Austin Film Festival: Day 1 (Panels)

Today the Austin Film Festival (AFF) began, with a shortened schedule of a handful of panels. First there were the opening remarks. Then, for lazy people like me who remained in the ballroom of Austin's Driskill Hotel, there came "A Conversation with Marti Noxon."

Barry Josephson & Marti Noxon

At this panel, Barry Josephson led Ms Noxon through a series of questions about her experiences as a screenwriter. It was as informative as any of these things ever are, which is to say only a little, because life experiences are unique. Many people can have things in common, true, and may have very similar stories to tell, but everyone experiences things differently because we are none of us exactly alike.

For example, Noxon said she fell into screenwriting by accident of the fact that she didn't have the money to direct a movie as her final college project at UC Santa Cruz. So her final project was a script by default. Later, she got "discovered" by Rick Rosenthal while waitressing (she saw him reading a script and asked him if it was any good, thus striking up a conversation).

Well, I "fell" into screenwriting in a similar way in that I needed to do something for my final project at UT (getting my degree in Radio-Television-Film) and for me, too, writing a script was the easiest thing. Alas, I have yet to be "discovered." But I'm hoping the good feedback from the Sundance reader on my  short film script will eventually pay off in some way. So I can say I have similar experiences to Noxon—even down to sharing her love of Spielberg—but am I going to be able to "break in" the same way?

One can tell with these panelists that they're willing to share their autobiographies but hesitant to encourage people to think doing what they did will work. So it's difficult to trust one is getting much out of the whole thing except an oddball collection of stories of how different people worked their ways into the industry. Inspiration perhaps?

The next panel I went to was "Breaking Onto the Scene" which had Evan Dougherty (Snow White and the Huntsman), John Swetnam, and Max Landis (Chronicle); they were later joined by Olivia Milch. It was more of the same, really, which is probably what I get for attending something called "Breaking Onto the Scene." After all, these people can only offer what they themselves have experienced, and perhaps a few insights into how the industry works—though they end up contradicting each other because each sees and feels differently about various things.

Taylor Cumbie (AFF panel moderator), Evan Dougherty,
John Swetnam, and Max Landis

In the end, I suppose the most reasonable hope of making attendance at such a festival count is in meeting people and networking. I'm not any big partygoer but I'll do my best to assert myself a bit. At the moment there is a lull in things, and I will be going out with friends, but I'll try to put in an appearance at the WGA gathering much later tonight.

More reports to come.

No comments: