Emerging Texas Filmmakers and Seasoned Mentors Gather for AFS’s 2019 Artist Intensive

This past October, AFS hosted our Artist Intensive Workshop, an annual weekend of work, focus, and mentorship for emerging narrative feature filmmakers. Participants include writer-directors who have been invited by AFS to work with a team of peers and mentors to further refine their current narrative feature film projects.

This year, the lineup looked a little different than in years past, as we featured two projects in development and two at rough cut stages: Maria Lorena Padilla – MARTINEZ (development); Ryan Darbonne and Carina Hinojosa – WE REAL COOL (development); Morrisa Maltz – THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY (post-production); and Channing Godfrey Peoples – MISS JUNETEENTH (post-production).

The creative advisors and producing mentors who worked with and guided the filmmakers throughout the weekend included directors Jeremy Saulnier (BLUE RUIN, GREEN ROOM) and Michael Almereyda (HAMLET, MARJORIE PRIME), producers Toby Halbrooks (A GHOST STORY, OLD MAN & THE GUN) and Caroline Kaplan (BOYS DON’T CRY, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU), editor Sandra Adair (SHEPARD AND DARK, BOYHOOD) and AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater (DAZED AND CONFUSED, BEFORE SUNRISE, BOYHOOD).

The multi-day workshop, which includes screenplay readings, works-in-progress screenings, and rehearsals with guest actors, has been instrumental in providing artists with creative feedback, resources, and momentum for their projects.

“The AFS Artist Intensive was an amazing experience for myself and everyone on my team. When you’ve been working nonstop—for years—on a small project, I can’t stress enough how important it is be able to get feedback and have the opportunity to discuss what you’ve been doing,” says Morrisa Maltz, director of THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY. “The workshop helped us shape where we are going with the film, and also was a great chance for us to talk about what we’ve been working on for so many years with people we respect and who’s opinions we value. Our team also really needed this block of time together to get on the same page. An experience like this gives artists the courage to continue and make what we’ve been working on feel valued.”

It is this particular of mix of close collaboration and shared experience with fellow filmmakers and mentors that resonates so deeply with those invited to participate.

“The Artist Intensive is an unforgettable experience,” says Maria Lorena Padilla, director of MARTINEZ. “The high-level mentors are totally approachable and I think is due to the fact that we are all sharing the same space, and I think we are lacking this kind of “retreat” experience, which is so important for the life of an artist. The fact that we shared a cabin, we shared our meals, makes this lab different, and even if we were there just for a few days, it felt like a month. It is really intensive and I am very thankful for that.


Fellow participant and director of WE REAL COOL, Ryan Darbonne adds, “Filmmaking is such a taxing endeavor that it’s easy to want to give up but the AFS intensive gave us some much-needed inspiration to keep pushing forward and get our film made.”

Past Artist Intensive alumni include Annie Silverstein’s BULL (Deauville winner and Cannes Un Certain Regard competition), Augustine Frizzell’s NEVER GOIN’ BACK (Sundance, Independent Spirit Award-nominated) and Julia Halperin and Jason Cortlund’s BARRACUDA (SXSW).


The Artist Intensive Workshop is just one way that AFS underscores its mission by supporting filmmakers towards career leaps. AFS also provides production grants to Texas filmmakers, travel grants for filmmakers to attend their film premieres at festivals around the globe, Work-in-Progress screenings, and more. Keep up to date on the future of these projects and other AFS filmmaker program alumni by signing up for our filmmaker-focused newsletter.

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