Yes – it is already September! Can you believe it?! If you haven’t already started planning your trip to Austin, we highly recommend it! The full schedule will be released later this month, but we wanted to provide a sneak preview of what you can expect each day of this year’s Conference.
Please note: you can experience film screenings complemented by lively and informative Q&As during all 8 days of the Festival!
Haven’t purchased your Badge? Register today!
Badge and Pass prices increase September 20 at 11:59PM PST!
Need a place to stay? Check out our Travel & Lodging page for a list of our partner hotels. Want to stay at our Conference Headquarters? The InterContinental Stephen F. Austin is a great option! You must have a badge before booking your hotel room. Once you have your badge, give us a call at the office and we can assist you 1.800.310.FEST!
We are excited to announce a new workshop series at this year’s Conference: WORK IN PROGRESS
We believe it is not a writer’s level of talent that determines their success, but rather how they work with – and manage – that talent. In WORK IN PROGRESS, Ed Solomon and Max Borenstein (with special guests) will lead a question and answer workshop using the writing issues the attendees are currently facing as a backdrop to discuss the real thing that separates the pros from the not-yet pros: the ability to assess, mine and cultivate one’s own unique gifts, and to keep them growing throughout a lifetime. Participants are requested to come with prepared questions on specific issues they are having right now with their current work.
The WORK IN PROGRESS sessions will be held each day during the Conference and will be roughly structured over the following topics:
Session 1: Idea to Story
Session 2: Story to Structure
Session 3: Structure to Scenes
Session 4: Writing to Rewriting
Not sure when to arrive – take a look at the time frames below – we hope this will help you plan your trip before the full schedule is released!
Arrive on Wednesday, October 23 and kick off the Festival at our Film & Food Fundraising Party!
Held in the glamorous and historic Driskill Hotel, Film & Food brings together filmmakers, producers, celebrities, and foodies from around the country and the Austin area to celebrate the arts of filmmaking and screenwriting. Come enjoy flowing cocktails and inventive cuisine from over 20 of Austin’s most notable chefs. Our live and silent auctions showcase the best in luxury items, trips, and experiences.
Proceeds benefit Austin Film Festival’s Young Filmmakers Program (YFP), which aims to improve creativity, literacy, and communication skills through the arts of screenwriting and filmmaking. YFP collectively serves over 1,800 students, ages 9-18, in the Austin community annually through programs including Digital Storytelling, Arts Education Outreach, and Summer Film Camp. Programs are offered free through AISD schools and partner organizations, and YFP grants more than 300 students and teachers scholarships to attend the annual Austin Film Festival & Conference each year.
Below are some highlights you can expect to see during the Conference
How to Work the Conference
The AFF Conference is a great place to mingle and learn – that person sitting next to you could be a life changing contact. Although the schedule can be intimidating, this panel featuring seasoned Festival attendees is here to help. Join the discussion on everything from networking to pitching to where the closest restroom can be found. Find out how to maximize your Badge and your time here at the Conference!
A Conversation with Lulu Wang
Join us for an in-depth conversation with writer/director Lulu Wang. In this panel, Wang will discuss her career, from her first film—indie rom com Posthumous, to writing and directing her critically acclaimed film The Farewell, that follows a Chinese family who decide to keep their ailing grandmother in the dark about her own terminal illness and instead plan a wedding to say their final goodbyes.
The Writer/Manager Relationship
You hear it from everyone—finding representation is the key to opening the doors of Hollywood. So what should you be looking for in a manager, and what can you expect from that relationship once you’ve found one? Join screenwriter and former AFF winner Henry Jones alongside his literary manager Ryan Cunningham for an in-depth exploration of the manager/writer relationship and how to make the most of this working partnership.
Must have an AFF Producers or Conference Badge to attend Thursday panels.
Opening Night Reception | 5:00PM – 7:00PM
This year’s Opening Night Reception is the perfect place to reconnect with AFF friends, compare notes on which movies you can’t miss, and fall back into the Austin vibe.
WGA West Late Night Welcome Party | 11:00PM – 1:00AM
The WGA West Late Night Welcome Party celebrates the first full day of panels and is a great end to the day’s packed schedule. This party sets the tone for the rest of the week as panelists, filmmakers, screenwriters and attendees discuss what the rest of the conference and festival have in store. Grab a beer or a glass of wine and enjoy the first late night party-but pace yourself, you’ve got a lot more ahead!
Making a TV Show
What does it take to get your get your TV show off the ground and into production? Join the co-creators of the upcoming NBC series Lincoln, Mark Bianculli and VJ Boyd, for a conversation on producing their first tv series and the day-to-day duties of creators, from writing and producing a successful pilot, to staffing a writers room.
Writing and Creative Development at Pixar
Pixar Animation Studios has a story development process that is unique in the industry. In this panel, Toy Story 4 writer Stephany Folsom will join Mike Jones, who has written for several Pixar movies, in describing the intensely collaborative way writers work with directors and story artists. Development Executives Mary Coleman and Megan Alderson will walk you through how Pixar scouts writers, matches them with directors, then supports them in creating engaging characters, believable worlds, and compelling stories.
On Writing Chernobyl: A Conversation with Craig Mazin
Join Craig Mazin, creator of the HBO miniseries Chernobyl for a conversation on the process behind his faithful reimagining of the 1986 nuclear accident that lead to one of the worst human disasters in recent history. In this panel, Mazin will discuss the making of the historical drama, and how research, transparency, and responsible storytelling are crucial for preserving the truth at the core of your story.
Roadmap Writers Presents Life’s a Pitch!
Life’s a pitch! Well, at least that’s the case for these screenwriters. Join pitch competition sponsor Roadmap Writers for a conversation with panelists as they share stories about the projects they’ve pitched and offer insight on how to maximize your success in front of decision-makers.
The Screenwriters Toolbox: Character
Characters are the emotional anchor for all great stories. No matter how intricate your plot design, well-developed characters are integral for engaging your audience and encouraging them to invest in your story’s journey. This panel will explore the tools for writing effective characters why character building is so vital to the success of a screenplay.
Grab a drink from the bar and join Craig Mazin for a special late-night recording of the incredibly informative screenwriting podcast Scriptnotes. Mazin and special guests… (really good ones) will discuss craft and career, complete with audience questions, and other surprises.
Must have an AFF Producers or Conference Badge to attend Friday panels.
Film Texas BBQ Supper | 4:45PM – 6:45PM
Hosted by the Texas Association of Film Commissions, Producers Badges are invited to kick off the weekend, chat and chow down at one of the most highly anticipated events of the Festival each year. Join us and savor world-famous BBQ, washed down with a cold beer or glass of Wine. Representatives from regional film commissions across Texas will be on hand to tell you all about the media production industries in Texas.
Filmmakers Happy Hour presented by Final Draft | 11:00PM – 1:00AM
The Filmmakers Happy Hour is another one of the Festival’s great late-night parties and provides filmmakers and registrants alike the opportunity to discuss another full day of panels and the Friday evening films. Swap your Saturday schedule while enjoying an adult beverage!
What kind or preparation do you need to do before you start a project? Where’s the line between “researching” and procrastinating? Join a group of writers as they discuss various processes before tackling the blank page.
From Stage to Page: Screenwriting as a Playwright
Sit down for a conversation that ventures off the screen, onto the stage, and then back again. Featuring a panel of writers who have worked in both theatre, film, and television, this discussion will pull back the curtain on ways their experiences as playwrights have positively affected their craft as screenwriters.
A Conversation with David Benioff & D.B. Weiss: The 2019 Outstanding Television Award Recipients
Our watch may have ended, but for the writers behind the groundbreaking series Game of Thrones, our questions have only just begun. Join the series’ showrunners and our 2019 Outstanding Television Writer Awardees David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for an in-depth look into the process of adapting George R. R. Martin’s bestselling books into the epic HBO series that changed the landscape of modern television.
With managers serving more and more as the primary source of representation for working writers, finding a literary manager has become an important step in jumpstarting your career. In this panel, managers will share their advice on finding representation, what they look for in new writers, and what to expect from the writer/manager relationship.
Must have an AFF Producers, Conference, Weekend, or Lone Star Badge to attend Saturday panels.
Awards Luncheon | 12:15PM – 2:15PM | Awards Luncheon tickets are $65 and can be purchased as an add on when you buy your Conference or Producers Badge. Already have a Conference or Producers Badge and want to buy a ticket – give us a call at the office 1.800.310.FEST
While attending the Festival, don’t miss the opportunity to attend the Awards Luncheon, where you can dine with panelists, awardees, and hear inspiring speeches from this year’s honorees and winners. A must attend event to make the most of your AFF experience.
Podcast Mixer | 1:30PM – 2:45PM
Mix and mingle with podcast writers, podcast network execs, and fans of all things podcasting!
Wine Tasting presented by Chloe Wine Collection | 4:30PM – 6:00PM
Discover how effortlessly cool you sound after learning about some of your favorite writers and a few glasses of wine.
Screenwriters Happy Hour presented by Nickelodeon Writing Program | 6:00PM – 7:00PM
Second Rounders, Semifinalists, Finalists and Script Competition Judges for mixing and mingling. Competition advancers and judges make for an exciting atmosphere perfect for lively exchange. It is also a great chance to meet our Script Competition Director and Coordinator and put a face behind the emails and the success of the 2019 Competition. A great way to kick off the Saturday evening of parties and films, invitees leave feeling inspired and confident.
Pitch Finale Party presented by Roadmap Writers | 7:30PM – 9:30PM
This unique event allows contestants 90 seconds to pitch their best ideas to a panel of judges made up of agents, producers, managers and screenwriters in a constructive and friendly environment.
Heart of Film Conference Party presented by Originator Studios | 11:00PM – 1:00AM
Open to Weekend Badges and above, the Heart of Film Conference Party is the quintessential way to round out your Festival weekend. Riding on the high of three days of panels with one more to go, this year’s party will also be the ultimate celebration.
The perfect backdrop for panelists, award recipients, and filmmakers to celebrate the last night before the end of the Conference Weekend. With many special guests heading home after the Sunday’s panels, the Heart of Film Conference Party provides one last chance to network and mingle with aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters. Enjoy the view with a glass of wine, a cold beer, or a cocktail.
“Hair of the Dog” Brunch | 10:00AM – 11:15AM
Hungover? Yep, us too. Here’s an ice cold mimosa or maybe you need a Bloody Mary and delicious tex mex brunch to reinvigorate your soul. Ranch 616 is cooking up some South Texas delights to soak up the night before- or the whole week- and put a jaunt in your step. Join us for this not to be missed event to get your fuel for another day of panels and films!
A Conversation with James Ivory: The 2019 Extraordinary Contribution to Film Award Recipient
James Ivory is a renowned director, writer, and producer with a career spanning over 60 years. Through his film company—Merchant Ivory Productions, Ivory directed dozens of films alongside producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, including the Oscar-nominated films A Room with a View, Howards End, and The Remains of the Day. Most recently, Ivory wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for Call Me by Your Name. Join this year’s Extraordinary Contribution to Film Awardee for a conversation on his legendary career and his lasting impact in the world of film.
First impressions are important—especially when you’re meeting with someone who can help propel your career forward. So how do you nail that initial meeting? What can you anticipate, how do you prepare, and what questions should you be asking? Working managers will offer their advice and insight on how to get yourself manager-ready.
Balancing Multiple Projects
As a working writer, it’s common practice to have many irons in the fire. So how do you balance working on multiple projects and what can you do to ensure that you’re not dropping a ball in the process? Panelists will discuss their experience juggling multiple projects and give their advice for keeping a balanced workload when stretching yourself thin seems to be the name of the game.
Parting Thoughts: What Next?
It’s the end of the Conference, and you’re leaving with a belly full of barbecue, a wallet full of business cards, and pages packed with new ideas and tips from working writers on how to take your career to the next level. So what’s next? Join us for a few parting thoughts on how to use the skills you’ve learned and the connections you’ve made to take the next steps in your career as a writer.
Must have an AFF Producers, Conference, or Weekend Badge to attend Sunday panels.
On Story Party | 5:00PM – 7:00PM
Come celebrate the end of season 9 with panelists, friends, and cocktails.
Haven’t purchased your badge yet? Now is the time – register today!
All speakers and events are based on permitting schedules and subject to change and/or cancellation without notice.