As the initial deadline for the Austin Film Festival’s 2023 Screenplay and Film Competitions approaches in a week, we want to encourage you to submit your work with us before the Early Bird Deadline on March 23rd. Take advantage of the best price of the year! Here is a list of seven compelling reasons why you should not delay and submit your script or film today!
1. Share your story…
For three decades now, Austin Film Festival has been dedicated to advancing the art and skill of storytelling. We do so by celebrating and encouraging the creative work of writers, filmmakers, and all artists who employ written and visual language to narrate their stories. A key component of our initiatives to promote this goal is our Screenplay and Film Competitions. Therefore, if you have written a screenplay or created a film, we invite you to submit it. In recent years, we have expanded beyond our traditional screenplay and film categories and now strive to support newer forms of media, such as podcasting, playwriting, and digital series. Regardless of the medium you choose, your story is significant to us. We provide you with an opportunity to share your incredible work, which likely required significant time, effort, and even tears, with the world. Allow us to champion your story!
“Winning the AMC One-Hour Pilot award at the Austin Film Festival was the biggest turning point in my career so far. The Devil and the Deep was the first script I had written, and I submitted it to AFF largely because of the free notes that came with entering. I was just hoping to make it past the first round and gauge my level of writing, but the script was like the little engine that could, and I was fortunate enough to win. The experience led to meetings with executives from AMC and talent reps, and gave me the confidence to pursue writing full-time.” — Kyle Bugg, 2016 AMC One-Hour Pilot Award Winner for The Devil and the Deep
2. Get honest feedback…
When you submit your screenplay to our Screenplay Competition, you can choose to opt-in for free reader comments. This option is available to give you a peek into the minds of our extensively screened readers and their insights. By receiving this feedback, you can hopefully identify areas for improvement in your script. If you’re seeking a more comprehensive evaluation of your work, we suggest exploring our Coverage Program. This program assigns a reader who provides an in-depth analysis of your screenplay, offering a behind-the-scenes look at how industry professionals assess a script’s impact and functionality. Rewriting, restructuring, and reimagining a script can be challenging, and we believe that everyone deserves support and insight along the way.
“Even though my script wasn’t quite where I wanted it, I was motivated to apply to AFF for the coverage. When my script advanced, I couldn’t believe it – had I been talking myself out of a solid script this whole time?! AFF gave me the confidence to continue developing my script and for that I’m very grateful.” — Rachel Van Nes, 2021 Rooster Teeth Women & Animation Fellowship Finalist for Trashed
3. Make the pilgrimage…
One of the added advantages of submitting to our competitions is that you receive a discount to attend the Austin Film Festival’s eight days of films and the world-renowned Writers Conference. The Writers Conference provides access to over 175 panels, roundtables, pitch sessions, and workshops that cover every aspect of storytelling, from art and craft to the business side of film, television, and digital platforms. It’s akin to a summer camp for storytellers, and our approachable Texas vibe ensures you get to hear directly from the biggest names in the industry during the day and socialize with them at the evening parties. You never know when you might make that connection that leads to the next gig, project, or major career move. It’s an event worth making the trip, as Game of Thrones co-creator David Benioff said of AFF, “It was actually inspiring to come here to what is truly the greatest film festival in the world.”
And if you can’t make it to Austin, then let us bring the amazing inspiration from the Writer’s Conference to your home. Check out Austin Film Festival’s On Story project, which consists of a TV show that airs on Public Television, a public radio show, a podcast, and more. On Story gives viewers an inside look at the creative process behind some of our most popular and beloved movies and television shows. Find out more at OnStory.TV.
4. Earn an award and much deserved recognition…
“Don’t even ask me about winning because I still don’t remember what I said when I got up to speak at the Award’s Luncheon. All I remember is coming down off the stage and the first set of eyes I made eye-contact with were those of Kenneth Lonergan at the front table. A humbling, surreal experience.” — Caroline Hopkins, 2017 Drama Screenplay Award Winner for Brokenhearted
The feeling of winning an AFF competition is hard to describe. While our bronze typewriter trophy is undoubtedly an attractive addition to any desk, bookcase, or mantle, the real reward of winning is the recognition it provides. Over the last three decades, we have witnessed numerous career-defining moments, like Caroline’s, arising from our competitions. Among Hollywood tastemakers, AFF’s competition is one of the most prestigious, regularly bringing up-and-coming talents out of the isolation of their workstations and immersing them in the bustling worlds of film and television. Whether your aspiration is to secure a contract, secure an agent, learn from an industry legend, or win the coveted Bronze Typewriter Award, it’s simple: you cannot win if you don’t enter.
5. The Typewriter is only the start…
Screening your film at AFF is frequently only the beginning of its journey. In 2022, Austin Film Festival showcased eight movies that were subsequently nominated for an Academy Award®, with three of them winning Oscars®, such as An Irish Goodbye, which received the award for best Live Action Short Film. This is just one of several films that have made their way from AFF’s screens to the Oscar® stage. Short films that win the Narrative, Animated, and Documentary Short categories’ jury award are eligible for consideration by the Academy®. In 2018, Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405 won AFF’s jury award for Best Documentary and went on to win the 90th Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short. On the aforementioned On Story podcast, filmmaker Frank Stiefel talks about his journey from the initial idea to his Oscar® nomination.
6. Get your name out there…
It was previously mentioned how winning one of AFF’s competitions can advance your career as well as the benefits of networking while at the Writers Conference. However, we offer even more opportunities to increase your exposure to influential industry figures. During the Festival each year, we host intimate Industry Lunches for those who make it to the second-round of the Screenplay competition. We also put on Script Reading Workshops, where selected Scripts are read aloud by actors and then discussed afterwards. In addition, we publish and distribute our reputable Producers Book annually, which is distributed to over 1,000 industry professionals, including agents, managers, producers, and Conference panelists. All winners, finalists, and semi-finalists from the screenplay competition and all films screened at the Festival are included in the Producers Book. We want you to take that next step in your career, no matter if this is your first project or you have been in the industry for years.
“The Austin Film Festival was an amazing whirlwind as a 2022 finalist, between the surreal live readthrough of my script, meeting so many enthusiastic, talented people and even briefly talking to writers from two of my favorite shows. Time will tell if I can land representation, but in the weeks after Austin, I got several immediate script requests based on cold queries to managers. Clearly having “AFF finalist” in my subject line helped. I also had a script request from a director.” — Christopher Wright, 2022 Comedy Feature Screenplay Finalist for MACGUFFIN
7. Do it again
“A competition win is not a ticket into the writer’s hall of fame so keep writing, writing, writing. When you’re done, you fucking write some more! And learn to respectfully critique the work of others and to accept notes without chugging a bottle of Tito’s and collapsing into a writhing, crying, hormonal wreck.” — Julie Howe, 2010 Comedy Screenplay winner for Jasper Millken
Our final reason to submit to AFF’s Screenplay and Film Competition is both the greatest and hardest to do. Once you submit once, you do it again… and again… and again. Did you know that both films and screenplays may be resubmitted in subsequent years, provided that scripts have not placed as a semi-finalist or above and that films have not shown previously pursuant to AFF’s Film Competition rules? If your project has reached one of those milestones, then we anxiously await your next project so that we can help you share it with the world! We leave you with a quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom!, where after learning that the musical he just premiered to agents, and that took him seven years to write, was not going to be made, Jonathan Larson, creator of RENT, gets the following advice from his agent Rosa.
Tick, Tick… Boom! clip courtesy of Netflix.
We can’t wait to hear your story! Submit your screenplay or film below by March 23rd at 11:59PM CDT.