Profile in Style | Sarah Ann Mockbee & Sam Douglas

When Sarah Ann Mockbee, a sixth-generation Mississippian, moved to New York City in 2001, she became accustomed to her father, the architect Samuel Mockbee, helping her make friends by introducing her to his former students. When he encouraged her to meet filmmaker Sam Douglas, she thought it was, you know, just another one of those things. But on their first date, over cabbage rolls and pancakes at a Russian coffee shop, they fell in love.

Douglas had already passed the parent test: he’d gotten to know Sarah Ann’s father while making a documentary about him, Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio. The couple transitioned to Austin in 2006, and immediately felt right at home, thanks to industry friends, six degrees of the South, and tacos round the clock.

March is a big month: Sarah Ann, the deputy director of the Austin Film Society since 2011, is working on the Texas Film Awards, a red carpet evening honoring Texas legends of cinema and television (it takes place at Austin Studios on Thursday, March 6). Sam is gearing up for SXSW, when his latest project, No No: A Dockumentary, a film he edited and co-produced, will have its Austin premiere on Saturday, March 8, at the Paramount Theatre. They’ll spend the rest of SXSW supporting other Texas filmmakers, and slipping into spectator mode for music week. As for April? That’s when they catch up on sleep.

The Perfect Evening at Home

A perfect evening would mean making it home in time to sit on our front porch, watch the light fade, catch up on the day, and sip our version of a gin and tonic—the Golden Sash. We’ll have gumbo left over from the previous night (it’s always better the next day) so we don’t have to eat supper too late. Of course, we’ll end the night with a movie (but that happens every night regardless).

The Perfect Dinner Party: Guests

  • Freddie Mercury
  • LaDonna Harris
  • Shane MacGowan
  • Joan Rivers
  • Richard Pryor
  • Eudora Welty
  • Les Blank
  • Carol Burnett

The Perfect Dinner Party: Menu

Drink: Golden Sash (good quality gin and tonic, a splash of grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, served in a “Mississippi Julep” tumbler). Appetizers: toasted pecans and cheese straws. Salad: anything from Mindy Fox’s Salads: Beyond the Bowl. Main course: deer meatballs (adapted from Mario Batali’s turkey meatball recipe; deer compliments of Sarah Ann’s sharpshooting at the Heart of Texas Trophy Whitetails Ranch in Brady) Dessert: pots de crème

What are the ups and downs of working in the same industry?

Ups: Sam’s office is at Austin Studios, which is operated by Austin Film Society, so we commute to work together, along with our dog, Cadillac. Our schedules are in sync and our professional networks overlap, so we can divide and conquer when there is a lot going on. Downs: Our schedules are in sync and our professional networks overlap, so we spend a lot of time together and we’re often insanely busy at the same time.

Cherished Object

We love our dining room table. It was originally Sam’s great-grandparents’, and we inherited it from his grandmother. We eat dinner here every night we’re home—whether it’s just the two of us or a dinner party with friends. It sets the tone for conversation and appreciation. We recently had Smithers Furniture give it a once-over, and it’s never looked better. We want it to last for the next four generations of Douglases.

Films that Changed Our Lives

  • Sam—2001: A Space Odyssey, dir. Stanley Kubrick
  • Sarah Ann—The Rules of the Game, dir. Jean Renoir
  • How would we describe Austin Style?
  • Brooklyn, with a side of breakfast tacos
  • Best Movie Soundtrack
  • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
  • Bookshelves are coming! Until then, they're piled high in the living room.
  • Sam's Grandmother, Mazelle, gave us this piano. It is not fun to move.
  • Our dog Cadillac, the Escalade of terriers.
  • Our favorite city documented by music photographer William Claxton.
  • The Dining room table was originally Sam's great-grandparents. Dan Asher photograph and Jack Sanders prints in the background.
  • Big scissors are essential.
  • Sam's diesel Mercedes. You can hear it coming a mile away.
  • Sarah Ann's dresser, with family photos.


Photography by Wynn Myers

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