The schedule for this year’s Austin Film Festival was posted last week. I’ve had a chance to look it over to see what panels and films will be my priority. They’re all pretty much my priority but that could be because I suck at prioritizing. Either way it’s looking like my days in Austin will be packed.
For those that are coming across this article in the future, like it’s 2017 and you got a letter saying you’re a second rounder or a finalist, let me give you a few tips.
Tip #1 - Get your badge early and don’t miss out on anything. If your script makes it to the second round or further they will reimburse you the cost of the discount.
The festival is in mid-October. I was notified that I made it to the second round at the beginning of September. The festival schedule doesn’t get posted until the beginning of October, so you’re basically making your decision to attend the festival based on the previous year’s schedule and whether you thought it was something that would interest you. I waited until my second round status was guaranteed before I bought my badge. In hindsight I wish I had just bought it earlier. There are a few talks I regret missing out on because they were announced earlier, around June or July, and whoever had their badges at that point RSVP’d and filled up all the seats.
Tip #2 - RSVP to everything. Quickly.
The Austin Film Festival has been emailing me announcements for upcoming events and I’ve been RSVPing as soon as possible since most of the events have a maximum number of seats. So far I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the forty writers who will get to sit with producer Lindsay Doran (THE FIRM, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, NANNY MCPHEE) to discuss the importance and structure of the first ten pages of a script. I RSVP’d to a few more but haven’t received any confirmation that I was selected.
A BRIEF NOTE: I’m not sure exactly what these events will be like. Some are ‘talks’ and ’roundtables’. There’s a few panels, so I understand that from Comic Con. I’ll be posting about these events as they happen.
The first day of AFF is Thursday October 18th. Here’s a rundown of what is going on opening day.
Thursday at 12:00pm in the Driskill Hotel Ballroom
A CONVERSATION WITH MARTI NOXON
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Driskill Hotel Ballroom
Take part in a conversation with Marti Noxon, a prolific television and film writer whose credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy¸ Mad Men, Glee, and the recent films I AM NUMBER FOUR and FRIGHT NIGHT. #ConvoNoxon
A CONVERSATION WITH SCOTT Z. BURNS
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Stephen F. Austin, Ballroom
Sit down and hear from Scott Z. Burns, the writer, director, and producer responsible for such high-profile films as THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, CONTAGION, and the upcoming DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Scott will talk about how he approaches a script and how he makes his films truly stand out. #ConvoBurns
WRITERS, DIRECTORS, AND PRODUCERS
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Driskill Hotel, Maximilian Room
AFF CONFERENCE: HOW TO WORK IT
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Driskill Hotel, Citadel Room
WRITING FOR DOCUMENTARIES
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Driskill Hotel, Jim Hogg Parlor
AUSTIN PITCH PREP
Thursday at 1:00pm in the St. David’s Episcopal Church, Vestry Conference Room
IMPROVE YOUR LOGLINE
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Stephen F. Austin, Assembly Room
MARKETING YOURSELF AND YOUR SCRIPT
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Driskill Hotel, Victorian Balcony
ROUNDTABLE SESSION: THE CREATIVE SIDE
Thursday at 1:00pm in the St. David’s Episcopal Church, Crail Hall
ARTISTIC INTEGRITY: TELEPLAY
Thursday at 1:00pm in the Driskill Hotel, Citadel Club
A CONVERSATION WITH KENT ALTERMAN
Thursday at 2:45pm in the Stephen F. Austin, Ballroom
Kent Alterman, the head of original programming at Comedy Central and producer of such films as ELF, LITTLE CHILDREN, and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, joins us for an intimate discussion about his storied career. #convoAlterman
BREAKING ONTO THE SCENE
Thursday at 2:45pm in the Driskill Hotel, MaximilianRoom
Thursday at 2:45pm in the Driskill Hotel, Citadel Room
INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION: A CASE STUDY
Thursday at 2:45pm in the Driskill Hotel, Jim Hogg Parlor
Thursday at 2:45pm in the St. David’s Episcopal Church, Vestry Conference Room
HOW TO TURN A FESTIVAL SCRIPT INTO A CAREER
Thursday at 2:45pm in the Stephen F. Austin, Assembly Room
ROUNDTABLE SESSION: THE BUSINESS SIDE
Thursday at 2:45pm in the St. David’s Episcopal Church, Crail Hall
A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID CHASE
Thursday at 3:00pm in the Driskill Hotel Ballroom
David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, recipient of our first Outstanding Television Writer Award in 2000, and writer of this year’s Opening Night Film NOT FADE AWAY, will take part in an in-depth discussion about his impressive career and what he’s learned during his 40 years in the TV world. #convodavidchase
And those are just the conference events. The films start at 7:00pm with David Chase presenting the Opening Night Film NOT FADE AWAY, his feature film debut as writer / director and the last film of the day is at 10:00pm with the documentary VAMPIRA AND ME. The WGA West is having a welcome party at 11:00pm and I think I can go to that without being a member of of the WGA, but we’ll see about that.
For the first day I’ll go to the opening remarks and then it’s either the talk with Marti Noxon or Scott Z. Burns, whichever one I can get into. There’s going to be choices like this each day of the festival. Which panel should I go to or should I go see a film? A lot of the speakers will be at multiple events so if I miss them at one panel I’ll get to hear them at another.
One conflict I couldn’t avoid – I’ll be missing writers John August and Craig Mazin doing a live Scriptnotes because I have a roundtable at the same time. They’re both talking at other events but it would have been awesome to see them do the podcast live.
One event that I hope I get to attend is ‘A Conversation with Frank Darabont’.
2012 EXTRAORDINARY CONTRIBUTION TO FILMMAKING AWARDEE – FRANK DARABONT
We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Awardee is Frank Darabont, director of film favorites THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE GREEN MILE, THE MAJESTIC, THE MIST, and more. Darabont will accept the award at the Festival’s annual Award Luncheon on Saturday, October 20 at the Austin Club.
Frank Darabont is a three-time Academy Award® nominee (director, writer, and producer) and is one of only six filmmakers in history to have had their first two feature films as director receive Oscar® nominations for Best Picture, with 1994’s THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and 1999’s THE GREEN MILE. Both these films were adaptations based on works by Stephen King, and both garnered Oscar® nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. He is also the director of 2001’s THE MAJESTIC starring Jim Carrey and another Stephen King adaptation, 2007’s THE MIST starring Thomas Jane. Darabont most recently is credited as the creator of the critically acclaimed AMC television series, The Walking Dead.
The award winner will contribute to this year’s Conference in “A Conversation with Frank Darabont,” which will take an in-depth look inside Darabont’s career in both film and television as a writer and director.
The Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award recognizes outstanding filmmakers for going above and beyond with their consistently exceptional bodies of work. Frank Darabont will join the ranks of past recipients, which include the likes of John Lasseter (TOY STORY), Robert Rodriguez (SINCITY), Ron Howard (THE DA VINCI CODE), Danny Boyle (127 HOURS), Oliver Stone (PLATOON), and Sydney Pollack (OUT OF AFRICA).
So there it is. I have one more week to get my schedule in order and to get my brain wrapped around the fact that I’ll be floating around the festival for nine days. It’s strange to think about that fact so I haven’t thought about it but I really need to.
One decision I need to make is what to do about my own script. Do I take hard copies in case anyone offers to read it? Should I keep flash drives with my contact information and a PDF of the script? Should I just email the PDF from my Dropbox if anyone wants it? I don’t know the answer. This is all in the hopes that someone will want to read my script. That might not happen. But then again, it might. And that’s why I’m going.