Making a film is no easy feat, and Austin Film Festival is honored to play host to the premieres of some of Hollywood’s most anticipated films before they hit the big screen, and the writers and creators who make it all happen.
So what do these filmmakers have to say about the process? How do you find a compelling story, and what steps does it take to get your film from script to screen?
Here are six insider tips from celebrated filmmakers who premiered their work at Austin Film Festival:
1. GET FAMILIAR WITH THE PROCESS
The truth is that nobody arrives at where they’re at in one way, so there’s absolutely not one way to bake a cake. But, I do think that it’s important that anyone who is pursuing making something very seriously, that they really pay attention and research the way that projects are put together.
-Brady Corbet at the AFF premiere of Vox Lux in 2018
2. GIVE US SOMEONE TO ROOT FOR
It’s so much easier to write when you’re rooting for the people. For me, I just can’t write people that I don’t believe in what they’re trying to do, and I really like characters that are broken, that are messy, that make big mistakes. I think that when we go to the movies or we look for stories, we want to see people do the things that we in our worst days would do, or on our best days would hope we would do.
-Peter Hedges at the AFF premiere of Ben is Back in 2018
3. RECOGNIZE YOUR STRENGTHS
I came to it through writing…I certainly didn’t bring any of the technical know-how to my job as a director, and I did not really bring some incredible visual style to it, but I felt like I brought really understanding the story, and really feeling like I was the person who is inside that story, and that was what made me sort of eligible for the job.
-Francesca Delbanco at the Season 2 premiere of Friends from College in 2018
4. MAKE SOMETHING YOU CAN BE PROUD OF
I don’t think about the awards at all. We just try to make a movie that we feel proud of. That’s really all you can do. All you can do is make a movie that you feel proud of. After that, it’s out of your hands.
-Dan Gilroy at the AFF premiere of Roman J. Israel, Esq. in 2017
5. BE WILLING TO BREAK THE RULES
To me, all of the characters were very rebellious and they’re very wrong-headed, and I wanted the script to mirror that. So, I wanted to include all the things that they say you can’t do. “You can’t break the fourth wall.” “You can’t have split-screens.” At one point, Allison’s character criticizes the screenplay and says, “My storyline is disappearing,” and it works even though it doesn’t make sense. it works because it mirrors the rebelliousness and the wrong-headedness of the characters.
-Steven Rodgers at the AFF premiere of I, Tonya in 2017
6. RELINQUISH CONTROL OF YOUR CHARACTERS
For me, the biggest part of my job as a director, particularly if you’re a writer-director, is you give that character to that person. When they are cast, you give them the little candle that’s that person’s soul, and you say, “Now it’s yours. I don’t know more than you. You are the keeper of that person,” and you really can’t interfere with that process.
-Greta Gerwig at the AFF premiere of Lady Bird in 2017
Want to hear from these filmmakers first hand? Purchase a Film Pass for just $60 and get access to eight days of premiere screenings at the 2019 Austin Film Festival, featuring over 175 films from indie darlings to Hollywood hard hitters, with many writers and filmmakers in attendance.
For more information on how to attend, click here.