Jun 14, 2015

Austin Television Festival–a TV Fan’s Heaven?

by Raina

in Television


My husband and I have a habit of getting into things as they’re just about to go off the rails. We’re like the Ted McGinley of festival-goers.

In 2008, we went to Comic-Con in San Diego, mostly for the writing, television, and film sessions, less for the comic books (comics?). I know, we’re part of the problem. After that, Comic-Con was further taken over by even more hoards of people and studios touting their latest blockbuster. It was supposed to be the people’s con, yo. We tried to go the next year, but it was impossible to find a hotel nearby, and truthfully I’m not sure I could have handled the fly-by groping that is the main exhibit hall.

This year, we decided to do it on a smaller scale and head to Austin, in early June, mind you, for the fourth annual Austin Television Festival. Our friend lives in Austin and had gone the previous year and loved it. We didn’t know it when we registered almost a year ago, but this year’s marquee event was to be the 15th reunion of Gilmore Girls. I DIED. It was kismet. I had just used my last unused credit card for a free Netflix trial and realized that GG had just been added. Commence the glorious binging and constant exclaiming, “I love this show. I want to live there.”

I grinned like a little girl throughout the panel, which made the entire hot and sweaty trip worth it. Each badgeholder was allowed three passes that would guarantee their seat in the panels of their choice. If I hadn’t had one for Gilmore Girls, I wouldn’t have gotten in. I also could have sold that pass for several hundred dollars. Plenty of people without passes didn’t get into the panel, despite lining up HOURS beforehand and standing in the heat (I don’t do geography, but it certainly felt as if Austin was closer to the sun). At least two people required medical attention from heat issues. Yes, this was the first year that the festival sold out. Our friend said that she was able to get into all the panels she wanted to the previous year by getting into line about 30 minutes out. Well, even with an hour waiting in line, I missed out on two panels: Bunheads and Drunk History. LIFE OVER.

Yes, we are the harbingers of crappy festival experiences.

What else can you discuss while in line except the situation at hand. It’s 2015. I know no one’s on hover boards or using transparent smart phones (are they?), but in instances where you know the ultimate capacity of a venue, why not hand out numbers for those seats and not have people waste their time dehydrating? Or getting Teva tans, which I actually wear with pride. Mostly because I’m real pale. Like a ghost.

That said, I think the management learned a great deal about how to manage a growing festival. But I think we’re in the “been there, done that” mindset where 2016 is concerned. Other highlights from this year:

  • Accidentally getting into the Industry Lounge and having buffet-style lunch next to actors Stacey Oristano, (Mindy in Friday Night Lights and Truly in Bunheads) and Kristian Bruun (Donnie in Orphan Black). “Um, yes, I belong here. Eat fast. Look busy. Fake tweets. Rabble Rabble. Where’s my cappuccino with one ice cube?”
  • Our Airbnb rental just down the street from all of the venues (and steps from an X-Games dirt ramp).
  • Seeing the Friday Night Lights’ Panthers Fieldhouse next to the airport Quality Inn after our flight was canceled. Surrounded by barbed wire and weeds, it WAS kind of sad, though. I really wanted to climb the fence but apparently my threshold for risk is low, i.e., spider webs were on the fence!
  • Almost running into Todd Lowe (Terry from Trueblood and Lane’s husband Zack in Gilmore Girls) as he walked across the street.
  • Watching the Dawson’s Creek script reading of the pilot with Mae Whitman as Dawson and some guy from Suits as Joey. I love Ms. Whitman.
  • Going to the original Whole Foods. Food, glorious food.
  • From my perch 5 people from the entrance to the theater, seeing Kelly Bishop, Sutton Foster, and my good friend Stacey Oristano as they entered the panel for Bunheads:



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