August 20, 2014

The Austin Chronicle joins OWA as a Sponsor
Other Worlds Austin is proud to announce that The Austin Chronicle has come on board as a sponsor for the festival. The Chronicle is the premiere weekly newspaper in Austin and the go-to publication for everything entertainment. The Chronicle has already been a big supporter, having covered the festival’s announcement and our first two screenings. We are excited by this new partnership and look forward to seeing many Austin Chronicle readers at Other Worlds Austin in December.

Some OWA-related articles on The Austin Chronicle website, with a shout-out to The Chronicle's self proclaimed token Englishman, Richard Whittaker:

If you or your awesome company would like to sponsor Other Worlds Austin for our inaugural festival, contact Director of Marketing and Development, Don Elfant,

Meet Dan Repp - Programmer and 
Events Coordinator

Where are you from and what brought you to Austin?

I grew up in St. Louis and came to San Antonio when I was 17 because my father was transferred. I moved to Austin after graduating from the film department at UNT with dreams of starting a screenwriting career here.

Is there a particular film that got you hooked on movies?

I have always been a sucker for horror and SciFi, but I think it was all of the amazing coming-of-age films from the 80's that got me hooked. “The Goonies” and “Stand by Me” helped define my childhood. They made me want to go on adventures and value my friendships. I really like how the main characters in both of the films deal with real problems and react realistically to these problems. I think a lot of the coming-of-age films that have been released since then gloss over reality and underestimate how smart kids can be. 

What’s the first SciFi film you remember seeing? What kind of impact did it have on you?

“A New Hope”, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi.” I was a child of the 80's. If these films were not made, I would be a different person today.

Do you have any SciFi pet peeves?

I get annoyed when Scifi films take up most of their runtime with exposition about the science of the film and then spend little time developing interesting characters. “Back to the Future” is the greatest time travel movie ever because of its character development and emotionally driven plot. The science of the film is explained, but in a comedic way. I like being challenged by a film, but I don't want a headache from trying to sort everything out. 


What do you consider to be the Golden Age of SciFi?

If you could not already tell by my previous answers -- the late 70's to the late 80's. “Alien,” “Back to the Future,” “Star Wars,” “The Last Starfighter,” “Terminator,” E.T.,” and the list goes on and on. 

What do you like about being a programmer OWA?

I'm really excited about being on the ground floor and looking ahead to what this festival could grow into. I think Bears Fonte has put together a strong team and has created a foundation for a festival that will be around for years to come. I also love meeting filmmakers from around the world and helping them to share their films with Austin.

Read the rest of Dan’s profile →

SciFi vs. Horror vs. Fantasy vs. RomCom 
(the true fantasy…)
by BEARS FONTE — Our need to classify things is a fundamental trait of human development.  Ever since scrolls were first written, people began dividing groups of things into smaller groups of things.  There is even a science for it, Taxonomy, the science of classification.  Aristotle began this process with literature, dividing theatrical work into Drama and Comedy in Poetics, as well as discussing lyric poetry, epic poetry, and the satyr play.  Even at that earliest stage, Aristotle had to admit that dramas often have comic elements, and the reverse.  Genres hardly break down along set-in-stone lines-of-demarcation, and science fiction is the worst violator.  Because Science Fiction often has to do with context of a situation, or a fundamental plot point, SciFi works can be horror films, they can be comedies, they can even be murky indie mumblecore films. 

Personally, I don’t find genres very helpful to discuss films.  For years, people have been trying to pin down exactly what SciFi is (I wrote a blog about it).  As a writer, my mind has been trained to classify story along more useful strata.  Blake Snyder (my structure hero) breaks down plot into things like ‘monster in a house’ or ‘buddy love’ or ‘the golden fleece.’  This explains how Star Wars has actually more in common with The Seven Samurai than Event Horizon, yet both are classified as Science Fiction.  In fact, Event Horizon is a lot more similar to Apocalypse Now than Star Wars.  (By the way, I LOVE Event Horizon.) 
And yet critics and Hollywood continue to cram genre conventions in our face.  This summer’s EDGE OF TOMMORROW, clearly Tom Cruise in GRONDHOG DAY with guns, though both are ‘dude with a problem’ films and last spring’s DIVERGENT, though clearly a dystopian SciFi setting, is really just a rewrite of the Harry Potter franchise, both Rites of Passage stories.  So with genre a mutable classification, I’ve started to visualize SciFi and similar genres more like venn diagrams – you remember from grade school those two circles that overlap?  There are a lot of films that fall under the major science fiction guideposts (aliens, robots, time travel, etc.).  What makes a film really SciFi rather than a movie that just happens to have a gun-toting raccoon alien?  Let’s look at the intersection of a few genres.

SCIFI and HORROR.  This is the most common one, the classic example being Ridley Scott’s amazing ALIEN, a film that is far more frightening minute-for-minute than THE EXCORCIST.  ALIEN has several obvious science fiction elements, including space travel (they are on a space ship run by a mining company) and, well, an alien.  There is also a major character (sorry, spoiler alert) that turns out to be an android.  However, the plot is pretty standard horror when broken down: a group of people go somewhere they shouldn’t and mess with something they shouldn’t, which then puts their life in peril.  Even better, they are trapped somewhere they cannot escape (the spaceship) and so they must face the evil they’ve unleashed or die.  

Often Zombie films are both SciFi and horror films.  Almost all of them include a post-apocalyptic setting where society has broken down (due to the influx of zombies).  More and more zombie films emphasize the cause of the outbreak, which is usually some disease gone-bad, often of our own devising, and the quest to undo the damage (think I AM LEGEND or WORLD WAR Z).  Other zombies end up just being monsters chasing people around (like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD or THE EVIL DEAD) – I don’t consider those films SciFi, just horror.  On television, The Walking Dead has made Zombies big business.  I consider the Robert Kirkman/Frank Darabont series SciFi because most of the story arc actually comes from the new society the lead characters are trying to build in the midst of a post-apocalyptic landscape.  The conflict comes  more often from facing off with other bands of survivors than the actual ‘Dead’ (much like MAD MAX with zombies).  By contrast, American Horror Story, is purely horror.  Even in the second season, when there was clearly (spoiler) alien abduction and alien scientific inquiry, these are merely small plot points that play into a storyline of terror and escape.  
Also on
It All Sounds Familiar: A Look at Sound in SciFi
The Curse of the Found Footage Gimmick
The SciFi TIMELINE: Part One
Blog by COURTNEY HAZLETT — "What if Darth Vadar's deep breath sound were replaced with a kitten purr? This is what made me realize why I have always loved science fiction. It places real power in the hands of off-screen talent."
Blog by DAN REPP — "The problem with the success of The Blair Witch Project is that it was a gimmick. It’s not about telling a story, it’s about challenging the audience to continue to watch.” 
Blog by BEARS FONTE — “Despite always looking to the future, SciFi has a long and detailed past.  While not comprehensive, I’ve tried to compile a list of the most important and influential works ...."
Inaugural OTHER WORLDS AUSTIN SciFi Film Festival
---------------December 4-6, 2014-----------------

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