This year's Austin Film Festival was as exciting and inspiring as ever, and ScreenCraft was proud to be there to celebrate the AFF creative community.
What were the highlights of this year's conference?
Live Read: War Story
Celebrated playwright and screenwriter Beau Willimon of House Of Cards and Farragut North/The Ides Of March repute, directed a staged script reading of his unproduced play War Story, which, per the official Austin Film Festival and Conference Schedule, "follows two soldiers, two bankers, a war overseas and a war at home" and "explores how people navigate the battlefields of their past while confronting an uncertain future."
Willimon lauded the Austin Film Festival for launching this new live read initiative to bring theater to the festival experience, and indeed it was intimate and powerful to hear Willimon's complex characters, timely thematic commentary and acutely authentic dialogue brought to life in the purest form possible by a very talented, hand-picked cast. This was a great opportunity to be reminded of the sheer power of great writing to wholly captivate an audience.
In celebration of the film's 25th anniversary, screenwriter James V. Hart led a script-to-screen panel of Hook, diving into the film’s journey from first draft to shooting script, the writer/director relationship with Steven Spielberg, and how to adapt children’s stories that inspire the whole family. He touched on the lengthy development process for Hook and discussed the importance of not writing family fare for kids, but rather, for multigenerational audiences...and the corresponding need to ground characters with genuine, dramatic conflicts and to create real emotional stakes.
Candidly, he discussed how at one point Spielberg was determined not to follow through with the scripted climactic killing of iconic Lost Boys leader Rufio, until realizing far into shooting that if no one in Neverland could die, none of the characters -- including Peter's children -- would be in any real danger, and there would be no true emotional stakes in the entire movie. It was a master class in screenwriting, and a great warmup to the kind of seasoned narrative insights Hart will offer in his upcoming master class with ScreenCraft.
Screening of Holding Patterns
ScreenCraft was happy to sponsor the world premiere of writer/director Jake Goldberger's film Holding Patterns, "a coming of age story about a group of twenty-somethings all facing different crossroads in their respective journeys." The movie features Freddie Highmore, Odeya Rush, Christopher Meloni, Haley Joel Osment, and Gary Moore. It was a packed screening in front of an enthusiastic audience, with a lively Q&A after the film.
Stage 32 & ScreenCraft Screenwriter's Meetup
In honor of all of our screenwriting friends, ScreenCraft and Stage 32 co-hosted a fun night at the Handlebar Austin Rooftop Patio. With hundreds of attendees, including ScreenCraft winner alumni Nancy Duff, Heidi R. Willis and Tim Schildberger it was one of the most talked about events of the festival.
Film Sales & Festival Circuits Panel
Panelists including ScreenCraft's own Emily Dell, who is a writer/director herself as well as Executive Director of the ScreenCraft Nashville Screenwriters Conference, spoke about how to tackle the festival circuit, how to know which festivals are the right fit, what to do once you're ready to submit your film, and all of the most frequently asked questions that film festival programmers receive on a daily basis.
And a sincere congratulations to the 2016 AFF Screenplay Competition Winners! From a record number of 9,100 entries:
- Static by Henry Jones took home three top prizes (Drama Screenplay Award, Sci-Fi Screenplay Award, and Enderby Entertainment Award).
- Comedy Screenplay Award presented by Sony Pictures Animation: Dinner with Friends by Geeta Malik
- Vertigo Entertainment Horror Award: Rock Point Draw by Jeremy David Lee
- AMC One-Hour Pilot Award: The Devil and the Deep by Kyle Bugg
- Sitcom Pilot Award: Losing It by Louise Rozett
- Scripted Digital Series Award presented by New Form Digital: Main Stream by JC Conklin
- One-Hour Spec Award: Fargo: The Hunt for the Cobra King by Sarah Beckett
- Sitcom Spec Award: Broad City: Short Term Effort by Greg Wayne
- And a special high-five to ScreenCraft consulting client Sarah Polhaus for winning the Short Screenplay Award with her script Futurehealth. We're proud to be part of your journey!