Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the screenwriting biopic masters whose credits include The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon, and American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, will attend the 30th annual Austin Film Festival and receive its prestigious Bill Wittliff Award for Screenwriting,
Alexander and Karaszewski began collaborating decades ago when they met waiting in line at USC’s School of Cinema. They wrote a screenplay together in their senior year and sold it a week after graduation. The pair took us through their experiences of writing about outsized characters like Ed Wood, Larry Flynt, and Andy Kaufman on the very first episode of the MovieMaker podcast, which you can check out on Apple or Spotify or here:
The pair’s most recent film, Dolemite Is My Name, starred Eddie Murphy and celebrated the life and filmmaking acumen of Rudy Ray Moore.
In addition to writing biopics, Alexander and Karaszewski wrote the hit Stephen King adaptation 1408, produced the Bob Crane biopic Auto Focus, and wrote and directed the comedy Screwed, with Dave Chappelle. (On the podcast, they talk about how a discussion of lighting on the set made its way into their Dolemite script.)
Alexander also wrote for HBO’s Tales From the Script and the television series Monsters, which he also directed, and is a mentor in the USC School of Cinema, and he’s served four terms on the Writers Guild’s Board of Directors.
Karaszewski, born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, worked as a film critic for an NBC affiliate’s nightly news program, and is now the Vice President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. His commentaries on cult movies appear on TrailersFromHell.com. Additionally, he maintains and always exceptional Twitter account that has lately featured snapshots from his place on the front line of the writers strike pickets.
Austin Film Festival & Writers Conference — one of our 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee and one of our 15 Submission-Worthy Screenwriting Competitions, is a non-profit organization “dedicated to furthering the art, craft and business of writers and filmmakers and recognizing their contributions to film, television, theater, and new media,” according to AFF.
The festival, supported in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts, will take place this year October 26 through November 2, and badges and passes are available for purchase online at www.austinfilmfestival.com or by phone at 1-800-310-FEST.
Witliff was a Texas-born screenwriter whose credits included Legends of the Fall and the Lonesome Dove miniseries. Past recipients of the Bill Wittliff Award, introduced in 1995, include Buck Henry in 1997, Lawrence Kasdan in 2001, Nancy Meyers in 2016, Tony Gilroy in 2018 and James Gray in 2022.
Is It OK to Submit to the Austin Film Festival During the Writers Strike?
If you’re wondering, as a pre-WGA writer, whether it’s OK to enter your screenplay or film in a festival now, that’s a very good question. We took it directly to the WGA, and the short answer is yes.
The longer answer is that screenwriter Christopher Kyle, the secretary-treasurer of the WGA-East, told us you can enter whatever festival you want — but if you sell or project, or discuss selling it with a struck company, even hypothetically — you may be accused of scabbing or strikebreaking, and barred for life from joining the WGA. This would be an extremely bad long-term career move.
Fortunately, reputable festivals like Austin are very aware of the situation, and are taking care not to do anything that would accidentally push or pull filmmakers across the picket line.
“After conferring with the WGA, we have confirmed that submitting to AFF’s competitions does not constitute prohibited conduct of Strike Rules,” the festival said in an email last week.
Main image: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Photo by Andy Marx.