Saturday, October 25, 2008

Austin Film Festival – Friday 10/17 – Day 1

My day started off like any other. Alarm going off at 3:45am; heading toward the airport by 4:15am. Connecting flight to Dallas, then off to Austin, landing around 10:20, taking a shuttle to the Holiday Inn to drop off my luggage, then hitting the film festival running. I connected immediately with Teresa, and AFF pro of 8 years, who walked my through the registration process which went remarkably smoothly, then hooked up with Dave, Nicole and Karen, the rest of the Omaha gang that made the trip. Under some small talk under the big steer head (what was his name again?) I did a tour of the festival to see where everything was, and peaked into a few of the panels that were already in session. Jeremy landed at 11:30 and after dropping off his luggage at the hotel, came straight over and we all headed out for some local cuisine.

After a great lunch of Mexican food and AFF catalog reviewing, we all headed back to the festival to our variously chosen and planned events.

During the opening weekend, there are conferences during the day, and films during the evenings. A few films also played during the day, but in the evenings, nine theaters

3:15-4:30pm – Roundtable: Writers/Directors
Mike Akel, Greg Carter, John Lee Hancock, Jake Kasdan, Alex Smith, Andrew Smith, Robert Townsend, Boaz Yakin

The roundtables are pretty cool. You go into a big room and there are eight tables with 10 chairs around them and it’s like speed dating for writers/filmmakers. When everyone was set, the panelists (listed above) came in and each one sat at a table and 9 people had an opportunity to interact directly with the person at their table. After a specified amount of time, the panelist got up and they all rotated, so that during the hour, your table got to sit with three different people. The highlight for me was talking to Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans, The Rookie). An extremely interesting guy that gave us some intimate details about his processes and how he made his most recent film “Death in Love” which screened at the AFF (which I had a chance to see later).

Friday evening was highlighted by the opening night VIP BBQ, attended by well over a thousand people that included all of the filmmakers in attendance as well as all of the Producer badge holders. Great event; awesome barbeque.

With so many films all day and all night, it’s tough to decide what to see, so I tend to bounce around quite a bit and catch Q&A sessions. Since we have so much access to the films that get screened, I tend to not want to sit in a theater for two hours watching something I can see at home, I’d rather schedule four Q&A sessions at various theaters, so that’s what I did. The highlight of the evening was catching the end of the film “Zero Effect” (which I’ve seen a dozen times) and listening to and meeting writer/director Jake Kasdan. Sweet.

After all of the films for the day, there was an opening night party at Ruth’s Chris. We made it to the hotel sometime after 1:00am. Almost non-stop for 24 hours. A good first day.


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