Last year, we were kindly asked by Barbara Morgan, the inestimable executive director of the incomparable Austin Film Festival to write a letter of support to help secure a grant from the city of Austin. We were more than happy to oblige! The Austin Film Festival provides unmatched opportunities for writers to make connections in the film industry…and any success we've had so far is largely due to the AFF.
Apparently the letter wasn't half bad, as a condensed version of that letter was reprinted for a mass email newsletter by the AFF. 😉
Sadly, due to space constraints they had to condense it down to a single story about our chance encounter with one of the most powerful individuals in Hollywood, and were forced to edit out much of our heartfelt endorsements and bizarre humor (some of the letter's best features!)
Now — for the first time ever — we present the FULL, UNEDITED masterpiece in all its glory! Prepare to chortle with mirth and weep with passion…and schedule your trip to next year's Austin Film Festival!!
April 28, 2010
City of Austin Review Panel
c/o Barbara Morgan
Austin Film Festival
1801 Salina St.
Austin, TX 78702
Dear Erudite Supporters of the Arts:
Picture the scene: a party so crammed with people that individual identities are in serious peril of smearing together. Next to us, a filmmaker-type (wearing the official vestments of jeans and a black t-shirt under a dark blazer) is sharing his secret theory of networking which involves acting like you don’t give a crap about other people. Perhaps we should be taking his advice, but instead we keep politely interacting with him – because we have our own crazy networking theory about respecting everyone as a human being. Yeah, it’s nuts.
Suddenly, a guy casually saunters up to us (we’re not exactly certain how – perhaps via some means of quantum tunneling), also bedecked in filmmaker garb. He utters some sort of casual greeting as if he already knew us—possibly “Hey guys, what’s up?” Almost as if he knew us…but we’d never met the guy. Still, something familiar about him…
…His eyebrows. We’ve seen those eyebrows before. In an interview with the makers of one of last year’s biggest and most critically-acclaimed mega-blockbusters. And he’s one of the big-time A-list writer/producers behind it!
(In an attempt to emulate some level of class, we’re gonna refrain from namedropping and keep his identity secret. But you could probably wring it out of us if you tried really hard.)
One of us says something lame and fanboyish, like “Hey! I saw you in an interview with the makers of
And that’s when we spot our opportunity: the black t-shirt under his dark blazer bears the legend, “I Love Conspiracy Theories.” So do we – indeed, the script we were shopping is about a ‘grand unified conspiracy theory’ that explains what’s really behind all of those conspiracies. He’s is interested, and writes down his email address for us.
So a couple of weeks ago, we get an email from him about our conspiracy script:
I just read it and really liked it. I am strategizing with my execs about it. Will be in touch soon.
Now, we’re probably supposed to act all cool like we don’t give a crap…but hell yeah, we give a crap! One of the most powerful names in Hollywood not only read our script, but likes it enough to “strategize with execs” about it! Sure, we have no freakin’ idea what that means…but it sure as hell sounds better than a generic “we hope you find a home for your project, and best of luck in your future endeavors”!
You’ve probably guessed that this meeting didn’t take place at a swanky party in Hollywood. This happened just last year at the Austin Film Festival’s closing night party.
And that, friends, is the point: the Austin Film Festival is the only place that talented, aspiring screenwriters need to go to break into Hollywood. We don’t even go to LA anymore – we’ve made more quality Hollywood industry contacts in Austin than we ever did in LA.
More importantly, the AFF is perhaps the only place that talented, aspiring screenwriters can go to break into Hollywood – without being relatives or friends of people already in the business…or grown in one of those top-secret studio facilities from vats of recycled goo. (That’s right, Hollywood! We know about the goo!)
This will be our fifth year of us going solidly into debt to pay for our stay at the incredible Driskill Hotel armed with our AFF Producer’s Badges. Every year we tell everyone we know that the Austin Film Festival is the single greatest gathering place of untapped talent, fascinating stories, and amazing (albeit unrecognized) writers on the planet. A screenwriting buddy of ours from Australia is scrambling to make the trip. A writer in the UK who we only know from online screenwriting boards is trying to gather the cash to make the trip out based on our say-so alone. And we couldn’t help but notice that a manager (formerly with one of the hottest management companies in Hollywood) who was a fan of our work and who we told, “if you want to find the best pool of talent and material in America, you need to go to the AFF,” is on this year’s guest list.
Surely by now you’re thinking, “Wow! The Austin Film Festival sounds vital to presenting Hollywood with the writers and stories that will give them half a chance to make movies that don’t make us want to gouge out our own eyes with hand spades and fling the mangled eyeball gore (and depending on the movie, maybe even a bit of frontal lobe tissue) at the screen! But what can I do to help??”
In all seriousness, you folks are in an enviable position. You actually have a chance to help elevate the culture of our country by supporting an endeavor that shines the light on talent that very likely would otherwise go unnoticed and unsung. The collective brilliance and passion of the writers that gather in Austin once a year for the AFF is one of our nations’ greatest artistic treasures (and plus, we’ll be there too), and we believe with all our hearts is potentially the greatest vanguard against the encroaching mediocrity and soul-strangling suckitude that always threatens to overwhelm the entertainment industry. We have to remember that true entertainment will always come from insights about our human condition and our human spirit—and such insights will not come from the glamour and posh of a single city on the southwest coast of California, but from the shared experiences of thoughtful, feeling, and expressive people throughout our country and around the globe.
So if you believe that LITE-BRITE: THE MOVIE might not be the best example of our civilization’s creative talents; if you dread seeing a trailer for SPACE MOUNTAIN (“It’s a roller-coaster of a movie! Literally!”); if you cower in sanity-smothering horror over the potential of a “reboot” of SCARECROW & MRS. KING as a tense sci-fi bromance…then you should do all that you can to support the Austin Film Festival.
There it is. The fate of the artistic integrity of America rests in your hands. There can be little doubt that, without the Austin Film Festival, humanity will descend into a nightmarish decadence wherein the sole forms of art will consist of scraping wallaby bones against chalkboard fragments and gnawing bars of soap into simulacra of Andy Dick (before which we will perform bizarre and shocking obeisances beneath a staring, idiotic moon), resulting in our ultimate devolution into bile-sucking banana slugs. Or something remarkably similar.
And hey—if a couple of zany guys like us can make a pretty good go of things at cracking into the business thanks to the AFF, just think what folks with actual talent could do!
Please support the Austin Film Festival! It’s money well spent—and you should all be very proud to have such a wonderful organization in your kick-ass city.
We could go on for dozens of pages more about how awesome the AFF and its staff are…so don’t make us!! Just give ‘em the money, dangit!
Eugene L. Langlais III & Paul R. Langlais
The Brothers Langlais
Writers of Intelligent Horror/Thriller Screenplays
(…and slightly less-intelligent letters of support)