What is ATX Television Festival?
That's the number one question its founders, Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson, get (so much so that it's the opening line on the festival's website). In a nutshell, ATX is a 3-day TV extravaganza -- June 6 - June 9 -- where fans mix and mingle with actors, reporters and showrunners while discussing their singular commonality: an unbridled love for television. Or, to state it more simply, "It's like TV camp for grown-ups," Gipson tells ETonline.
As for how ATX got started, McFarland tells me that it, ironically, had to do with movies. "I'd been to so many film festivals and loved the community they create during the time you're there. I wanted to work for a TV festival, and if I couldn't work at one, I wanted to go to one. But there wasn't one, so Emily and I sat down to decide what we'd want a TV festival to be. Ultimately we didn't want it to be a fully-fan or a fully-industry event; we wanted the shows and conversations to cover both sides."
To that end this year's ATX Television Festival features hotly anticipated cast reunions (Boy Meets World, Party of Five, American Dreams), insightful industry panels (Casting Deconstructed, Creating the Sound of a Show, Directing in a Writer’s World) and panels with some of TV's hottest shows (Scandal, The Vampire Diaries, Parenthood).
And while prevailing wisdom might lead you to believe that bigger is better, the founders are favoring the quality over quantity approach with year two. "Last year, we said that our measure of success was that people who came had a good time and felt their time and money was well-spent," Gipson tells me. "We just want to add to that this year. We added an extra day, but we're sticking to the same venues and the same size -- we're looking to offer a fuller, not just bigger, experience. We're really excited. We have grown in the way we wanted to grow and word of mouth has really made that happen."
But at the end of the day, the most important thing to both Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson is that ATX Television Festival properly honor the medium large groups travel from all over the country to celebrate. "TV has this amazing way of creating a community and it's exciting to bring those people together for one amazing weekend," McFarland says.
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