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Announcements from the Austin Film Society

Evan Smith
Evan Smith (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The Austin Film Society has plenty of news to share this week. Here's what we know so far.

First up, applications are now being accepted for the 2014 AFS Grant cycle. Texas filmmakers seeking funding assistance for production, distribution, or anything in between should submit their apps by June 2. Last year's winners included filmmakers whose projects went on to premiere at South by Southwest, Sundance Film Festival, and elsewhere. Kat Candler (Hellion), the Zellner Bros., John Fiege (Above All Else), and the rest took home some $90,000 in production and distribution funds, $10,000 in travel grants, and $16,000 in goods and services.

In toto, AFS Grants (formerly known as the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund) has given over $1.5 million to almost 400 projects. For more information on applying, consider attending a grant workshop; they're being held soon in Austin, Houston, DFW, and San Antonio.

Yesterday morning, AFS made another exciting announcement: two new names for the AFS Board, and three more for the AFS Advisory Board. Sam Decker, founder of Mass Relevance and former chief marketing officer at Bazaarvoice, is intimately acquainted with branding, media, marketing, and more. He and Nicolas Gonda, the founder of Tugg Inc., join the AFS Board of Directors in order to "provide valuable insight and expertise in the online and social media marketplace supporting AFS's mission," according to a press release.

Meanwhile, joining the AFS Advisory Board will be Michael Barker, co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics; Tom Borders, of Borders Books fame and who is the former chair of the Harry Ransom Center Advisory Council; and Evan Smith, editor in chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune, who formerly served on the AFS board from 1999 to 2010.

And last but decidedly not least, AFS has just announced that it's partnering with the Sundance Institute as part of its Artist Services program, "consulting with the Institute to help shape the program and extending its self-distribution offerings to filmmakers supported by AFS," according to a press release. The Institute works with its partner nonprofits (of which there are now seven), filmmakers, and Cinedigm to develop appropriate distribution strategies.

“The ability for filmmakers to find solutions within reach for creative distribution has been a missing part of our ecosystem, and we view this program as a breakthrough for our independent filmmaker community," said Associate Artistic Director Holly Herrick in a press release. The breakthrough begins in part May 10, when AFS will host a Sundance Institute Artist Services workshop. All are welcome; learn more at the AFS website.

Congratulations to the Society on the great new contributors to its ranks and Sundance partnership, and best of luck to the filmmakers applying for grants. Stay tuned for more soon.

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Austin Film Society, AFS Grants, Nicolas Gonda, Tugg, Evan Smith, Texas Tribune, Michael Barker, Tom Borders, Sam Decker

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