Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Undergraduate Student Screenwriting Festival builds RTF community

Julieta Cruz

As Helene Bechtel recalled stories her dad would tell her growing up, she found the picture painted through the oral stories shaped her conception of storytelling and influenced her pursuit of screenwriting. Now in her second year as a radio-television-film graduate student, Bechtel worked alongside the RTF department to guide aspiring storytellers. 

This past weekend, students gathered at the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center for UT’s third Annual Undergraduate Student Screenwriting Festival. The festival, organized by RTF faculty and graduate students, took place from Feb. 23 to 24 with the goal of connecting current and potential RTF students to the craft of screenwriting.   

“If you think, ‘I’m kind of interested in screenwriting, but I don’t really know what that means,’ (The event is) a big, broad, fun overview of screenwriting,” Cindy McCreery, RTF Interim Chair and professor, said. “It’s been a really fun way for students to meet other students who are interested in screenwriting.

The event kicked off on Friday with a mixer and an informal lecture for students to meet the faculty and other students. On Saturday, attendees participated in workshops that outlined the process of developing a script and collaborated on their own ideas for a TV show.  

“Our idea for the workshops was to focus on TV because that’s where screenwriting and collaboration really shines,” Bechtel said. “So, you write the script, but there are so many different people that add their creativity to the original words on the page. … That idea of collaboration is beautiful.”

Isabella Brodt, a second-year RTF graduate student, said she appreciated watching the students’ creativity progress as they worked on a story centered around a coroner investigating a mysterious plague with a possible supernatural element. As the day progressed, and creative freedom blossomed, Brodt said the plot developed into a solely supernatural story about vampires.

“It was nice to see them escape what they think would be a good show and just go into what they want to make,” Brodt said. “I think the most important thing is writing what you love instead of writing what people expect.”

Brodt said she hopes the opportunity to collaborate on this project fostered new relationships within the department, noting the importance of creating strong connections in the film industry. 

“Film is such a difficult industry to break into, and it’s so elusive,” Brodt said. “The people that you meet while you’re studying are the people who are going to be trying to get into the industry at the same time as you. … If you’re able to make a really strong community as you’re starting out, people are going to remember that, and when they get opportunities, they’re going to want to bring you on as well.” 

Bechtel said she hopes students left this festival with a deeper understanding of how to create a script and appreciate the writing part of the filmmaking process. 

“There couldn’t be a film without a script. … Once you find the story, everything is in service of that story,” Bechtel said. “(I hope) to get students thinking that way about stories and not just (about) cinematography or directing. … Even if they don’t find a passion in writing, it’s just understanding the story is the most important thing.”

More to Discover