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

2014 Panels

Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriters Conference boasts over 175 panels, roundtables, pitch sessions, and workshops, covering every nook and cranny of the art, craft and business of storytelling through film, television, and online platforms. By making the pure art of storytelling its compass, AFF has kept a true path, serving as a creative greenhouse for conversations, ideas, and projects by this era’s greats screenwriters and filmmakers.  Industry icons, inventive executives, and indie breakouts will disclose seasoned tips and techniques in what Vince Gilligan coined “a haven for storytellers”, or what Jonathan Demme called “a sprawling but intimate movie party where writers are the honored guests and the magic of storytelling is the name of the game.”

A sampling of the panels already planned for the Conference…


Deconstructing Groundhog Day

Join Danny Rubin, co-writer of the beloved classic, Groundhog Day, for a panel deconstructing the screenplay.  Rubin will discuss how Groundhog Day has become a significant staple and reference for screenwriters in the comedy world, as well as utilizing specific examples from his experiences writing the film with the late Harold Ramis.

Revising Your Script on Set

The revision process happens at all stages of creation: from the second draft to the editing room.  Being true to your vision while also being creatively flexible along the way can be quite the balancing act – especially when asked to rewrite while in production. Whether it’s in compliance with budgetary restrictions, the director’s vision, actor’s requests, or simply for the sake of continuity, revising on set requires quick thinking, resourcefulness, and imagination.  Panelists who have mastered this skill will share their own tips on how to make prompt changes to your work without sacrificing your original intent.

Supporting Characters

Developing a cast of strong supporting characters should have a greater purpose than simply filling space on the page and the screen.  These characters should function in some way to – wait for it –support the narrative, whether they act as a sounding board, serve as a foil, or benchmark growth and change.  Hear from screenwriters who have conceived and constructed supporting characters who are memorable, essential, and purposeful to the story as a whole.

The Ten Hour Movie

With the rise of binge watching and new media platforms, anthology series are at the helm of revolutionizing storytelling through television.  The strong embodiment of a three-act structure over the course of one-season narratives lends itself to new viewing patterns and the potential to attract high profile talent. Panelists hailing from such shows as Fargo andTrue Detective will discuss how to package an anthology that is not only compelling on a season-to-season basis, but also how to keep audiences engaged throughout the evolution of an entire series.

The Ticking Time Bomb

A ticking time bomb in your script – be it literal or figurative – can help elevate a story’s tension and momentum.  Used in all types of genres and mediums, this plot device raises the stakes by implementing time dependent crises. Panelists will only have 75 minutes to unlock the secrets of accentuating conflict, suspense and urgency in your screenplay.  Let the countdown begin!

On Story Conversations

These one-on-one panel discussions will cover their experiences in the industry and storytelling secrets, later to be featured as part of the On Story® Project.  You can say you saw it first! This year’s On Story conversations will feature luminaries such as:

  • Matthew Weiner
  • Jim Sheridan
  • Lawrence Kasdan
  • Susannah Grant
  • John Patrick Shanley
  • Neil LaBute
  • Randall Wallace
  • Cary Fukunaga
  • Michelle Ashford
  • and more!




All speakers and events are based on permitting schedules and subject to change and/or cancellation without notice.