Thursday, October 9, 2008

2008 Austin Film Festival

I had a chance to read for this years screenplay competition. It has given me great insight to the inner workings of the festival as well as meeting the people behind the scenes. Alex McPhail the Screenplay / Teleplay Competition Director, was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me.
Austin Film Festival Staff

O.D. -What sets the AFF apart from the other festivals?
A.M. -The festival is focused more toward the screenwriter. Other festivals focus on the filmmaker.

O.D. - How many entries did you get for the script competition this year?
A.M. - Over 4,100 entries. Only the top ten percent made it to the second round.

O.D. - For someone coming to the festival for the first time, what tips would you give them?
A.M. - Drink a lot of coffee, because you won't get much sleep! Take advantage of all the networking opportunities. You can't come to the festival and be a wall flower.

Dan French and Scott Rice at the Conference Wrap Party.

O.D. - What is the biggest success story that has come from the AFF?
A.M. - A lot of television and ghost writing have come out of the festival. The first years winner Max Adams, went on to have her script produced (Excess Baggage, starring Alicia Silverstone and Benicio del Toro). Most recently Jimmy Miller (last years drama category winner) went on to have his script optioned and now has an agent.

Gerald Di Pego and Jimmy Miller at the screening of "The Cake Eaters."

"I think every aspiring writer who is serious about breaking into the industry should come to the Austin Film Festival. It is a unique opportunity to learn from and interact with professional working writers who have been through every phase of the art and business of screenwriting.

It is a rare opportunity to ask questions directly to them and get unfiltered answers about the realities of trying to make a living as a screenwriter. They are very open about the highs and lows and the work and determination required to compete against the best writers in the world.

You also get to hear from production company and studio executives, show runners, producers, directors, actors, agents and managers who are there not only to share their experience and wisdom, but to make connections with the next generation of writers.

I was lucky enough to win the Adult/Family category last year. That exposure helped land me a wonderful agent and manager. It lead to my script being optioned by a dedicated and talented director (Mary Stuart Masterson), and has opened many other doors during the past year that makes me very excited for the future. I couldn't be happier to come back to Austin this year and enjoy it even more."

-Jimmy Miller, 2007 Adult/ Family Winner

O.D. - How many finalist are there this year?
A.M.- There are twenty-two finalist.

Patrick Gough (2007 Runner-up Pitch competition)& Paul Clingan (2007 Pitch Competition Winner)

Austin with it's laid back vibe and "Keep Austin Weird" motto makes this the most accessible, comfortable environment for the beginner and seasoned professional alike. The conference portion starts on Thursday October 16th and runs until Sunday October 19th. During the day panels are held where you can learn from the professionals.
"Great festival with a true community feel. Always worth the time."
-Db Sweeney
Db Sweeney, Joe Metcalfe, Ray McKinnon

The films normally run in the evenings before the late night festival parties. There are quite a few stars from the films that are in attendance. The opening night film is Oliver Stone's "W". The centerpiece film is David Wain's "Role Models". The closing night film is James Gray's "Two Lovers".

There is so much to take advantage of at this film festival. To get the most out of it, I suggest getting a producers badge. That gives you and all access pass to everything the festival has to offer. For more visit

1 comment:

Open for Discussion said...

I do miss Sydney Pollack!!