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Mark Bristol talks about directing the film ‘Accidental Texan’

Filmmaker Mark Bristol chatted about directing the film ‘”Accidental Texan,” which was released on March 8 via Roadside Attractions.

Rudy Pankow, Thomas Haden Church and Mark Bristol
Rudy Pankow, Thomas Haden Church and Mark Bristol. Photo Credit: Julio Cedillo
Rudy Pankow, Thomas Haden Church and Mark Bristol. Photo Credit: Julio Cedillo

Filmmaker Mark Bristol chatted about directing the film ‘”Accidental Texan,” which was released on March 8 via Roadside Attractions.

It stars Rudy Pankow (“Outer Banks”), Carrie-Anne Moss, Thomas Haden Church, and Bruce Dern.

Bristol directed from a screenplay by Julie B. Denny and Cole Thompson (It is based on Thompson’s novel “Chocolate Lizards”).

Inspiration to direct the movie

On his inspiration to direct “Accidental Texan,” he said, “I was originally attached to direct it 20 years ago, but we couldn’t bring all the financing and all the pieces together. All of the creatives stayed in touch and in 2019, Julie B. Denny told me that she has the financing for it, and that she always dreamed of me directing it.”

“As a storyboard artist and director, she thought that I would bring a unique perspective to the film, so we set out to do the movie then,” he said.

“Growing up here in Texas, this has always been a story that I adored. It was near and dear to me, especially to showcase small town Texas in such a loving way,” he added.

Themes and values of the movie

“This movie underscores such themes as follow your dreams and never giving up, and believing in your friends,” he noted.

“The message of the film is very much the message of independent filmmaking and that is to never give up and pursue your dream doggedly. Also, have a great work ethic and give your best in every job that you do because that can lead to something else,” he added.

Thomas Haden Church

Bristol complimented Thomas Haden Church for being a “magnificent” actor in every level.

“Thomas is an absolute gift to any filmmaker. He was so remarkable and so committed to this movie. He was very giving and working on that screenplay every single day, and he has been tremendous in supporting the film upon its release,” he said.

Rudy Pankow and Mark Bristol
Rudy Pankow and Mark Bristol. Photo Credit: Matthew Wise

Casting Rudy Pankow in the film

On casting Rudy Pankow for the role of Erwin, Bristol said, “Rudy’s manager, Cheryl [Jackson] has done a wonderful job with Mr. Rudy [Pankow], and he came to us. She heard about the project and knew that we already had Bruce Dern and Thomas Haden Church cast, so she knocked on our door and thank God for that, because Rudy was absolutely perfect in the role as Erwin.”

“Intentionally, in the opening of the film, I shot everything very symmetrical as Erwin achieving his dream and everything in his life being in order,” he said. “Once his dream is destroyed, he finds himself in nowhere Texas.”

Rudy Pankow in 'Accidental Texan'
Rudy Pankow in ‘Accidental Texan.’ Photo Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

The digital age

On being a filmmaker in the digital age, he said, “It has been very interesting. I’ve made films but I’ve never been on the back side of things, especially in regards to sales.”

Bristol continued, “This has been really fascinating just to see how it’s marketed and reaching an audience. It was exciting when Rudy posted the trailer, and 500,000 people watched it in a matter of 48 hours. That is a remarkable reach that an independent film would never usually have the resources to reach that many people.”

“Also, it has been so great to have people texting, or posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, and hearing how much they enjoyed the film after watching it,” he said.

“The immediate online feedback has been incredible, especially since you can’t be in every theater with them. It has been really exciting to have that immediate feedback from the audience because that is who we made it for,” he added.

Director Mark Bristol
Director Mark Bristol. Photo Credit: Harrison Katz

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Bristol said, “Start directing a whole lot more.” “I’ve spent most of my career helping other directors realize their dreams so now it’s my time,” he said.

Superpower of choice

Bristol noted that he would love “to fly” as his superpower of choice.

Advice for young and aspiring filmmakers

For young and aspiring filmmakers, he encouraged them to “never give up.” “That could not be truer,” he said. “The film industry is very difficult with many ups and downs.”


Bristol equates success with “happiness and fulfillment.” “As long as you are happy doing what you are doing, then you are successful,” he said. “Also, having a great family and staying close to your family is a success.”

Closing thoughts on the film

For viewers and fans, he concluded, “I hope this movie brings people enjoyment and fulfillment. You laugh, you cry, you walk out of the theater with a smile on your face. We are not trying to push the envelope; we are trying to deliver an old-fashioned feel-good film.”

To learn more about Mark Bristol, check out his IMDb page.

Read More: “Accidental Texan” review

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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