Back from the Austin Film Festival, and twas superb. Not that I went to any movies…
It could have been called the Austin Screenwriters Conference, as that was the part I availed myself of. And what a part it was!
First of all, HUGE thanks to Melody Lopez of the Austin Cats! writers group. The Blake Snyder legacy is thriving in Austin. They brought me down there and were endlessly gracious and great to be around. I look forward to a return trip in the spring to knuckle down and do some teaching. Melody was a fantastic hostess, and between her, her gracious family, and the Austin Cats!, I had a splendid weekend.
If ever you have a chance to hear Michael Arndt speak, take it. The guy is a writer, but he is also a teacher. Panel discussions are mostly, well, um, not as useful as direct lecture from someone who knows what he / she is doing. Mr. Arndt spoke at length about the development process at Pixar as well as how to end a film in a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious way. The guy really cares about giving information to people who care about getting it.
He had a useful PowerPoint (tough to do) and an amazingly information-packed lecture. He got a standing ovation.
I met some amazing people. Heard a bunch of pitches in one round of the Pitch Contest and did my best to give cogent advice. Went to good parties and ate great food. Austin is a fascinating place and I look forward to my return.
Actually sat next to a guy at lunch and said, “I wrote a book about screenwriting called Your Screenplay Sucks.” He said, “I’ve read it.” THAT was cool. A lot of people had heard about the book, a bunch had read it. Every single one felt it was the finest book in the history of movable type.
I met a Business Affairs exec from MGM on the sidewalk who’d read the book and she said, “You’re a lot nicer than I thought you’d be.” I’ll take a compliment any way I can get it.