AFS Programs for Filmmakers
The Austin Film Society offers funding and a slate of support programs for filmmakers residing in Texas. All of these programs are either application or invitation-based. AFS Filmmaker Support Programs are the following:
AFS Grant—an annual production grant for Texas residents that is open for applications each spring. The grant offers approximately $100,000 in cash and $40,000 in-kind goods and services for pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution of independent films.
AFS Travel Grant—a fund for Texas residents whose films have been accepted into competitive festivals or film development programs. The travel grant is a flat $500 to go towards travel expenses for filmmakers.
Works-In-Progress—a program to help filmmakers with constructive, professional feedback for projects at the rough-cut stage. AFS hosts a screening and invites professionals to offer feedback.
Fiscal Sponsorship—Non-for-profit film projects can fundraise under the non-profit umbrella of the Austin Film Society. Fiscal sponsorship is available to Austin Film Society members at the MAKE level or higher.
AFS Artist Intensive—an invitation-only annual lab/retreat for narrative feature projects in development or pre-production. Filmmakers are selected via the AFS Grant application process.
AFS Doc Intensive—an invitation-only annual lab/retreat for feature documentary projects in development or post-production with a working rough cut. Filmmakers are selected via the AFS Grant application process.
AFS ShortCase at SXSW—an annual showcase of Texas artists presented at the SXSW Film Festival.
Crowdfunding Support – AFS promotes member projects via social media and our MAKE newsletter.
Eligible for Fiscal Sponsorship – AFS MAKE Members and above can apply to be sponsored by AFS to fundraise.
Eligible for SXSW ShowCase – AFS Make Members and above can apply to be considered for the AFS short films screening at SXSW.
Eligible for Works-In-Progress Screenings – AFS Make Members and above can submit for a Works-In-Progress screening and access professional feedback on their work.
Free and discounted educational programs – AFS Members and above have access to an array of media-making courses and panel events, as well as discounts on equipment rentals at Austin Public.
The AFS MAKE Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter about all things happening at AFS related to opportunities for filmmakers and the larger Texas filmmaking community.
Austin Film Society offers a range of community events, educational programming, and professional development for filmmakers in all career stages through our Community Media programming. Most classes are offered at Austin Public – our educational facility and public access television station.
On any given month, classes offered may include:
- Production tools (camera, lighting, grip, TV studio, audio, field production)
- Post-Production Tools (Adobe Premiere, Final Cut X, DaVinci Resolve, ProTools)
- Directing & Producing (filmmaker masterclasses, business of film, or marketing and distribution)
Our panels, workshops, and moviemaker dialogues are offered monthly on various professional development topics.
Unfortunately, Austin Film Society does not have programming for screenwriters. However, we recommend you try enrolling in courses and workshops to learn new skills, such as how to pitch your script, which you will have to do for any group interested in purchasing your story. Check out the following places for workshops:
The Screenplay Workshop – Austin script doctor Jill Chamberlain offers classes, consulting, and coaching.
ScriptWorks – Though generally geared toward playwrights, ScriptWorks is a local organization that provides support throughout the writing process.
Check out books on screenwriting, and read other screenplays to find out how to write a professional screenplay in the appropriate format. These books recommended:
Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger
Alternative Scriptwriting by Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush
The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier
The Nutshell Technique by Jill Chamberlain
Screenwriting is Rewriting by Jack Epps
If you are entering your script in festivals and contests, make sure that you are doing your research and have a goal and outcome in mind. Entering competitions can be expensive, so prioritizing and targeting the right competitions is essential to your time and resources.
Here are some reputable competitions:
The Academy Nicholl Fellowship – administered by the Academy, this is the top prize for screenwriters and can launch a career.
Austin Film Festival Conference – held in Austin each October and is specifically designed for screenwriters. FYI – Austin Film Festival is not affiliated with the Austin Film Society.
BlueCat Screenplay Contest – BlueCat has become a favorite amongst international screenwriters.
Unfortunately, Austin Film Society does not produce or develop projects. If you want to produce your film, it’s best to find a film production company, agent, or lawyer that expresses interest in new films and productions.
Understanding film finance is key for any independent filmmaker.
While financing can be the ultimate challenge for filmmakers, the process should be embraced as with any other aspect of filmmaking. These days, there are extensive resources available on the internet about almost all topics related to film finance.
Because we understand how difficult it is for emerging filmmakers to finance ambitious projects, one of the Austin Film Society’s key programs is a film finance opportunity. AFS administers the AFS Grant, which awards yearly grants to emerging TX film and video artists. Recipients receive monetary grants, as well as in-kind production support grants.
Crowdfunding has become an important part of nearly every low-budget film’s financing plan, but success in crowdfunding is not a given. Before you crowdfund, research best practices. Kickstarter and Seed&Spark prioritize filmmaker education around crowdfunding. AFS members receive marketing support from AFS on their campaigns. Be sure to check in with our Artist Services team before your launch to request the service. Please note that this is only available to current MAKE level members and above, so please make sure your membership is current before sending the request.
You should research fiscal sponsorship, where a 501(c)(3) organization umbrellas your project so that you can seek grants and donations – this is often a requirement for receiving foundation grants and tax deductions. There are non-profits in Austin that offer this service, including the AFS for MAKE and higher-level members. In general, it is a very selective process and is not for an inexperienced filmmaker.
Finance research tools you should check out:
The IFP Resources site, has extensive articles about film finance. Search topics such as international sales markets, pre-sale agreements, film investing, crowdfunding, and more.
BritDoc, which maintains an extensive list of film funders and funding resources on their Film Resources site
The best way to find paid employment in Texas is through the Texas Film Commission Production Hotline, which lists weekly cast and crew calls updates. Resumes are usually sent to the Production Coordinator of each film.
Once your career picks up, you should get listed in the Texas Production Manual, also managed by the Texas Film Commission. There are other production guides that you might look into as well, including the Austin Directory Listing, managed by the Austin Film Commission.
The nature of the entertainment industry is such that entry-level positions are usually unpaid. However, there are some great internship opportunities around town, some of which require school credit while others do not.
The Texas Film Commission organizes the Texas Production Manual, where companies that produce and create films are listed. Gaining an internship with one of these companies always helps to get your foot in the door. By networking with these companies, strong contacts within the Austin film industry are often forged.
While the Austin Film Society does not hire for any productions (not even those shooting at Austin Studios), AFS offers an internship program, which alternate three times a year. Participants are offered several opportunities to make contacts in the film industry, and involvement in our program is a good way to learn about the film community and meet local film leaders. Upon completion of the internship program, some participants may enter into the Film Referral Program, a program that rewards exemplary interns with direct referrals and recommendations to productions and media-related organizations in the Austin area. Referrals are made on a project-by-project basis according to the needs of the production and the availability and interests of the intern. The FRP does not guarantee employment, but it will get your resume in the office of a production with the recommendation of AFS. Interns at AFS can also gain film knowledge by participating in film-related workshops that vary by semester. AFS has made over 700 job placements through the program.
Though difficult, you should expect to work for free on productions. This will give you the connections and the reputation to get paid positions in the future. It is also a good way to get a title jump even when you are working regularly in a position. Again, it helps to check the crew calls listed on the Texas Film Commission’s website and AustinActors.net. The listings will detail whether or not the crew on a film will be paid or not.
No, we do not do any hiring for film productions. Though we manage Austin Studios, we are not involved with hiring any crew. However, joining AFS will provide you with a strong knowledge of Austin’s film community, and attending AFS programs such as Works-In-Progress screenings, professional development classes and workshops is a great way to begin building your film network. The easiest way to meet a lot of local filmmakers is also to attend film screenings at the AFS Cinema.
One of the most helpful aspects of the Austin film community its supportive nature. The Austin Film Society offers classes, networking events and professional development programs weekly, most of which takes place at our educational center and public access TV station, Austin Public. Attending events and courses gives you exposure to production, allows you to network with other filmmakers, and create a great working relationship with other filmmakers.
Aside from knowing the resources that AFS and Austin in general has to offer, one of the most important things is to be open minded. You are much more likely to find work if you can work in multiple departments. Most of the crew here who work regularly does so because they wear different hats. For example, if you a seeking work as a Set PA, don’t limit your opportunities to working under the Director. Explore different areas to gain experience and make connections (Craft Services, Extras Casting, etc.) It is also tough when you are just getting started or have just moved to town, but don’t limit your opportunities to full-time. Be willing to be a day player and work as needed. Those positions lead to more stable positions on productions, if not for this movie… maybe for the next. While you are getting started and building your resume, we recommend that you look into flexible jobs (temp services, restaurant/retail jobs, self-employment) so you can accept a position with little notice. This industry takes a lot of stamina and hard work. If you just moved to town, you have to earn your reputation again to some extent, but it will get easier. It just takes time and persistence.
In the spirit of independent film and Austin’s very own talent, the best advice that will make you very proactive is to create your own work and give yourself the job that you want. Don’t wait for that call; go make your own film. Austin Public is a terrific resource for anyone who wants access to the means of production. We offer equipment and studio rentals, and you can also become a part of the Producer program, which, after some training courses, gives you the best access to the studio facility and equipment. Robert Rodriguez edited his first films at the Austin Public facility in its early days.
Contact others in the industry that hold these positions. You can often find these contacts through the Texas Production Manual.
If you have no experience in a particular position, volunteer for productions so that you can gain as much experience as possible. If you have experience in this position, send your resume to the Production Coordinator on a project that is hiring in your area.
Austin Studios is not open to the public. However, we do offer guided tours for classes and educational institutions who offer a film or media-based curriculum. All tours must be arranged in advance, please do not visit the Studios without an appointment. To inquire about a tour for your film or media-related group, please click here.
If you work for a production interested in using the Studios facilities, please send an email to email@example.com or call us at 512-322-0145, ext. 3208 and provide more information about the project. We can arrange appointments for facility viewing if given notice in advance. For beginning filmmakers, you should be aware that we do require all productions have insurance.
You should start to scout for locations well in advance of your production’s shooting dates. Independently owned businesses often have more leeway in allowing productions to film at their locations. To gain a permit for a location in Austin, contact the Austin Film Commission, which is a part of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. They are able to provide suggestions, as is the Texas Film Commission. The Film Commission has files of Texas location photos and can assist with scouting. They can be reached at 512.463.9200.
Try the Texas Film Commission if you’d like information on listing a crew call for a production. In addition, we run the Film Referral Program, which places our former interns on productions. If you have any questions about our internship
Other places to post or research crew include:
The Texas Film Commission is your best bet. We do not give out any contact information. There are no guarantees that you will be able to contact the talent working on various productions in Texas. If you are interested in contacting talent for business reasons, find out who their agents and/or managers are. Here are some other places to do research on talent contact info: