OWA Profile: Courtney Hazlett, Programmer and Hospitality Director

Where are you from and what brought you to Austin?

I grew up in Dallas, specifically Oak Cliff. But the school I attended from 1st-12th grade was in the heart of downtown Dallas so I claim that too. I moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas—majored in Music (Piano) with a concentration in Electronic Music & Music for Film and minored in Radio, Television, Film. After graduation, I decided to stay in town because I honestly love this city!

You have a background in sound design, what has that been like?

I have always been attracted to sound, albeit my first adoration of sound in film was more musically inclined. My electronic music classes at UT inadvertently started my road towards cinematic sound design. We were given creative freedom in our class projects to record, manipulate, and create brand new sounds turning them into unique works of art. But I really fell in love with sound design as it relates to film when I took a "music for film" class in which we got to work with sound effects in connection with visual cues. The power in which sound affects a scene is overwhelming and I enjoy having a hand in that process. Sometimes sound design can appear tedious, e.g. precisely placing appropriately manipulated sounds of someone's footsteps, but I get lost in and take delight in those moments. 

What’s the 48 Hour Film Project and how have you been involved?

The 48 Hour Film Project is a crazy, semi-stressful, yet completely fun annual film competition. They are held all over the nation and are exactly what the title implies—a contest in which you only have two days to write, shoot, and edit a short film. I have participated in the 48HFP for the past few years and love it! I don't get any sleep during these weekends seeing that I wear multiple hats during production and I do all the editing/post. However, in the end, my team and I are proud of our accomplishment and find the sleeplessness is worth the memories!

What appeals to you most about science fiction?

I enjoy science fiction because it is a genre that utilizes ultimate imagination. It is a dive into unknown yet somehow familiar worlds. Plus, as a lover of sound, what a fun genre to work with! There truly are no limits when it comes to science fiction.

Did any particular film or TV show have an early influence on you?

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman are a couple of my greatest inspirations. My parents bought the VHS of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" when I was around 7 or 8 and watched it so many times the tape turned white. I love TNBC so much! The stop-motion animation fascinated me as a kid. And talk about the beautiful music and songs! We even named one of our dogs after Jack Skellington's dog Zero. It really is one of my first cinematic loves and remains on my top favorite movies ever!

What do you consider to be the Golden Age of sci-fi?

Good question! I think one of the most exciting times for science fiction cinema has to be in its inaugural decades, the 20s-40s. Prior to this era, most SciFi was encountered via books and stories—don't get me wrong, I love reading and I love using my imagination. However, put yourself in that time period: you go to a movie and you see a world come to life in front of you! And per science fiction, this is a world that could potentially exist. In this time period, you could actually think you are looking into the future. Plus, it is the era of H.G. Wells' literary work brought to screen. I think it would have been a fun time period to indulge in SciFi. 

What’s your experience with film festivals?

I'm actually late to the scene when it comes to being a true attendee of a film festival. In college I would see a random late night film during SXSW, but I was more interested in the music side. I really discovered my passion for film festivals when my friend asked me a few years ago to apply to be a screener for Austin Film Festival. I loved the behind-the-scenes view of how a film festival ran. And I realized the true joy of film festivals in that you get to celebrate filmmakers and stories found within films that otherwise might not get screen time. And that's why I am excited to be a part of OWA! But that leads into the next question...

What do you like about being a programmer and Director of Hospitality for OWA?

I really love film festivals because it gives filmmakers an outlet to share their art. And that's what I enjoy about being a programmer for OWA. I get to watch all of these wonderful films created by talented people and help put together the best festival possible with my fellow programmers! As for being the Hospitality Director, I really do love people and talking to people and learning from people. And if I could in any way help make your day better, I will certainly try! I look forward to hopefully meeting each of you festival attendees and filmmakers in December!

What do you like to do when you’re not watching films?

I try to find a good balance and make sure to carve out time for important things like family, friends, reading (currently in the middle of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series), participating in awesome Austin activities, etc. But honestly, I love television. More time than I would like to admit is spent watching my shows. I have so many that I love to watch I do not know how I keep on top of all of them! (e.g. “Doctor Who,” “Sherlock,” “Game of Thrones,” “Adventure Time,” “American Horror Story,” “Bob's Burgers,” “Biggest Loser,” pretty much anything on ABC Family, etc... not to mention Netflix shows!) 

Is there anything else people should know about you?

I feel like I have pretty much expounded on what sums up me except for... my love of football. Being a sports fan in general has been ingrained in me since birth. My great-grandmother was the biggest San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Cowboys fan you would ever meet. And any time you go to my grandparent's house it's all sports all the time! Growing up in Dallas, I am, of course, a Cowboys fan and always will be despite some serious heartache every now and then. But my deepest love is college football—particularly UT football. You can find me at every home game with my brother in our seats an hour early because as I was taught: Come Early, Be Loud, Stay Late, and Wear Orange.

© 2014 OWA SciFi Film Fest, LLC