Is the Austin Film Festival Worth It?

The Austin Film Festival & Conference is among the premier competitions for filmmakers and writers. It has been recognizing, awarding, and furthering talent for close to three decades now. 

Source: Austin Film Festival website

Based in Austin, Texas, hence its name, the organization behind the festival was among the first to offer an event of such nature and magnitude. Every year in October, the AFF organizes the festival in Austin. It brings together countless talents, both professional and amateurs, on one unbiased platform.

Going by the number of entries, the AFF is among the most popular competitions of its kind. It receives the most entries on the planet compared to other film festivals.

According to the official website, the 2021 fees are the following:

🎥 Early Bird: March 26 ($50)

🎥 Regular Deadline: May 21 ($60)

🎥 Late Deadline: June 25 ($75)

🎥 Extended Deadline: July 9 ($75)

Also, if you are an official film production company (as in an LLC or corporation), these fees could be tax deductible. So the true cost of a film festival is less. I’m no official CPA so don’t take my word for it. Definitely, consult with your accountant!

Even if the entry fees are tax deductible 👉

❓ Is it still worth it?

❓ What do you stand to gain? 

❓ Does the good outweigh the bad?

If you’ve got a great film, the Austin film festival is certainly worth the nominal fee. In fact, the Austin Film Festival is one of the top four film festivals in North America. The other three are the Toronto Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and of course, Sundance.

As per the AFF’s mantra, their mission is to further the storytelling craft by inspiring new generations of artists. In both television and film, the AFF aims to celebrate the writer’s or filmmaker’s efforts and create a community of talent to spearhead the industry forward. 

Here are several reasons you should also consider

The Austin Film Festival offers networking gold

Rocking the red carpet, getting to see amazing new films hit the big screen, and an infectious air of positivity, make film festivals fun! And they rarely get any grander than the Austin Film and Festival conference. 

You’re in for some sweet, old southern hospitality, in one of the country’s most imaginative cities. Famous for its vegan ice cream and, of course, unrivaled BBQ, the music capital of the world promises nights of fun in culture with like-minded crowds. 

The spirit of Austin will rock and change you. More importantly, you’ll get to meet loads of important people. You never know, one of them might just be the next step up in your career!

The great thing about the AFF is that there is no VIP seclusion, exclusive parties, or green rooms. All guests get together without discrimination. You’ll meet all kinds of filmmakers and screenwriters and get to know the artists beyond mere names on a list. 

From evening BBQ parties and morning script workshops and everything in between, there are many opportunities for collaboration and familiarizing. Not to mention opportunities for exchanging ideas and contacts.

What’s more, an entry cost of $65, now discounted at an early bird fee of $50, isn’t that bad considering the experience on offer. You may even get a conference badge for $25 each when you sign up as a group of 10.  

It is among the top 50 festivals worth the entry fee, according to the findings of the MovieMaker Magazine.

Winners get more than just cash

If you come out on top in your category, there are some appealing cash rewards to look forward to. The results usually come out in the week after the award. 

First place in the Feature Films department receives up to $500 in hotel accommodation reimbursement and a similar range of compensation for airfare.

A cash prize of between $1,000 and $2,500 is in addition to these prizes. Short film winners, on the other hand, can get between $1,000 to $500, with similar complimentary reimbursements as the former category.

The same goes for produced digital series.

However, it’s not just about the money at the AFF, you can also look forward to a neat bronze typewriter statue.

Additionally, there’s a beautiful Luncheon ceremony, for publicity purposes, of course, but you can’t complain since you’ll be sharing the spotlight as well. 

Some influential personalities will be in attendance and your work might pique their interest. In 2020’s edition, for example, high-profile names that graced the occasion included Susan Sarandon, Callie Khouri, and Vince Gilligan.

The AFF promises more of the same for 2021. So you’ll get more attention and doors may start opening before you know it!

Here are the writers for Game of Thrones, speaking in Austin:

What if you don’t win though? 

Is it still worth the try for those who don’t end up with a podium finish? 

Absolutely! Networking and fun Austin experiences aside, you also get your film reviewed by a professional panel. A good script will always stand out even if it doesn’t take first place, and who would say no to good exposure? An excellent review might just propel you to a distribution deal, you never know! 

Your film screens on the biggest of stages!

Months and maybe even years of hard work often go unnoticed. By signing up for the AFF, a big-screen opportunity presents itself to announce your masterpiece to the world. 

The AFF is famous for its opulent screening locations that often include the most grandiose establishments. Your film isn’t set up hastily in an impromptu convention center. It is given the stage it deserves complete with ceiling murals, box seats, and the works.

It might end up rocking the atmosphere at the 1915-built Paramount Theater, where the magic of filmmaking intertwines with the aroma of history. Alternatively, the famous global treasure that is Alamo Drafthouse might be the venue. 

The audience, you included, are also in for a treat in the way of a 62-foot tall screen, playing in high definition. The film gets all the classic movie stardom, ensuring you realize your dream of one day having your work play in front of dozens of people on a huge stage.

Your film was a collaborative effort. The team behind it poured their time and resources into breathing reality into what was initially only a dream. 

What better way to pay back their hard work and belief in your vision than having their work shown to the world?  

It might just open up new possibilities for your talented crew. An AFF appearance has countless times propelled editors, cinematographers, and even novice actors into stardom. You could be responsible for the discovery of some creative new talents, which is always a satisfying thing to be a part of.

Showcase your talent

As one of our screenwriters have written before in this article, it’s hard to break into the industry. Whether you’re a film director who makes movies or a screenwriter, competition is stiff for a place in Hollywood.

This is why it’s important to showcase your talent at film festivals, like Austin. As I’ve mentioned early in this article, Austin (in my humble opinion) is one of the top 4 film festivals in North America.

It’s not going to be easy to win the competition. But then again, you don’t need to win any award. If you can win the hearts and cheers of the audiences, you’re sure to attract the attention of a producer or distributor, who would pick up your film.

Getting a movie deal is worth more than the $70 nominal fee. It’s for this very possibility that makes the Austin Film festival worth the admission price.

 
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