For young film enthusiasts, going to the movies can be somewhat of a financial burden. The Austin Film Society is looking to change that with the inception of the Ed Lowry Student Film Program. The program allows high school and undergraduate student society members to attend all of its regular screenings for free.
The idea for the program came about during SXSW when Louis Black, co-founder of the Austin Chronicle and board member of the Austin Film Society, honored the late Ed Lowry in a speech. Black spoke of how Lowry led him to pursue film through a previous UT program, CinemaTexas. The program made screenings affordable and accessible to students.
According to Holly Herrick, associate artistic director for the Austin Film Society, it was this speech that sparked the interest in bringing back something similar to CinemaTexas.
“After hearing [the speech], we thought this is the perfect opportunity to recreate a program to inspire students in a way much like [Lowry] did for [Black],” Herrick said. “The goal is to create an opportunity for passionate students and give them this through an Austin Film Society exhibition.”
Students have to show proof of enrollment and be current members of the Austin Film Society in order to participate. Radio-television-film senior David Roberts was previously a member of the Austin Film Society, but is no longer active because of the financial commitment. He said the institution of the program might encourage him to join again.
“If [the screenings had been] free, I could have gotten much more out of it,” Roberts said. “The great thing with this program is that people our age don’t have to be wealthy and don’t have to be part of some elite group to watch the old movies.”
Herrick said the program is devoted to shaping the next generation of filmmakers by giving them the opportunity to see nearly 250 screenings per year and participate in Austin’s film culture. She hopes the program will inspire students to continue to seek out and create great films.
“We want the next generation to have rich cinematic base,” Herrick said. “[The program] will show them the power of the theatrical environment and hopefully inspire students to pursue cinema, if not as a career, as a lifelong love.”