AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL'S ON STORY PODCAST

This week, the indie filmmakers behind Transformer, Don't Talk to Irene and  Mr Fish: Cartooning From the Deep End discuss their journey from initial concept to ultimately producing and screening their award winning films in Austin Film Festival's film competition this past year.

We begin the show with last year's  powerful Documentary Feature Jury Award and Hiscox Insurance Audience Award  winner (tied with Mr. Fish): Transformer. Written and directed by Michael Del Monte, the film follows former U.S Marine and world-record powerlifter, Matt “Kroc” Kroczaleski as he sets out to become a woman. Outed as being transgender and banned from competition Janae, attempts to find her place in society. Transformer world premiered at the Austin Film Festival in 2017. Film Competition Director, Harrison Glaser spoke with  Del Monte and Janae at a special screening of the film hosted at the Alamo Drafthouse Village earlier this year.

Next up, our 2017 Comedy Vanguard Feature Jury and Audience Award winner: Don't Talk to Irene. Written and directed by Pat Mills, Don't Talk to Irene is Mills' second feature. The film's script first won Austin Film Festival's Best Comedy Screenplay Competition in 2013 and follows, Irene - the fattest girl in high school – as she gets suspended, and endures two weeks of community service at a retirement home. Mills, sat down with me to discuss the film at a special screening hosted earlier this year at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. Additionally, the film director, screenwriter and actor was also named one of MovieMaker Magazine's 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2018.

Finally, we wrap the show with the other Documentary Feature Audience Award winner last year: Mr Fish: Cartooning From the Deep End (tied with Transformer). The film follows, adult themed editorial cartoonist, Mr. Fish as he navigates his often controversial profession during a time when the industry is on the way out. Directed by Pablo Bryant, the documentary reveals the struggles Mr. Fish endures to stay true to his creativity in a world where biting satiric humor has an ever-diminishing commercial value. Film Competition Director, Harrison Glaser spoke with Bryant, Mr. Fish and Diana Day at a special year round event screening of the film at the Alamo Drafthouse Village earlier this month.

 

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This week, we talk with Ed Solomon, the comedic screenwriter behind Hollywood classics Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Men in Black, and Now You See Me.  Solomon looks back on his long journey working on Men in Black, and discusses working with industry icons such as Barry Sonnenfeld, Tommy Lee Jones, and Will Smith.

Ed Solomon is the co-writer for the screenplays Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, and also wrote on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show for its first three seasons.  He then penned the screenplay for Men in Black, and many others, including the first X-Men (uncredited).  Since then he’s worked on all sorts of films, including Levity, which he also directed. He wrote the Lion’s Gate film Now You See Me, Now You See Me 2, Sony Picture’s How to Disappear Completely, and Colossus for Universal Studios.

 

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On this week’s episode, we’ll hear from the creators behind the upcoming comedy heist film Ocean’s 8. Screenwriters Olivia Milch and Gary Ross discuss spinning-off a popular franchise and approaching the heist genre from a new perspective. And later, we’ll hear from King of the Hill writer and Bob’s Burgers’ co-developer Jim Dauterive on writing for animation and how characters develop over a series lifetime. 

Ocean’s 8 is an upcoming comedy heist film that remixes Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 trilogy. The film brings a unique perspective to the genre by featuring an all-star, all female team. The idea for the film was created by four-time Academy Award® nominated writer/director Gary Ross. Ross co-wrote the comedy classic Big, and went on to write and direct Pleasantville, Seabiscut, The Hunger Games, and 2016’s Free State of Jones. Ross co-wrote the Ocean’s 8 screenplay with filmmaker Olivia Milch, who has made a name for herself by writing stories that authentically represent the female experience. Earlier this year she released her directorial debut, Dude, on Netflix.

Next up, we’ll hear from Jim Dauterive who started his career as one of the original writers for the award-winning animated comedy King of the Hill which ran for 13 seasons on the Fox network. The series won two Emmy Awards and was named one of the 100 greatest television shows of all time in 2007. Dauterive currently serves as the executive producer of the popular animated Fox television series Bob’s Burgers, which he co-developed with Loren Bouchard. I spoke with Dauterive at Texas State University at an event put on by Austin Film Festival and The Wittliff Collections.

 

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This week, in honor of Austin Film Festival’s 25th Anniversary we’re going back into our archives to bring you conversations with writers that created two of 1993’s most remembered films. First we’ll hear from screenwriter Angelo Pizzo who wrote the inspirational football drama Rudy. And later, we’ll hear from Ron Nyswaner who wrote the Jonathan Demme directed drama Philadelphia, which starred Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks.

1993 saw the release of giant blockbuster films like Jurassic Park, classic comedies like Groundhog’s Day, Rom-Com staples like Sleepless in Seattle, and the inspirational true-life story of an undersized, dyslexic student who’s only dream was to play football for the University of Notre Dame. Rudy, written by Angelo Pizzo, has stood the test of time as a film that still resonates with an audience 25 years after its release. In 2005 the film was named one of the 25 Best Sports Movies by ESPN and one of the most-inspiring films of all time by the “AFI 100 Series”. Pizzo, who also wrote the Indiana basketball drama Hoosiers, spoke about Rudy at the 22nd Austin Film Festival in 2015.

Clips of Rudy courtesy of TriStar Pictures, Inc.

We continue our 25-year look back with a conversation with screenwriter Ron Nyswaner. In 1993, Nyswaner wrote Philadelphia, which follows an attorney who is fired from his high-powered law firm after it’s revealed that he is HIV positive. The film was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV and homosexuality. Tom Hanks won an Academy Award® for Best actor for his portrayal of lawyer Andrew Beckett. Nyswaner is also known for adapting the W. Somerset Maugham novel The Painted Veil into the 2006 film of the same name. Nyswaner spoke about his career and writing process at the 20th annual Austin Film Festival in 2013.

Clips of Philadelphia courtesy of TriStar Pictures, Inc. Clip of Ray Donovan courtesy of Showtime Networks, Inc. and clip of The Painted Veil courtesy of Bob Yari Productions & Yari Film Group Releasing.

 

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Ahead of Memorial Day this month, we look at writing for war films with screenwriters David Broyles, Bill Broyles, Randall Wallace and Bruce C. McKenna.

David Broyles grew up in California, New York, and on a dude ranch in Bandera, Texas. He attended the University of Texas and Columbia University, and served as a Pararescueman (PJ) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following his enlistment, he was recognized by the Governor of Texas for exceptional volunteer work and advocacy for disabled veterans. He has sold several screenplays and most recently co-created Six, an upcoming dramatic series for the History Channel. David has been involved with the Austin Film Festival for many years as a writer, director, and volunteer. I spoke with David about Six last September.

Bruce C. McKenna is an award-winning screenwriter and producer.  He wrote on four of the ten episodes of HBO’s Emmy Award-winning mini-series Band of Brothers, for which he garnered a WGA Award, a Christopher Award and was a finalist for the Humanitas Prize for his episode, Bastogne. He created, co-wrote and co-executive produced The Pacific, the Emmy Award-winning Miniseries for HBO, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks on the Pacific Theater of the Second World War.  In addition to winning a producing Emmy, McKenna was nominated for his second writing Emmy, was again a finalist for the Humanitas Prize, and garnered a Producer’s Guild Award, a Critic’s Choice Award, as well as the Marine Corp Heritage Foundation Bill Broyles Image Award.  

He is currently developing a miniseries on Peter The Great for Bold Television, is adapting Hampton Side’s epic Blood and Thunder for Ridley Scott, and is adapting All Things Possible, the Kurt Warner story, for Fox Studios. 

Bill Broyles grew up in Baytown, Texas, attended Rice University and Oxford University, worked in the civil rights movement, and finished out the Sixties as a Marine infantry lieutenant in Vietnam. As a journalist he was the founding editor of Texas Monthly and from 1982 to 1984 was editor-in-chief of Newsweek. He was the co-creator of the Emmy-Award -winning television series China Beach. He wrote the original screenplay for the movie Cast Away and the screenplay for Jarhead. He co-authored six other screenplays, including Apollo 13, Unfaithful, The Polar Express and Flags of Our Fathers. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for Apollo 13, which won the Writers Guild award for best screenplay.  He has been involved with the Austin Film Festival from the beginning.

Randall Wallace is the Oscar®-nominated creative force behind the epic storytelling of such critical and box-office hits as Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, Pearl Harbor, Secretariat, and Heaven is for Real.

 

 

 

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This week, we’ll hear from two of the writers behind The Shape of Water, which was developed simultaneously as a novel and film. First up, New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Kraus who originally approached Guillermo del Toro with the story about a sea creature locked in a laboratory based on an idea he had when he was 15 years old. And later we’ll hear from screenwriter Vanessa Taylor who co-wrote the film version of The Shape of Writer and was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay.

Daniel Kraus is a New York Times bestselling author who started his career as a documentary filmmaker. In 2015 he collaborated with genre director Guillermo del Toro on the novel Trollhunters. Del Toro is best known for his dark fantasy films Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak and the Hellboy series. In March of 2018 the pair reteamed to release a novelized version of The Shape of Water, which was based on an original idea that Kraus had when he was 15 years old. The novel was developed at the same time as the Academy Award winning film. I caught up with Daniel Kraus over the phone earlier this year.

Clips of The Shape of Water courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation & TSG Entertainment Finance LLC.

While Daniel Kraus was working on The Shape of Water novel Guillermo del Toro was writing a screenplay for the film version with Vanessa Taylor. Taylor has an extensive background in television; having written for Alias, Jack & Bobby and Game of Thrones. I spoke with Vanessa Taylor at the premiere party for the 8th season of On Story at the beautiful KLRU Studios in Austin, Texas.

 

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This week on On Story we’ll hear Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright on his new book God Save Texas and the Hulu mini-series he adapted from his 2006 book The Looming Tower. And later, we’ll hear from Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost on the cult television series return to air after 25 years.

In 2006 Wright released the Pultizer Prize-winning novel, The Looming Tower - which explored the events that led to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Earlier this year Wright teamed with his frequent documentarian collaborator Alex Gibney and filmmaker Dan Futterman to adapt the novel into a Hulu miniseries of the same name. The show stars Jeff Daniels, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stulhbarg.

Clips of The Looming Tower courtesy of Legendary Television & Hulu

Mark Frost started his career as a staff writer on the celebrated 80’s police procedural Hill Street Blues. In 1990, Frost partnered with filmmaker David Lynch to co-create the television series, Twin Peaks. The shows mix of melodrama, surrealism, offbeat humor and horror was quickly celebrated for being unlike anything else on network television. In 2017, the series returned to air 25 years after its initial run for an 18 episode limited series on the Showtime network. I spoke with Mark Frost about revisiting old creations at the 24th annual Austin Film Festival in 2017.

Clips of Twin Peaks (1990) & (2017) courtesy of  Lynch/Frost Productions, Inc.

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On this week’s podcast, we’ll hear from writer and director Susannah Grant. Grant is best known for writing Erin Brockovich, which earned her an Academy Award® nomination for best original screenplay in 2000. Grant also co-wrote the screenplays for Pocahontas, Ever After, 28 Days, In Her Shoes, and Charlotte’s Web. Grant spoke with Men in Black screenwriter Ed Solomon at the 21st Austin Film Festival in 2014.

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On this week’s episode, we’ll hear from author, screenwriter, and television creator Noah Hawley. Hawley created FX’s award winning series Fargo, which is loosely based on the Coen brothers film, and Legion which is set in the Marvel universe. Later we’ll hear from legendary producer and The Terminator co-writer Gale Anne Hurd.

Noah Hawley is a Peabody Award winning novelist and an Emmy and Golden Globe award winning television creator. In 2014 he created the FX anthology Fargo which was inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers film of the same name. In 2017 he followed up Fargo with Legion, which is set in the Marvel universe and connected to the X-Men film series. Hawley spoke with On Story producer Maya Perez at the 24th Austin Film Festival in 2017.

Clips of Fargo and Legion courtesy of MGM Television, FX Productions, 26 Keys Production & Twentieth Century Fox Television

Gale Anne Hurd is one of the industry’s most respected film and television producers. In 1984 she produced and co-wrote her first feature film, the seminal genre classic The Terminator. She followed that film by producing Aliens, The Abyss, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Most recently Hurd has served as an Executive Producer on AMC’s The Walking Dead. I spoke with Hurd at the 24th annual Austin Film Festival in 2017.

Clips of The Terminator courtesy of Cinema ’84

 

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In partnership with the Academy Education and Nicholl Fellowships Programs, AFF presented Finding Representation on Saturday, March 17th, 2018 at the Academy’s beautiful Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood. This podcast includes highlights from the first panel discussion called How to Find Representation featuring agents and managers who discussed how to start the process of finding representation, what agencies look for in a new writer, the most common problems they’ve encountered, and what a writer should expect from the relationship. Panelists included Jelani Johnson, Motion Picture Agent at CAA; Kendrick Tan, Manager at Madhouse Entertainment; and Ryan Saul, Vice President of Motion Picture Literary at APA. The panel was moderated by Matt Dy, AFF Director of Script Competitions.

Ready to Break In?

AFF’s Script Competitions are currently accepting submissions for 2018. April 20 is the Regular Deadline and May 15 is the Late Deadline. All entrants receive free reader comments and advancing writers will be afforded exclusive panels, workshops, and networking opportunities at the Writers Conference this October 25th through the 28th. For more information and to submit, click here.

 

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