Students Relish “All-Access” at Austin Film Festival
Carolyn Christian '18
Over the October 14 weekend, the Upper School screenwriting and filmmaking class had the opportunity to go to the Austin Film Festival with all-access passes from the Young Filmmakers Scholarship program. The seven of us were able to see any panel, film, roundtable discussion, or conference - which we took advantage of.
Friday morning we went to a panel focused on writing dialogue, featuring panelists Mark Smith, the writer of Oscar-winning feature The Revenant, Melanie Marnich, writer of Big Love, and Beau Willimon, creator of the TV-show House of Cards. The writers discussed differences between TV and feature film dialogue writing, how much of “you” should be in your scripts, and mistakes they made in past scripts. This panel was especially helpful to the screenwriting class, as our main focus is writing natural dialogue that doesn’t feed our audiences with unnecessary exposition.
We then walked a few blocks in downtown Austin to the Driskill Hotel, where we saw an interview with actor-writer Jason Segel. The upfront, multi-talented man told unique stories about his childhood and love for puppeteering, beginnings in the film industry with Judd Apatow, his time spent unemployed (which resulted in his writing of Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and his struggle with being type-casted after How I Met Your Mother.
After eating lunch at Chupacabra, we went to the Alamo Drafthouse Village to watch Mel Brooks’ The Producers, giving us a glimpse of what was considered great comedy at that time. The next day, we watched the short films of the winners of the Young Filmmakers Competition. We ended the day by going to a panel about building worlds within your story, with writer Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), and Mark Protosevich (Thor, I Am Legend). The overall experience of the film festival was very informative, and gave us insight and inspiration for future writing projects.
Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.