehler Meehan said. Making the hometown crowd proud would mean a lot.
“Seguin is so close to my heart not just because my family still lives there but the support is just outstanding for not just people that live there and support the arts in Seguin, but then when friends or students of Seguin High School have gone on and been in the world of theater or in the world of film, they’re just so supportive,” she said. “There’s nothing better to give somebody in an industry like film than support and love, and I’ve always felt that with my hometown of Seguin.”
Koehler Meehan said she hopes to continue receiving the love and support from her hometown. She’s inviting the entire city of Seguin and everyone from the area to come check out her performance at the Austin Film Festival.
“We have two screenings. I know we have a couple RSVPs already,” Koehler Meehan said. “That’s why we’re trying to get the word out about the film and about the festival, trying to get more people to come up I-35 and help us celebrate it.”
Austin Film Festival access badges can be purchased by visiting the website at austinfilmfestival.com/shop/badges-and-film-passes-info/ .