conference prep

Austin makes waves as Texas' film festival city

Austin makes waves as Texas' film festival city

Austin Photo Set: News_Karen brooks_red carpet_SXSW film_March 2012_third_10
Photo by Charlie L Harper III


Austin is known for many things: breakfast tacos, live music, cold beer and good hospitality.  For decades, music has been the city's first-born and favorite, catering to local musicians and showcasing the work and talent of the artists passing through. But with such a love for the arts, it may not be a surprise that Austin's second-born child came about in the form of filmmaking.

The film scene has certainly come a long way in Austin. Home to Austin Studios as well as a plethora of nationally and internationally known writers, actors and directors, many have migrated from the concrete jungles to the laid-back hill country for work. With the rise of the filmmaking scene here in town, it's no surprise that many film festivals have sprung up to present all of the great works that have come from these efforts.

Just around the corner, South by Southwest Film Festival is not only one of the top 10 film festivals in the U.S. by Time magazine, but it also serves as a giant springboard for up and coming filmmakers. Seeing homegrown talent like Kelly Williams and Kat Candler become huge successes around the country gives the rest of us the inspiration to move forward. 

Along with eight days of film screenings, SXSW hosts a wide variety of sessions and discussions for its film and interactive badge holders during the first four days of the festival.

Topics range from personal conversations with talented filmmakers such as Danny Boyle, to to mentoring sessions with industry professionals on how to get that screenplay of yours into the hands of an agent. Many sessions explore the current trends in media and what you can do to either jump right in — or avoid them all together. 

If you are interested in subjects like the best camera to shoot your film on, or who would be a niche market for your film, then this is the festival for you. All of the film sessions require a badge for entry, but also gain you access to all 8 days of film screenings and parties as well.

But Austin is not only home to SXSW. Well known for championing the work of the screenwriter, Austin Film Festival is coming up on its 20th year of being a staple film festival in Austin and throughout the country. The conference's panels range from focusing on specific topics such as The First 10 Pages (of your script), to one-on-ones with writers and directors like Terry Rossio, Lawrence Kasdan and more.  

The films shown at AFF are even more unique in the sense that, although they might not be flashy or have big stars, the stories are compelling and inspirational. Held in October, AFF serves as a great close to the festival year, leaving its registrants feeling like they're ready to start writing, or perhaps just tackle that 2nd act they've been struggling with.

Although many festivals have top-level badges that grant you all-access to their screenings, most festivals sell film passes or individual tickets at the venues' doors.  This year, SXSW has a new Film Wristband that grants you line access to all film screenings, just after badges (on sale for $80 through March 16). 

Don't quite have the budget for a wristband, even? Fret not, frugal movie watcher! SXSW has $10 Rush Tickets sold at each venue, giving everyone an equal opportunity to check out the hundreds of films that will be screened around town (on sale 15 minutes before show time).

Whether you are an action film buff (Fantastic Fest), a Latin film lover (Cine las Americas), a television fan (ATX Television Festival) and anywhere in between, the capital city has a film festival for you.


See a complete list of film festivals in Austin and throughout Texas here. To make an advance purchase of SXSW badges, wristbands and for more information, check out