Harrison’s Conference Picks
Guess what? It’s late June! If you round up, it’s basically July. And really, July is always such a fleeting month. After the 4th it just sort of fades away before you know it. So really, you can pretty much call this August. But everyone in Austin knows how hot and miserable August is; it’s a month we try to forget here in Central Texas, so let’s go ahead and forget August and say that it’s practically September. And what is September except an introduction to October? What I’m trying to say is that October 18th is pretty much right now and Austin Film Festival is basically today. So I hope you already got your badge. And since the only thing that stands between us and the fest is a negligible 115 days, it’s time to start planning, wouldn’t you say?
As a conference intern, I’ve been working to help build the one hundred-ish top-notch panels and organize the countless incredible panelists. After two months of doing this, I’ve gotten extremely familiar with what the panels are going to look like, and while more are still yet to be announced, I have quite a few that are already on my Must List. If I wasn’t going to be working throughout the entire festival, these are the panels I would love to take part in:
A Conversation with Kent Alterman
For those that don’t know, Kent Alterman is the Head of Original Programming and Production at Comedy Central. And for someone who’s been watching Comedy Central as long as I have, that is awesome. He’s overseen such hits as the COMEDY CENTRAL ROAST series and the new and unbelievably funny sketch series KEY & PEELE. Learning about the business of funny from such a big figure in comedy programming will no doubt be fascinating.
A Conversation with Damon Lindelof
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a giant LOST fan. It’s one of the most unique and intricate storylines ever developed, and while it might not have necessarily delivered (I’ll keep my opinions to myself), it’s nonetheless an amazing achievement in television and continues to shape TV shows to this day. With that said, I can’t overemphasize how cool it is that the co-creator, head writer and showrunner of LOST is stopping by Austin for a series of panels including a conversation. Also the writer of PROMETHEUS and the upcoming STAR TREK 2, Lindelof has become one of the more famous and controversial film and television writers in recent years. He’s experienced a whole lot of love and vitriol, usually at the same time, and will no doubt have some really interesting stories to share.
Marvel vs. DC
This panel actually came up by accident when we realized how many of our panelists incidentally have written comic book adaptations in the past (or are working on them now). We decided it would be great to bring them together and talk about what it’s like to write for Marvel and/or DC, two competing comic book companies-turned-giant movie studios. Writing for these companies is definitely an exciting opportunity, but I imagine it’s also a huge amount of pressure, since you have to adapt stories and characters that already have a vast amount of history and are fiercely and obsessively loved by millions of fans. I would love to learn how these movies are written.
Writing Comedies with Improv
Recently, a whole bunch of comedies have been including a lot of improvisation from the actors instead of pre-written dialogue. Take, for instance, RENO 911, BRIDESMAIDS, and all the other Judd Apatow films, which are also some of my all-time favorite comedies. I’d love to learn how they come about from a writer’s perspective. When a scene is nothing but improv, how much influence does the writer have? How can a writer steer a scene without writing dialogue and what does an improvised scene even look like in a script? I would love to learn the answers to all these questions.
So there’s my list. Now it’s time for you to make your own. After all, the time it took you to read this blog is that much less time until the festival starts. So get to it!