By Hannah Alvarado
Blog Content Contributor
Texas, in my humble opinion, is a majestic land that is just chock-full of fantastic must-sees that far exceed most people’s perception of our Lone Star State. Believe it or not, there is a whole lot more to do than eat Whataburger and float down the river. (Which of course, is an amazing past time). Personally though, I adore learning about new places I should go, restaurants to try, and sites to see right here in my home state. So if you happen to be in to Texas for University, or are even a native Texan looking for some recommendations and you don’t want to google “fun things to do in Texas” for the thousandth time, just trust your pal Hannah to tell you where to go. This week’s “go there” I’d suggest you to check out? The Austin Film Festival.
So what exactly is Austin Film Festival? Austin Film Festival, or A.F.F. for short, is an annual festival that was first held in 1993, in Austin, Texas. The hard working individuals behind the seven day festival, gear up year round to bring together Hollywood professionals, as well as invite aspiring/amateur creators of all things entertainment, together in one place. The individuals from the professional and amateur world include screenwriters, filmmakers, actors, producers, and the unsung heroes of our television and big screen entertainment. In their own words, “Austin Film Festival furthers the art and craft of storytelling by inspiring and championing the work of writers, filmmakers, and all artists who use written and visual language to tell a story.” (According to their website).
During the festival itself, “panels” are held in which the invited professionals hold conferences on varying topics from how they began their careers, inside information, as well as tips to aid any individuals who are looking to make it in the business themselves. As well, contests are in place for amateurs short films, screenplays and the like, to be displayed and show cased. Which is a both entertaining to attend and exciting for individuals hoping to get their first big break in the industry.
This festival is an absolute must see for anyone who is interested in a career in film direction/production, as well as writing for things like podcasts, television, or the entertainment world as a whole. It’s also recommended for anyone who just wants to attend a fascinating and star studded event. As, some household names have attended the festival in the past including actor Johnny-Depp, The Bourne Identity trilogies own Tony Gilroy, actor Susan Sarandon, A Quiet Place writer Scott Beck, writer James V. Hart (of Hook and Tuck Everlasting among several others) and John Hamburg (writer/director of Along Came Polly, I Love You, Man, and co-writer Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Zoolander, Night School) along with so many others.
How did I find out about Austin Film Festival? Funny enough, but back in March of 2018 I was searching for an internship that revolved around me furthering my craft of writing when I stumbled upon the Conference Internship posed by A.F.F. It was my time spent interning there, that I learned and fell in love with the idea of the festival. True, it is called “Austin Film Festival”, but the first four days consist of the writer’s portion. It not only promotes and educates the public about the brilliant minds behind our most beloved television programs, podcasts and films, the writers- but it also serves as a sort of boot-camp for individuals who are trying to break into the business. All from the individuals who have been there and done that.
Not only is the festival a star studded event, but it offers something that us non-entertainment folk rarely get; face time with these individuals to hear them speak about their craft and possibly the chance to interact via asking questions. Interested in attending? Check out how to get your badges, which vary in price depending on what day/time you’re planning on attending, as well as how much access you have throughout the festival on the link above. (Be sure to check it out so you know which badge is best for you!)
Okay so, if that hasn’t convinced you or if you can’t afford to make it this year, I’d suggest checking out A.F.F.’s incredible podcast “On Story”. According to them, On Story is an “extension of AFF’s programs, mission, and messaging, On Story offers inspiring and instructional curations from the entertainment industry’s leading writers, directors, and creatives. It serves to shine a light on these visionaries who, through the transformative power of storytelling, boldly reflect the best of humanity and, subsequently, inspire and instruct the next generation of storytellers.” The videos shown are cut straight from the most recent year’s festival and are really entertaining to watch. Especially if this is the first you’ve heard of A.F.F. and missed out on the previous year’s festivals. Not only are they “offered free online” but some of the On Story info has also been “preserved and archived at The Wittliff Collections” right here at Texas State University!
Over all, I’d say that the A.F.F. events are a dynamic experience that serves as fun, education, and a contest all wrapped up in one. Which, no matter your reason for attending, is in my opinion, absolutely a reason to go there.
Featured photo by Haley Peters.