Plug into the party scene
Most party invites travel through word-of-mouth. “There are a lot of parties where your name has to be on the list,” says Smith, but not all are so tricky. A conversation you strike up in a bathroom line could end with you getting an invite to a party later that night.
At the Austin Film Festival (AFF), networking events mix attendees with auteurs. “Not only are you immersed in panels all day, but then you get to actually mingle and speak with writers and filmmakers during the networking events,” says Samantha Levine, marketing director for AFF. No snobbery allowed, either. “There are no velvet ropes or VIP areas at our event, and all registrants, panelists and filmmakers come together to celebrate the story.”
Stay fueled up
Not just on popcorn or gummy candy, either. Many festivals collaborate with food trucks and local star chefs. At the AFF, a Film & Food Fundraising Party joins filmmakers, producers, celebrities and foodies to enjoy cocktail and cuisine from 20-plus notable Austin chefs, says Levine. They also throw a Texas barbecue supper featuring world-famous barbecue open to registrants with a producers-level badge.
Another culinary and silver screen collaboration is the New York Food Film Fest. Held annually in the fall, it’s a weekend of food-focused film screenings with complementary events like a midday Sunday brunch.
Plan your downtime
As entertaining as movies are, no human can sit in a dark theater for 12 hours a day. Most festivals take place in the heart of a city, so take advantage and explore local restaurants, shops or, as a counterpoint to all that sitting, go for a hike or long walk around the city. You’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the fest.