DIFF 2014: The Day I Didn’t Meet Luke Wilson

I didn't get to meet Luke or Andrew Wilson at DIFF, but luckily his short film was worth watching.

While attending the first weekend of the Dallas International Film Festival I was able to catch Luke and Andrew Wilson’s short film, Satellite Beach. Part of the excitement of attending, was that I was supposed to possibly interview Luke Wilson himself. More on that later. Satellite Beach is a short film about the Endeavour space shuttle moving through the streets of Los Angeles to get to the California Science Center, where it now sits, in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion.

After the screening, the press was scheduled to meet with the Wilson brothers and the production team at the after-party. The event was to take place at Chino Chinatown, where the window to meet the cast was an understandably short 15 minutes. The series of unfortunate events began when Luke Wilson, who of course is the star of the film, was a no show. Anxiously waiting, hours and hours later, I at least expected to speak with Andrew Wilson. I had arrived on time at 7:30, and it was after ten when I left.

Unfortunately, Andrew sneakily slipped out of the party without a word to the press. Who could blame him? Finally, I was able to snag some time with Satellite Beach co-producer Steve Eckleman, to learn more about the short film and the inspiration behind it.

The story goes that Luke Wilson’s inspiration for the film came on an LAX flight that was headed to his hometown Dallas. He was reading the Los Angeles Times and came across an article about a NASA engineer who had spent some years plotting the actual route the shuttle should take from LAX to the California Science Center. Luke immediately thought to create a short film where he would star as the engineer character who is obsessed with the project. The shuttle was already moving when the article came out, and within two weeks, without any permits or a script, Satellite Beach was made. Amazingly, it was shot on a mere Canon 5D.

Though it was a disappointment not seeing the famous siblings, it was interesting still to listen to the perspective of someone who worked alongside the Wilsons at every crucial step of their storied careers. I was curious to hear what it is like for Eckleman to work with his life-long friends. He has been credited as everything from assistant to producer to actor, on an overwhelming amount of films in which the brothers have been starred.

“We have a lot of similar tastes and similar antecedents in our life that help us to work together,” Eckleman says. “And then it ends up being a fun experience, and then hopefully at the end—a good final piece of art or product.”

Luke Wilson’s performance in Satellite Beach made it easy to sympathize with the character’s journey during the Endeavour’s final journey. Los Angeles became a unified city around the event, and it’s ultimately an inspiring tale, made under limiting circumstances. I may have not met a Wilson that night, but all was not lost.


Hayley Votolato is a D Magazine intern, and aspiring food and travel editor. She will be graduating from Texas Christian University with a degree in Strategic Communication from the Schieffer College of Communication this May.


 Image: Andrew and Luke Wilson, at the Texas Hall of Fame Awards, 2009. Credit: Charlie Llewellin.