Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Rebecca Kirsch

This week's interview is with TV writer Rebecca Kirsch.

In 2005, Rebecca Kirsch won the Austin Film Festival Drama Teleplay competition for her spec episode of “Lost”. That script and a "Deadwood" spec also placed in the Scriptapalooza, Creative Screenwriting Magazine, Fade In Magazine, American Accolades, Write Network, Talent Scout AND American Gem writing competitions! (Will take this moment to remind readers that you can't place, much less win if you don't enter...)

Rebecca worked as Writers' Assistant for "Leverage" series Creators and Executive Producers John Rogers and Chris Downey from Seasons 1-3, writing two freelance episodes during that time, and was promoted to Staff Writer in Season 4. She is represented by ICM and we're excited to have her on board as a speaker for the 2012 Austin Film Festival & Conference.

Our interview questions come from Austin Film Festival Conference Director Maya Perez and Amanda Keach Martin, Austin Film Festival's "On-Story" Development Director.

AFF: Are there real life vigilantes, like the characters in “Leverage”, that help the innocent that have been wronged? Where do the show's writers get such great material to write about?

Kirsch: “Leverage” is about a team of modern day Robin Hoods who right the wrongs inflicted by the rich and powerful on the common man. Unfortunately, in the era of Bernie Madoff, the global recession, bank bailouts and predatory lending, our writing staff doesn’t need to look very far in the real world to find story inspiration, or villains for our five heroes to tackle. Additionally, our “Leverage” writers bring multi-varied backgrounds and life experiences to the room, which greatly influence our episodes. Co-creators, co-showrunners and executive producers John Rogers and Chris Downey encourage our writing staff to pitch story ideas freely, and for us each to support and encourage the pitches of our fellow writers with the aim of making the very best show we possibly can together. With that positive and open vibe to the Writers’ Room, our writing team has a great deal of fun coming up with different and unique ways for our five heroes to take down our villains.

AFF: What’s your writing routine and process?

Kirsch: My home office is decorated mad-scientist-chic with floor-to-ceiling index cards, flow charts, mind maps and research photos for the various projects I’m working on; I’m a very visual learner, and find that having a layout of the story in front of me while I write is essential. When outlining a new project, I use multi-colored index cards to break out the story beats, a technique I first learned at Chapman University from a great mentor of mine, professor James Macak (AFF moderator and pitch competition winner). The “Leverage” writers’ room uses a similar but more elaborate technique with different colored cards used to break the story in a specific progression of steps, from general concept to more specific arenas and keynote moments, all the way to individual slug-lined scenes.

Outlining tends to be the hardest part of the process for me, but a very necessary one. Before I allow myself to tackle script pages, I make sure that I have a solid game plan set in stone in the outline. At script stage, I’m always eager to skip ahead and write favored scenes I’ve been looking forward to, but for the first “hack draft” (a phrase borrowed from 2004 AFF winner and former “Leverage” writer Christine Boylan), I aim to just get everything down on paper chronologically, and will only then revise once I’m past the initial daunting hurdle of the blank page.

AFF: How did you break into television, and what advice do you have for others trying to do the same?

Kirsch: I left school with the advice and drive to land a TV Writers’ Assistant gig. After a few internships, I was offered a Development Assistant position at Dean Devlin’s independent studio, Electric Entertainment. I worked for two years with Director of Development Marc Roskin to bring in new material to the studio, and to develop their current slate of film and television projects. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss story on a daily basis, to read the works of other writers, and to work with and learn from an amazing group of talented producers.

Two years later, when “Leverage” was picked up to series, I was promoted to the Writers’ Assistant position, thanks to the support of my bosses. Having been a part of the series since its very start, I’ve been lucky enough to learn everything about working in television from John Rogers and Chris Downey, and I am so privileged to work with them and the rest of our amazing writing staff. With their support and encouragement, I wrote two episodes during my three years as Writers’ Assistant, and was promoted to Staff Writer in our fourth season.

Leaving film school in search of a television writing career felt daunting because there appeared to be no exact and precise path to my particular goal -- each success story I heard was wholly unique. During the day, I tried to fight the good fight as an assistant, and on nights and weekends I focused on sharpening my skills by writing and rewriting spec scripts. No matter how busy your day job keeps you, be it industry-related or not, my advice would be to always keep challenging your skills as a writer. Don’t just talk about what you want to write; write it.

Thanks, Becky, and we'll see you in October!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

3D: Dim, Dull, and Drained?

Let me start this post by saying that I am a huge Star Wars fan. As a child, I wore out more than a few VHS copies of the original trilogy, and if I hadn’t fallen in love with the magic of the movies through George Lucas’s work, I don’t believe I’d be doing this job today. This being said, I couldn’t help but head back to the theaters for the 3D redux of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Why would I do this? Even as a 14-year-old, I recognized in 1999 that The Phantom Menace was not quite up to snuff with the earlier films. Sure, the fantastical worlds and sense of adventure was still there, but the performances were mostly leaden and the characters fairly uninteresting. Why would I want to go through two hours of trade blockade confusion and midichlorian mumbo jumbo again? Simple answer: I wanted to see that awesome podracing sequence in 3D.

That’s right. Against all the odds, I’m trying desperately to be a fan of the new 3D experience. But some studios aren’t making it easy, as they continue to drown the marketplace in faded, uninspired 3D conversions. All the arguments against 3D were in full force at the screening of The Phantom Menace I attended. The bright color palette and visual splendor of the film, really its greatest strength, were drained through the filter of the 3D glasses. Not to mention the fact that the three-dimensional effect was almost unrecognizable, which is no surprise considering that the film wasn’t shot with 3D in mind.

So why do I keep going back to 3D movies when experiences like this leave me disappointed? Because, believe or not, there are occasional glimpses into the wonderment that 3D can provide. What about Coraline, the staggeringly beautiful animated film from stop-motion master Henry Selick? That film displayed remarkable depth and clarity in the 3D format, and when I watch it at home, I find myself wishing I were back in the theater experiencing all three dimensions.

That is the feeling that 3D should leave us with. If it’s done right, 3D can keep us going back to the cinema despite the wealth of home-viewing options at our fingertips. Before The Phantom Menace, I saw a 3D trailer for the upcoming Focus Features release ParaNorman. The film was created by many of the same animators and crew members that worked on Coraline, and it appears to have the same charm that Coraline had. But, even more importantly to the future of moviegoing, it looks amazing in 3D. Glasses on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Transmedia and Screenwriting

Last week, I attended the world premiere screening of Tom Hanks’ upcoming webisode series Electric City at South By Southwest.  The first 10 episodes were presented of this series which follows a group of resistance fighters in a dystopian society where resources and communication are controlled.  Tom Hanks chose to tell this story in the webisode format because he felt the commercial constraints of movies and television wouldn’t allow him to tell this type of story.  In an age of pre-branded content, sequels, and remakes, it has been increasingly difficult for original feature film content to be produced (apparently even for Mr. Hanks).  More filmmakers are now focusing their attention to more cost-effective outlets to present their original material especially with media becoming increasingly more sophisticated and accessible.  So what does this mean for the future of storytelling?  Transmedia isn’t anything new but it is definitely something screenwriters should pay attention to.

 What is transmedia?  In 2010, the Producers Guild of America officially sanctioned the title “Transmedia Producer”.and defined transmedia as “a narrative that consists of three (or more) storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-Ray/CD-Rom, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist.”  The landscape for storytelling has changed and now screenwriters may feel increased pressured to write stories that present greater marketing potential across different media platforms.  The debate over “artistic integrity” vs. “marketing potential” between writers and producers has always existed.  It may seem that transmedia further complicates this situation but for the savvy screenwriter, it doesn’t have to. 

Writers don’t have to sacrifice the artistic integrity of their work but they should still think about the bigger picture and ask themselves: “Are the characters and world of my story developed enough to present further possibilities?”  Screenwriting is just one form of creative expression that can be extended to other forms (i.e. a novel, graphic novel, webisode series, stage play, etc).  Every character has a back story.  Every storyline has a prologue and epilogue.  These are already inherent to a well-developed story and can be used as a basis for developing further promotional material.  This is why all writers should save all treatments, character analyses, outlines, and early versions of their script to comb through for additional material to use.  Writers should not think about how their story can be profitable (i.e. sequels, product placements, toy lines, etc.) but they should think about how various forms of media can further enhance the experience of the story.  If writers can focus on telling a quality story while being mindful of its possibilities, the outcome could present great rewards.  Obviously, not every writer/filmmaker needs to follow the transmedia model but it is definitely something to consider as the landscape of the industry continues to change. 

--Matt Dy, Screenplay & Teleplay Competition Director

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Interview with Marti Noxon

This week's interview is with writer/producer Marti Noxon.

A versatile writer/producer who works fluidly through genres and mediums, Marti Noxon's feature film credits include I am Number Four, Dreamworks/Disney’s Fright Night, The Defenders with filmmaker Jon Hamburg for Kurtzman Orci Paper Products and Masi Oka. She is also adapting Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for Lionsgate, Ouija for Platinum Dunes and Hasbro, and writing Tink for Disney and Elizabeth Banks.

Noxon has written and executive produced for many critically acclaimed shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, Point Pleasant, and Still Life. She has also acted as consulting producer for Mad Men, Prison Break, and Angel. She is a consulting writer/producer on the third season of the hit Fox series Glee

Under her Grady Twins Productions banner that she co-runs with longtime collaborator and friend Dawn Olmstead, Noxon proves to be an all-around talent building a thriving production company. She is currently producing projects for Lifetime, FX, the CW, and NBC.

Our interview questions come from Austin Film Festival Office Manager Marcie Mayhorn and Amanda Keach Martin, Austin Film Festival's "On-Story" Development Director.

AFF: What is the biggest difference between writing for film and writing for television?

Marti: Television is a collaborative medium. You work out story with other writers and sometimes write scripts together. Writing features is more solitary. But it can also be very gratifying because I'm not as much of a slave to demands of ongoing production. I get to take more time with it and really disappear into another world. Also, I can tell a complete story from start to finish. A TV show can get cancelled mid-story and you never get closure with your characters. One big upside of TV, however, when you're on a show that's on the air, is that you get to MAKE what you write. That's less often the case in the movie world. I've written way more scripts that never see the light of day, no matter how well the material was received.

AFF: Glee and Mad Men are two totally different story lines. Do you find it challenging to jump back and forth between concepts (i.e. going from music/teenage issues to 1960’s adult drama)

Marti: That's what's so fun about being a writer. I get to explore different worlds, tones and parts of myself. I think it's really exciting to move from genre to genre, and I believe every experience keeps me more fluid -- I don't get "stuck" writing just one way. I almost always have a few projects going at once that are very different. Personally, I like the challenge of doing things outside of my comfort zone and actively seek those kinds of projects out.

AFF: For shows like Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy, how much outside research did you have to do (particularly in medicine)?

Marti: We had doctors who were on the writing staffs of both shows. They helped us enormously with medical research. We also had people come and speak to the writers from different specialties. And, of course, there was lots of time spent on the internet, although it's limited in how much you can trust the information and there's always more nuance when you speak to a real person or visit a real place. I do a fair amount of research on the things I write that are based on any kind of fact. Then there are projects that are more personal, and the "research" is just dumb things I've done and said in my life... Lots of material available there.

AFF: In it's 8 year of airing Grey's Anatomy is facing the possibility of losing its two main character, Meredith Grey played Ellen Pompeo and Derek Shepherd played by Patrick Dempsey. As a past writer for the show what is the thought process that goes into writing this large transition without losing audience appeal?

It's always hard for an audience to let go of a character they love. Some shows get through it, and some shows kind of die on the vine. I think the key is casting and preparation. If you know somebody is leaving the show, you lay the groundwork by developing the supporting characters, bringing in some new blood and great storylines. And you try to find a really exciting piece of casting to replace the outgoing person. That softens the blow. Sometimes.

Do you contribute to the song writing (or song suggestions) for Glee?

Marti: We all pitch song ideas all the time. Ryan Murphy has the final say on what goes in the show. I've had a few suggestions get through and it is really exciting to see "your" number come to life. I feel a bit of ownership, even though I've done absolutely none of the hard work. Like the arranging, the clearances, the choreography, the recording, the performing. I just said "hey, what about -- XX?" So that sense of ownership is completely unearned. But you take what you can get.

Thanks, Marti!

As we gear up for the 2012 Festival & Conference, we're posting interviews with our incoming panelists here, on our blog. The questions come from our registrants, fellow panelists, facebook fans, etc., so if you have questions for any of our incoming (or past) speakers, just send them to our Conference Director Maya Perez at you just might see your interview on here!

The Hollywood Games

The current state of Hollywood could not be more clear this month, with two bright, shining examples of why certain films get made and others get bypassed. JOHN CARTER, a film based on a short story so old and obscure that it’s just about the closest Hollywood comes to “original idea,” opened with disappointing numbers despite a shimmering cast/crew (Andrew Stanton! Michael Chabon! Bryan Cranston! Willem Dafoe!) and the marketing reach of the Walt Disney Company. Meanwhile, THE HUNGER GAMES, based on the mega-best-selling young adult novels proclaimed as the new TWILIGHT or HARRY POTTER, is already selling out screenings nationwide despite a cast of young no-names. 

These results are essentially foregone conclusions. CARTER had been tracking poorly for weeks, with journalists and industry veterans writing it off as a legendary flop before it even had its first public screening. THE HUNGER GAMES, on the other hand, was destined for glory, as it has been in the hearts and minds of the all important teen and 18-25 demographics for months now. 

What has emerged from the stories of these two films is not simply a battle for box office but a war for the future of Hollywood filmmaking. When people involved with JOHN CARTER took to Twitter to beg people to go see their film, they weren’t asking simply to improve their profit margins or avoid embarrassment. They truly felt that CARTER’s success at the box office could prove to the industry at large that an original (or quasi-original) idea could sell tickets, which would open doors for more original ideas. Instead, CARTER proved to be the disappointment that everyone expected, which communicated to studio execs that working off of already popular brands and franchises is still the way to go. 

Does this mean we will see fewer and fewer original films? I’m not that pessimistic. There will always be a place for thoughtful, new ideas. But they will become harder and harder to make, and studios like Walt Disney will be less likely to throw $250 million at them when they can make TWILIGHTs and HUNGER GAMEs for much less. 

Which isn’t such a bad thing. Looking back on the history of filmmaking, there have always been ebbs and flows. From the New American Cinema of the 70s to the indie craze of the late 80s/early 90s, filmmakers like Coppola, Scorsese, Cassavetes, Soderbergh, Tarantino, etc. have always found ways to bring original ideas back into the public eye in a big way. So, let’s not be discouraged by JOHN CARTER but instead look forward to what the next wave of new ideas will bring us. In the meantime, let’s also admit that not all unoriginal ideas result in bad movies. See you on Friday for 21 JUMP STREET?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Interview with Alec Berg

As we gear up for the 2012 Festival & Conference, we're posting interviews with our incoming panelists here, on our blog. The questions come from our registrants, fellow panelists, facebook fans, etc., so if you have questions for any of our incoming (or past) speakers, just send them to our Conference Director Maya Perez at you just might see your interview on here!

Alec Berg at the 2011 Austin Film Festival

This week's interview is with Alec Berg. Alec Berg’s television credits include Seinfeld where he was a writer and executive producer, and Curb Your Enthusiasm where he currently serves as a writer, executive producer and director.

His feature film work includes writing the screenplays for The Cat in the Hat (which was made into a terrible film) and Eurotrip (which he produced and co-directed and is excellent.) He recently wrote and produced "The Dictator" for Sacha Baron Cohen. He has also done extensive rewriting, having worked on films for Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Will Smith, Ivan Reitman and Robert Zemeckis.

Alec has been nominated for numerous Emmy awards, a WGA Award, a DGA award and a Razzie (yes, for The Cat in the Hat, it’s that bad.)

Aspiring television writer Christopher Levi is our interviewer.

Chris: Sacha Baron Cohen seems to love controversy, so when you wrote for The Dictator, was there a sense of nothing being off limits topic or joke wise? If so, did that free your writing process?

Alec: Obviously Sacha's sense of humor runs toward the edgy and the extreme. He likes political and satirical and he enjoys punishing hypocrisy. My partners and I have similar comedic tastes so when we hatched the idea for The Dictator we knew it was perfect for Sacha. It checked all of the boxes I just listed, and I think that's why he sparked to it and agreed to do it.

From the beginning the process was pretty natural. For the most part when something worked it was pretty obvious to all of us, and when it didn't it was equally obvious. It's a completely subjective process so obviously there are a lot of things you fight over along the way, but for the most part the things that made the cut were things that we all agreed worked.

And in terms of things being off-limits, we always assumed this was going to be an aggressive R-rated film. Sacha's audience expects that, and everyone at Paramount knew that's what we were going to deliver when they bought it from us. Because of that the limits were almost all self-imposed. Just because you can do anything doesn't mean you should. It can be in questionable taste but it's got to be funny enough to merit it. And you can be savage to people as long as they deserve savaging. Like on Borat and Brüno, we had a lot of conversations on Dictator about the targets of the humor: are the people we're bashing deserving of that treatment?

Continue reading after the jump...

Friday, March 02, 2012

Toto, I don’t think we’re in film school anymore…

Marcie Mayhorn
As a film school alum, no cinema question phases me in the slightest.  “What’s your favorite Billy Wilder film?”  SOME LIKE IT HOT.  “Who is your favorite foreign director?”  Easy – Pedro Almodovar. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Please – writer/director and probably a producer, especially if I want to have my own production company.

I can shoot off answers to questions like these all day long.  But sometimes, questions come along that require a little more thought.  One of the interns here at the office asked me one day what I’d like to do in the future.  Again, no hesitation whatsoever: “I’d like to write and direct my own films, and essentially own my own production company.”  I didn’t even stutter.  “Oh wow,” she replied, “well, what type of stories do you want to write?” “I –…” I paused.  The immediate answer didn’t come to me.  So many options ran through my head: good stories, of course, but not cheesy good, really feel-good stories, ones that make you feel your heart in your throat.  But not leave a theater sobbing…

What type of stories do I want to write?  I had to tell her I would get back to her because I didn’t honestly know.  Ever since she asked me, I have thought long and hard about this.  I finally realized I should examine a few of my favorite films for this answer.  The one that truly stuck out in my mind was THE WIZARD OF OZ.  Do I want to write a story about a rural girl who gets whacked in the head and dreams she’s in a magical land?  Not exactly.  So what is it about this film that makes it one of my favorites?

It was the first time I had really ever dissected a story, really got into the cracks to see what makes it so appealing to me.  And there, I discovered my answer: I used to watch this film all the time as a child.  I would sing all of the songs, and make believe that I, too, could travel somewhere magical.  I used this story as a basis for wanting to dream, for wanting to explore places that I could only imagine, and maybe even go there someday.  But like Dorothy, I remembered the importance of home and how much family means to me.  I vividly remember watching this film the night before I left for college and crying my eyes out, because I knew that my life was about to change.

And it hit me: those are the types of stories I want to write.  The ones that evoke memories, that trigger that deep feeling and emotion within us that only we know.  I want to write stories that make someone remember the importance of all the people in their life, and how taking a risk can be worthwhile.  I want to write stories that make someone realize that it is perfectly alright to be exactly the type of person that they are.

I’ll have to tell that intern that I finally know the answer to her question!  But for today, I also challenge you to answer the question of: what kind of stories do you want to tell?

-- Marcie Mayhorn, Austin Film Festival Office Manager

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AFF at the Oscars

There were a lot of proud faces on television screens around the world Sunday night, as the Academy Awards presented their annual prizes to a few lucky filmmakers.  In fact, anyone who played a part in the triumph of an Oscar-winning film had reason to be proud, particularly those involved with the Best Picture winner, “The Artist.” Originally screened at Cannes, this little black-and-white silent French film that initially scared away distributors eventually charmed the world, taking home 5 Oscars by the end of the evening.

The thought of marketing a film like “The Artist” was naturally a concern for all involved, including festivals like AFF.  Even though most of us who programmed the film had seen it at Telluride or Toronto and knew how great it was, convincing everyone else of that fact was a different matter altogether.  Ultimately, we at AFF decided to screen “The Artist” at the Paramount Theatre, Austin’s beautiful classic movie palace, and the experience of seeing that particular film in that particular cinema was truly unparalleled. The film went on to win our Audience Award, and we couldn’t be prouder to have our trophy join the growing number of statues on this wonderful film’s shelf.

Nothing brings the staff of a film festival greater joy than seeing one of its programmed films going on to conquer the hearts and minds of moviegoers everywhere. We were also so pleased to see “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” which won both our Jury and our Audience Award for Best Animated Short, go on to win the Oscar in that category.  I can remember the day that my fellow film programmer, Stephen Belyeu, and I watched that film for the first time.  We both knew we had just seen something very special, and we were so honored to introduce it to our festival audience and the Austin moviegoing community at large.  Those are the moments that make this job so rewarding, and we can’t wait to do it all over again this October.  Here’s to another year at the movies!

Interview with Liz Tigelaar

As we gear up for the 2012 Festival & Conference, we'll be posting interviews with our incoming panelists here, on our blog. The questions come from our registrants, fellow panelists, facebook fans, etc., so if you have questions for any of our incoming (or past) speakers, just send them to our Conference Director Maya Perez at You just might see your interview on here one of these days!

Our first interview is with Liz Tigelaar. Liz grew up in Dallas, Texas and Guilford, Connecticut, graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Scriptwriting and Politics. She got her start as an assistant on Dawson's Creek and Once & Again, where she worked under mentors like Greg Berlanti and Winnie Holzman. Her first staff writing job came on the NBC series, American Dreams, and went on to write for such shows as What About Brian, Dirty Sexy Money, Brothers & Sisters, Once Upon A Time, and Revenge. Tigelaar created the critically acclaimed series Life Unexpected which aired on the CW for two seasons. She currently resides in Santa Monica, California but likes to tell people she lives in Venice.

Diana Phillips is our interviewer. Although retired, Diana is a truly passionate supporter of the arts - she's a professional volunteer involved with the Long Center, One World Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Zach Scott, Austin Symphony, Austin Art Alliance, SXSW, Conspirare, Cine Los Americas, and Austin Chamber Music Center. She has been a volunteer for the AFF for 17 years because, "I love film but more importantly the behind the scenes work that makes it all happen."

1. Which do you like better, writing or producing or are they equally satisfying?

LIZ: Nothing is better than getting to produce what you've written -- to see the process through, from start to finish. What I like about being a writer/producer on my own projects is the control. Or at least pretending I have control. I love crafting a story in the writers room with a team, finessing it, changing it, strengthening it and then prepping it and seeing it come to life on set, seeing what the actors and director bring to it, and then I love how it all gets elevated in post, how performances are honed and crafted, what music does to bring out the emotion... I love being there from start to finish. That said, if I had to pick between only writing or only producing, I would pick writing because everything starts on the page. It's a direct line from your head which makes it fun.

2. You've worked on so many series through the years, going way back to Dawson's Creek. As shows have ended, how have you managed to keep your career on track and moving forward? And, do you ever get discouraged?

LIZ: I haven't made a conscious effort to keep my career on track but I feel like people I've worked with on staff have kept it on track for me. For instance, Josh Reims, my mentor from American Dreams, hired me on What About Brian and Dirty Sexy Money. And then Mark Perry, who I did my first pilot -- Split Decision -- with, hired me when he took over showrunning Brothers & Sisters and also again on Revenge. So I feel like really great people and mentors have been generous enough to bring me with them and hopefully I will do the same for the wonderful people who I've been on staff with -- I would take the entire Life Unexpected staff to every show if I could. And yes, I definitely get discouraged at times. It's a hard business, a lot of it breaks your heart, shows you love get cancelled and you have to say goodbye to people that have become family.

3. After Life Unexpected ended it seems like you've made a real effort to keep up with ex-castmates. Have you done the same with other series you've worked on or was this one special since you were also the creator?

Life Unexpected was definitely special. A group that bonds like that doesn't come along every day and especially what I loved was that the writers and actors bonded equally. There was no us against them mentality. It was really important me to have a family atmosphere and I knew that our friendships would extend beyond the life of the series. I think I modeled the show after what I saw Jonathan Prince do on American Dreams -- it was such a family, we were all such a team. And aside from LUX, I would say I'm still close to that cast, which was also a unique experience. We had a reunion a few years ago for Sarah Ramos's 18th birthday. I think we sent the evite out to 20 people from the show and said to spread the word... 100 came. I still keep in touch with the cast, especially Vanessa Lengies, who is one of my closest friends.

4. On past series like Once and Again and American Dreams you worked with young stars like Shane West, Evan Rachel Wood, and Brittany Snow. Did you notice their potential for success at such a young age?

LIZ: Oh absolutely. Evan Rachel Wood had that amazing story on Once & Again with Mischa Barton and I remember thinking how wonderful they both were. I was Winnie's assistant on that show so I didn't know them well... but on American Dreams, I knew the younger cast extremely well -- I was young, too, so I'd always been their chaperones to fun events -- and I knew from the minute I saw them how extremely talented they were. There's something about Brittany Snow's face that still breaks my heart in the best way -- she can convey every emotion so simply -- happiness, heartbreak. I adore her. I remember at the end of the first act of the pilot of American Dreams, her character is watching the TV, looking at American Bandstand with so much hope and joy, like it's all that matters... that's how I felt watching her watch Bandstand. I wanted to be a part of that show and write for that character. Still, even after creating my own characters, that character is one I feel so connected to. And don't get me started on how much I love Britt Robertson and Ksenia Solo. :)

5. Now you've been working on Once Upon a Time and Revenge. How have those experiences been for you?

LIZ: Great! They are two big hit shows so that feels amazing. I'm happy to have been a part of them both this year -- especially because they are so different for me and different from each other. It makes me hungry to create another show, for sure.

Have questions of your own for Liz? Write them down in your notebook and ask her yourself at the 2012 Austin Film Festival & Conference!

Monday, February 27, 2012

What I Learned From the Oscars

Even with some last minute changes to the predictions I initially posted, I still ended up predicting only 17 out of 24 categories last night.  Not my best by any means but alas, there’s always next year when the Dark Knight Rises will sweep the 2013 Oscars (one can still dream I guess).  It’s funny how obvious the outcome seems now in retrospect.  In this age of blogging, anyone can be an Oscar expert but the only ones who truly know the outcome in advance is PricewaterhouseCoopers.  Nobody knows anything and the best method to playing this game is to not over think it.  So instead of moping over how bad I did this year, I’ll reflect on what I learned from watching the Oscars:
  1. I realized I was born the same year Meryl Streep won her last Oscar for Sophie’s Choice.  I can’t wait to see her win another 29 years later when she won’t need makeup to play Margaret Thatcher again in The Iron Lady 2.
  2.  The telecast was rather dull and I wonder what Eddie Murphy would have brought to the show if he had hosted.  Heck, Ellen DeGeneres’ JC Penney commercials were considerably funnier.
  3. I did not realize Twilight belonged in the pantheon of great movie moments.
  4. Comedic anecdotes from presenters are almost never funny unless you can speak Mandarin like Sandra Bullock, or your names are Will Ferrell and Mack Zalifigakas.  
  5. My thoughts from watching the In Memoriam montage: “All those people are dead???”
  6. I would like to play a drinking game with the Bridesmaids.  “Scorsese!”
  7. Viola Davis is gorgeous.  I’ll predict she’ll win an Oscar in the future or at least end up on Joan Rivers’ best dressed list.
  8. Never underestimate the power of Harvey Weinstein.  Three of his films won Oscars (The Artist, The Iron Lady, and Undefeated)
  9. The Academy really needs to reevaluate its voting process for Best Original Song.  Only two nominees this year?  And it was a crime The Muppets didn’t get to perform the winning song, “Man or Muppet”!
  10. Christopher Plummer is just two years younger than the Academy Awards?
  11. Billy Crystal can read minds.  I’m glad we all finally know what goes on in Marty Scorsese’s and Nick Nolte’s heads. AND...
  12. I need to stop obsessing over the Oscars and get back to writing my script!
 --Matt Dy, Screenplay & Teleplay Competition Director

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live Blogging: The Oscars!

Taylor here, AFF Marketing Director. Welcome to the Austin Film Festival's live blogging of the 84th annual Academy Awards. Stick around for updates throughout the evening!

7:25pm CST 
5 minutes 'til show time! Is is just me or does one of the commentators look like a mini Steve Martin Scorsese?

7:32pm CST
Two minutes in and we start the show with a George-on-Billy liplock.

7:36pm CST
First film mentioned: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Want a chance to own a signed script of the film? Get your Producers Badge before the end of February and you'll be entered to win one of two copies!

7:38pm CST
Bill Crystal's first musical number.

7:43pm CST
First award!
Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson - Hugo

7:45pm CST
Best Art Direction: Hugo

7:55pm CST
Best Costume Design: The Artist - Mark Bridges

7:56pm CST
Makeup: The Iron Lady

8:07pm CST
Foreign Language Film: A Separation

8:10pm CST
Best Actress In a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer, The Help
So far, Matt Dy's been pretty on point with his predictions!

8:19pm CST
Christopher Guest's cast acts as focus group for Wizard of Oz! Hilarious!

8:22pm CST
Film Editing: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 

Now that signed script of GIRL we have is an OSCAR WINNING SCRIPT! Wanna a shot at winning it? Get your Producers Badge by Feb 29th.

8:26pm CST
Sound Editing: Hugo
Sound Mixing: Hugo

8:36pm CST
North by Northwest Peewee Herman lookalikes are bungee jumping around the Kodak Theater.

8:43pm CST
Best Documentary Feature: Undefeated

8:47pm CST
Best Animated Feature: Rango

8:53pm CST
Emma Stone is winning best dressed so far, in my humble opinion. Plus, she's hilarious.

A Chance to Own A Piece of Oscar History

The Oscars are tonight, and we at AFF are so proud to have a slew of 2011 AFF films like THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDANTS, ALBERT NOBBS, PUSS IN BOOTS, THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE, HELL AND BACK AGAIN, and RAJU represented at the Oscars. We can't wait to watch the ceremony on the 26th, and we've got our hands on some pretty exciting Oscar swag to make the event even more exciting!

Last week, we announced that everyone who has purchased a Producers Badge to the 2012 Austin Film Festival & Conference by Wednesday, February 29th will be entered for a chance to win a copy of the screenplay of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, signed by Academy Award®-winning writer Steven Zaillian!

Now, we're thrilled to announce we have not one but two copies of the screenplay of EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE, signed by Academy Award® winning screenwriter Eric Roth!
Roth has been nominated for four Oscars, winning in 1994 for FORREST GUMP. The 2011 film EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE, for which Roth wrote the adapted screenplay, is nominated for two Oscars.

Now you have three chances to win a signed Oscar nominated script and a piece of Oscar history. And to make the deal a little sweeter, everyone who has purchased a Badge by the end of February will be entered to win an upgrade to a Producers Badge! Your last chance to enter the contest is midnight, Wednesday, February 29th, so grab one before it's too late!

Tonight, make sure to check out the blog or follow us on twitter @austinfilmfest as AFF Marketing Director Taylor Cumbie live-blogs the Oscars!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Austin Film Festival's 2012 Film Poster Competition

The Austin Film Festival is excited to announce their first ever Film Poster Competition! AFF has chosen a series of five films from their 2012 year-round programming to feature the art of Austin's local artists. Interested designers can choose one of the films in the series and create an original film poster. AFF will choose one winner for each film, and a limited number of each winning poster will be displayed and sold at the screenings.

In addition, audience members and online voters will have a chance to vote on their favorite film poster in the series. The artist of the winning poster will receive a Producer's Badge to the 2012 Austin Film Festival & Conference ($695 value) and their poster on display at the Festival. This showcase is an invaluable opportunity to have your artwork seen by tens of thousands of people and viewed by an audience of filmmakers eager to find their next poster artist!

The Films:

The Silence of the Lambs
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Party Down (TV Pilot)
The Iron Giant
The Black Stallion

To submit your film poster, please send a high-res PDF to by March 12th, 2012. Winners will be announced March 15th, 2012.

Contact Taylor Cumbie

Final Oscar Predictions

Will The Artist sweep the Oscars?  Will Meryl Streep FINALLY win a long overdue second Oscar for lead actress?  All will be answered this Sunday night when the awards will be handed out.  The real question is… will people really care?  Compared to last year, most of the films nominated this year haven’t really polarized the general public as much while the current frontrunner is a black and white silent film most are hesitant to see at first.  Regardless, I’m still a faithful Oscar watcher and prognosticator (read my post from Feb 1) and I’ll still make my annual predictions.  Here’s who I think will win in all 24 categories.

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Actress: Viola Davis, The Help
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Best Art Direction: Hugo
Best Costume Design: The Artist
Best Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Best Visual Effects: Hugo
Best Editing: The Artist
Best Sound Mixing: Hugo
Best Sound Editing: War Horse
Best Original Score: The Artist
Best Original Song: “Man or Muppet”, The Muppet Movie
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Live Action Short: Tuba Atlantic
Best Animated Short: A Morning Stroll
Best Documentary Short: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

And… to make a shameless plug, we have a special promotion in honor of the Oscars.  Anyone who purchases a Producers Badge to the 2012 Austin Film Festival & Conference by Sunday, February 26th will be entered for a chance to win a copy of the screenplay of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, signed by Academy Award®-winning writer Steven Zaillian!

Zaillian, who was awarded with the Distinguished Screenwriter Award at the 2009 Austin Film Festival, wrote both THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and MONEYBALL, each earning a handful of Oscar nominations.

And everyone who has purchased a Conference Badge or below by February 26th will be entered in a raffle to win an upgrade to a Producers Badge!  Click here to buy your Badge.

--Matt Dy, Screenplay & Teleplay Competition Director

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Post: An interview with screenwriter Amy Talkington

Eilis Mernagh is a screenwriter whose latest short script, TIGER, is set to be produced this year, directed by award-winning director Cathal Nally. Eilis heard Amy Talkington speak at the 2011 Austin Film Festival and followed up with her for an interview. She generously shared her subsequent blog post with us. For more from Eilis, visit her blog, Dublin to Hollywood.

When you’re embarking on a venture it’s always good to hear from someone who’s been there and done that. So if you want to be a screenwriter, why not talk to an established writer?

One of the sessions at this year’s Austin Film Festival featured an interview with screenwriter Amy Talkington and her agent, talking about their working relationship. It was one of the most informative and interesting panels of the festival. I contacted Amy afterwards and she kindly agreed to answer some questions for this blog about her career to date and life as a working writer in Hollywood.
Amy Talkington

Amy is a writer and director based in Los Angeles. Originally from Texas, she graduated from Barnard College with a degree in art history and went on to achieve an MFA in film from Columbia University’s film division. Amy’s short films “Our Very First Sex Tape” (2003), “The New Arrival” (2000), “Bust” (1999), “Second Skin” (1998) and “Number One Fan” (1997) were selected for numerous distinguished festivals including Sundance. Second Skin earned her the New Line Cinema award for Best Director. She wrote and directed the feature film, “The Night of the White Pants,” released in 2008, which starred Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl and Selma Blair.

Amy has written screenplays for several major studios, including Fox 2000, 20th Century Fox, MGM, Summit Entertainment, Disney and New Line Cinema. She penned the remake of the Eighties teen movie “Valley Girl” for MGM and the remake of “Private Benjamin” for New Line Cinema with Anna Faris set to star. Most recently she worked on “Kicked, Bitten and Scratched” for Summit Entertainment and sold an original pitch to Disney, which she is currently writing.

 In TV, Amy wrote “Avalon High” for the Disney Channel (for which she won a 2010 WGA award) and the ABC family movie “Brave New Girl” which starred Virginia Madsen and Lindsay Haun.

While Amy’s primary focus has been on traditional narratives for film and television, she is also accomplished as an interactive, new media filmmaker, where she strives to experiment with new kinds of storytelling. She co-wrote and directed the world’s first 360-degree movie, “The New Arrival,” for which The New York Times named her “one of the few women to break out on the internet.” She also wrote and directed “Confessions,” an interactive web project which was released on in August, 2007.

Thanks for giving this interview! Can you give some details about how your interest in film developed and in particular your interest in writing for film? 

In my teens, I was a painter but I also loved to write fiction and I loved music. I wasn’t quite sure how to choose between them. But then, during college, I saw some inspiring art films and suddenly realized that writing and directing film would encompass all the things I things I loved.  

You wrote and directed five short movies at the start of your career – how did these develop? How did you approach the process of making what were (presumably!) low budget films?

I made my first two shorts while I was a graduate student in the Film Division at Columbia University. The film school setting provides a community to help develop and make a short. But, from the very first film, I strived to make the films as professional as possible and reached out to the independent film community in New York for my key crew and cast. I always encourage students not to settle and to reach for that composer or cinematographer or actor who you admire. You never know, if they like your script and they’re available, they might work on your film!

 Would you regard Second Skin as having been your “big break” and can you talk a little about how it arrived at New Line?

Yes, “Second Skin” was my entrée into both the independent film community and Hollywood. I traveled with that film to many film festivals and, through those festivals, got to know many people in the NYC indie scene. And then, when Columbia screened it in Los Angeles (because I’d won the award for “Best Director”), a young agent from United Talent Agency saw it and contacted me. She is still my agent today. As for the New Line Cinema Awards, New Line had a relationship with Columbia’s Film Division at the time and they sponsored two awards that “Second Skin” won. 

Night of the White Pants has an amazing cast. Can you talk about how you attracted actors like Tom Wilkinson and what it was like directing your first feature film? 

Tom just really loved the script. He also liked the idea of working with Nick Stahl again (they’d done “In The Bedroom” together some years before). I was really lucky that he happened to have a window of time and hadn’t done an indie in a while. Then, once Tom and Nick were in, the project was very attractive to many actors who wanted to work with them. It was 100 degrees in Dallas and every day was hard as hell but we had a great time making that movie.  

Is the finished movie very similar to the script or did you have to change a lot during production? 

We definitely had to make a lot of compromises due to the small budget and short shooting schedule but the movie is pretty close to the original script. The voice over was added in post, that’s one of the biggest changes from the shooting script. 

Can you talk a little about the process of “pitching” to the studios and how do you approach this?

Pitching is hell. And the way I approach it is by being as prepared as possible. I have a rock solid set of notes and I pitch “off” of them. I know a lot of people say you shouldn’t pitch off of notes, but it works for me. I practice a lot beforehand so that it doesn’t seem like I’m reading notes. I try to make it feel as casual as possible. 

Private Benjamin is a beloved film for a lot of people – it’s certainly one of my favourites! How do you approach writing a remake of a well-known movie? 

That was tough. I love the original too!! I kind of had forget about people’s expectations and just try to write the best script possible and one that felt as fresh as the original. It’s currently being rewritten by someone else so… we’ll see how it turns out! 

What’s your writing process like? Do you outline/write a treatment before starting? 

Yes, I do write a fairly detailed treatment and I work off of that. On the studio assignments you kind of have to. When I’m writing something for “myself” I usually have an outline but it’s less developed.  

What’s your writing schedule like – do you write everyday at a set time, for example?

I write five days a week, five to seven hours a day, depending on how much I have going on. I usually like to write in the mornings, maybe 8am – 2 or 3pm. 

The issue of “movies for women” often comes up at festivals. Do you feel that as a female writer, you can do a better job of telling a woman’s story? And do you feel that there are differences in the industry working as a female writer? 

Oh boy, that’s a pretty complicated issue. Not sure I can really tackle it here. I feel very capable of writing male and female characters. And, as far as the industry goes, I try not to think about the dismally low percentages of working female writers and directors. I choose not to focus on it and just keep working hard.  

You write for film and TV but also for the internet – what are your favourite things about writing for these different mediums? 

I am very interested in interactive storytelling. We are at an exciting time when a new kind of storytelling might emerge. I love to explore that.  

I saw an interview with you and your agent Rebecca Ewing at AFF and you seem to have a very good working relationship. Do you have any tips for young writers on a. finding a representative and b. working effectively with an agent once you get one? 

I really lucked out in terms of getting a representative so quickly and easily. But, I think the best way to find a good representative is to write a great script.  And as far as working effectively with an agent… I don’t know, I guess it’s the same as any working relationship — don’t be a jerk! 

Lastly, do you have any practical advice in general for writers starting out in their careers? 

Be prepared to work hard and face a lot of rejection. If you can’t handle either of those things than it’s probably not the right line of work. 

Big thanks to Amy for taking the time to do this interview!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Box Office Recovery

A few weeks ago, I wrote that 2012 might be a great year for film marketing.  So far, someone is definitely doing something right. Ticket sales have been soaring, breaking records and dragging the industry out of the minor slump that was 2011. Previously unknown directors and screenwriters have been spinning low-budget films into box office gold, establishing themselves as new voices and signing on to major new projects. But who or what is responsible for this 2012 uptick? 

It’s very difficult to say.  It’s always going to be hard to read a culture and understand why one film catches on while others fail. I stand by my argument that film marketing is becoming increasingly thoughtful and clever, doing more with less, and studios have become much smarter about targeting their efforts and marketing to the right demographics at the right time. But even these strategies won’t help sell an unsellable film, which suggests that the quality of product being released is better than usual. 

In recent years, studios have tended to dump their worst movies into theaters during January and February.  These months are essentially the “Oscar season doldrums,” when the films being considered for Academy Awards stick around in theaters as more and more people want to see what everyone is talking about.  This doesn’t leave much room in cinemas for additional thought-provoking fare, so studios counter-program with the kind of action film or romantic drama that isn’t likely to win over the critics, hoping to scrounge up a few million dollars in an empty marketplace. 

This year, it seems like studios have been mixing things up a bit, releasing films like The Grey, Safe House, and Chronicle that are as dependent on solid writing and assured direction as they are on Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, and the superhero trend. These are films that could’ve held their own in the slightly more competitive months of March and April, yet here they are in January and February, cashing in their jackpots.  

Additionally, the studios have truly made an art out of not stepping on each other’s toes.  Generally, when two films that are similar in theme or feature the same star suddenly find themselves scheduled to open on the same Friday, one of the studios will budge and move to another date.  This ultimately is best for everyone involved, as each weekend brings a new option for different types of moviegoers without overcrowding the marketplace. There could be no better example than this past weekend, which saw four movies open with more than $20 million in ticket sales (The Vow, Safe House, Journey 2, Star Wars: Episode I 3D). This is a truly staggering testament to the benefits of studios playing it smart and counter-programming each other.  

For example, This Means War, the romantic-action-comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy, abandoned its original plan to open on Valentine’s Day after realizing that it would have to directly compete with The Vow, which proved to be a wise decision. The Vow sold more tickets yesterday than any film ever has on a Valentine’s weekday. Now, This Means War can make its entrance this Friday with some of the excitement over The Vow having already died down.  If the studios continue to play it safe, and play nice, 2012 could be a particularly great year for the film industry.

- Stephen Jannise, Film Program Director

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kids Who Write Good

Proper grammer and speling is important for writers of all ages and levels if they want to be more better writers.  If you aspire to be a professional writer and didn’t notice the errors in the previous sentence, you’ve got a problem (or you better have a good copy editor).  This week’s blog entry is not so much a lesson in grammar and dusting off your copy of Strunk & White; it is more about the importance of proofing your work before turning it in to someone who can either make or break your script.

I gained some perspective on this topic when I was asked to help teach the basics of screenwriting to an English class at a local high school as part of our Young Filmmakers Program.  The students were required to write a short screenplay for us to review and narrow down to one script which the kids would later produce.  The goal for the program is not only to help improve the students’ writing skills but to also provide them a real world experience similar to that of a working screenwriter in the industry (of course on a much smaller scale, not as ruthless, and without illegal substances).  Many of the kids submitted brilliant stories that were unfortunately marred by distractingly bad grammar, punctuation, spelling, and not to mention poor use of present progressive.  What we asked the kids to think about was: “Would you feel confident submitting this script to a studio?”  We gave the kids another opportunity to proof and refine their scripts before making our final decision.  In the studio system or a screenplay competition, there are no second chances like this once you’ve submitted a script.
Even in this age of text messaging and auto-correct, this is something not unique to today’s youth but to amateur writers in general.  I’ve come across many scripts in the competition with great stories but with poor grammar and spelling.  This is not necessarily a deal breaker for a script to advance in our competition; the quality of the story and writing always come first but the last thing you want to do is annoy your reader.  Your words should flow easily for the reader as if they’re going to fly off the page.  There is such a thing as spell check but it’s always best to have a new set of eyes copy edit your work before submitting it somewhere.  So just like those kids in class, ask yourself, “Do I feel confident submitting this script to a studio?”

Bad grammar may or may not make or break your script but, in an industry where thousands of scripts are passed around, why not make yours the most polished it can be?  The last thing you want is for your first impression to be the last impression.  Even though some Hollywood producers may still act like they’re in high school, it doesn’t mean you have to.

--Matt Dy, Screenplay & Teleplay Competition Director

Thursday, February 09, 2012

David Milch on his mentor, Robert Penn Warren

We're thrilled that 2006 Outstanding Television Writer Award recipient David Milch has another terrific show on the air, LUCK, which airs on HBO Sunday nights. The show premiered this month and has already been picked up for a second season. Check out this clip of David taking about the influence of his mentor, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Penn Warren.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Should I Stay or Should I Go: The Rise of Cinema-on-Demand

As you have no doubt noticed in recent years, there are more ways than ever to experience films.  Want to watch in the comfort of your own home? You can stream on Netflix, rent from iTunes, or order Video-on-Demand from your cable provider or video game system. Prefer the old fashioned method of going to the theater? You can choose the optical trickery of 3D, the pulse rattling grandeur of IMAX, or the pure insanity of motion seats. There truly is a wealth of options for movie lovers today, with more to come in the near future. 

This also means there are more options for studios and distributors to determine how they can maximize profits on a film’s potential, leading to a debate about whether or not indie filmmakers are being given golden opportunities or the short end of the stick.  On the one hand, you can now see films in Austin, TX, through VOD or iTunes that would, in past years, have only been exhibited in a handful of theaters in New York or Los Angeles, opening more eyes to new filmmakers and fresh ideas than ever before.  

On the other hand, this means that fewer indie filmmakers will experience the exquisite feeling of screening their film in a movie theater.  As far as we have come with on-demand movies, and as comfortable as most people have become with viewing films at home, the allure of the movie theater is still not lost on a majority of filmmakers.  Playing in an actual cinema remains the ultimate dream, but the low costs and accessibility of VOD are so appealing to studios and distributors that this dream is even less likely to come true. 

Not that most filmmakers are likely to complain if a VOD deal comes knocking on their film’s door.  In this economy, an indie filmmaker with a walletful of maxed-out credit cards will be more than happy to take any opportunity to get their movie watched and their debts erased. Luckily, these opportunities abound, with Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and others offering a multitude of channels through which a film could find an audience. 

Unfortunately, these opportunities also eliminate the risk-taking that sparked the independent film scene into vibrant life.  Would “Reservoir Dogs” have been given a chance on the big screen? Would “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” have been labeled a “small screen movie” and gone straight to iTunes?  It’s hard to say, but one thing is certain right now: if you don’t have James Cameron’s cameras or Peter Jackson’s special FX units or the Fox Searchlight/Weinstein Company/Sony Pictures Classics logos on your poster, you’re going to have a difficult time getting your film on the big screen. 

What does this mean for those of us who can appreciate the potential of VOD but ultimately still enjoy the rush of discovering indie films at the local arthouse? It means we should go, and go as often as we can.

-Stephen Jannise, AFF Film Program Director