8 days of panels and workshops.
8 nights of films and parties.

2013 Panels

This October 24-31, join the minds behind such films as THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, BIG FISH, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, DONNIE DARKO, MUD, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, LOOPER, SHREK, BLAZING SADDLES, ZOOLANDER, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, NOW YOU SEE ME, A TIME TO KILL, ON THE ROAD, BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, LITTLE WOMEN, FIGHT CLUB, and television shows Breaking Bad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, House of Cards, Fargo, Treme, The Wire, John Adams, The Office, and Boardwalk Empire… to name a few!

A sampling of the panels already planned for the Conference…

As part of the continuing “Conversation with” series, join in-depth, one-on-one conversations with top filmmakers as they discuss their experiences in the industry, including:

A Conversation With Series
  • Join us for a Conversation with our 2013 Outstanding Contribution to Filmmaking Awardee Jonathan Demme. Demme’s films, which have been nominated for 20 Academy Awards, include PHILADELPHIA, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which he won the Oscar for Best Director in 1991.
  • A Conversation with our 2013 Outstanding Television Writer Awardee Vince Gilligan. Gilligan is the creator and executive producer of the Emmy nominated series Breaking Bad. He has also served as a writer and executive producer of The X-Files.
  • A Conversation with Mark Johnson. Mark Johnson won the Best Picture Academy® Award for Barry Levinson’s poignant 1988 drama RAIN MAN. His recent slate of motion pictures includes THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and NOT FADE AWAY.
  • A Conversation with writer/producer Roberto Orci. Orci is executive of K/O Paper Products and a writer/producer whose credits include STAR TREK, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, THE LEGEND OF ZORRO, TRANSFORMERS, and co-creating Fringe. In this Conversation, Orci will discuss his career as one of the leading filmmakers working in the industry today.
  • A Conversation with writer Robin Swicord. Swicord’s screenplay writing credits include MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, LITTLE WOMEN and PRACTICAL MAGIC.
  • Join us for A Conversation with Beau Willimon. Willimon is a screenwriter, playwright, producer and most recently, an executive producer, showrunner and creator of Netflix’s original series House of Cards, a wicked one-hour drama, from Media Rights Capital, that slithers behind the curtain of power, sex, ambition, love, greed and corruption in modern Washington D.C.
Bad Good Guys

Despite their faults, some of most well-received protagonists of film and television are the anti-heroes.  For the writer, establishing the right balance of morality and malice that will capture and contain audiences is a delicate undertaking. In this panel, learn how to create the dynamic characters that make us question why we root for the “bad” good guys.

Capturing Culture in Television

A story’s setting is often as significant to the content as its characters. The personality of a culture can define the identify of a show, while also serving as a subtle commentary on a specific time period and locale.  Documenting details unique to a milieu can be a difficult but crucial part of the writing process.  In this panel, hear from writers that have successfully captured culture and put their television show a notch above the rest.

Crowdfunding Case Study: VERONICA MARS movie project with Rob Thomas

As our world becomes more connected and technologically developed, filmmakers are finding numerous avenues and opportunities to get their projects off the ground. Join Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas as he discusses his record-breaking Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming VERONICA MARS movie and how crowdfunding is quickly changing the ways films are getting made.

Getting Past the Reader

It’s easy to forget that a screenwriter’s first audience is not the viewer but the reader.  The act of watching a film can be a passive encounter, whereas reading a screenplay requires a much different level of engagement.  To this end, writers should be cognizant of how to craft a “reader-friendly” script.  Whether it is submitted to a competition or a studio, there are key elements writers should embrace in order to maintain the reader’s attention.  In this panel, hear from the industry “gatekeepers” on what to avoid and how to best engage, entertain, and encourage readers to keep turning the page!

Good Bad Guys

For villains, good and evil are relative terms.  The strongest antagonists live according to what they believe is right and just.  Their actions are equally motivated as those of the hero, yet it’s these characters that present conflict and ultimately drive the story forward.  This panel will attack the aggressors of cinema in a discussion on crafting complex rivalries, versatile storylines, realized intentions, and therefore “good” bad guys.

Hybrid Genre Writing

Almost every contemporary film belongs to more than one genre. As different combinations of genres are melded together, screenwriters are able to blend narrative elements, styles and themes to create unique and multifaceted stories.  This panel will reveal how writers straddle multiple genres and their corresponding moods and motifs, uniting them harmoniously into one script.

Independent Filmmaking Track

The Independent Filmmaking Track is continuing this year at the Conference with more big picture panels like ‘The Short Film,’ ‘Directing Your Own Script,’ and ‘Financing Your Indie Film,’ as well as nuts-and-bolts discussions taking us through all stages of production and storytelling through editing, cinematography and sound.  These sessions will feature filmmakers from the 2013 Film Program alongside other panelists, so you can hear about their work by day and see it on the big screen by night.   A sampling of The Track: The Short Film It’s hard enough to compose a script that has character development, rising action, intelligent dialogue, and a clear beginning, middle, and end when developing a feature film.  Creating a film that lasts less than a half-hour, however, can bring forth its own set of challenges.  Representatives from the 2013 Shorts Program will share tips on the process of making a short film and how to create a compelling narrative within its parameters.   Financing Your Indie Film As our world becomes more connected and technologically developed, filmmakers are finding numerous avenues to get their projects off the ground.  From wooing and hounding to campaigning and persuading, finding ways to finance your indie film can be a draining, but necessary, process.  Learn how not to waste time and money, but rather how to spend both wisely, while creating a viable business plan to help bring your film to life.   Directing Your Own Script The prospect of directing your own script is an exciting one.  Though it hands you the creative reins of the project as a whole, it also presents a new set of obstacles and responsibilities to navigate.  After all, writing a script is free, but shooting a film can cost an exuberant amount.  So how should your roles as writer and director affect and inform one another? Writer-directors will share their own experiences and constructive advice crucial for aspiring multi-taskers.   Keeping the Vision Big with a Limited Budget The biggest obstacle to getting your film made can be the budget, and a lot of that work can fixed in the script itself.  But what makes every film special is the larger world around story, the one of which the audience may only get a glimpse.  How do you pack your pages with depth that won’t frighten a producer.  And once the cameras roll, how do you fill out the edges of the frame with a fully-realized world.   DIY Distribution In an industry that refuses to quit and continues to redefine itself, filmmakers are being required to reinvent the wheel in order to get their films noticed.  Many traditional distribution methods have become more difficult to navigate, and the price of access much higher. As a result, filmmakers are finding their own unique ways for audiences to see their work, through new forms of distribution and through the old standbys, hard work and tons of phone calls, paving the way for the new future of indie film: do-it-yourself distribution. This panel is co-presented by Art House Convergence   Gone to Texas! The phrase “Gone to Texas” was once used by 19th century Americans to announce their immigration to the Lone Star State.  Now, join this panel of producers and writers who’ve successfully completed their projects in the state—and Texas Film Commission director Heather Page—to learn about the financial and creative incentives that brought them here. This panel is co-presented by the Texas Film Commission   Packaging Your Film A creative mind is not always a business mind.  But for the independent filmmaker, there needs to be an understanding of how to actually sell their work.  In order to do so, a script needs to be packaged as a product that is marketable and appealing to investors. What kind of talent attached to your work will help your cause? How should you approach distribution? What sort of things should you prepared to compromise? Film producers will share vetted advice on how to best approach packaging your independent film.     Pre-Production: The Nuts and Bolts The script is done, the money is raised (or as much as it will be), and it is time for the real fun to begin: shooting schedules, casting, permits, putting together a production team, and resetting the entire film in an apartment.  Learn how to make the tough decisions now so you can open the door to creativity once you are on set.     Storytelling Through Production Scripts can spend months in pre-production, and films can spend months in post, but in actual production, directors, producers, actors, cinematographers, sound recordists, and designers all come together for a few days to fill the screen with the most exciting material they can.  A great director brings out the best in their team, while still making the film completely their own.  And what does a writer do on set?   Storytelling Through Editing Film production takes many hours and many minds, but one of the most important roles often goes under-recognized: the editor. The editor’s job is akin to that of the screenwriter as they are required to shape the story based on the condensing many weeks of footage into something cohesive and succinct. Join us for a conversation about the critical questions all editors must ask and answer during the syncing, bridging, and splicing phase of any film, and how their role as a storyteller is pivotal to the post-production process.

Navigating the Creative Process of Writing Comedy for Television

Peter Mehlman, writer and co-executive producer of Seinfeld, will lead a panel on how to navigate the creative processes of writing comedy for television, using his signature episodes “The Yada Yada” and “The Implant” as case-studies.

Optioning Your Script

Getting an offer for your script to be optioned is an exciting but often daunting experience.  What do you get paid?  Should you get a lawyer?  Will your script be – gulp! – changed? Determining the details of exclusivity rights and clarifying the contractual agreements is an important process that writers should understand before optioning their work.  Join this discussion with panelists who have optioned many-a-script and can share their negotiation cautions and counsels.

Out of the Grave and Onto the Screen

In a world saturated with zombies, vampires, werewolves, and demons, writers are challenged to redefine and evolve the monster genre.  Pre-established rules for these stories have become more complex, tapping into a surreal level of realism.  Learn how to unearth these chilling stories from screenwriters who have breathed new life into the dead, undead, and beyond.

The Psychology of Storytelling

Producer Lindsay Doran will explore the secrets of creating a satisfying script and what psychology can teach us about making mood-elevating movies.

Scribble-To-Screen with The Writers Guild Foundation

At this year’s Festival, the WGF will present its SCRIBBLE TO SCREEN exhibit, packed with early production materials and handwritten drafts from epochal works like Kasdan’s THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Matthew Weiner’s “Unidentified Black Males” episode of THE SOPRANOS, Winnie Holzman’s MY SO-CALLED LIFE, and more. In conjunction with this exclusive collection, the WGF also brings to the stage a collection of television and film writers with centuries of collective experience and knowledge.

  • SPELUNKING THE DEPTHS OF GENRE. Ashley Edward Miller, superhero scribe extraordinaire and co-writer of films like THOR, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and the upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR, began his career when he met his writing partner in a Star Trek chatroom. He’ll discuss the process behind turning the implausible into the plausible – like turning a guy who can manipulate magnetic fields with his brain into a tragic and compelling character we can’t help but root for. 
  • CASTLE: INSIDE THE 100th EPISODE. Series masterminds Terri Edda Miller and Andrew Marlowe take you on a journey through the construction of the centennial episode of CASTLE. Two writers writing about another writer might seem like a simple process — but they’ll show you just how detailed the CASTLE writers’ room gets… and whether they also use Richard Castle’s “You should be writing!” screen saver to keep themselves on task.
  •  ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Black List founder Franklin Leonard will lead this discussion with Jenji Kohan about the creation of the show at every level. From idea sparks to final shooting drafts, Leonard and Kohan will plumb the depths of the show that’s impossible to stop watching.
  • DELVING INTO DRAMATIC STRUCTURE. Robin Swicord, writer of unforgettable dramas like LITTLE WOMEN, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, delivers her captivating lecture style to Austin.
  •  HOUSE: THREE STORIES. Creator David Shore examines the Emmy-winning twenty-first episode of his mold-shattering medical drama, which revealed the history behind Dr. Gregory House’s chronic pain. Shore will explain the development of the episode, how it fit into the show’s overall story, and the secrets behind crafting such a powerful character. 
  • RECEPTION: THE NAKED PAGE. Join the WGF for the post-game party following the scribble-to-screen series on Saturday, October 26, hosted by the virtuosic viticulturists at The Naked Grape. Discover how effortlessly cool your favorite writers – and the geniuses at the Writers Guild Foundation – can be after a few glasses of pinot noir.
Scriptnotes LIVE!

For the second year, veteran filmmakers John August and Craig Mazin will record a live presentation of their incredibly informative screenwriting podcast, Scriptnotes, in which they discuss craft and career, complete with audience questions and other surprises.

Script-to-Screen with Rian Johnson: BRICK

With script in hand and film clips on the screen, writer/director Rian Johnson will dissect his critically acclaimed film BRICK, discussing his writing process – what worked, what didn’t, what needed to be changed for film production – and why.

Social Media Marketing & Your Script

These days, if you aren’t active online, you are at a large disadvantage.  The internet is progressively becoming one of the most effective ways to network and market your creative work.  Learn from panelists how to best utilize social media to further the future of your script and, quite frankly, your place in the industry.

Staged Script Reading: Vince Gilligan's 2-FACE

A special staged script reading of Vince Gilligan’s dark comedy script, 2-FACE.

The Throw with Terry Rossio

Back by popular demand! Terry Rossio will lead a presentation on “The Throw,” otherwise known as the transition between scenes.  He will discuss very practical, actual writing techniques, and show film clips to demonstrate successful (and not so successful) throws.

Your Voice as Your Brand

Having a distinct and unique voice can be a valuable asset in developing lasting success as a screenwriter.  Conversely, Hollywood is quick to classify and writers are too easily pigeon-holed into a certain genre or style of storytelling.  Join this discussion on how to stay true to your voice and market your talents without falling into the confines of an ultra-branded career.