Austin Film Fest aims to inspire rising filmmakers

November 10, 2015


The 22nd Annual Austin Film Fest took place from Oct. 29 through Nov. 5.



Photos by Staci Gass & Jack Plunkett


The festival is geared towards screenwriters and aspiring filmmakers and gives them a chance to attend panels and see independent films made by people who were once in their place. 

There was a premiere for a TV show called Casual currently available on HULU on opening night. Creator Zander Lehmann was on-hand to explain the concept.  “It is based off my relationship with my sister and us living together,” Lehmann said.  

In Casual, the character of Valerie is played by Micheala Watkins and Tommy Dewey plays Alex. Tara Lynne Barr plays Valerie’s teenage daughter Laura, and all three of them live together in Alex’s house after Valerie divorces her husband.  Alex and Valerie are both best friends and siblings. Lehmann’s show gives an intimate look on sibling’s relationships and navigating the dating scene.   

Booger Red is a movie based off an article in Texas Monthly where innocent adults are being accused of running a child sex ring.  Evidence has since come to light to exonerate these individuals as victims of circumstance. The hybrid documentary/fiction movie follows reporter Onur Turkel as he tries to uncover the truth while dealing with his own issues of past abuse. 

Mader said, “We hope to clear their names, these are good people who will have records that they don’t deserve.”  

Out of the entire group who were incarcerated, only one remains behind bars.  The filmmakers said they hope this film will help set him free.  



Another movie at the film festival was Burning Bodhi, a movie about a group of friends dealing with the death of one of their group.  Kaley Cuoco of the Big Bang Theory was the big headliner for this world premiere.



"Mully" screening with Scott Haze and

James Franco during the Austin Film Festival.


Cuoco said, “It is a big 180 from the opportunities I have been given and I auditioned for it and worked for it.”

Kate, the character Cuoco plays, is a dark character. 
Cuoco said, “Everyone has hurt and emotions so you get to kind of release it, which is kind of cool.”
A crowd favorite film, Coming Through The Rye, is about a boy coming to age as he sets off on a journey to meet JD Salinger the famous reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye.  This movie has Chris Cooper as J.D. Salinger and a couple of up and coming actors Adrian Pasdar, and Stefania LaVie Owen. 

Cooper said, “There were no recordings of his voice, I had to find one of his contemperies which was the playwright Arthur Miller.”

This movie is based on the writer/director James Steven Sadwith’s true account of meeting Salinger.
Mully, a documentary played at the festival, is based on Charles Mully who gave up his livelihood to save the children of Africa. He was a self-made rich man. He had been abandoned by his family at the age of ten and was left destitute. He grew weary of begging and stealing so he went into business for himself and made his own way. Later, he went back to the streets to help kids who were just like him.  


This documentary was directed by Scott Haze, and produced by Lukas Behnken and Elissa Shay.
Scott Haze said, “The goal is to inspire people’s hearts to make change.”  

One Austin Film Festival tradition is script readings.  A cast will come into town and read the script live on stage.  This year, the writer of sitcoms such as All In The Family, The Jefferson’s, and Good Times, hit shows of the 70’s and 80’s Norman Lear brought in his newest sitcom. His sitcom entitled “Guess Who Died” revolves around a retirement community and their patrons. 

As aspiring writers, filmmakers and or producers, the Austin Film Festival provided a good foundation on how networking and attending functions such as these helps those interested along their path.

One thing that every writer, director, or producer said was to keep on trying and to never give up.   


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