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Interview with the founders of the ATX Television Festival

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atx fest logo
Logo courtesy of the ATX Television Festival

The  ATX Television Festival is June 5-8 in Austin, Texas.  One of the best festivals out there, the ATX Television Festival brings together fans of television shows with the people who make them. It's four days of celebrating television programming with panels, meet and greets, viewing parties and other events, including an outdoor viewing of "Friday Night Lights" with the cast and crew of the show. In just two short years the festival has become a hit with both festival goers and television critics alike. I will be covering the ATX Television Festival, so frequently check back to our website for photos and interviews with some of your favorite cast members and creators of the shows you love. ATX Television Website

I had the great pleasure of interviewing the founders and co-executive directors of the ATX Television Festival, Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson.


ATX 2013 CW Digital Panel
ATX 2013 Conversation with CW DIgital Panel Photo by Michael McKinney

What is the history behind the ATX Television Festival and why did you feel the need to create this specific festival?

CAITLIN: We wanted to go to one.  And were surprised there wasn't one already. Truly the history was us needing jobs, wanting to go to one, and the support/reaction from those around us when we floated the idea to them. We've had ideas on various projects for awhile, like anyone does, but the reaction to this "You have to do that!" was palpable.

What makes the ATX Television Festival  different than all the other festivals out there?

EMILY: There aren't many festivals that focus on the past, present and future of something; or festivals that are as much for fans as for industry. We wanted to create a celebration of the entire medium, as well as make a place where everyone felt like they were part of the same community. There's very little division between our attendees and our panelists, as we've found those who make television are as big of fans of it as anyone else.

ATX 2013 My So Called Life Panel
ATX 2013 My So Called Life Panel Photo by Michael McKinney

What panel or person are you most looking forward to see at this year's festival?

CAITLIN: Hard to pick favorites! We're the programmers too, so it's hard.  I'm excited for Graham Yost creator of both "Justified" and "Hey Dude." Also excited for the growing relationships we have with studios/networks.  Netflix is coming in a strong way with programming throughout the weekend. Adult Swim who has been at the fest since the inaugural year and they are doing a panel on "What is an Adult Swim?" that I think will be very interesting to both fans and industry.

EMILY: I'm very much a fan of "Orphan Black," as are a large number of our attendees! I think it's a brilliant show, and I'm excited for our attendees to get to interact with John Fawcett and Graeme Manson. I also love that we get to spotlight "My Generation," since it was made by Noah Hawley, who is now seeing the greatest success with "Fargo," and was set against Austin as its backdrop. Then there is the panel we're presenting with GLAAD which is a relationship we really wanted to build on after Wilson Cruz came to the festival last year and brought up his involvement with the organization. There are a lot of important LGBT topics that are happening on TV today, and I'm grateful we get to be part of the conversation. I could probably name all of the screenings and panels to be honest, as there's something exciting to us about all of them, but for the new shows, I think I'm most looking forward to "Red Band Society." There's something really special about this show and I can't wait for audiences to see it.

ATX 2013 Scott Porter with fan
ATX Television Festival 2013 Scott Porter Photo by Michael McKinney

Since you are both fans of TV shows, what were your favorite programs this year and which shows are you most excited about seeing in the fall?

CAITLIN: I'm currently obsessed with "Fargo." I also am loving "VEEP," not that it's at the festival.

EMILY: Well, I already said "Orphan Black," but I'll say it again. Also, "Bates Motel" was fantastic this season. And I'm also a huge fan of "The Mindy Project."  As for new shows, besides "Red Band Society" in the fall, this summer I'll be watching "The Strain," though I'll have my eyes covered through most of it, "Reckless" and "The Night Shift."  They all seem like the perfect fun summer shows!  And "Playing House" which just started and I love! Again, I could probably go on for awhile!

ATX 2013 American Dreams Cast & Crew
ATX 2013 American Dreams Cast & Crew Photo by Michael McKinney

What TV show or online series would you like to bring to the ATX Television Festival in the future?

CAITLIN We have a lot of reunions in the works. I would really love to do something with Dick Van Dyke, the series, the man, all of it!

EMILY: This list is pretty endless which hopefully means we'll be doing this for awhile.  I'd like for us to spotlight more classic shows like "MASH," the work of Norman Lear, "Laverne & Shirley," etc., but those are getting harder to bring people back together.  As far as more recent television history, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is my favorite show, but it has so many places to go where people celebrate it.  I love that we bring fans together of shows that have nowhere to else go to see like "Parenthood," "Friday Night Lights," "Boy Meets World," "Hey Dude" and "Everwood". I'd like for us to continue down that path.  But we do already have some reunions in the works for next year that I'm really excited about.  We just can't say what they are, yet!

The ATX Television Festival is June 5-8th in Austin, Texas.  For more information on the Festival go to  [twitter-follow screen_name='Lastonetoleave']

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