Crossroads of Texas Film Festival opens with musicians impacting movie history

Waxahachie kicked off its third annual Crossroads of Texas Film Festival on Wednesday morning with a who’s-who panel discussion about musicians who have had success marrying their love for music with the world of movies.

Gary Cogill, an award-winning journalist who served as a film critic for WFAA in Dallas for 24 years, served as moderator for the panel, following the theme of this year’s festival “Music in Film.” As a panel moderator for the Crossroads Film Festival for the past three years, he wasted no time diving into Texas music in film history with Bruce Robison, Joe Ely and Jack Ingram.

Robison is a country singer and songwriter based out of Austin, and has penned songs for artists such as The Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and George Strait. Ely, an Amarillo native, is a singer, songwriter and musician who has teamed with diverse artists like Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Lyle Lovett and Guy Clark during his 46-year career. And Ingram, a relative newcomer, broke into the Top 40 Country charts in 2005 with his Billboard topping song ‘Wherever Are You,’ and was the named the Academy of County Music’s Top New Male Vocalist in 2008.

Cogil began by talking about the 80-plus years of movies and music, and spoke about the long history of music in movies.

“The first song to win an Oscar was in the 1934 movie ‘The Gay Divorcee,’ and the song was ‘Continental,’” said Cogill. “Through ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head’ in the 1969 hit ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ to the song ‘Glory’ in 2014’s Selma, music has been instrumental in the success of a majority of great movies that stick with us.”

With that much musical talent on one stage, Cogill went straight to the point, asking Robison what it was like to have a No. 1 song.

“When I was writing songs, that never really was my thought at the time,” said Robison, who had two of the songs he wrote reach No. 1. “So whenever that happened, it just felt like a roller coaster ride. For an artist to pick the song you’ve written, or to have it be a part of a movie — seeing how it’s shaped and reshaped and turned into a hit — is just indescribable.”

Cogill then turned his attention to Ely, asking him what his earliest recollection of when a move movie and the movie’s music jumped out at him.

“I was actually thinking about it on the way up here today,” said Ely. “The movie was ‘Harold and Maude.’ That movie had a big affect on me because it had a really different point of view. Cat Stevens did most of the soundtrack, and the whole movie had like a different vibe to it.”

Ingram talked about the impact soundtracks and songs in movies had on his development as a musician.

“I remember music from watching movies vividly growing up,” said Ingram. “It’s really been a strong experience for me. I’ve loved music since I was a kid, but the way that Rocky song and soundtrack made me feel — now whenever I hear that song, I feel empowered, like we can do anything. It was big.”

Taking questions from the crowd, Ely summed up the confluence of music, film and west Texas songwriters best.

“There’s a lot of emptiness out there that needs to be filled up,” said Ely. “My experience with painters and songwriters and artists from that area is that it’s so expansive, there’s just a need to fill up something they believe is missing.”

Waxahachie’s Crossroads of Texas Film Festival will run through Saturday. Visit www.crossroadsoftxff.com for more details on times and location of events.