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Day 3 of Austin Film Fest with CinemaSnackBar

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October 20, 2012 by Steven

The weekend has landed, and with it comes a slate of new panels, new films, and a whole heck of a lot of people. With the way the festival badges are set up, Saturday is the main day for both the conference and the film festival.

So how are we approaching this much busier, much larger, and much more crowded day? Like it ain’t no thang.

We have only a few goals today, one of which is to take our time and enjoy our weekend. The other is to see Hyde Park on Hudson at the Ritz. The other other is to have a good time at the party and happy hour today.  The other still is to learn a thing or two at the panels today and get there before the crowds.

Okay so we have a couple of things to do today. Let’s get started.

The first two panels we had planned for today ended up not panning out. With the changes this year (namely a price drop for the Lone Star Badge, which is a film + Saturday conference badge) most of the panels were standing-room-only, and some even full beyond that. Some of the panels were already filled up almost a hour before they opened the doors. After two unsuccessful attempts, we shrugged and decided that “Romantic Comedies” and “Writing for Hire in Hollywood” weren’t really worth pulling the fire alarm.

So like good Austinites, we headed to the Drafthouse to start our day with movies and beer.

Hyde Park on Hudson starring Bill Murray is technically one of the “headliner” of this year’s festival, much like Johnny Depp’s “Rum Diaries” was last year’s main event. Like Diaries, this was a professional-grade indie that is likely to have mainstream success due to the film’s star power. It’s not entirely in the spirit of the festival, but it’s always fun to see a big-budget movie a good year before its general release.

Not to give too much of the film away, but it’s very Eddie Izzard “Oh, I … oh.” This may be due to the English characters or just because it’s a period piece set in 1935 rural New York, but the even though the film is listed as a “biographical comedy-drama” on wikipedia, the film seems to be lacking in both. It’s not a bad film, but there’s just a lot of open space between the lines, actors, and even the pacing is a bit slow.

The real star of the film is Bill Murray, who seems to be trying to remind the world that despite some of his recent movies, he is in fact an actor. Steven has said for years that “Bill Murray is off the A-list” after Lost in Translation and Broken Flowers, but this film is actually quite a departure from his usual “I’m Bill Murray and I’m a poor slob” routine. It’s worth watching, but for a film that’s technically about war is an incredibly low-key story.

“Writing Espionage”

Liz: Might have been a different panel if they’d all shown up on time, but there was far more talk about their specific projects than about writing the genre as a whole.

Steven: That was kind of fun, but since I’ve only seen like one of these films they’ve made I had no idea what they were talking about. Basic idea: characters are damaged people. Make them suffer.

Following that panel, we made our way to the Screenwriters’ Happy Hour. This AFF-provided, invitation-only party gave all the struggling writers who had spent their last dime coming out to the conference a chance to meet around a cash bar. It was cramped, awkward, and as we made our way without drink across the room and back we soon took our leave and went to get some dinner.

We did get to meet friend and writer Diane Johnson, who had entered the contest this year. She and Steven go back to their days writing together on the screenwriting web-community Zhura, which has since changed management. Go read her stuff!

Last two items on the docket tonight are the film It’s A Disaster and then the AFF Conference Wrap Party down at the Long Center!

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