Austin Film Festival (AFF) is committed to the elevation of storytellers from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. But we know there is so much more work which needs to be done. Years ago, the festival launched our Diversity Focus Program with an aim towards shining a greater light on underrepresented storytellers. We’re excited to launch the Uplifting Storytellers Initiative alongside its accompanying Advisory Committee, as a natural evolution of the program.
This initiative is designed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the entertainment industry by defining and executing skill-based, as well as career focused enrichment programs.
AFF has facilitated opportunities and career advancements for writers, filmmakers, and creators of underrepresented communities for years. However, the need to do more and be a greater catalyst for change is ever apparent and paramount. Our mission has continuously been to further the art and craft of storytelling by inspiring and championing the work of writers, filmmakers, and artists who use written and visual language to tell a story. We’re looking forward to continuing this mission with renewed focus and a fire to enact more direct and sustainable change.
Below you’ll find a number of quotes from some of our valued competition alumni and students from the Young Filmmakers Program: Digital Storytelling classes. This highlights just some of the positive influences AFF will continue to strive for moving forward.
This is the best class I’ve had throughout my time in public school. I loved this unit and loved writing out my script. I’m usually a very quiet person, so this was the first time I’ve ever gotten to share my ideas with others. This is the only time where I’ve actually felt proud of my own work. Thank you so much.
– Lindsay, Crockett High School, 2022
Screenwriting takes a lot of effort about how the writer shows action and dialogue. This made me open a new “gate” on how to write in general. It was the best experience I’ve ever had in the world of writing. It ABSOLUTELY brought my creativity to another level. This is going to be what I do I’m my free time. As well try to get a group of people or join a club where I can read screen writings.
– Edwin, Crockett High School 2022
Around one month ago, I sat in the back of the class, alone, and didn’t feel confident enough to speak up. But through this program, through this amazing and once in a lifetime opportunity, I felt heard and confident.
– Hannah, Bowie High School 2021
Blackmagic Collective Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship Award:
The Blackmagic Collective mission is to help filmmakers, at all levels, gain the tools and contacts they need to succeed in the entertainment industry. AFF is thrilled to partner with the organization to recognize emerging underrepresented storytellers and help push them forward. the winner of the award is invited to AFF in the of Fall 2022, and will receive a Blackmagic Design Pocket 6K Pro, guaranteed screening slot at the BMC Film Festival in Los Angeles, and a guaranteed seat in the Fellowship running from January 2023 – November 2023. Furthermore, finalists (the top 10 films within the category) will receive exclusive automatic first look consideration for remaining Fellowship slots. The Fellowship will be available to Narrative and Student Short entrants within AFF Film Competitions, and is specifically targeted at members of the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Female-Identifying, and Disabled communities.
The Ghetto Film School Fellowship Award:
In association with Ghetto Film School, an award-winning nonprofit which develops and celebrates the next generation of great storytellers, AFF will award one competition filmmaker entry into Ghetto Film School’s Roster Program which identifies, develops, and connects creative talent through curated resources and programming in New York, Los Angeles, and
London. Benefits include access to member-exclusive job opportunities and referrals to leading media production companies, priority admission to GFS-exclusive industry events, and consideration for significant opportunities, including labs, fellowships, and competitions. AFF is proud to partner with a leader in arts, education and business to push the culture forward on issues of inclusion and creativity.
Young Filmmakers Opportunities | Digital Storytelling Program:
Digital Storytelling (DS) is an AFF arts education program that improves students’ reading, writing, communication, media technology, idea-expression skills through hands-on screenwriting, filmmaking, and podcasting. Austin Film Festival’s Young Filmmakers Scholarship Program grants access to over 450 scholarships for students and teachers in middle and high school.
Diversity Focus Program:
AFF will execute a series of panels and screenings featuring underrepresented storytellers with a goal of altering the narrative that minority voices are shrinking. Though industry statistics point to inadequate opportunities for women and minorities, Austin Film Festival sets out to usurp these trends and traditions by inspiring and showcasing a burgeoning community of talented and passionate voices, committed to challenging the story of who makes up the storytellers of today.
Rooster Teeth BIPOC Fellowship | Women & Animation Fellowship:
While open to any genre, submissions to either fellowship opportunity should generally align with Rooster Teeth’s voice: an emphasis on comedy concepts that feature ordinary people in extraordinary situations, coming-of-age stories, or other engaging journeys of self-discovery. The winners will receive a $2,500 prize and will be flown (travel-expenses covered) to Austin for a three-day-long mentorship with Rooster Teeth’s team. The winner will meet with Rooster Teeth executives and their development team.
Six Square Cultural District Community Programming:
The Six Square Cultural District is the six-square mile area in which the AFF office is located and is known for its vibrant arts scene and cultural significance to Austin’s Black community. Both in partnership with the Historic Six Square Cultural District and as part of Austin Film Festival’s recently launched Uplifting Storytellers Initiative, AFF presents a full day of FREE Festival programming aimed at helping emerging creatives get a foot in the Entertainment Industry door. Committed to creating a more equitable industry, the Uplifting Storytellers Initiative curates skills-based and career-focused enrichment programs with the intention of developing and showcasing stories from underrepresented voices, thereby usurping industry trends and challenging the notion of who makes the storytellers of today.
Six Square Summer Film Camp Scholarship:
We are excited to be collaborating with Six Square to host two weeks of our Summer Film Program within the District! This includes editions of our Filmmaking 101 and Script to Screen programs. At AFF’s Summer Film Program, we focus on two things: storytelling and collaboration. We believe that for any budding artist, these two things are of utmost importance. As an extension of our Annual Summer Film Camp, this program will provide scholarships and a unique arts education opportunity to young creatives who provide an interest and budding talent for screenwriting and filmmaking. Led by industry professionals, AFF’s Summer Film Program provides campers with the equipment and instruction needed to create their very own short films, from conception and script through the final edit. Our instructors will be there to guide students through every step of the filmmaking process, from conception through the final product!