Friday, June 22, 2012

"No one's killin' any folk today, on account o' we got a very tight schedule."

After three straight days of "all ATX Festival all the time," I needed a few days to recuperate and process my weekend. A few days turned into a few weeks and I am sorry that I am just now getting around to posting about my experience. I went through a bit of withdrawl the week following the festival, but it seemed as if others who attended had the same reaction (and are still craving queso and bbq three weeks later). The overall consensus is that everyone had the BEST. WEEKEND. EVER!

The festival kicked off Friday night, June 1 at the State Theater with a red carpet and screenings of USA Network's Suits season finale and Royal Pains season premiere. After the screening, Robyn Ross from TVGuide moderated a great Q&A with Suits Executive Producer David Bartis, Royal Pains Executive Producers Michael Rauch and Andrew Lenchewski and actress Reshma Shetty. The Opening Night After Party was held at the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental and included amazing performances by Landon Pigg, Mae Whitman and Alpha Rev with a special guest performance by Jason Ritter. I also got a chance to hang out with Ken Marino and a few of the guys from Children's Hospital as well as Robert Maschio and Neil Flynn from Scrubs.

Saturday morning, after getting about three and a half hours of sleep the night before, I headed back to the Stephen F. Austin where all of the panels were being held. My job for the weekend was to make sure that all the panelists showed up and made it to the correct room at the correct time, which basically means I was running around like a crazy person starting at 9:30 a.m. until the panels were over at 4:00 p.m. trying to track people down. (I may forever be referred to as "the girl in the green dress.") However, it also means that I got to talk to all of the panelists that were there! Everyone was extremely nice and very easy to approach. Saturday's panels were: TV Fantasy Goes Mainsteam, The Creators, Friday Night Lights Revisited, Women on Television, TBS very funny, Book to TV Series, One Tree Hill Says Goodbye, a Love Monkey Retrospective and The Stages of a Television Writing Career.

There were also screenings and Q&As going on at the Alamo Drafthouse and State Theater throughout the day, but if it did not happen at SFA, it was not on my radar.

After an Industry Reception at Austin Studios on Saturday Night, everyone headed over to the Hotel San Jose for the Friday Night Lights Outdoor Screening. Before the sun went down, there were musical performances by cast members Dora Madison Burge, Alicia Witt and Jesse Plemons. This event was free and open to the public and everyone was encouraged to bring their lawn chairs. Once it was dark enough, the crowd got a chance to see the premiere of the new Explosions In The Sky music video and then the cast of Friday Night Lights introduced the screening of the series finale episode. Following the screening, we headed back to the Stephen F. Austin for the Children's Hospital Marathon After Party. Although, I did not stay very long for this because I was so tired from the day that I almost fell asleep halfway through my Tito's Vodka Texas Sipper :o)

I got a little more sleep Saturday night, but Sunday was another early day at the Stephen F. Austin. That day's panels were a Conversation with Jason Katims, a discussion about the use of Music in Television and an Actors Roundtable. Of course, we had a little drama added to the day when the fire alarm went off in the middle of the morning, but luckily we did not have to evacuate the hotel. After the panels were over, there was a music showcase in the hotel bar with more great performances from Mae Whitman & Landon Pigg, Tigerbone and Teddy Geiger.

If I am being completely honest, it was very cool to interact with people like Scott Wolf, Jason Ritter and the cast of Friday Night Lights, but the best part of the weekend for me was not meeting all the industry people. My favorite part was the conversations I had with other volunteers. I love my friends, but none of them watch as much television as I do and it was nice to be surrounded by people who share my interests and obsessions. Throughout the weekend I had several random conversations with many different people about the shows and actors that I follow. The difference between these conversations and the ones I typically have with my friends is that this time I could explain why I liked certain shows and not others and not get weird looks because I have clearly over analyzed each storyline and character to death. Most of these people I had never met before Friday, and do not really know very much about them even after three days, but I feel like we are friends for life.

That being said, I did enjoy getting a chance to chat with Matt Lauria, Michelle Armstrong and Teddy Geiger several times over the course of the weekend. Although, I never did find an opportune time to tell Matt that I traded my pig for him :o)

By the end of the weekend, I was completely exhausted but I really did have an AMAZING time and I know that I am not doing the experience justice with my descriptions. You really just had to be there! And, if you were not in Austin for this amazing event, well, now you know better and can start making plans for the 2nd Annual ATX Television Festival which will take place June 6-9, 2013.

Someone on Twitter (I do not remember who coined the term) referred to the weekend as being like "TV Camp" and that pretty much sums up the entire experience. I cannot wait for next year!


For more of my pictures from the weekend, check out Aye, Tortuga! on Facebook:

ATX Festival official website:

ATX Festival Kickstarter campaign:
They have reached their initial fundraising goal, but still need as much funding help as possible in order to make next year's festival even more amazing than this year. This page also includes videos and links to press coverage of the festival.