Scott Myers has had a career worthy of many aspiring screenwriters' dreams, but during his appearances on campus he was careful to add a dosage of reality.
Myers, Hollywood screenwriter and screenwriting teacher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, visited UT on Friday for three different programs. The first was an informal discussion, the second a formal presentation and the final event was an opportunity for students to speak to Myers personally at a reception after his formal presentation.
Sponsored by the cinema studies program and the English department's Better English Fund, Myers gave his formal presentation in the Lindsay E. Young Auditorium to present his findings on character archetypes in screenwriting. Titled "Archetypes: Character Structure, Film Analysis and Screenwriting Theory," Myers' goal was to communicate important ideas about storytelling and to inspire them to think about their writing in new and different ways, he said.
"I'm always excited to talk about movies and stories, that's my passion so I very was excited to have an opportunity to come and speak here," Myers said.
Myers wrote the scripts to the 1989 film "K-9" starring James Belushi, and the 1997 film "Trojan War" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Ryan Woldruff, graduate student and teaching associate in English, introduced Myers' blog, "Get Into The Story," to cinema studies chair Dr. Charles Maland, who in turn invited Myers for a visit.
Philip Coode, junior in journalism and electronic media and minor in cinema studies, aspires to work in Hollywood one day.
"I want to go into screenwriting and directing someday, and I thought I got a lot of really good advice and a lot of specific and direct descriptions of all the different types of characters in film," Coode said.
Revolving around how psychologist Carl Jung and author Joseph Campbell shaped his ideas around characters and their roles in cinema, in his formal presentation Myers used classic films such as "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Silence of the Lambs" to demonstrate the five character archetypes: the protagonist, the nemesis, the attractor, the mentor and the trickster.
"Many aspiring writers tend to think of (screenwriting) in a formulaic manner, and one of the best ways I found to avoid that is by focusing on characters and starting on characters," Myers said. "(The archetypes) have opened up a whole new way to think about screenwriting for me and I'm very excited and I'd like to share that with people."
Already working on a few scripts himself, Coode said that he found Myers' archetype analysis to be very helpful.
"It was a lot of specific types of stuff like the five different characters, which are pretty useful and how in some ways you wouldn't really expect to be tricksters and to be mentors and how they really are that way," Coode said. "But it's a good way to when you sit down and think about it you can see what they're going into. For when I want to write, he gives you a good idea of how you can twist around what a character can be and basic stuff."
Updated daily with basics on screenwriting, interviews with script readers and the daily occurrences in the film industry, Myers' blog is only one way in which cinema has become a large platform for many opportunities.
"Hollywood is a very exciting place right now, it's very competitive, but there's never been more opportunity for content creators in not just Hollywood, but transmedia," Myers said. "There's one message that I would send out to people: go out and do it, create it, film it, shoot it, put it out there, as I said earlier, it only takes one set of eyeballs to make a complete difference. If you're creative and you have an idea, put it into action, put it out there and see what happens because this is an incredible time we live in now with all the opportunities we have."
Having had countless years of experience in Hollywood screenwriting as not only a screenwriter but also a producer, Myers said that what he learned is that screenwriting is not easy and that it requires a basic belief in oneself.
"There's a saying that seeing is believing, well in some ways for screenwriters, believing is seeing," Myers said. "You have to believe those characters exist, you have to believe the story universe exist. And if you do that and act like they're actually there, that's when the story starts to emerge. The more you believe that they exist, the better chance you have of them coming to life for you."
Hoping to work in Hollywood one day, Coode said that Myers' presentation was a good foundation for what he will use when writing his own scripts.
"I do a lot of writing right now and I have a folder of stuff I've learned from my cinema studies classes as how to work on film, so I'll probably putting all this information with that," he said. "As I write I go through it, they're basic rules and good things to think about when you're writing. They're good basics that creativity goes along with."
Myers lived and worked in Hollywood, Calif., for 15 years. But what is Hollywood really like?
According to Myers, it's competitive, frustrating and time consuming.
"Everybody wants to be a Hollywood screenwriter, or at least it seems like that," Myers said. "It takes a long time to get a movie made, there are a lot of obstacles in the way of getting a movie made, and yet it's creative because you are drafting stories. What better way to make a living than to sit in a room and come up with an entire story universe and a world of characters that enlivens you and hopefully someone else will connect with?"
Based off his discoveries within the narrative aspect of cinema, Myers said that what inspires him the most are the characters within a story.
"I want to find characters that I find compelling, that I find interesting, that I'm curious about, if I can discover something about them that makes me want to be with them for a long period of time, it can take months to write a script," Myers said. "That's what inspires me. Those characters, that situation, see what happens, what takes place in that environment."
The best part of being a Hollywood screenwriter is seeing what you created, said Myers.
"Sitting there with a script at the end of the process, there's something incredibly satisfying about that," Myers said. "And then on a day to day basis, those revelations, those moments, big or small, you have a story problem and it resolves itself or a character speaks to you in a voice you may not have otherwise known. That daily participation in the creative process, that's great. But yeah, there's nothing better than typing fate out and it's sitting there with your completed screenplay."
Coode, who has taken a few cinema studies classes to fulfill his minor in the subject, enjoyed when Myers categorized different characters as their archetypes.
"When he was going through all the movies with the exact kind of characters that some of them fill in because some of them are characters that you don't really think of. Like Toto from 'The Wizard of Oz' being a trickster."
Myers said that he hopes attendants now understand the basic theories of screenwriting and character archetypes.
"I just love these ideas," Myers said. "It's always exciting to talk about them, but interfacing with the students and the people here. I always love to talk about what they're interested in, what stories they're writing, what their aspirations are, their goals are."
Advice for an aspiring screenwriting has three parts, Myers said.
"Read scripts, watch movies, write pages. Immerse yourself in the world of movies; immerse yourself in the world of screenwriting. You'll read scripts, read your favorite movie scripts, there's all sorts of sites online where you can download them and read them for free, you can watch movies but don't have a favorite genre, just watch everything. And then write pages, be constantly writing, writing every day," he said.
For more information on Scott Myers, visit his blog at www.gointothestory.com.