15 Quotes From The Austin Film Festival

Of all the conferences and film festivals I have attended, the Austin Film Festival (AFF) was the most focused on screenwriting and TV writing. 

The Austin Film Festival panelists were successful, working writers who enjoyed sharing their experience with the enthusiastic attendees.

I was honored to be a part of it, and to have the chance to reconnect with old friends and make new friends, too.

I also heard some terrific advice from the panelists.

Highlights From The Austin Film Festival

Here are some quotes:

“When you try to do a TV series, you have to have an idea of a saga. You can’t work with a flashlight. You must look far off into the distance.”  Chris Carter (X-Files, Millenium)

“Don’t stand up to pitch your jokes because if they tank, it’s a long way down.”  Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond, Coach)

“Don’t go to a party and tell people you are writing a screenplay. Go the fuck home and write your screenplay.”  Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile)

“Only write the script you would pay to see on opening night.”  John August (Frankenweenie, Big Fish)

“Whatever your reputation is, that’s that people will hire you for.”  Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, Party Down)

“It’s weird how just hearing yourself say something out loud, it’s different than reading it on the page.”  Alec Berg (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld)

“No way to break into the business unless you write your way in.”  Hershel Weingrod (Trading Places, Kindergarten Cop)

“I would rather write for Melissa McCarthy than anyone right now. Ultimately, gender is a red herring.”  Craig Mazin (The Hangover II, Identity Thief)

“Studios want to have the sequel without the risk of making the original movies.”  Dan Petrie Jr. (Beverly Hills Cop, Turner & Hooch)

“Find ways not to be dependent on gatekeepers. Do it yourself. You need collaborators. You figure out how to make your independent film. Stop waiting around. Go do it.”  James Franco (127 Hours, Pineapple Express)

“It’s understood that no one’s end goal is to be a PA. But the people who succeed are dedicated to being the best they can be at that moment.”  Kari Lizer (The New Adventures of Old Christine, Will & Grace)

“The first time you (pitch) it, it’s not going to be great. It takes lots of drafts and a process until it gets to be good.”  Mary Coleman (senior development executive, Pixar)

“Write your way out of your job. If you’re tired of being an assistant, the way out is by writing a great script.”  Christine Boylan (Once Upon A Time, Castle)

“You want your movies to have a ‘because’ in between the scenes instead of ‘and then.'”  Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses)

“I always go back to the first page every day.”  Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Insider)

Are you thinking of attending the Austin Film Festival? I recommend it!

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Discussion About 15 Quotes From The Austin Film Festival

  1. John W. Bosley

    I like the quotes, but I really like the names attached to the quotes. I think if I had been there I would have written down one very important question to ask each one. Something to dig deeper into what they saw was the key element that brought them to the place they are now. The names of people in this list are people I’d like to meet and follow their careers. I have to say, just based on this list alone AFF sounds like one of the places to be.

  2. Eilis Mernagh

    Stephanie, gutted that I didn’t get to meet you at AFF this year (I was there, just never in the same room as you because of the schedule!).

    But your pitching advice before the festival really helped so thanks so much for that! Hope to meet you in person next year.