CP Students take on Austin Film Festival


Kerry Madden

Along with writers panels, film screenings are a major component of Austin Film Festival. Though I am content with how I spent my time, I wish I had went to see more films. Above are a few film advertisement cards that I collected, as well as my badge, and notes from the dystopian panel. The festival ran from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5 and will return for its 23rd year next Oct. and Nov.

Kerry Madden, Reporter

When I woke at an unseemly hour, such that the sun would be offended if it were to be called morning, a steady cadence of rain on my window was accompanied by my blaring alarm. I got ready, out the door, and I was off to meet up with the other fearless and enthusiastic few that dared to make the early morning trek. We were going to Austin Film Festival, and even though there was enough rain for Noah to build another ark, nothing was going to stop us.
Through the Young Filmmakers program of Austin Film Festival, a small group of students applied and were accepted to receive a conference badge for the festival, free of charge. To apply, students were required to write a short answer on their interest in film and why they wanted to go. Responses were submitted to the festival’s Young Filmmakers program to review. Since the instant I heard of the opportunity last year, I was determined to go. A weekend of screen writers talking about writing was an extremely intriguing prospect.
Sun still not up, rain still pouring, our small caravan of English students puzzled our way through bumper to bumper traffic. Eventually, we made it to our destination at Starbucks on congress to meet up with the rest of the festival goers, senior English teacher Michelle Iskra, and junior and sophomore English teacher Virginia Rose, the chaperones for our adventure. With warm caffeinated beverages in our systems, we set out into the storm to begin our day. We. Were. Ready.
And by ready I mean a few of us brought small umbrellas and a single poncho, but other than that, we weren’t entirely dressed for rain. I highly recommend against wearing tights, do not wear tights when it’s pouring outside. Besides our low scores in rain preparedness, we were golden; notebooks and pens in hand, official badges, and a list of our top choice panels to attend. As we entered the Driskill hotel, the main hub of the festival, I felt the exciting buzz of creative minds bustling about. The usual grandiose atmosphere of the famed hotel was all the more impressive to be apart of when filled with passionate creators.
Though every moment I spent at film fest was well spent, there were some events in particular that stand out amongst my collected experiences. The very first panel I attended was titled Dystopian Worlds and featured the screenplay writers from “The Book of Eli,” “I am legend,” and “Mockingjay Part one and two.” The panelist discussed the bones of a dystopian story and raised points about how humans are drawn to their own destruction, how these types of stories provide a magnifying glass on human flaws, and how they wish to see a glimmers of optimism in future works to contrast the mostly negative focuses in dystopian films.
Another panel that was especially wonderful was a panel of ladies, including the screenplay writers from “Bridesmaids,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” and a writer from Disney, who talked about being women in the film industry. They discussed the competitiveness in the industry and how that played into women either helping or hurting each other’s careers. Though it was agreed upon that it’s nice to have safe places for women to discuss being women in film, the hope is that a separate panel dedicated to women in film won’t be necessary in the future, it’ll just be people in film.
My third experience was attending a live script reading of an upcoming film called “Roseline.” The screenplay, written by the same people who wrote the screenplay for “Paper Towns,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and “500 Days of Summer,” tells the classic story of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Romeo’s ex, Roseline. Sitting in the audience of the State Theatre, we listened to the actors as they brought the story to life. The reading included the film directives as well so we could envision the setting and how the camera would move. Witty and hilarious, the script was a fresh take on a story we’ve all heard so many times before. I recommend seeing it in theaters when it’s released, I know I will!
Overall, Austin Film Festival was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Truely. The panels, the atmosphere, every detail of the weekend, felt perfectly constructed. I could go on and on about every single wonderful thing we got to do but that would take far too long. Though there were rivers in the streets on the first day and we were almost carried away by our umbrellas in the gusting wind, by the third day the weather was the definition of lovely. I could not have had a better time. Current juniors, if this sounds like something that you would like to do, don’t hesitate, apply to attend your senior year, I know I’m glad I did.