Austin Film Festival Script Competition

Austin Fest Film

Contact

1801 Salina St.
Austin, TX 78702
512-478-4795 (voice)
512-478-6205 (fax)

Web:
Click here
Email:
screenplay@austinfilmfestival.com

Contact: Steven DeBose, Director of Script Competitions

Report Card

Overall: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Professionalism: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars (4.0/5.0)
Feedback: 3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars (3.6/5.0)
Signficance: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Report Cards: 82    
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Objective

The Ultimate Runway
Now in our 27th year, the Austin Film Festival has been catapulting writers into life-changing careers for over two decades. Whether your dream is to sign a contract, land an agent, learn from an industry icon, or take home the coveted Bronze Typewriter Award, it’s simple: you can’t win if you don’t enter.

Josephson Entertainment Screenwriting Fellowship
This opportunity will provide a one-on-one mentorship in Los Angeles for two fellows – one writer or writing team with a feature script and one writer or writing team with a teleplay pilot – selected from the Final Round of this year’s competition. Fellows will be chosen based on the writers and scripts that imbue the most promise for development. Show More

Deadline/Entry Fees

Expired. Previous Deadline: 06/01/2020

Notification: Notifications for all entrants will be sent by mid-September

Awards

Awards range from $1000-$5000 per winner. Winners also receive reimbursement of roundtrip airfare (up to $500, excluding frequent flyer miles); hotel reimbursement at the Film Festival (up to $500); and the AFF Bronze Typewriter Award.

***All entrants will receive complimentary Reader Comments, a brief overall summary of the readers' notes.***

Austin Fest Film

Contact

1801 Salina St.
Austin, TX 78702
512-478-4795 (voice)
512-478-6205 (fax)

Web:
Click here
Email:
screenplay@austinfilmfestival.com

Contact: Steven DeBose, Director of Script Competitions

Report Card

Overall: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Professionalism: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars (4.0/5.0)
Feedback: 3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars (3.6/5.0)
Signficance: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Report Cards: 82    
Have you entered?
Submit a Report card

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Austin Film Festival Script Competition

Contact

1801 Salina St.
Austin, TX 78702
512-478-4795 (voice)
512-478-6205 (fax)

Web:
Click here
Email:
screenplay@austinfilmfestival.com

Contact: Steven DeBose, Director of Script Competitions

Report Card

Overall: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Professionalism: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars (4.0/5.0)
Feedback: 3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars (3.6/5.0)
Signficance: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Report Cards: 82    
Have you entered?
Submit a Report card

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Contest News

AUSTIN POWER - An insider's look at the coolest screenwriter's conference on the film festival circuit By Sam A. Scribner

"Screenwriting is writing for money"

- Marc Norman (Shakespeare in Love)

Dateline: Austin, Texas

If you are seriously thinking about screenwriting but don’t live in El-Lay. If you have a script you want to sell but break into flop sweats at the idea of talking to Joe Hollywood. AND, if you ever wondered, in the darkest, nether-regions of your soul, if you really have talent for this racket. Well, my friend, the Austin Film Festival is for you.

To fully appreciate this festival, one must attend a screening at the Paramount in downtown Austin. It’s a rickety old theater that smells like gym socks and makes the sprung seats at a bus stop feel like you're in a Lexus. The first time I went to the festival, it opened with a preview of "Pleasantville," a story about a couple of teenagers who are blasted back into a Father Knows Best-type, black-and-white sitcom of the 50's. I was not that thrilled about this lame premise after spending a whole day flying down to Texas where cows’ lips are considered a delicacy.

It’s a sweltering hot evening. You can’t believe it can be this hot without the sun shining. The screening started off 45-minutes late. If the soundtrack wasn’t snap, crackle and popping, it was cutting out all together. Then the projector broke down and we had to sit through one of the reels all over again. And yet, when it was over, we gave the writer/director, Gary Ross, a five-minute standing ovation. I think this was probably the best time I’ve had in a movie theater since my first kiss with Caroline Rocollo in the balcony of the Roxy when I was 13. Was Pleasantville that great? Who the hell knows? But, being in that theater with 500 other nutty screenwriters was the biggest kick in the head.

You go to the Austin Film Festival for the meet-and-greet. There are usually six or seven hundred screenwriters from all over the country. Most of them are sure they have the next Oscar winner (or at least the next Adam Sandler project). The thing is scripts DO GET OPTIONED, writers DO GET SIGNED and deals DO GET MADE. I was standing in the queue for a screening with a young guy who had just been signed with Broder-Kurland-Webb-Uffner, a hot-hot-hot agency. They already had a deal in the works. This guy was so up, I think he passed out half way through the screening.

The business of screenwriting is mostly about being demoralized. You take so much rejection, it builds up like tarter on your psyche. The Austin Film Festival is a good anti-toxin because it’s about being remoralized. You see a few films, eat great Mexican and drink a lot. Well drinks in Austin are a buck. (You can’t buy a well drink in the sleaziest bar in the worst part of San Francisco for a buck!) But what you do mostly is kick back and schmooze with peers and pros. They’re might friendly bunch down there in Texas. It’s contagious. I met a very nice fellow from Saudi Arabia who had moved to Texas. He wore a turban, had piercing coal black eyes and looked like he arrived from Riyadh yesterday. But when he opened his mouth, he had the thickest Texas drawl. He had been living in Texas for twenty years. Had a cool story idea too, about an American cowboy who goes to Saudi Arabia. He had never been to Hollywood and yet he was talking to agents like a pro.

That’s the thing about Austin; you get to see where you stand in the grand scheme of things. You see people walking around promoting their screenplays in strange and wondrous ways. One guy had a T-shirt, which said, "Sex Ed - the screenplay." His synopsis was on the back like a sandwich board. John Culton probably said it best, when he accepted first prize in the screenwriting competition, "This award offsets the terrible coverage I got on this script last week." That’s what you get more often than not: bad reviews, stupid comments and asinine story ideas on how to make it better. There’s little of that in Austin, and you get to drink tequila with the worm!

Last year, I met my new agent in Austin. A top Hollywood literary agent who I call "the Yiddish Cowboy" because he’s kind’ve Don Rickles-meets-Gene Autry. But then that’s probably the best way to describe the Austin Film Festival: a Texas bar mitzvah for screenwriters. It’s a much easier place for meeting people who can get your movie made. For example, at other film festivals, if you’re a screenwriter, THEY WILL AVOID YOU like you’re a walking nuclear waste dump. As a writer, you have the smallest investment in a film. Conversely, if you’re a filmmaker, you probably have your house on the line. You are in a much more vulnerable position to be taken advantage of. But at Austin, agents, producers, studio execs come TO MEET YOU.

You get to pitch, chat and hang with other writers from around the country and some big-ticket screenwriters, as well. Over the years I’ve met a number of major writers like:

Patrick Sheane Duncan (Courage Under Fire, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Nick of Time) He’s written 80 scripts in 20 years. Says he never reads screenwriting books because he always goes "Damn, I didn’t do that!

Jeremy Pikser (Bullsworth) He said that working with Warren Beatty was an incredibly frustrating experience and yet it also produced one of the best scripts he’s ever written.

Dale Launer (My Cousin Vinnie) He probably had one of the best lines at the festival, "Writing screenplays is like raising children for adoption."

Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) A funny, brainy, acerbic gnome. He was a little spooked when a guy in the audience for his screening Affliction was dressed like Travis Bickle. The guy had it all: the Mohawk do, the faded army jacket, the wrap-around sunglasses and the psycho attitude. He never broke out of character. It was creepy.

Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) Okay, technically, we didn’t actually meet. But I did sit in a chair she had just vacated. That has to count for something.

Buck Henry (To Die For, The Graduate) He’s a very warm and fuzzy guy, likes to drink scotch.

Robert Altman (M.A.S.H., Nashville and million other things) This guy is seventy years old and still looks like he can beat you in a foot race.

Shane Black (Lethal Weapon I & II) He’s a nice guy, tall, good looking and intense. Oh, the ladies lined up to meet him. He made $20 million in screenwriting before he was 30. But, he’s much funnier on the page.

Here’s what to bring to Austin. A) Business cards for people to get in touch with you. B) A log line and synopsis sheet of your story. Keep the log line to 25 words or less, 12 is better. The synopsis should not be more than 3 paragraphs and 1 is better. Anybody will give you 10 seconds; don’t give them War and Peace to read. And for God’s sake, DO NOT INCLUDE A PICTURE! It screams "Amateur!" You can include a brief paragraph about yourself but keep it simple and did I mention "brief?" Most importantly, make it interesting. Nobody cares you have an MBA. You’re way more fascinating if you were once an ambulance driver. So never describe yourself as "cleaver" "creative" "visionary" "intense" "hardworking". People will run from you. More interesting is "I’m a schlemiel with an PC" "a clown with a fright wig" "a screenwriter with back problems". (Hey, we’re writers- show us what you can do with words!)

Bring a couple of finished scripts if they are truly finished and ready to go. Always carry one on you BUT only hand them out when an agent, producer or studio exec asks you for one. It’s far better to send it to their office the following week. Don’t force the issue. Every time the Yddish Cowboy went to check his messages at the front desk of the hotel, there were 5 or 6 scripts in his mailbox. He had them all returned. You’ve got to be cool. You can get read, but remember, they (agents/producers/studio execs) are there to drink tequila, too. But, it’s always good to have a script ready- just in case.

This year, a whole slew of cool people are coming to Austin. The festival starts October 12th-15th. There will be lots of writers; some will get signed, some will get connected and some will get drunk. In case you’re interested you can check out the list of people coming to Austin this year on their website www.austinfilmfestival.com. Among the many will be David Chase, creator of the brilliant "Sopranos" who single handedly taught us that mobsters have problems, too. Robert Rodriguez of El Mariachi-fame and Bill Wittliff, who penned the The Perfect Storm. And besides the Yiddish Cowboy, there will be also be handfuls of other agents, producers, and studio execs.

See you in Austin, if you mention you read this article, I’ll let you buy me a drink at the bar in the Driskilll Hotel. (Hint: That’s where everybody goes at night!)

~~~

Sam Scribner is the Creative Director of San Francisco ScreenWriters. He will be a panelist at the Austin Film Festival this year (along with the Yiddish Cowboy) and can be reached at scribner@sfscreenwriters.com

Updated: 09/24/2000

Austin Film Festival Script Competition

Contact

1801 Salina St.
Austin, TX 78702
512-478-4795 (voice)
512-478-6205 (fax)

Web:
Click here
Email:
screenplay@austinfilmfestival.com

Contact: Steven DeBose, Director of Script Competitions

Report Card

Overall: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Professionalism: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars (4.0/5.0)
Feedback: 3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars3.5 stars (3.6/5.0)
Signficance: 4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars (4.6/5.0)
Report Cards: 82    
Have you entered?
Submit a Report card

Related Contests

Submit Report Card

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First-time user? Register now to receive FREE email contest updates, news, results, deadline reminders and more. Rest assured, information submitted here is held in strict confidence. MovieBytes never sells or in any way distributes email names or addresses. We promise!