Resources for Austin-Based Filmmakers and Actors

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filmmaking classes Austin Texas

I spent just shy of a year on what I’m referring to as a sabbatical in Austin, Texas. While I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert on the city (by any means), I did bring all my artistic goals with me, so I promptly went on the hunt for as many different filmmaking and creative resources as I could find.

While in Austin I met a lot of other people who were also new or temporarily there, and ended up sharing a lot of the resources I’d found. Here are a bunch of them, that I utilized, or came upon, during my time in the city. None of this is sponsored content, BTW. Just pure research from me to you.

Austin School of Film & Cinemaker Space

Austin School of Film is a non-profit that offers a wide variety of filmmaking classes and workshops from the camera basics to post-production, as well as podcasting, experimental filmmaking, Super-8, and direct animation. Many of the classes are held in the evenings and on weekends, which are very convenient for working professionals.

Austin Cinemaker Space
35mm snap from a direct animation workshop.

Students have the option of taking classes at their own pace or signing up for the Digital Video Certificate program and completing a full curriculum within a three-year period.

In addition to flexible scheduling, they also offer payment plans, and DVCP students always get a discount on classes. During the summer, Austin School of Film offers filmmaking classes for kids too.

Austin School of Film classes are held at their Motion Media Arts Center, which also offers a coworking space called the Cinemaker Space. Perks of joining that include free studio rentals, equipment rentals, access to the podcast suite, computer lab, film developing darkroom, and coworking areas.

Also, community. I took a ton of classes at Austin School of Film and made legitimate friendships there. The classes are interactive, and if you go there enough you’ll start seeing a lot of the same people, whether they’re in the DVCP program or regularly booking the space for photoshoots.

Austin Community College

I lived across the street from Austin Community College so I tried out a class over there. Full disclosure, I dropped it. However, I have heard that there are some good teachers there, and community college classes are so cheap you don’t have much to lose in trying them out.

Their Radio-Television-Film program covers screen storytelling, creative digital production, and offers hands-on experience in their in-house production studio. Classes include things like: Creative Podcasting, Event Videography, Video Editing, and TV Production. They also have a separate acting school within in.

Plus, the school used to be a mall. To my utter delight, when they set out to construct it into a school, they left the mall inside of it. So if you’re lucky enough to get a class in that wing, you’ll find yourself swinging open some doors, one minute in a school, and the next crossing the threshold into an indoor mall. Devoid of shoppers and still equipped with escalators. It’s totally bizarre, especially if you like liminal spaces, which I really do.

Which is also why I decided to shoot part of my experimental short film Dear Kevin within that location.

Austin Public at Austin Film Society

The Austin Film Society offers classes through its Austin Public Producer Program. About once a month they offer a one-hour orientation to the program, and once completed it’s possible to sign up for the classes that they offer, as well as utilize many other resources that they offer.

Classes include topics like: Camera Rig and Stabilization, Lighting Grip and Gear, Adobe programs, Field Lighting, Cinematography, and camera classes on the Sony FS5 and Sony A7Sii.

Other resources that you have access to within the program include rental space, the opportunity to submit your work for streaming on Austin Public Radio, and grant opportunities for Texas-based filmmakers. I would have applied to the latter FOR SURE except that they have requirements about how long you must live in the state before you do. (Makes sense.) That rendered me ineligible, but you my friend should go for it!!

In addition to Austin Public, the Austin Film Society also entails Austin Studios and AFS Cinema. AFS (which was founded by Austin-based filmmaker Richard Linklater), offers a variety of events for filmmakers and film lovers.

I also lived very close to AFS, and visited a variety of times. In addition to checking out some movies there (many of which are experimental, unconventional, or otherwise older and not generally playing in theaters), I also attended a few screenings. They hosted AFS x SXSW, Austin School of Film x SXSW, and a screening for a pilot I worked on called Here to Make Friends by Meghan Ross.

All Entertainment Business (AEB)

AEB is based in Austin but is quickly expanding, with both in-person and virtual events, as well as their own networking app.

Through these monthly events, AEB connects Texas entertainment companies and Hollywood, and linking mentors with mentees, and making collections for collaborators and business opportunities. In just a few years the audience has grown to over 20,000 entertainment professionals.

At each event, TV/Film producer Jennifer Hutchins gives insider entertainment industry advice, and introduces introducing an industry guest speaker who then shares their own expert knowledge in the entertainment business. Also, every event has an open mic for attendees, who can use it to offer jobs, partnerships, and pitch their own skills.

Women in Film Austin

The Austin chapter of Women in Film is much smaller than the Los Angeles one, so the experience in joining it was also very different. They have an active slack channel where local creatives share jobs, questions, good news, and really anything else about filmmaking or other creative work.

This slack channel is where I found my first audition upon arrival in Austin, and consequently ended up on my first Austin film set for the short film Shame Full by Chiara McCarty and Andee Kinzee.

Women in Film also hosts in person meetups.

Austin Film Casting Email List

I utilized this email list from both sides. One, as an actor looking for auditions, and two, as a Writer/Director casting my short films. It’s through that channel that I received the auditions for some of the actors that I cast in my short film Stuffer.

To get on the email list you just have reach out via this email:

Once in, you can reach out to them directly about sending your own casting call. Easy, free, efficient.

Carol Hickey for Acting Self Tapes

Shortly after arriving in Austin I got a couple of auditions and found myself in need of a self-tape service. Yes, you can always do your self tapes at home, but without a good lighting setup and handy reader on hand it can be very helpful to get someone to help. (Although now I do have a pretty good app suggestion for the reader part.)

At the time I decided to use the self-tape services at Carol Hickey’s Acting Studio, which are run by a teacher there named Sarah-Marie.

And I booked my very first audition in town, so, five stars.

Actors Access

Actors Access is not specific to Texas, in fact, it’s only lightly used in Texas despite being heavily used in other places. If I’m casting a short film in L.A., that’s my go-to. Actors Access is attached to Breakdown Services, which is the tip-top official place that casting breakdowns are released. Actors with reps will exclusively receive auditions through Breakdown, while the trickle down projects or those rejected by Breakdowns (for being non-union, low budget, etc) can be accessed by anyone on Actors Access.

I was surprised that no one I met in Austin was using it, but I suppose agents and mailing lists you don’t necessarily need it. However, it does allow you to submit to auditions anywhere, including the near-by Atlanta market. Not every project will pay for your travel, but if you’re willing to work as a local-hire, it can be a great way to tap into new filmmaking communities and opportunities.

Bonus: Other classes

I looked into so many classes that I didn’t get a chance to take in Austin, but maybe you’ll want to! These aren’t director acting or filmmaking related, but when it comes to creativity, everything is connected anyway. Stretch one place, grow in another.

Vocal Harmonies at Girl Guitar

Girl Guitar offers a variety of classes that welcome newcomers, including, of course, guitar classes, but also things like their group Vocal Harmonies class. In the six-week class, students learn techniques to breathe, control, harmonize, perform, and command attention…and it concludes with a showcase!

Girl Guitar is welcome to any and all women aged 21 and up, whether your intention is ultimately getting on stage or just connecting and having fun.

Alcohol Vessels at The Contemporary Austin

If you have previous experience with basic throwing in ceramics, the Alcohol Vessels class at Contemporary Austin could be a next step. Both educational and hands-on, the class dives into the long history of alcohol vessels and teaches new techniques for creating your own.

The full-fledged art museum offers a variety of other classes in addition to being generally open to the public for art viewing and other events.

Artistry at Dance Austin

Dance Austin intends to be a fun, safe, and non-competitive atmosphere for anyone to explore and expand their moves. One of their unique classes is the Artistry class, which breaks down exactly what makes a diva or a legend, and offers ways to explore those things in yourself. This includes finding your voice on and off the stage, developing personal strengths through choreography, and building presence.

Introduction to Screenprinting at Artists Screenprinting Co-Op

The Artists Screenprinting Co-Op (or ASPCO) offers beginning and intermediate classes on screenprinting, which range from making t-shirts to multi-layered posters. In their 4-week long Introduction to Screenprinting class, students learn the ropes from setting up a screen to printing it on fabric and paper. All while using the co-op’s new 6 color press, washout booth, and paper printing tables.

Classes are kept small to ensure plenty of hands-on instruction.

I'm Kate Ferguson, an L.A.-based Writer, Filmmaker, Photographer, Social Media Strategist, and Blogger at, right here, That's Random Kate! (Previously Divvy Mag.) I love storytelling in its various forms, growth, shooting 35mm film, learning super random facts, building community, and admiring palm trees. Find me on Instagram: @KateFerg. (Where there will definitely be 35mm photos of palm trees.)

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