Interview with the Minds Behind ATX: Caitlin and Emily

Photo taken by Annie Ray

Caitlin and Emily, Texan natives, have been a part of the entertainment industry for over a decade. Both avid television watchers, especially ‘Friday Night Lights’, they decided to embark on a journey of creating a new kind of festival. Together, with their knowledge of the industry and previous festivals they attended, they created ATX! A television festival whose “focus is on the celebration of the medium: looking back at its history, where it is now, and where it is headed.” Read our interview with Caitlin and Emily below.

How did ATX come to be a festival?

Caitlin:  “The Festival planning started a little over a year ago, and was born out of us working in the industry for the better part of a decade. In the last couple of years, I got to work on both the film and festival side of film festivals and truly fell in love with the festival experience. I first tried to find a television festival to go work for and found there weren’t any.  There’s ComicCon and PaleyFest for specialty festivals that spotlight television, but not that outlet that film or music have, where you go for a weekend or week and celebrate the medium.

Emily: “After approaching mentors and colleagues, studios and networks, we honed the idea to what it is today.  Ultimately, a celebration of television.  We want this festival to be an event where everyone, both fans and industry, could talk about their favorite shows the same way you would in your living room with your friends. We want to create that type of environment.”

What goes into planning ATX?

Emily: “It’s been quite the adventure. When we first started figuring out exactly how we wanted it to run and what shows we wanted to use, and approached connections we already had established. We originally had 50 shows we wanted to use, but then started dwindling it down to what makes sense and what could be represented best. Once we had that framework we started looking at other festivals that we’d both gone to and started planning what the perfect schedule would look like. ATX formed through that process.”

Describe a typical day in life for Caitlin and Emily?

Caitlin: “There is no typical day. It’s changed a lot over the last year. In the beginning it was a lot of theory talk. “Would you come to this?” “Would you sponsor us?”  Now as the festival nears, every day we are glued to our computers or phones. We have a team. Our great publicists and our amazing coordinators and venues, but when it comes down to it, it is really us making the decisions of what is going to be a part of this festival.”

Why did you choose Austin to be the home of ATX?

Caitlin: “As a festival goer most festivals thrive in a destination. New York has Tribeca, and they do it beautifully. Over all, industry professionals want to go somewhere. We’re both from Texas, and Austin is no stranger to festivals. There is one here every weekend. The city itself knows how to handle it, and the people who live in Austin know what to expect from a festival.

Emily: “It is also approximately half way between LA and NY.  That seemed like a great way to market it. We also wanted to build the idea that there’s television production in Austin. ‘The Lying Games’ is filmed in Austin. ‘Friday Night Lights’ was filmed here. The film commissions are great both on the city and state levels. There’s a lot of opportunity to build the overall television community here – which is our long term goal.”

Big FNL fans?

Caitlin and Emily: “Yes! Huge FNL fans! The fact that it was filmed in Austin just makes it even better for us. We are most excited to see Jason Katims!”

How did you get involved with Kickstarter?

Emily: “A bunch of our friends have done short films through Kickstarter, so that’s how we first heard of it. We talked about doing it at the beginning and weren’t sure if that was the route we wanted to take. But, the fact that a festival is such a community experience, we wanted to get people excited and involved from day one.”

Caitlin: “Then when industry guests who were already coming like Jane Espenson agreed to make Kickstarter videos for us, it just built up the community before the festival even started. Most of our backers are coming and are so excited. They already feel like a family in way. It grew beyond what we could have imagined.”

Did you expect the support?

Caitlin: “You hope for it, but that has been one of the nicest surprises and biggest gifts really. The people coming are just as excited as we are. They want to hang out in Austin and with each other. The people in the industry are willing to just come, because they don’t get this outlet. Unless you’re a fantasy creator you don’t have this outlet to meet your fans, to hang out with each other, to talk about the medium you love. We didn’t expect the support, but it has made all the difference. Actors and writers have given us ideas like “we could this panel or we could invite this person.””

Describe the ATX schedule?

Emily: “For the first year we are containing it as much as possible. We will have opening night-Friday. But the majority of ATX will be screenings and panels running from about 10 am – 4pm both Saturday and Sunday. You will have to choose between the ones you want to see, and prioritize as an attendee. Saturday night is our big ‘Friday Night Lights’ community event – free to the public, live music, cast/crew in attendance, A LOT of fun.”

End goal for ATX?

Caitlin and Emily: “ATX will be an annual festival. Then we will move towards year round programming. Stay tuned”

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