Chris Gilman | 10.16.13
If I’ve learned anything in the several screenwriting courses I’ve taken in my two-and-a-half years at UT-Austin, it’s that breaking a story can involve an excess of frustration, caffeine, and fits of crying. Often times, it’s nothing but the crying. There’ll be moments when your ideas make every bit of sense in your mind until the moment you start transferring them to the page, or moments when you want to scrap your entire story and settle with holding a boom pole for the rest of your life. But, as challenging as producing a full screenplay can be, in the end it is an immensely rewarding creative experience, and that’s why these professional screenwriters do what they do. Austin Film Festival & Conference celebrates the time, labor and imagination screenwriters put into their work, providing a forum in the best city in Texas (fact) for the aspiring and the inspiring.
The only possible thing more satisfying than completing a final draft of a story you’ve been dying to tell must be seeing it realized on a theater screen in front of an engaged audience. That’s why I’m especially excited to see the Script-to-Screen presentations by Rian Johnson for Brick, Shane Black for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Richard Kelly for Donnie Darko. Aside from interesting background information on production, hearing them compare and contrast the screenplay to the film version will likely provide an entirely new perspective on these films, what these directors originally intended them to be, and how making difficult decisions to change elements of the story might end up making a film that much better.
I’m also looking forward to the panel with Scott Neustadter, Jess Peyonel, Rick Rosenthal and Ric Roman Waugh discussing how to avoid limiting the scope of your film due to a limited budget. This will be the place for independent filmmakers to go with their questions for balancing practicality and creative vision most effectively. Being strong endorser of the underdog, Austin Film Festival and Conference is a safe haven for creativity uncompromised by economical disadvantages.
As my apprenticeship nears the festival, I’ve learned about so many writers behind some of my favorite TV shows and films. From Chris Viscardi, creator of The Adventures of Pete & Pete a.k.a. my childhood, to John Hamburg, writer of Ben Stiller classics Meet the Parents and Zoolander, I can sleep well knowing that the people responsible for some of our favorite entertainments are receiving recognition for their work. Austin Film Festival & Conference puts the spotlight on them and highlights their contributions to television and film.
To have all these people in the same place at once is a striving screenwriter’s dream. The possibilities are endless. Maybe you’ll get to ride an elevator with Jonathon Demme, or tell Steve Faber how much you loved Wedding Crashers over breakfast tacos. If you don’t already have a badge, my only advice is to grab one ASAP; aspiring writer’s won’t want to miss out on this invaluable learning experience among the greats that have set the bar for everyone else.
Chris is a New Jersey-born University of Texas student majoring in Radio-TV-Film and Business Foundations. Chris enjoys writing in the third-person and hopes to one day work in the creative side of TV and/or film and is excited for the invaluable experience working for Austin Film Festival provides.