To hear smart, funny, and interesting things about screenwriting—from people who know what they’re talking about—the place to be is the annual Austin Film Festival Writers Conference.

Here are some highlights from last year’s Conference. More information about past speakers is here.

Learning to Write

1. “All those screenwriting books are bad. But I read one by a producer that was good. I mean I scanned it in a bookstore. He said, ‘Keep your stage directions short.'” — Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) 

2. “If you follow the guidelines, you’ll end up with a well-structured piece of shit.”—Craig Mazin (ScriptNotes podcast, Identity Thief)

3. “What I object to in screenwriting books is that it’s an after-the-fact analysis that’s not so useful when you’re trying to produce something. Perfectly utilitarian analyses of what’s already there is bullshit.”—Kenneth Lonergan

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