Good morning! And in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!
My name is Claire Norris, and I’m an intern in the Conference department at AFF. One look at the schedule here is enough to make anyone’s head spin. There are so many awesome-sounding panels! How do you choose between legends from all over the industry and make the most of your Badge? As a full-time film student, my life is already pretty hectic. However, after three years of attending the Festival, interning this year has helped me navigate the Conference like never before. Researching, planning, and writing copy for panels all summer, I learned about the careers and works of oodles of panelists. Here is a list of my personal favorites for 2016.
Thursday, October 13th
1:00 pm – Writing for Hollywood Outside of Hollywood
I have to start with a panel that includes one of my professors at UT. Not everybody wants to work in LA or New York, and these writers know what it takes to build a successful career outside of the major centers of production. If you thought your professional options were limited, you may be surprised at what today’s technology makes possible.
2:45 pm – No One Understands My Work! How to Give and Take Constructive Feedback
It’s easy to get bogged down in criticism, but getting feedback is an essential part of improving your writing. I know I would appreciate learning how to take (and give!) that advice in a productive way.
Friday, October 14th
9:00 am – To Speak or Not to Speak: Dialogue
My roommate is really good at writing dialogue. Personally, I could use a little help, which is why I’m looking forward to this panel featuring writers from film and TV. They have the best words.
10:45 am – Breaking In: As an Assistant
Of the countless ways to break into the business, assisting people is one of the most common. Who wouldn’t want to hear how the writers of Justified, Nashville, Scandal, and (500) Days of Summer made it big? If you start as an assistant, one day you might just have people assisting you.
1:30 pm – Writing for Disney and Pixar Animation Studios: Collaboration and Immersion
I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with the creative process at Pixar and Disney. When every project intentionally spends five years in development, you know they’re dedicated to story. And if you think that animated movies are just for children, you have a lot to learn from the teams that know how to activate your tear ducts.
3:15 pm – Tuning In: Music in Television
Are Empire and Nashville musicals? Not exactly, but they still use music as a key device for story development. I’m really excited to learn more about how to keep it real when characters keep bursting into song.
Saturday, October 15th
9:00 am – Science Fiction vs. Science Fact
Did you know that Nicole Perlman has fangirled over physicist Richard Feynman her whole life? Especially for a sci-fi writer, that kind of dedication to real science is extremely cool. Come learn how finding the balance between data and suspension of disbelief can lead your story to truth.
10:45 am – “Drawing” Back the Curtains: Animation
Here’s a secret: I really like animation. From pre-production to post, this panel covers how movies get made when they’re constructed entirely from imagination and pixels. Discover what everybody really means when they say story is king.
12:30 pm – Is Your Script or Production in Jeopardy?
If there’s one thing you can’t avoid in filmmaking, it’s running into unexpected problems. This panel, which is also structured like an actual game of Jeopardy, will help you learn how to manage when disaster strikes.
2:45 pm – The Queens of Comedy
I didn’t listen to the regular radio growing up; I listened to stand-up comedians. As someone who loves to laugh, I’m over the moon about all the great women making the world funny right now. Prepare to be amused!
4:30 pm – Culturevision & Niche Storytelling
Awardees at the Emmys weren’t wrong when they pointed out the increasing diversity in television. More shows are exploring immigrant narratives, specificity, and racial identity in the rapidly shifting landscape of modern TV. By promoting national conversation about relevant issues, these shows demonstrate that reaching out to audiences beyond white men is not only viable; it is vital.
Sunday, October 16th
11:30 am – Chicks with Bics
I’ve been trying to attend this panel ever since I started coming to the Festival. My friends always tell me it’s terrific, with hilarious and heartbreaking stories straight from the women of the film industry. I can’t wait to finally see what I’ve been missing this year.
1:15 pm – Indie Film Track: Film Sales and Festival Circuits
As you wind down your time at the Conference, don’t forget to learn about what happens at the end of creating a film. Distribution and exhibition are as crucial to the movie as making it. In fact, there are still four days of film screenings left at the Festival. What are you waiting for?
Of course, these panels are only a handful of the endless possibilities at AFF. I hope that you can make it to at least a few of them. No matter where you end up, the Conference is a wonderful place to network and learn about the industry. I can’t wait to see you there!