To the foreground
Austin Film Society focuses lens on diverse "emerging professionals" for 2023 career program
Good luck on LinkedIn as an aspiring filmmaker. Some industries just don’t use the same career standards job seekers recommend until their last breaths, and some are stuck in a cycle of notable people who all look basically the same. Although film can be difficult to break into, the Austin Film Society (AFS) has created a springboard for underrepresented aspiring creatives, accepting applications for 2023 through January 20.
The Creative Careers Program covers creative media in film and television, especially aiming to hear from LGBTQ+ and disabled “emerging professionals”, as well as women and people of color. In return for these diverse perspectives, AFS offers training, mentorship, and networking with a finish line of hopeful job entry in the industry. Like a gym training Olympic hopefuls, AFS hopes some of its applicants will go on to work in competitive film.
Because the program seeks to serve creatives early in their careers, it offers three pathways for different levels of experience. They all offer different levels of pay: the AFS Internship Pathway pays a stipend for the full six months, and is available for 18-24-year-olds in media production; the Immersive Training pathway pays for three months, and moves on to shadowing, mentorship, and training; and the Continuing Education Pathway for industry professionals does not mention payment at all, but it does offer more in-depth courses in production and professional development.
The program considers 2023 its second year, even though it started in 2021 in partnership with the City of Austin. (It spent the time in between getting a steadier footing.) Its funding initially came from the Grant for Technology Opportunities Program (GTOPs) grant, a city fund that gives in tiers between $10,000 and $15,000, and perhaps a surprising choice for a creative endeavor even if technology is at the heart of the work. Now it draws from donors like Texas Commission for the Arts, the Burdine Johnson Foundation, and Texas Capital Bank.
Since the beginning, 30 participants have experienced the program, run through Austin Public, a non-exclusive and content-neutral media studio headed by AFS director of community education Rakeda Ervin. "AFS Creative Careers offers tools for those who might not otherwise be able to pursue their dreams," she said in a press release. "By developing diverse talent and perspectives, we are strengthening the workforce and helping emerging creatives break into the industry."
Although the program details are broad, applicants will likely find the most value in the reputation of AFS, which has been active in Austin for 37 years thanks to the initial contributions of famous Houston filmmaker Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Boyhood). The society has regular contact with the broader Austin community through lighthearted screenings, the Texas Film Awards (coming March 3), and collaborations with other major cultural organizations.
AFS Community Education staff will host a free informational webinar about the program on January 12. (Interested creatives can also access a recorded webinar from November 30, 2022.) More information about the program is available at austinfilm.org.