The sixth annual ATX Television Festival kicks off Thursday, where fans of the medium will gather at different venues around Austin for a weekend full of screenings, Q&As with writers and actors and even series reunions.

The festival features cast and crew from popular shows such as “Alias” and “Girls,” as well as a nine-person panel for the “Battlestar Galactica” reunion, which will be presented with Entertainment Weekly and Syfy.

Co-founders and Executive Directors Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson founded the festival to celebrate the past, present and future of television, in the same way that other mediums are often honored.

McFarland and Gipson met in Los Angeles on the Fox Studio lot. Attending the city’s many film screenings and festivals was one of their first “friend activities.”

“I think people understand film and music festivals,” McFarland says. “You have to come to our television festival to really understand that it is essentially the television community come to life for a few days.”

She says television has the advantage of time. Since series often air over several years, viewers have the unique opportunity to grow with the characters.

“You know, a movie, at the most you’ve got maybe three hours, and then there may be sequels or what not, but some of these shows have hundreds of hours,” McFarland says. “And the amount of time you spend with these characters and these stories, they really do inform who you are potentially.”

The festival aims to not only attract fans of television, but support those who hope to have a future in the industry. Ten finalists from the “pitch competition” will have the opportunity to pitch their television ideas live to top producers in the field.

McFarland and Gipson are both from Texas, and hope the festival specifically supports fellow natives.

“My hope is that people, especially Texans – because we try to really represent Texas productions and things like that, and work to bring more productions to Texas – come check it out,” McFarland says.

 

Written by Lila Weatherly.

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