By Christine Thompson
Writing can be a lonely process for some. But one of the only festivals in the world centered around writers, The Austin Film Festival, has brought together those who practice the craft of writing for films by hosting informative panels described variously as “therapeutic, rehabilitative, and a strong social and learning experience by Alvaro Rodriguez (Machete) and Director/Writer Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) . They are two of the writers whose curated panels at Austin Film Festival became part of the new book “On Story: Screenwriters, Filmmakers and their Iconic Films.”
Edited by AFF Founder Barbara Morgan and Maya Perez, producer of the Emmy-winning PBS series Austin Film Festival’s On-Story, the book is an amalgamation of some of these amazing panels from previous years, preserved for posterity for future writers.
Rodriguez, who has been attending the conference since 2009, explains that the AFF is the writer’s ultimate conference and one of his favorites in the city of many festivals centered around artists. He said “it’s a great way to meet other writers, get in on the early stages of the collaborations processes and listen to the writers describe their experiences.” He added, there are “no velvet ropes, where you are given front line, front row access to writers who have won academy awards.
Similarly, director and screenwriter Robin Swicord, who was nominated for Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons,” has been coming to the festival almost since the festival’s second year. She is a self-described cinephile and the panels have “really enriched her life.” She added “Directing is an interpretive art.”
Directors can be put on a pedestal but a film is a creative effort, with many moving parts. Film’s unique medium presents different types of challenges for the writer, and the desire of the the Festival to share the writer’s experiences working within this medium sheds light to to creatives at all levels of the film community, from beginner to academy award-winner. With no sign of slowing down anytime soon, On-Story is accruing a massive amount of intelligence for a previously underserved community. The book is available HERE NOW and is $20, a great Christmas gift for the writer in your life.