Austin Film Festival: Day… um… All The Rest

So when I first started attending AFF, I had a fairly ambitious plan to blog daily about my experiences, but… as you may have noticed, this went by the wayside pretty quickly. I’m a blogging wuss, I know, but what can I say? Attending more than 12 hours of festivities in one day tired me out pretty quickly.

Here’s everything I attended after Thursday:


“TV Drama Today”
“Finding the Voice: Dialogue”
“Writing Comedy for TV”
“A Conversation With Glenn Gordon Caron
“Film Texas BBQ Supper”
Reservation Road


“Juno: From Script to Screen”
“Production Team: Friday Night Lights”
“Conference Wrap Party”


Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist


Neal Cassady


Two Tickets to Paradise

Highlights and observations:

  • Juno was easily the best film I saw all week. I highly recommend you check it out when it opens in December. Control was my second favorite, although it is possibly only interesting to fans of Joy Division.
  • Numb was the worst movie I saw all week, even though it was a pretty funny movie, even hilarious at points. Matthew Perry starred, and he may have been the only reason I enjoyed myself. The problem was that the movie itself is a cliched mess – depressed guy and wacky girl “meet cute“, and their quirky romance causes the guy to see the error of his depressed ways. Hijinks ensue. The most annoying aspect of the movie was that the musical choices were just awful. At certain points, the movie would show you something in a scene, and then Perry’s narration would describe what his character was thinking, and then a completely on-the-nose song choice would start playing, just to make sure you knew how how Perry felt. I love Elliott Smith, but this movie demonstrated the most banal use of Smith’s songs I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing – I never thought I’d cringe at the sound of “Say Yes“.
  • I hate hate hate parking downtown in the Congress area. This actively kept me from attending things as the week went on. If a movie wasn’t playing at the Arbor or Lake Creek Drafthouse, which are on my side of town, I had a hard time getting myself out the door. Luckily all of the movies I was excited about played early in the week, and there were still good movies on my side of town later in the week.
  • The panels were great, but the nature of the beast is that every panel had to be relatively shallow if the subject was broad. The best panels were highly focused on a specific topic – the “Comedy Writing”, “Juno: From Script to Screen” and “Friday Night Lights” panels were my favorites, just because they were informative and to-the-point. The Juno panel was especially cool because it was so casual that it was more like a conversation than a one-sided lecture. The Glenn Gordon Caron panel was definitely interesting because of the anecdotes, but, like many of the panels, I felt like I could have gotten a lot of the same information online or from books I’ve read.
  • I realized that once I saw one panel with a speaker, I generally wasn’t interested in another panel with the same speakers. A few panelists were particularly insightful, but most were, to be frank, writers who probably communicated better in a written form than out loud. This is to be expected, I suppose.
  • Best quote of the week: “I want to have my kittens and eat them too!” – Terry Rossio, writer of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
  • Context for the quote above: Rossio said this during the dialogue panel. The discussion was focused on what the speakers called “kittens” in scripts. The example given was a speech by a soldier going off to war. In the speech, he might talk about his fear of going off to war, and he might also talk about his kitten, i.e. “Well, I’m going off to war. (pause) I had a kitten once…” The part about the kitten would be meant to shed some light on the character’s frame of mind, general these moments are unnecessary flourishes. The argument was that when you are writing, you should go through your script and find “kittens”, i.e. moments that don’t advance the plot or communicate necessary information, and cut as many out as possible. The tighter the script, the easier it is to produce.
  • I had a chance to see Lars and the Real Girl on Sunday, but I was starving and needed to find a bathroom because I walked outside after Juno. It turns out that everything on Congress is closed on Sundays, except for a Starbucks that wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom until I bought some coffee. I refused, got a little huffy, and ended up just getting in my car and driving home because being at home sounded more attractive, especially on Sunday night. This is the only movie I wish I hadn’t skipped… but it’s opening in theaters pretty soon, so I don’t have to wait long to give it another chance.
  • I got rooms mixed up on Friday morning and ended up attending the wrong panel. Luckily it was still an interesting and informative panel about something I wanted to know more about (“TV Drama Today”), but I still wish I had been able to attend the other panel as well (“Getting a Writing Job”).
  • Two Tickets to Paradise was a cool experience because the writer/director/star, DB Sweeney, was in the audience and gave a pretty great Q&A after the film. He was hilarious, very down to earth, and had some great anecdotes about the making of the movie. I could have listened to him talk for a while, and the movie itself was pretty entertaining, too.
  • I ended up deciding to skip the final night of the festival because I was tired and didn’t feel like dealing with parking. My plans of staying home were foiled, however, when my old roommate Vincent called because he was in town and didn’t have anyone to hang out with. Ironically enough, we ended up going to see a movie (The Darjeeling Limited, excellent) and going downtown… which is basically what I would have done if I had gone to the festival. However, it ended up being the best day for me to hang out with Vincent, so I hope Alex doesn’t hold it against me… Speaking of which, I probably owe him a six-pack or two as thanks for this awesome experience. Maybe I should get on that…
  • In total, I saw 10 movies during the festival week. I’m pretty sure that’s more movies than I’ve seen in theaters all year…

One thought on “Austin Film Festival: Day… um… All The Rest”

  1. apparently this thing wants me to leave a reply, as all links go directly to the reply box. so…. how many licks DOES it take? (i’ve really got nothing.)

Comments are closed.