Classes and Seminars

Horror Film Writers Share Their Secrets at AFF Event


Tom Holland and Alvaro Rodriguez

One of the most frequent questions in panels at Austin film festivals I've attended is, "What is available here for writers?" My advice on where to find the best content at a local film festival is the Austin Film Festival (AFF). During the mentoring sessions, roundtables and panels, emerging writers and filmmakers interact with veterans of the television and film industry.

You don't have to wait until AFF in October to catch great writers and filmmakers talking about their craft. AFF hosts Conversations in Film throughout the year. Their most recent event, "Words That Go Bump in the Night: Writing Horror Films," brought together screenwriters Tom Holland (Fright Night, Cloak and Dagger) and Alvaro Rodriguez (From Dusk Til Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, Machete) to talk about how they started in the film industry and the state of genre filmmaking. The conversation turned into more of an interview of Holland by Rodriguez, who seemed as enthused as the audience members to ask Holland questions. I would like to have heard more from Rodriguez, but his well-thought-out questions and style kept the conversation lively -- especially when it came to talking about Anthony Hopkins and favorite horror movies.

Holland was in town to screen a new 35mm print of the original 1985 version of Fright Night at the Alamo Drafthouse. With the Dreamworks remake of Fright Night starring Colin Farrell due in theaters later this month, there's a lot of buzz for the original movie as well. I'm especially excited to see that the remake special effects were handled by K.N.B. Effects Group -- Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger's SFX house that also handled the From Dusk Til Dawn series in addition to hundreds of television and film projects. Find out after the jump what Holland had to say about the state of Hollywood, how he got into film and insights into writing.

2011 Guide to Austin Summer Film Camps


AFS Summer Camp

Summer is almost officially here, and there's still time to register for kids' summertime filmmaking camps and workshops in Austin. Some classes are full already, but children and teens still have plenty of camps and sessions to choose from, so sign up soon.

These affordable camps and workshops provide unique experiences for local youth in various aspects of filmmaking -- acting, screenwriting, editing and animation -- see some of the creative and funny claymation films after the jump. At the end of many of these camps, friends and family are invited to attend a screening of the movie(s) that campers helped make, or campers can bring home a DVD to hold their own private screening party.

Here's a list of all the summer movie-related camps and classes in the Austin area that we could find. Some of the descriptions are pretty much verbatim from press releases or websites. In addition to the kids-only offerings, there are opportunities for adults as well this summer -- you'll find a couple of options for grownups at the end of the list.

Cine Las Americas Offers Free 'Master Classes'


Cine Las AmericasWith the 14th annual Cine Las Americas looming on the horizon, we thought there is something you should know. Not only do they have another schedule packed full of films encompassing the breadth of Latin American and indigenous American cinema, this year Cine Las Americas also has four "Master Classes" available to the public.

That's right -- available to the public, as in free, gratis, no dinero, won’t break your piggy bank. Of course there is a slight catch: If you have a film pass for Cine Las Americas, you get priority seating, so if you do want to attend, get there early to be at the front of the line. Or spend a few bucks and get a pass for one of the best kept secrets in film in a movie-hungry town (get one now and save on full price).

The four classes run from Monday, April 25 to Thursday, April 28, and take place at 4 pm in the Black Box Theater at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). The MACC has been a venue for Cine Las Americas for a while now, and this year more films are screening there, meaning you can easily catch a master class then make the evening's films.

  • Monday, April 25 -- Carmen Marron, writer/director/producer, Go For It! talks about getting U.S. distribution for her inspirational dance film. Go For It! Opens theatrically on May 13, released by Pantelion Films (Lionsgate).
  • Tuesday, April 26 -- Andrés Martínez-Ríos, founder and director of Aatomo Rentas/Chemistry Cine. This case study of the film Jean Gentil (dir. Laura Amelia Guzmán and Ismael Cárdenes) will be a discussion of current state of international cooperation in production and post-production, with a focus on Mexico and the United States.

2010 Guide to Austin Summer Film Camps


Austin Film Society Digital Filmmaking Camp

Summer is almost officially here with plenty of free summer movies, and there's still time to register for kids' summertime filmmaking camps and workshops in Austin. A few of last summer's offerings are either full or are no longer taking place -- Dougherty Arts Center has no film classes this year -- but kids still have plenty of camps and sessions to choose from.

These affordable camps and workshops provide unique experiences for local youth in various aspects of filmmaking including acting, screenwriting, editing and animation. At the end of many of them, friends and family are invited to attend a screening of the movie campers helped make, or bring home a DVD to hold their own private screening party.

Here's a list of all the summer movie-related camps and classes in the Austin area that we could find. Some of the descriptions are pretty much verbatim from press releases or websites -- although I was the Sierra Cubs Camp director for several years, sadly I've yet to be involved in any kids' film camps. Although they're for kids and not adults, don't be too disappointed -- you'll find a couple of options for grownups at the end of the list.

If I've missed anything, let me know in the comments and I'll add the info to the list.

Videobloggers and Filmmaking at VideoCamp Austin


VideoCamp Austin

Over 175 people attended the first VideoCamp Austin last Saturday, February 27, and the event was a rousing success. Co-organizers Talmadge Boyd and Weston Norton of Reel Social Media and Lights. Camera. Help. co-founder David Neff coordinated the event, which took place at The University of Texas at Austin's Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. Local aspiring filmmakers and videobloggers learned techniques and tricks of the trade from fellow attendees with years of experience. 

VideoCamp Austin followed the barcamp model of the "unconference," in which a large piece of paper was taped to the wall with a handwritten schedule on it. Sessions were written on stickies and then placed in open time slots. Folks who showed up early to sign up had an idea of what they wanted to talk about, such as Arts from the Streets filmmaker Layton Blaylock's presentation on making a documentary. However, spontaneity was the main focus, as Rachel Farris of learned. She didn't have a presentation prepped, but used PetRelocation's Pup in the Air videos to demonstrative the effectiveness of "Using Online Video in Your Business." Air Sex World Championship host Chris Trew of The New Movement taught an "Improv Comedy in a Video and Filmmaking" session where a few of the attendees were pulled into the demonstration.

Enroll Now for Austin Filmmaking Camps


Child with Play CameraLast year, Slackerwood featured a Guide to Austin Summer Film Camps that listed local day camps for kids interested in making movies. Although Tuesday's snowfall might make you think that summer's far away, it's never too soon to enroll in these highly sought-after programs.

Here are a couple of Austin summer film camps that have already opened registration for this year ... for kids a bit older than the budding filmmaker pictured at right.

Austin Film Festival Summer Film Camp 

Austin Film Festival's Young Filmmakers Program is proud to present the eighth annual Summer Film Camp. The camp offers students unparalleled access to in-depth, personal instruction on screenwriting, filmmaking and claymation from local industry professionals. This year, the camp's workshops and panels will take place at Austin High School.

Registration Open for VideoCamp Austin


Camera operator setting up the video camera on Flickr Next month's VideoCamp Austin event is a free one-day ad-hoc gathering of video, public relations, new media and marketing professionals born from the desire for people to learn about best practices in online video production and distribution in an open environment. David Neff of Lights. Camera. Help. and the American Cancer Society, Talmadge Boyd and Weston Norton are coordinating this collaborative event that includes discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event. Not surprising, as I'd first met Dave at BarCamp Austin 3 in 2008. Although he shared information about his project, the real take-home message I got that day was that non-profit organizations should use online video and documentary filmmaking as a way to convey their messages. With VideoCamp Austin, Dave is taking this mission even further.

VideoCamp Austin will be held on February 27 from 10 am to 4 pm on the University of Texas campus at CMB Building UT Campus, Studio 4B. The event is being organized in a "barcamp" style, that is, it is an ad-hoc rather than pre-determined schedule. Barcamps are an international network of user generated conferences -- open, participatory workshop-events, with content is provided by participants. The first Barcamps focused on early-stage web applications and related open-source technologies, but the format is now widely applied to a variety of other topics, including social media tools and now video and filmmaking.

SXSW Film Panels: What Would You Like to See?


Scott Weinberg and Karina Longworth

There are only a few days left to vote in the SXSW 2010 PanelPicker mentioned in my previous post - you have until midnight CST on Friday, September 4 to participate in the community voting process.

I've taken a look at several dozen panel submissions, and voted for a few of my favorites. Here are the film panels I found interesting at first glance:

There's Gold in Those Archives: Long-Long-Tail Filmmaking (organizer: Center for Social Media) -- I had no idea what long-tail filmmaking was until I saw this panel submission, but it was intriguing enough to read the questions and comments. Licensing and distribution are critical aspects of the longterm results of making a film filmmaking. I would expect this panel to convey some valuable information to filmmakers and distributors.

Austin FilmWorks Classes for Fall


Austin FilmWorks is now accepting student registrations for the Feature Lab sequence in Fall 2009. Feature Lab is Steve Mims's demanding filmmaking class sequence that requires students to produce two short films and play a key role on a class-produced feature-length film.

Divided into three levels, Feature Lab includes introductory, intermediate and advanced courses -- Production One, Two and Three -- where students create an individual short, a group short and a group feature in an intense 16-month, four semester program.

Steve Mims is a long-time Austin filmmaker and teacher whose award-winning short films, music videos and features have screened widely in festivals and on television. As Slackerwood reported recently, Mims was awarded a Barbara Jordan Media Award for a 2008 film about dyslexia. His short film gives an insight in children's experience with this learning disability.

This is Not Your Living Room: A Theatergoer's Primer -- Part Two


Half-Ass-a-Thon Audience

Have you recovered from Part One yet? If so, read on for more basic theater etiquette.

Personal Space. Just because you put your feet up at home does not mean that's okay in the movie theater. No one should have to share an armrest with your toes, or be forced to look at them in the seat next to them. If you put your feet on the tables at an Alamo, I hope the waitstaff puts theirs on your food.

Hats Off, AKA Bouffant Be Gone. Seriously, if your thinning hair makes you so self conscious that you can't remove your hat indoors, either sit in the back row or talk to your doctor. As for you, Big Hair, the 50's want their bouffants back, and no wants to get whiplash trying to look around you. If you don't sit in the back, pay for the seats that you block.

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