Austin Film Festival Lines Up Writers Conference, Packs In A-List Talent From Film and TV

EXCLUSIVE: Besides honoring Paul Feig and Nancy Meyers this year, the Austin Film Festival has lined up a number of A-list talent from both film and TV for its inaugural Playwriting Track. As part of this program, playwright-screenwriter Beau Willimon (House of Cards) will present a staged script reading of his unproduced play War Story about soldiers, bankers and the war here and overseas.

The Writers Conference, held the first four days of the festival that begins Oct. 13 and ends Oct. 20, features a slate of panelists that will include Mark L. Smith (writer, The Revenant), Katie Dippold (writer, Ghostbusters), David Mandel (showrunner,  Veep), Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (writers, The Fault in Our Stars), Justin Marks (writer, The Jungle Book), Elizabeth Meriwether (creator of New Girl), Nicole Perlman (writer, Guardians of the Galaxy), Lindsay Doran (producer, Stranger Than Fiction), Michelle Ashford (creator of Masters of Sex), Kim Bass (creator of Sister, Sister), Max Borenstein (writer, Godzilla), Wendy Calhoun (writer, Empire), Stephen Falk (creator of You’re the Worst), John Hamburg (writer-director, I Love You, Man) and Tim Herlihy (writer, Happy Gilmore).

Mark Johnson (executive producer, Better Call Saul) also will participate as will Monica Macer (writer, Nashville), Mark Medoff (writer, Children of a Lesser God), Melanie Marnich (writer/co-executive producer, The Affair), Raamla Mohamed (writer, Scandal), Aisha Muharrar (writer, Parks and Recreation), Paula Pell (writer, Saturday Night Live), Matt Selman (writer/executive producer, The Simpsons), Sanjay Shah (writer/co-executive producer, Fresh Off the Boat), Ed Solomon (writer, Men in Black), James Wong (writer/director, Final Destination), Alan Yang (co-creator of Master of None) and many more.

Additional playwright and film/television hybrids confirmed for the Conference include Edward Ricourt (writer, Jessica Jones), Jose Rivera (writer, The Motorcycle Diaries), Tom Szentgyorgyi (writer, The Mentalist), Alexander Woo (writer, True Blood), Linda Woolverton (writer, The Lion King) and others.

AFF also unveiled a new Playwriting Competition to open in the 2017 season. An extension of its Screenplay Competition, which has been responsible for launching numerous writing careers, AFF will accept full-length stage plays and provide aspiring playwrights exposure to a wide array of theater professionals. Writers who place in the competition and seek to transition into film and television will be given access to special programming and networking opportunities through the annual Writers Conference. More information and specifics will be available when the competition opens in early 2017.

As previously announced, Paul Feig, whose directing credits include Ghostbusters and Bridesmaids, will be honored for his contribution to film, and Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, The Intern) will be given the Distinguished Screenwriter Award. Marta Kauffman (Friends, Grace and Frankie) will receive the Outstanding Television Writer for her long career in the industry.

The full schedule will be released mid-September.

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