Austin Film Festival & Writers Conference (AFF), the premier film festival recognizing the writers’ contributions to film, television, and new media, announced today the launch of their diversity & inclusion module known as the Uplifting Storytellers Initiative as well as the inaugural Blackmagic Collective Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship Award.  This initiative is designed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the entertainment industry by defining and executing skill-based, as well as career focused enrichment programs through the bevy of AFF’s competitions, Conference, and more.  The organization is focusing on actionable steps towards sustainable change, in an effort to support calls for increased representation across underrepresented communities. This includes a multifaceted approach including but not limited to increasing targeted fellowship opportunities within its Film and Script Competitions, and panel participation through year-round events and the Writers Conference.  AFF will also expand upon their Digital Storytelling Education Program into more schools across the local Austin and Texas area.

As part of the new initiative, the Festival also announced a vaunted Advisory Committee which will provide reinforcement to the initiative’s goals and direction as needed. Members of the committee includes the following industry heavyweights:


●       VJ Boyd (co-creator, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For The Bone Collector; writer/producer S.W.A.T, Justified, The Player, Justified: City Primeval)

●       Wendy Calhoun (Peabody Award Winner; writer/producer Empire, Prodigal Son, Station 19, Nashville, Revenge, Justified)

●       Noah Hawley (writer/producer Fargo, Legion, Bones)

●       Chuck Hayward (Co-Ep Ted Lasso; writer/producer WandaVision, Flatbush Misdemeanors)

●       Ali LeRoi (director The Obituary of Tunde Johnson; producer/director Survivor’s Remorse; showrunner/co-creator Everybody Hates Chris)

●       Jenny Marchick (Head of Development – Features, Dreamworks Animation)

●       Rebecca Windsor (VP & Head of Warner Bros. Television Workshop)

“As a born and bred Texan, I’m thrilled to join the Austin Film Festival’s freshest curation of opportunities for storytellers from all walks of life,” said Calhoun. “This generous community fosters creativity and fortifies new voices with a unique Lone Star swagger. By keeping the effort inclusive, innovative, and unapologetically weird, I trust that blockbuster seeds will take root to nourish the next generation of boldly original writers.” said the Peabody Award winner.

Emmy Award nominee Chuck Hayward also added, “I’m most excited for Uplifting Storytellers to reach beyond the typical Hollywood feeder patterns to find new talent. Circumventing some of the traditional barriers of entry to the industry will give access to a wave of exciting new voices and perspectives.”

Meanwhile, the brand new Blackmagic Collective (BMC) Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship Award is a stunning realization of the initiative’s goals.  Through this dynamic partnership, the winner of the award is invited to AFF in the of Fall 2022, and will receive a Blackmagic Design Pocket 6K Pro, guaranteed screening slot at the BMC Film Festival in Los Angeles, and a guaranteed seat in the Fellowship running from January 2023 – November 2023.  Furthermore, finalists (the top 10 films within the category) will receive exclusive automatic first look consideration for remaining Fellowship slots.  The Fellowship will be available to Narrative and Student Short entrants within AFF Film Competitions, and is specifically targeted at members of the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Female-Identifying, and Disabled communities.  All entrants of the Fellowship will be required to disclose information prior to entry.

“For 28 years, Austin Film Festival has inspired and championed the writer, giving recognition to creative voices from all walks of life. I am excited about the creation of AFF’s Uplifting Storytellers Initiative and Advisory Committee, as well as the inaugural Blackmagic Collective Emerging Filmmakers Fellowship Award. With our ongoing promise for increased representation across underrepresented communities, we welcome these initiatives to our long line of programs, fellowships, and awards that aim to bring sustained change within the entertainment industry.” said Barbara Morgan, Executive Director Austin Film Festival.

“The Blackmagic Collective mission is to help filmmakers, at all levels, gain the tools and contacts they need to succeed in the entertainment industry,” said Jenn Page, Executive Director of Blackmagic Collective. “Membership, as well as, all events, initiatives, and classes are always free to join, so there is no barrier to entry for any filmmaker. We are excited to partner with Austin Film Festival since they have a similar mission, to help spotlight filmmakers. Together, we will discover some of the most promising emerging filmmakers from this year’s submissions and join to support their careers with a year of mentorship and networking. Furthermore, we have officially launched our local Austin Blackmagic Collective chapter so we look forward to all the ways AFF & BMC can work together to help filmmakers all year long.”

The eight-day Festival & Conference returns to the Heart of Texas October 27th – November 3rd for its 29th edition.  For further information on the Uplifting Storytellers Initiative, visit

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