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I'm thinking of attending one of these conferences this fall, but can't do both. Anybody have any strong preference between the two? Which do you think is more valuable?
I think it's Austin by a long shot. All the guests hang around for the parties and conference. All the names you see on their list - you don't just hear them speak, you can chat with them over beers. I don't have much time to write more, but Austin is my pick.
I went to the Expo last year and thought there were some good panels and interviews. It was certainly worth the entry fee. But if you're not based in LA or don't have a free place to stay there I'm not certain I'd pay airfare and hotel costs to go. (Just my two cents.)
I'm always trying to talk people into going to Austin, which I think is amazing and really worth the money.
I got to go to Expo last year as the result of a contest and although it was free it was a bit of a letdown. I didn't try the pitchfest though which might be better than Austin. It was really big and crowded.
I think if you advance in the Austin contest you get a free pass to the festival, right? Here's hoping for one of those magic phone calls!
The further you advance, the more they knock off the price.
Having only been at various Expos for a few hours total beyond the time it took to arrive, appear on a panel or for a presentation and then depart, I may not have the same reaction as a multi-day attendee. That said, the Expo always seemed like a high-end Walmart - loads of panels, including some great ones, but not much in the way of character. Ausin, which I have attended for multiple days every year, seems more like a wonderful small department store. A fair amount of variety, though far less than the Expo, but far more wonderful events and opportunites.
With the Expo, there didn't seem to be much opportunity for routine interaction between panelists and attendees. In Austin, you're mostly trapped in the same hotels and walk the same corridors and have beers at the same bar.
Two quick Austin stories: the second year I was meeting some internet friends for the first time prior to the conference opening. Into our midst stepped a tall, younger man, who sat down and introduced himself and then joined us for lunch. It was Shane Black. Last year at about two am a half-dozen or so people parked themselves in the Driskill lobby and started talking mostly about the life of a screenwriter. Heather was there, and eventually so were Terry Rossio, Shane Black, several other pros and a group of maybe 18 people. The conversation continued until four or so.
It's these sorts of happenstance outside scheduled events that make Austin wonderful. I just don't think there are similar opportunities at the Expo (but the Expo does have far more panels and topics).
The evening Greg described was amazing and so typical of the type of things that happen at the conference.
There are so many great stories from Austin. Last year I hung out with a guy for most of the week named Danny. His name tag didn't have a screenplay title on it, and I felt a little sorry for him since I assumed he had entered but hadn't advanced in the competition. I thought to myself, what a great guy - too bad he didn't have any success this year, but if he just keeps trying, maybe he'll have better luck another year.
We were so busy with all the events that we didn't get around to talking about our writing for a few days. When I asked him what kind of things he wrote, he said comedy. When we talked a little bit more, he mentioned that he'd had some success with a film he wrote called "Groundhog Day"
Just another Austin experience.
Such great Austin stories! I'm really getting excited about attending and looking forward to meeting some of you there. Sounds like a real party! :)
Austin- agreed. Having been to both, I'd have to say AFF all the way. You meet a much higher caliber of peers. Most of the other writers I met at Expo had never finished a script, and had VERY STUPID questions for the speakers. One attendee had a teddybear on a fishing pole (he was pitching that day?). The whacko factor is high at Expo. :)
Damn! I had already packed my teddy bear and fishing pole for Austin. I'll think of something else.
Irin....a ping pong paddle and hip waders. But if we show up wearing the same thing, this could be really embarrasing.
Damn. Back to the drawing board again.
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