The Austin Chronicle's Screens Editor,
Austin 2020 Year in Film Review
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Austin’s film community was felt almost immediately in mid-March 2020 when the City of Austin shut down the SXSW Conference and Festivals as a preventive measure against the community spread of the virus. Movie theaters soon closed down. Film and television production ground to a halt. Film festivals went virtual. Celebrated video stores Vulcan Video and I Luv Video shut their doors for good. Almost 10 months later and Austin’s return to normality remains out of reach as the city and Travis County continue to fight a pandemic that has spiraled out of control. While some theater chains have reopened, most notably several Alamo Drafthouse locations, many others continue to remain closed, including the Austin Film Society’s AFS Cinema and the Violet Crown Cinema. As a result, local and area drive-in movie theaters, including the Blue Starlite, have enjoyed an increased in popularity. Film festivals remain virtual events for the foreseeable future. Television production has picked up, with series such as Fear the Walking Dead being renewed for a seventh season and the upcoming Walker reboot implementing stringent COVID-19 safety protocols. The Austin Chronicle Screens Editor Richard Whittaker joins Lights Camera Austin to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Austin’s film and television communities in 2020. We also preview some of 2021’s events and stories, including March’s SXSW Online digital experience and the Texas Legislature’s addressing of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, which currently stands at $50 million.
Aired: Jan. 7 and 14, 2021