Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson have spent years in the entertainment industry as producers, filmmakers, and audience members. After taking on all these roles at film festivals such as Sundance, Tribeca, and Doha Tribeca, they decided to give that same kind of exposure to a different media—television. With help from an advisory board assembled from professional producers, studio executives, directors, writers, and actors, they celebrate the small screen's history and future at the annual ATX Television Festival. Over the course of three days, festival coordinators screen celebrated current seasons, never-aired pilots, prematurely canceled series, and cult favorites—many followed by Q&A sessions or choral renditions of the show's ending credits with creators and cast. In addition to screenings, industry professionals gather for multiple daily panels on topics ranging from women in television to alternative production outlets. These same celebrity guests, spanning producers, directors, actors, and writers, also mingle with visitors during scheduled meet-and-greets. Visitors can break from the television-centric main events for live music sets and secret happy hours to coax the shier beers out of their taps.
Since its origins as a converted parking garage, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has ushered film-lovers of all breeds into its auditoriums, even gaining a following among Hollywood legends; Quentin Tarantino has been known to host five-day movie marathons at Alamo. The theater has earned that reputation by making moviegoing a personal experience, from the menu of handcrafted snacks and locally brewed beer to the completely ad-free presentations before shows. Alamo?s ninja servers pick up written food and drink orders throughout the movie and serve moviegoers directly at their seat. The staff enforces a strict no-talking, no-texting policy by kicking out any offenders, falling just short of yanking them from their seats with a giant's shepherd's crook.
Both first-run blockbusters and classics are projected onto Alamo's silver screens in crisp 35-millimeter or digital format. Meanwhile, surround speakers immerse audiences in the cinematic soundscape, whether they're seated in one of the expansive theaters afforded to blockbuster reels or the more intimate spaces reserved for indie films wound around tiny bobbins. Despite Alamo's vow of silence, fan-centric Quote-Along and Sing-Along nights encourage guests to shout their favorite lines, and actors, directors, and other celebrities often attend special screenings to lead in-depth discussions. These exclusive events have led to acclaim for Alamo from publications such as Entertainment Weekly, which called it ?one of America's most fanatically unique moviegoing experiences,? and Wired, which opined that it "might just be the coolest movie theater in the world."
Chef Jam Sanitchat’s cooking career began at 5 years old, when she began following her grandmother around their kitchen in Thailand. After journeying to Austin for graduate school, she opened Thai Fresh delicatessen, where she began teaching classes and cooking. Thrice Cafe is her newest culinary undertaking—an expansion of Thai Fresh that pairs coffee drinks with innovative Thai-inspired dishes, all cooked fresh when customers order.
Sanitchat and her crew cobble together local meats, eggs, and vegetables into light and healthful breakfasts, sandwiches, and salads. They also concoct vegan and gluten-free baked goods, which pair with specialty beverages brewed from Casa Brasil coffee or selections from the lengthy wine and beer list.
Cushy couches and tables populate the interior, and umbrellas shade a verdant outdoor patio. Throughout the week, the café hosts live music and open-mic nights, where guests can showcase their talents to a receptive audience instead of a collection of unresponsive sock monkeys.
ComedySportz’s troupe of all-star laughletes is considered to be not only comedic, but also to have good sportsmanship, since there’s no swearing allowed, the subject matter is suited for all ages, and the show is monitored by a referee who calls offense fouls and hides unfunny heads in a shameful brown bag. Take a friend, relative, significant other, or the relative of a friend’s significant other to see two teams of expert improvisers fight for laughs through an average of 7– 12 scenes, games, and songs based on audience suggestions. At the end, the crowd votes to decide which team wins the honor of dumping life-size cardboard cutouts of the other team into an active volcano.
An Austin staple since 1933, the bright blue exterior and the colorful rainbow letters of ZACH Theatre is visible from blocks away on South Lamar. Unlike other theaters in town, all of ZACH’s productions are developed in-house, from inception to the final curtain, making for delightfully Austin-centric shows. After entering up a staircase full of inspirational quotes, guests can grab a seat inside the Topfer Theatre, a semi-circled and elevated stage that offers room for some 420 audience members. There are two other theaters and rehearsal spaces available for shows, classes and rentals as well. Outside, the People’s Plaza and Bobbi Pavilion provide guests with space for special events; statues stand on the perimeter while an art piece of two large conch shell horns with speakers inside emits toe-tapping jazz music, making ZACH a fun, vibrant artists‘ space – both inside and out.