Adam Goetz | 10.02.12
The best thing about Austin Film Festival is the lack of separation between the invited filmmakers and the festival attendees. Now I’ve only been working here since June, so I’m not sure how this dynamic came to be, but I think I have a pretty good idea (or at least a bad idea that will allow me to say some nice things about the festival). Austin Film Festival has managed to construct an environment that is so enjoyable, that panelists would rather mingle at The Driskill Bar than retreat to their swanky hotel rooms. The filmmakers party like attendees, and the attendees are treated like filmmakers. There’s a mutual respect in the air that isn’t seen at other film festivals. Austin Film Festival brings people together, rather than highlighting their differences with a velvet rope.
I guess all of this goes to say, the filmmakers are here to help you. They’re excited to teach you things. And there’s no better way to learn from them than to attend a whole bunch of panels. So where do you begin?
My recommendation: Keeping Time on Your Side: Temporal Elements and Your Screenplay. This panel features two of the most unique screenwriters working today. On one hand, you’ve got David Lowery. Add to Lowery’s fantastic writing and directing talents a long career as an editor, and you’ve got somebody with a very interesting and well-rounded perspective on how to maneuver through time in film. On the other hand, you’ve got Scott Neustadter, who wrote 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, a movie in which (please excuse the enormous cliché) the passing of time is itself a character. This panel affords badgeholders (Conference and Producers) the opportunity to hear two towering talents speak on a topic that I feel is often neglected when it comes to discussing screenwriting. And if there were anybody that you’d want to hear discuss it, it would be these two. You’ll have the time of your life. (I promise David Lowery and Scott Neustadter won’t be using my puns.)
My second recommendation is Taking a Write Out of Crime, which, for me, is an obvious pick. I mean, everybody loves a good crime-drama, right? This panel features three writers that I am so excited to have at the festival. Peter Craig wrote THE TOWN, which is fantastic and one of my favorite modern crime films. George Pelecanos wrote some of my absolute favorite episodes of The Wire, which is of course the best crime show ever on television. And Rian Johnson wrote and directed the amazing teenage-crime-noir BRICK, in addition to having directed Ozymandias, probably the best ever episode of Breaking Bad, which…is also the best crime show ever on television. Think about it. These are some of the best minds working in this genre. When you leave this panel, the stuff that’s in their brains will now also be in your brain. It’s like magic.
The 5 panelists that I’ve written about are all people that I sincerely look up to as a writer. These are people that have written movies and television that have reshaped, or are currently reshaping, their respective mediums. You can listen to them speak, you can ask them questions; you can maybe even awkwardly approach them at a bar or party. Anything is possible!
Adam Goetz is a senior at Texas State University, majoring in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. He started his experience at Austin Film Festival last year as a volunteer, but has since seen a meteoric rise to the rank of Conference intern.