Celebrating a Successful First Year of Creative Careers


We at the Austin Film Society pride ourselves on the role we play in the world of Texas film. As a nonprofit, we operate programs that help filmmakers get the funds, equipment, and training they need; give them access to studio space; and provide them with a cinema to screen their finished projects. 

Creative Careers, our unique workforce development initiative, acts as the starting point in this production ecosystem. It does this by giving opportunities to creatives in the competitive screen industry through immersive training, mentorship, and networking. The program launched in the fall of 2021, and we re-opened applications for the class of 2023 on January 3. 

For more info on Creative Careers, click here or watch the video below.

After our successful first year (and before we welcome brand-new cohorts), we threw a wrap-party-to-remember on December 14, 2022. We’re extremely proud of all the people we celebrated that evening and for those who participated in on-stage panel discussions (which included graduates, instructors, and Creative Careers leadership). 

Read on for their stories, a recap of the event, and to see photos of these inspiring industry newcomers.

Kicking Off the Festivities

The event, which we called Opening Credits: An AFS Creative Careers Capstone Celebration, began in the Cinema lobby where guests were greeted by monitors displaying photos and quotes from program participants, many of whom were in attendance. After mingling over light bites and drinks, guests headed to their seats. AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell then took the stage to welcome everyone and discuss the vital role that AFS plays in the regional film ecosystem.

Words of Wisdom from Instructors

Then the Director of Community Education and leader of the program, Rakeda Ervin, took over as our master of ceremonies, inviting various contributors to join her for discussions about the roles they played in last year’s program. She began by underscoring how competitive film and TV jobs can be and how we’re able to give meaningful opportunities to those who may be underrepresented in the industry, all while building the confidence, resumes, and professional networks of those participating in Creative Careers. 

She then invited Christian Nelson and Jacob Ramón — both AFS staff members and instructors — to the stage. They spoke about how they wished they’d had access to these workforce pathways when they were starting out. They both talked about the deep connection they feel to the participants and how meaningful it is that they can give back to their creative community. Jacob was an AFS intern in 2018 and has seen the program blossom into what it is today.

Recent Graduates Share Their Experiences

Rakeda also introduced four Creative Careers participants to speak about their respective training pathways. One graduate, Alekka Hernandez, said she began as a blank slate in her knowledge of film and media production but ended up with a ton of hands-on experience, especially through her internship at Austin Studios where she was able to try her hand at editing for the first time. Now, Alekka is a full-time Operations Coordinator for AFS. All four graduates spoke about their goals and what training through Creative Careers meant to them: how fast it started to impact their lives, how important immersive training was to their development, and how it unlocked many doors for them personally and professionally.

Click here or on the image below to watch “Where Are They Now?” an AFS Creative Careers Capstone video.

It was a wonderful evening that continued in the lobby after the presentations were over. We can’t stress enough how proud we are of the 31 participants who’ve taken part in our program so far. After only a year, it’s already clear how crucial Creative Careers is for Austin’s media landscape. If you’re interested in applying, visit the Creative Careers website here.

Watch the above video (or click here) to see a highlight reel of projects completed for clients by Creative Careers participants during the program.

All photos by Heather Leah Kennedy.