|Shia Lebouf in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.|
10:17 a.m. – Park ($5), collect self. Sift through promotional AFF totebag. Read list of daily additions/changes for the day. Find: “Writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) regrettably notified us on Thursday night that he is unable to attend the Austin Film Festival.” Scowl. Hope aloud that Sydney Pollack doesn’t drop out.
10:45 a.m. – Attend “Adapting Material to Film” panel (Lawrence Kasdan, Bill Wittliff, Richard Linklater, Brian Helgeland). Marvel that Linklater gets to wear his hair like that and still get people to listen to him on-set. Refreshingly, hear Kasdan tell aspiring screenwriters that you can either do it or you can’t, and all the war stories and advice in the world won’t help if you’re shitty.
12:00 p.m. – At friend’s behest, attempt lunch at nearby, upscale-ish, packed Vietnamese place. Wait 45 minutes after ordering. Cancel order, settle for granola bars.
1:45 p.m. – “Writing R-Rated Comedies” panel (Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, David Wain, Steve Faber, Bob Fisher). Hear as many references to Zoloft, alcohol-addiction and depression in 75 minutes as have during entire life prior. Worry sincerely about mental and emotional health of comedy writers in general. Also, laugh ass off.
3:15 p.m. – “Writer/Directors” panel (Mike Akel, Jessica Bendinger, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter). Hear mild horror stories from young and first-time directors. Also, first bits about Akel’s Chalk, a mockumentary about Austin-area teachers.
6:00 p.m. – Pick up festival companion from work, drive to Katz’s Deli. Argue a bit, shove sandwich into mouth, leave for Paramount Theater and first screening.
7:30 p.m. – Catch and Release, dir. Susannah Grant. Notable for “talkie” acting debut, as it were, of Kevin Smith (who bailed on the screening), not much else. Afterward, meet up with fellow Current film buff John Defore, gab until 10ish.
10:15 p.m. – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, dir. Tom Twyker. Lush, fantastic (in every sense), gorgeously photographed horror fable about a man with an unusual sense of smell. (160 minutes, though.)
2 a.m. – Finally home. Sleep.
2 p.m. – “Up Close & Personal: Sydney Pollack” panel. Sit, listen. Against better professional judgment, allow self to be charmed, awed.
3:45 p.m. – “Creating Classic Characters” panel (David Milch, Shane Black, Sydney Pollack). Gleefully listen to Milch’s bared (and now-abated?) hatred for “that red-headed guy” on NYPD Blue. Bask in the once-alcohol-fueled (by his own admission) genius of Milch, the apparently manic-depressive genius of Black, and the regular-guy genius of Pollack. Best panel of the week.
7:00 p.m. – Chalk, dir. Mike Akel. Fun, well-acted, The Office-esque paean to teachers; eventual Jury-Award-winner for best narrative feature.
9:30 p.m. – A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, dir. Dito Montiel. Utterly heartbreaking; best film I saw all weekend. Menace II Society meets Field of Dreams. But good. Really, really, really good. Some Goodfellas in there, too. Oscar-worthy work by just about the entire cast. Wow.
11:10ish p.m. – Sneak into a press screening Q&A for Dallas punk-comedy The Night of the White Pants to listen to directress Amy Talkington, the still-lovely Janine Turner (née Maggie O’Connell of Northern Exposure), and the seriously underrated Nick Stahl. Beget desire to now see Pants.
12:20ish a.m. – Home. Sleep.
10:55 a.m. – Arrive, hear of free brunch at Ranch 616, mere blocks away. Run, inhale two of the best breakfast tacos in the history of ever, run back.
11:30 a.m. – “Battle Scars” panel (Stephen Harrigan, Christopher McQuarrie, Anne Rapp). Absorb tales of studio oppression and how, really, what it takes to get a script made is a commitment from Leo DiCaprio. Nice chat afterward with sometime Texas Monthly contributor Harrigan about relationships among journalism, novel-writing, and screenwriting.
1 p.m. – “Writers/Directors” panel (Shane Black, Susannah Grant, Amy Talkington). Rethink earlier “manic-depressive” judgment — maybe Black’s just eccentric. At any rate, enjoy intelligent and surprisingly forthcoming Q&A session.
2:30 p.m. – “Guerrilla Marketing” panel (Josh Baran, Chris Hyams, Lauren Levy). Fight to remain interested after first 15 minutes or so. Fest companion seemed to get a great deal out of it, though.
4 p.m. – “How Did You Get Your First Movie Made?” panel (Brian Jun, Turk Pipkin). Heed more war stories: drumming up financing and attaching stars; listen to a particularly accessible Jun counsel others afterward.
7:00 p.m. – On a hunch (and the acting strength of Joel Edgerton), shun both Death of a President and Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn for Mia Goldman’s Open Window. Regret hunch.
9:20ish p.m. – Home. No sleep. Writing.