- By Joe Gross American-Statesman Staff
It may seem unusual to some, but the Austin Film Festival is one of the few festivals in the country where the panels are absolutely, positively as interesting as the movies being screened. Here are a few we’re looking forward to. They are open to badgeholders only, but many likely will be recorded for future episodes of AFF’s “On Story.”
The award winners. This year, legendary director Walter Hill is getting the 2017 Extraordinary Contribution to Film Award, Keenen Ivory “In Living Color” Wayans is picking up the Extraordinary Contribution to Television Award, and “You Can Count on Me” and “Manchester By the Sea” writer/director Kenneth Lonergan gets the Distinguished Screenwriter Award. The awardees will speak during several panels.
“Iron Man 3” screenwriter/AFF frequent flyer Shane Black chats with Hill (1:30 p.m. Oct. 27, Stephen F. Austin InterContinental Ballroom); Hill also will present a screening of his cult classic “The Warriors” later that day (3 p.m. Oct. 27, Paramount Theatre).
Wayans will be chatting with actor John Merriman (10:45 a.m. Oct. 27, Stephen F. Austin InterContinental Ballroom), while Lonergan will be in conversation with AFF executive director Barbara Morgan (11:30 a.m. Oct. 29, Stephen F. Austin InterContinental Ballroom).
All three men will talk with Morgan in a roundtable discussion at 10:45 a.m. Oct. 28 in the Stephen F. Austin ballroom.
Science fiction, anyone? In “Science Fiction vs. Science Fact” (9 a.m. Oct. 27, St. David’s Episcopal Church), “Arrival” screenwriter Eric Heisserer joins “Star Trek Beyond” writer Doug Jung to discuss how to titrate actual science and impossible things in science fiction. Later that day, filmmaker Fred Strype moderates a chat with “Snowpiercer” screenwriter Kelly Masterson and “Pacific Rim: Uprising” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” scribe Kira Snyder in a panel called “It’s the End of the World as We Know It: Writing Dystopian Stories” (10:45 a.m. Oct. 27, Central Presbyterian Church).
Elsewhere, “Blade Runner 2049” co-writer Michael Green is in conversation with writer-director Christopher Boone (9 a.m. Oct. 28, Central Presbyterian Church). “Deconstructing ‘Blade Runner’” (the original) will happen with Jung, writer Scott Myers, “Battleship” writer Jon Hoeber and “Timeless” co-executive producer Anne Cofell Saunders at 3:15 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Driskill Hotel Ballroom.
All podcasts, all the time. Podcasting is all kinds of hot right now, with Hollywood looking hard at podcasts as a source of intellectual property from which to spin out TV pilots and movies of all sorts. There is an actual podcast track at the festival this year. “New Frontiers of Storytelling” (9 a.m. Oct. 27, Driskill Hotel Crystal Room) discusses making narrative fiction in newish mediums such as podcasts and video games, while “Script-to-Podcast-to-Screen” (10:45 a.m. Oct. 27, Driskill Hotel Maximilian Room) examines said path.
Also check out “Writing for Audio Fiction” (2:45 p.m. Oct. 28, Driskill Hotel Maximilian Room). Find the full list of podcasting panels at 2017austinfilmfestivalandconfere.sched.com/type/podcast+track.
Film fan favorites. James V. Hart, screenwriter of “Hook,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Contact,” among many others, created something called “The Hart Chart” to show how to develop characters and stories by getting to the “heart” of the script. Damien Chazelle’s award-winning “La La Land” is this year’s case study. It should be really interesting. (2:45 p.m. Oct. 26, Stephen F. Austin InterContinental Ballroom)
Screenwriter Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Toy Story 3”) has turned his AFF fan-favorite lecture/presentation on movies with awesome endings (“Star Wars,” “The Graduate,” others) into a movie — “Endings: the Good, the Bad, and the Insanely Great — the Movie” (4 p.m. Oct. 29, Paramount Theater). Stick around after the screening for an extended Q&A with Arndt.