Interview: Alvaro Rodriguez, Regarding AFF: ON STORY, The Book

Emmy-Winning Television Series in New Book, “On Story – Screenwriters and Filmmakers on Their Iconic Films”

By Liz Lopez

The recently released book, “On Story – Screenwriters and Filmmakers on Their Iconic Films” is co-edited by Austin Film Festival (AFF) Co-founder and Executive Director Barbara Morgan and Maya Perez, producer of the Emmy-winning PBS series Austin Film Festival’s “On-Story,” with a foreword written by James Franco. In 2012, Barbara and Maya assembled transcripts from the archives of over 20 years of AFF. Their goal was to make these fascinating and insightful film discussions available to a larger audience than the festival’s attendees.

The panels and post-film-screening Q&As include renowned, award-winning screenwriters and filmmakers discussing their careers and the stories behind the production of their iconic films. In their own lively words transcribed from interviews and panel discussions, Ron Howard, Callie Khouri, Jonathan Demme, Ted Tally, Jenny Lumet, Harold Ramis, and others talk about creating stories that resonate with one’s life experiences or topical social issues, as well as how to create appealing characters and bring them to life. Their insights, production tales, and fresh, practical, and proven advice make this book ideal for film lovers, screenwriting students, and filmmakers and screenwriters seeking inspiration.

Austin Film Festival is dedicated to furthering the art, craft, and business of filmmakers and screenwriters, and recognizing their contributions to film, television, and new media. A natural progression of the AFF mission, The On Story Project consists of a variety of entertaining and informative programs presented in different media platforms to give viewers an inside look at the creative process behind some of the most popular and critically acclaimed films and television shows.

During the Austin Film Festival, I briefly saw and said hello to screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez (“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” “Machete,” On Story (TV Series),”The Hangman’s Daughter”). Shortly after the fest, I recently interviewed him about the book “On Story – Screenwriters and Filmmakers on Their Iconic Films.”

Alvaro Rodriguez
Alvaro Rodriguez

EL: You are a frequent panelist/presenter at AFF and in this new book there are at least two conversations with fellow filmmakers that you moderated. How did you get involved with AFF and take on these roles?

AR – It was the AFF 2009 and I bought a badge to the festival. Then in 2010, I was invited for “Machete” to the festival – to be a panelist and (subsequently) have been invited every year.

EL – How are you involved in the process for the book to come about?

AR- There is a couple of panels in the book. The one with Ted Tally is one that I always thought would be in the book. It has become part of the podcasts. I was not a part of selecting or an editor.

EL – What does it mean to you to be a part of the book?

AR – It’s great! I have been involved as a pitchman for AFF – I didn’t know about it (before). I was totally unaware of the Writer’s Festival. I tried to be the pitchman. The book is a great intro for people who haven’t been (to the fest) before and it is an essential part. It is a writer – centric fest that brings writers together of all levels of experience. It is a very conversational experience and exchange of information. Keep asking questions; it is very important to keep asking questions.  That dialogue helps for either professional or beginning writers.

EL – I felt different attending AFF this year, can’t put my finger on it, but it felt more inspiring to me about writing. Do you have any thoughts on this?

AR – Yes, every year I get this – an empowerment type of thing for me and others. There is a sense of possibility and we learned more than we know. A renewal….a what if, for whatever projects you are working on. There is a magic at AFF – to encourage ourselves that it is doable. There is no magic formula – keep hunting.

Q – If you can make a simple one line pitch for this, like an elevator pitch, what would it be?

AR – The festival is where there are no velvet ropes to separate you from the panelists, writers, etc. – no separation to keep you from asking questions you want to, whether at a panel, the Driskill, etc.  There are so many opportunities to connect; it is very open and exciting. That is the magic of the festival.

Q – And a pitch for the book – why people should have it?

AR – The book is a really strong example of what the festival is. Diversity – with a one on one of a writer’s experience; then there are multi – panelists with a diversity of voices of one genre, or a show, etc.  You kinda get the best of all worlds in the book.

“On Story – Screenwriters and Filmmakers on Their Iconic Films” was published in time for the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival. For anyone who did not attend the festival, the book can be ordered here:

(AFF) Co-founder and Executive Director Barbara Morgan and Maya Perez, producer of the Emmy-winning PBS series Austin Film Festival’s “On-Story,” will both be participating in the Texas Book Festival this coming weekend, November 5th and 6th. On Story is scheduled for Sunday, November 6 at the Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.016 from 11am – 12 noon.

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