About DAVID LYKES KEENAN
A Michigan Yankee who arrived in Austin, Texas in 1978, I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as quick as I could. I’m well into my third career as a screenwriter and filmmaker.
I rode Austin’s 20th century tech boom and built a software company in 1986, which is still in business today.
In 2006, I handed off my company and became a highly regarded still photographer. In 2014, I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to publish FAIR WITNESS, a book of street photography.
My drive and organizational skills also created Austin Center for Photography, a 501(c)3 arts organization. Sadly, after three exciting years, ACP did not survive my departure.
In 2016, I wrote and directed my first film entitled BRAVE NEW AMERICA, a short political thriller.
A year later, I wrote and directed BODIES OF WATER, a short film set in the 1980s. This film went on to appear in 18 film festivals during the 2018 festival season.
BODIES OF WATER featured Ellar Coltrane in the lead role. Ellar is known for being the boy in the landmark film BOYHOOD, released in 2014. Ellar is committed to playing Bobby, Mitch’s best friend, in TINY, TEXAS.
I have lived in Austin since 1978. My website.
TINY, TEXAS is inspired by real people -- a basketball playing son, an estranged father, and a gay best friend. Set in a rural Texas town, this film blends multiple stories of tragedy and hope about fathers and sons, whether they be biological or adopted.
The film also originates from my personal experience as an isolated gay man who was pushed further into the closet during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s. At a more profound level, it comes from my teen years when I kept myself emotionally distant from literally everyone out of mortal terror that my homosexuality would escape.
This coping mechanism controlled my life throughout my teens and young adulthood. As a result, I kept an ever-present barrier between my true self and my family, particularly my father. My healing process began when I finally came out in my 40’s, but by that time, I had lived a life so far removed from who I truly was, that it was difficult to deconstruct the facade. The associated pain of living in such absolute secrecy is something that no one should experience.
Once out of my shell, seemingly random circumstances of life delivered me as a role model, and often a surrogate father, to numerous young men whose paths I crossed. The resulting relationships have allowed me to remain young in spirit as I vicariously relive some of my youth.
I have been honored to experience their youthful optimism for the future and eagerness to experience all that life has to offer, despite its uncertainties. Something I never experienced as a teenager myself
The lives of young adults and their struggles compel me as a storyteller and manifests itself in the main characters in TINY, TEXAS. Each character is at a crossroads, uncertain of their next steps but they are brave enough to take a step when the right moment finally comes.
Writing this screenplay was a celebratory purge of repressed emotions and a strike against prejudice. The resulting film will be an open love letter to young men -- and fathers -- who struggle to find their own identity and to find their own voice.
This photograph is from 1992. That's me with Jeremy Denning somewhere in Texas.
Years earlier, I first got to know Jeremy in a canoe during an adventure on the Guadalupe River. When everyone was pairing off, Jeremy chose me instead of his father to spend two days with on the river.
His father, Jimmy, is one of my best friends ever but at that time father and son really didn't have a relationship.
Jeremy and I grew close during his teen years, and the story of TINY, TEXAS is loosely based on our story.
SOME OF MY WORK