C3 Presents

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

After she arrives at the small house on Salina Street and signs into the book dubbed the “Intern Bible,” public relations junior Hillary Hurst is ready to begin her day as an intern for the Austin Film Festival.

Since mid-August, Hurst has worked with a team of interns, board members and volunteers to organize the 21st annual Austin Film Festival, which will begin Oct. 23 and run through Oct. 30. It is the first film festival devoted to writers and filmmakers and celebrates the work of those behind the camera, through movie screenings at different theaters around the city and panels with writers, producers and directors from around the world. 

Working with the festival’s executive department, Hurst has completed research projects about funding, read scripts for the movies being presented and
ran errands. After working with C3 Presents, a larger event planning company, she said her first year with AFF has been an interesting change from a large company to a smaller one. 

“It was interesting going from C3 to a small nonprofit, where operations are out of a house,” Hurst said. “But since it is a small nonprofit, no one is divided, and everyone is warm and welcoming, which creates a really good environment.”

For radio-television-film sophomore Shelby Merritt, another AFF intern, the small house setting made her feel more welcomed.  

“In a way, I feel like it makes everyone working there closer,” she said. 

Students working with AFF read scripts, watch new films and experience what it takes to make a festival run.

“I get to do so many things — it isn’t really just one job,” Merritt said. “We get to meet people in the industry and experience running a festival firsthand. It’s exciting feeling the energy of it.”

Though AFF is a filmmaker’s festival, there are internship opportunities for a variety of departments that appeal to more than just film majors.

“They are so multifaceted, especially for interns, because they have a lot of different departments,” Hurst said. “And everybody is welcoming and nice; no one is snobby, and they don’t look down on you, which has been nice for me since it’s my first year.”

Elaine Holton, volunteer coordinator for AFF, said the interns are the driving force of the festival.

“I feel like we are the internship for RTF students,” Holton said. “You are completely immersed in the industry.”

This year’s festival will include a wide array of guests. Volunteer coordinator Elaine Holton is most excited for Jenny Lumet, granddaughter of Lena Horne and writer of “Rachel Getting Married,” while Hurst is most excited for the opportunity to talk to Matthew Weiner, who is the creator, executive producer, director and writer of the series “Mad Men.”

As the festival begins and attracts crowds to the movie screenings, panels and parties, the interns will continue their work to keep the operation running. 

For Hurst, this is the most exciting part of her internship.

“I’m really excited for the festival to start because I know they are going to debrief us about our duties and what we are supposed to do, but I feel like we are just going to get thrown into the middle of this chaotic awesomeness,” she said.

Audience members cheer for TV On The Radio Saturday afternoon at the Austin City Limits festival.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

Austin City Council approved the extension of ACL Aug. 16 after C3 Presents, the entertainment planning company that produces ACL, and the City of Austin finalized negotiations. The expansion will bring ACL to Austin for two weeks beginning next year.

Holding ACL for two weekends will give more students the chance to attend the TX-OU game, allow for greater sales opportunities for Austin businesses and give pedicab drivers an extra weekend to take advantage of the flux of people in need of rides.

“We are pleased that the Austin City Council passed the resolution to negotiate a new contract for the rental of Zilker Park for the Austin City Limits Music Festival,” C3 Presents spokesperson Sandee Fenton said.

According to a 2011 KXAN news story, ACL rakes in more than $73 million in visitor spending and total economic impact for Austin, so many expect the extra weekend will increase this number.

The extended ACL will operate exactly like traditional festivals, giving some people a second chance to attend.

The TX-OU football game is taking place Saturday, Oct. 13 this year, right in the middle of the ACL festival — students and football fans will have to choose between the two. Although students have the opportunity to attend both the game and the festival, psychology junior Paige Schutze said the price of each ticket might hold them back.

“Both the TX-OU game and ACL are expensive, so I think students will still end up having to make a choice between the two events,” Schutze said.

Advertising junior and pedicab driver Colby Belcher said ACL is probably the busiest time in Austin for pedicab drivers. Pedicab drivers line the streets at the end of each day of the festival waiting for tired festival goers to hitch a ride. It is a prime time for pedicab drivers to pick up passengers because those leaving the festival are exiting through the same gates.

“Most people leaving the festival are usually going to hotels or parking garages nearby, so it is easy to drop customers off and then loop back to the exit to pick up more people,” Belcher said. “ACL is like Christmas for pedicabbers.”

Barton Springs Road serves as a direct route into ACL, so hordes of people walk the street during the festival. More than 70,000 people attend each day, so the businesses on Barton Springs receive more customers than usual. Shady Grove manager Rusty Zagst said ACL brings a new clientele to his restaurant because of the number of people from out of town.

“Business during ACL can be a little troublesome because of all of the cars and traffic, but we do have the chance to expose ourselves to a new audience,” Zagst said. “Two weekends, bring it on.”

Update at 7:45 p.m., Aug. 2 - The Austin City Council postponed voting  Aug. 2 on the agreement to extend ACL Music Festival. This agreement with ACL producer C3 Presents will instead be voted on Aug. 16.

Music will drown the city of Austin for two weekends if Austin City Limits Music Festival is extended next year.

If Austin City Council agrees with the extension, ACL will take place Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13 next year at Zilker’s Great Lawn. Many expect this longer event will help meet the increased demand of people desiring to attend the festival. C3 Presents, the entertainment planning company that produces ACL as well as more than 800 shows nationwide, is also in discussion with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to renovate Auditorium Shores, a park where events are held throughout the year.

In previous years C3 gave Austin Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to improve local parks, 8.5 percent of its ACL ticket sales. If the festival dates are extended, they will give a larger percentage.

“There are still many details to work through,” Sandee Fenton, a C3 Presents spokesperson said. “We hope we will reach a final agreement, and as soon as we have more information to share, we will make an official announcement and provide more details.”

ACL rakes in more than $73 million in visitor spending and total economic impact for Austin, according to a 2011 KXAN news story.

C3 Presents has also agreed to provide additional security and cleanup crews if the festival is extended. Throughout the years C3 has given millions of dollars to Austin and Austin Parks Foundation, which works to coordinate park improvement through many local agents, to help maintain the Great Lawn.

Ralph Webster, president of Austin Parks Foundation, said C3 has basically paid for the Great Lawn, which is about a $2.5 million investment. They have resown the lawn, changed to cleaner irrigation methods and purchased additional equipment to help maintain the lawn. In 2009, when a rainy ACL turned freshly planted grass to mush, C3 stepped in to replace the grass.

“Nobody is requiring C3 to donate millions and millions of dollars to The Great Lawn, but they do it because they want to see a world class park,” Webster said. “They are great neighbors who will take care of any damages that happen. It is their lawn as well.”

If the extension is approved, C3 has also offered to increase the money it donates each year to help improve Austin parks, including Auditorium Shores. Many events held at Auditorium Shores end up becoming a dust bowl after thousands of feet have trampled the lawn, such as the Austin Food & Wine Festival produced by C3.

Once a cost is approved for the renovation of Auditorium Shores, C3 said they will make a commitment to fund these improvements.

“The improvements to the park are vital to the longevity of future events, those produced by C3 as well as other entities,” a C3 Presents spokesman said. “We have been in discussions for some time to make these improvements, and we are thrilled to work with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to restore Auditorium Shores to a lush green space for Austin.”

History sophomore Claire Hutton said the cost of attending ACL is a hefty price for a college student to pay.

“Even though I am a student going to UT with limited funds, I feel like the unique experience of attending ACL is worth the cost,” Hutton said. “Obviously other people feel the same way if the city is contemplating extending the dates for more people to attend.”

City Council will review and vote soon on C3’s donation and possible extension of ACL, although the date of the vote has not yet been announced.

A crowd cheers for The Sword on Friday, October 8, 2010 at ACL. This year will be the tenth annual festival.

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

The sweaty, three-day, five stage, 130-band extravaganza that is the Austin City Limits Music Festival celebrates its 10-year anniversary this weekend.

The festival has taken the ACL name places Ed Bailey, ACL’s vice president of brand development, never envisioned. Twelve years ago, he sat down with the KLRU staff and its board of directors to expand the brand beyond the long-running public television series. Never did he imagine that during the next 10 years, the festival would have hosted performers such as Spoon, Pixies, The Strokes, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, Bjork and Kanye West.

“Ten short years ago, all you had was the television taping six floors up in the communications building in the University of Texas,” Bailey said. “Amazingly, all this came just from that.”

The non-profit KLRU wanted to create a festival that would add another dimension to the ACL live music experience while staying true to the show’s vision. The vision is, in Bailey’s words, “to create a space where bands just let loose with their fans.”

To create this, KLRU outsourced production of the festival to a group of business partners that would eventually become C3 Presents, the music industry powerhouse that’s also responsible for Lollapalooza.

“There was no long-term deal; it was all, ‘Let’s go do it,’” Bailey said. “‘Let’s try to make it stand for what the TV show has always represented. Let’s take what we could do in a year’s worth of television shows and do it in a weekend.’”

Within a span of three or four months Charlie Jones and Charles Attal, the future co-founders of C3 Presents, developed a two-day festival with five stages and 67 bands. One-day passes were $25. Organizers had expected between 20,000 and 30,000 to attend, but 42,000 people showed up on that first Saturday in 2002. The first festival, which featured an array of artists from Gillian Welch to String Cheese Incident, set a precedent of eclectic line-ups that the festival has kept as its popularity has grown during the last 10 years. Some highlights of the decade include Pixies in 2004, Coldplay in 2005 — the dustiest year in the festival’s history, Dave Matthews Band in 2009 and the Flaming Lips’ infamous bubble entrance last year. This year’s festival features less well-known groups Reptar and AWOLNATION, as well as international superstars such as Stevie Wonder.

After a record 75,000 people attended on the Saturday in 2004, promoters lowered the festival’s maximum capacity at the request of surrounding neighborhood associations. A new contract last year with the City of Austin authorized C3 Presents to sell up to 75,000 tickets, and attendance last year was around 70,000 each day.

Bailey said the reputation of the ACL television show helped contribute to the success of that first festival. Now that the festival is an established destination, it brings major bands to the television show that might not otherwise have made the trip. In past years, Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and The National have all doubled dipped, performing for both the festival and the show, and this year Austin City Limits Live will be taping Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Randy Newman, The Head and the Heart, and Gomez over the festival weekend.
Looking forward, ACL must continue to adapt by making content of the festival and television show directly accessible from computers and phones, Bailey said.

Last year, a number of performances at the festival were made available for live streaming for the first time. This weekend, C3 Presents is making 35 performances available for live streaming through the online magazine “Spacelab.”

“The business models of the record industry and the business models of television have changed so radically that if Austin City Limits is going to be in the conversation 10 years from now, we’re going to have to do a massive amount of change,” Bailey said.