Fresh off of his Ghostbusters remake, the Austin Film Festival toasts the impressive career of dapper director Paul Feig.
The debonair director: Paul Feig and his three-piece suits (which he wears daily) will return to the Austin Film Festival in October, this time as the recipient of the 2016 Extraordinary Contribution to Film Award.
No other event celebrates the writing behind the TV shows and movies we love so much like the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival, October 13–20. In addition to a week of film premieres and screenings, the fest brings in the best in the business for panels and conversations, and it honors industry legends each year.
Among the 2016 honorees are Marta Kauffman of Friends, Nancy Meyers (The Intern), and Paul Feig, known for Freaks & Geeks, Bridesmaids, Spy, and the summer hit Ghostbusters. Feig, an AFF veteran, also appears in the second book by AFF’s On Story Project: On Story—Screenwriters and Filmmakers on Their Iconic Films, out October 4 by University of Texas Press. Austin Way talked to Feig about the festival, the all-female Ghostbusters, and dealing with social media trolls.
What do you love about the Austin Film Festival? The most fun I have is when I’m on a panel about a specific topic, and we can talk to these burgeoning writers about it. That’s what is so genius about AFF: It gets into the nitty-gritty of the craft.
You’re known for creating meaty roles for women. Why is that important to you? If you portray women as professionals and their problems are about trying to get ahead, trying to be legitimate, then that is a universal theme. Kristen Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids once was a business owner, and the audience is rooting for her to become that person again. In Ghostbusters, they have dedicated their lives to this passion they have. These are the most compelling stories that we can tell to help men get past this image of women that has been perpetuated by Hollywood. My movies have hardly any romance in them.
You once said at AFF that Freaks & Geeks was so loved because we’re constantly re-living high school. Did it feel like that when dealing with all the Ghostbusters vitriol? When it gets down to name-calling and personal attacks about my cast and their physical attributes, you think, ‘I am literally back in the locker room, trying not to get beaten up by guys that hate me.’ I’m not going to get chased out of the neighborhood, but at the same time you’ve got to put up with [hateful] people, and I wish there was a way to shut them up because they’re very harmful.
How would you describe Austin? It has an energy that’s unlike any city I’ve ever been in. I can’t wait to get there because I’m so worn out from this movie; I get recharged when I go to Austin. And the festival is a giant melting pot of people united by the love of storytelling. It’s a wholly unique experience.