Walter Campbell made quite a splash at the 2008 Austin Film Festival. With his tuxedo jacket, straight black tie and his white-knuckle Sherlock Holmes script, he arrived on the scene in Austin ready to make the most of his time here. That he did, bringing home the Bronze Typewriter Award for the Sci-Fi cateogry with his script The Man Who Would Be Sherlock Holmes.
I wanted to get his thoughts on his experiences in Austin and his future plans.
Q: What made you want to submit your script to Austin in the first place?
A: I saw an ad for the Austin Film Festival in Scr(i)pt magazine and loved the look of the advertisement. It said to me that one should come to Austin, “lean against that old fence post, watch out for the barbed wire, pry open a Lone Star and celebrate the art of filmmaking, Texas style”. That spurned me on to the website and it was there that I discovered that the festival ballyhooed that strange anomaly known as the writer. Well, being a writer who was in need of some ballyhooing, this naturally appealed to me. It was also at the website where I found that this festival was taken seriously by the Hollywood elite and all in an informal setting. So, that in combination with the fact that everyone I know, that had been to Austin, had nary a woeful word to describe the city, in fact, people have a hard time finding enough bluechip adjectives to describe the place. I now find myself in that same position regarding the city, the festival and its denizens.
Q:When you found out that your script had made it to the finals, what was your initial reaction?
A: Akin to a prizefighter (the writer), which earns his weekly envelope by getting knocked cold (rejected), I was happily floored (knocked out). Finally there was validation from a source I felt could validate, and thus inspire me to never stop pursuing my dream.
Q: Was this your first AFF festival experience?
A: After the check in and being blown away by the grandeur of the Driskill, I proceeded to the Mohawk where the conversation flowed as freely as the free libations. From there I marched on down to witness the grandeur of the Paramount.
Q: What was the most memorable part for you?
A: Of course, that would have to be winning the Bronze Typewriter. I was on cloud nine. I was so grateful; everyone was welcome on my cloud.
Q: What, if any, are your plans for the future, post AFF?
A: I intend to parley the award, as best I can into a door opener. It will always be there for me, a testament to my abilities, a reference, and a calling card. I also plan to stay in touch with all those that I met and enjoyed the company of while at the festival, so that a professional, as well as personal, relationship can be sowed.
Q: Are you going to come back next year?
A: I would love to come back next year. As of now I would not miss it for anything. It is more than a film festival to me. But, of course one can never tell where one will be a year from now, hopefully I will be in Austin.
Q: If you could give some advice to people on the fence about submitting to competitions and our
attending festivals and conferences, what would it be?
A: I myself rarely submit to festivals for a number of reasons, but Austin was different. It celebrates the writer in an industry where respect can be hard to find, this competition respects you and your craft, it’s not about cashing your check.