public relations junior

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.