A little bit of Hollywood is coming to Knoxville.
Scott Myers, Hollywood film screenwriter, producer and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will be speaking on Friday about characters in classic Hollywood cinema.
Titled “Archetypes: Character Structure, Film Analysis, and Screenwriting Theory,” Myers’ presentation will focus on the narrative aspect of film and analyze different characters and their roles in a film, such as the protagonist, antagonist and attractors of any story in a movie.
Dr. Charles Maland, chair of the cinema studies program and professor of English, said his visit should be interesting to anyone who enjoys a good story and not just students interested in film analysis and screenwriting.
“I think it will be interesting to aspiring filmmakers, but also people who watch movies,” Maland said. “I think what he’s trying to do is develop a talk that will be interesting to not just cinema study minors or people who are in journalism and electronic media or want to be filmmakers, but anyone who is interested in movies and stories and what makes those stories go.”
Myers has written the screenplays for “K-9,” a 1989 action/comedy film starring James Belushi, and “Trojan War," a 1997 comedy film starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. More recently, Myers has been the executive producer of the television series “It’s Easy Being Green” and “Time Makeover," both done in 2008.
“My understanding is that this script for ‘K-9,’ he just submitted the script, and there are thousands of scripts submitted a year, so the fact that he was able to shape it in such a way that they got interested in it and bought it and made it,” Maland said. “Sometimes in Hollywood they will buy a lot of screenplays, but they never get made because they don’t get the right actors or get hooked up with a project and so on. So someone who has been through that is fun to talk to, especially to some of our students who are interested in screenwriting themselves.”
Myers writes a screenwriting blog titled, “Go into the Story,” (www.gointothestory.com) which is updated daily and is a place where he informally elaborates on cinema and writing, aspects of Hollywood and everyday happenings in the film industry.
Ryan Woldruff, teaching associate in English who introduced Myers to Maland and initiated Myers’ visit to UT, said that he came across the blog after researching screenwriting on Google.
“I was really interested in researching the process of getting a script in the hands of an agent or a producer. I was doing some basic Google research on screenwriting in general and I came across a couple of blogs and his was one of them,” Woldruff said. “It was such a professional, well done blog that’s updated on a regular basis that it basically became one of my bookmarks to look at every day. He has daily dialogue, so there’s always something different every day, and he also has weekly themes, like this week its boy meets girl, so how does that happen in movies? And what are some good example and bad examples and then there’s also just the business of screenwriting also which is helpful too. That’s kind of where I started.”
Having won the UCLA Outstanding Instructor Award, Myers now teaches screenwriting at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Maland said his experience teaching will contribute to his presentation.
“He has had this experience teaching screenwriting and being a teacher, so hopefully he will be a good dynamic speaker,” Maland said. “I think most of us are interested in stories, even if we’re not English majors or film majors, we read stories, we read novels we see movies and so on. To me that whole question of what are the kinds of things in the development of characters and plots that really grip us as moviegoers or as readers of novels, just what is it about that and that is one thing he’s interested in and will talk about.”
Over the summer, Woldruff took a week long, intensive screenwriting course online with Myers as his professor. The course covered the main core of screenwriting, and Woldruff said it was very helpful.
“I thought he’d be a really nice speaker to come and talk about screenwriting because I know we’ve had screenwriting discussions in the past and sometimes a good discussion about something on screenwriting will be really helpful not only for film people but creative writing, students involved in creative writing and professors, it crosses a lot of boundaries I think in terms of story structure,” Woldruff said.
Having received higher education in humanities and divinity, Maland said that Myers has an interesting background that wouldn’t normally lead to a career in Hollywood screenwriting.
“You would expect someone who’s interested in going to divinity school to be interested in questions about human morality and the place of man in the universe, and a lot of times we don’t think about Hollywood films in quite those same terms, and I’m quite curious about how his earlier interest might have gone into Hollywood,” Maland said.
Myers recently held an online contest called "The Quest," where anybody could submit a set of loglines and he would pick a few out of around 4,000 submissions to develop more thoroughly.
“He’s in Hollywood and trying to create a more open entrance into Hollywood and he picked those and helped them develop their idea into a script, and would help them find connections in Hollywood after they’ve written it,” Woldruff said. “His kind of one-on-one commitment to helping up and coming writers was really admirable as well. He’s been there; he’s lived in the Hollywood atmosphere for a long time.”
Back in the 50s, it was uncommon to see screenwriters writing for both television and film, such as Myers. Today, Maland said, the industry works a different way, adding to Myers’ personal appeal.
“The way the movies are done these days are pretty much one shot deals. You get hired onto a film, make the film and then the group all disperse and you hope to catch on to another project,” Maland said. “I like people who have these dual interests, people who are teachers but also have experience seeing what the realities are of trying to selling a script and how hard that is and those who have succeeded in being able to manage careers in both film and television, I’d like our students to get a chance to talk to people like that because some of our students are interested in pursuing that career path.”
A reception will follow Myers’ formal presentation in Hodges Library. Drinks will be served in the Mary Greer Room on the 2nd floor of Hodges where Myers will be available to answer any additional questions and speak to attendees personally.
“He has a whole bunch of knowledge about Hollywood that is definitely fun to listen to,” Woldruff said. “I’m really interested in just sitting down and having a conversation and listening to the students ask questions and his answers. I think the lecture is also going to be really interesting to a lot of different people.”
The informal discussion on screenwriting will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in McClung Tower Room 1210-11, and a formal presentation at 3 p.m. in the Lindsey Young Auditorium in Hodges Library on Friday.
For more information about the event, contact Dr. Maland at firstname.lastname@example.org