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Austin Film Festival brings Hollywood to the heart of Texas next weekend

Austin Film Festival brings Hollywood to the heart of Texas

Paramount Theatre Austin Film Festival
Paramount Theatre is just one of many venues playing host to the Austin Film Festival. Photo by Austin Film Festival/Facebook
Logo for 20th Austin Film Festival AFF with silhouette of King Kong
Austin Film Festival kicks off October 24. Photo courtesy of Austin Film Festival
Susan Sarandon Austin Film Festival
Susan Sarandon will be honored at the AFF Awards Luncheon. Photo by Austin Film Festival/Facebook
Paramount Theatre Austin Film Festival
Logo for 20th Austin Film Festival AFF with silhouette of King Kong
Susan Sarandon Austin Film Festival

No two people have the same reason for wanting to be part of Hollywood. No two people break in the same way, either. 

Luckily, writers living in Central Texas don't have to trek all the way out to Los Angeles to get their big break. Once a year, Austin plays host to one of the biggest national gatherings of Hollywood insiders.

What started as a small gathering of writers looking to hang out in Austin for a few days has boomed into the definitive gathering for film and television writers, producers and directors. 

Now in its 20th year, the Austin Film Festival & Conference, which runs October 24-31, celebrates the craft of writing for the screen. What started as a small gathering of writers looking to hang out in Austin for a few days has boomed into the definitive gathering for film and television writers, producers and directors.

The festival screens films at theaters throughout the Austin area. The conference takes place at the Driskill and Stephen F. Austin hotels in downtown Austin.

Over eight days, professionals and aspiring writers bond over panels, parties, pitches and films. But the Austin Film Festival & Conference isn’t just for industry insiders. Fans can join in the fun with plenty of panels, screenings and parties. Plus, with the purchase of a conference badge, you get access to all eight days of films.  

And if that’s not enough … Will Ferrell is coming! So, grab your notebook and pick up a badge, because you don’t want to miss this party.

Top panel picks

Chicks With Bics — Friday, October 25, at 9 am

This panel focuses on the importance, success and struggles of women writers.

Pixar's Story Development Process — Friday, October 25, at 10:45 am

Hear how the infamous animation studio takes an idea and turns it into a stunning feature film.

Book to Screen to Musical: Big Fish — Saturday, October 26, at 2:15 pm

Learn from writer John August about the process of bringing his movie Big Fish from a book to the screen and eventually to Broadway.

Awards Luncheon — Saturday, October 26, at 10:30 am

One of the highlights of the conference is the festival’s annual awards luncheon. This year, the festival is awarding its Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking — Actor Award  to Susan Sarandon. The Academy Award winning actress and star of Thelma & Louise, Bull Durham and The Rocky Horror Picture show will accept the award at noon. She'll be joined by Thelma & Louise writer Callie Khouri (Something To Talk About, TV series Nashville), who will receive a Distinguished Screenwriting award. Director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Rachel Getting Married), Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and Josephson Entertainment's Barry Josephson will also receive awards from the festival.

Vince Gilligan Presents: Breaking Bad (the Alpha and the Omega) — Sunday, October 27, at 10:30 am

Gilligan will present the first and final episodes of the series. He will discuss Walter White's transformation from high school teacher to meth-dealing sociopath.

Vince Gilligan Presents: A Staged Reading of 2 Face — Sunday, October 27 at 2 pm

Make it a Vince Gilligan day and watch Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini and Thomas Hayden Church perform his unproduced script, directed by Looper writer/director Rian Johnson. 

Another way to gain insight into the creative minds of working writers is to attend one of the many “A Conversation With …” sessions. Check out 2013 AFF Distinguished Screenwriter Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) or sit down with director Jeff Nichols (Mud). Get inside the head of Leigh Whannell, writer of horror films Saw and Insidious, or listen to Leslie Dixon (Hairspray, Mrs. Doubtfire) talk about her diverse writing career. 

It's true that not everyone who attends the Austin Film Festival walks away with a three-picture deal or an agent. But you could spend years in Los Angeles and never get close to rubbing elbows with this much creative talent in a single weekend.

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For the full schedule, badge purchase or more information, head to the AFF website.