Alys & Trevor are in our Screenwriting division.
Alys Murray will be teaching Feature Film I in our remote format. The class will begin on Wednesday, January 17th from 7-10 pm. and run for 10 weeks (Reg # 395655).
Trevor Munson will be teaching One-Hour TV I in our Remote Format. The class will also begin on Wednesday January 17th from 6-9 pm. and run for 10 weeks (Reg # 395453)
Alys and Trevor both took some time to catch up with us and tell us a bit about themsleves, their writing, and their teaching styles.
WP: What sparks your creativity?
Alys: A really good piece of pie, indie rock music from Manchester, England, The Muppets, and rewatching Moulin Rouge for the seven-millionth time.
Trevor: My creativity is often stimulated by taking in new information. I read a lot of articles on a wide variety of subjects and often find new and interesting ways into a story, as a result. I also find that the arts spark my own creative drive. Whether it’s watching a favorite movie, going to an art exhibit, or seeing live music, I find that I am often inspired by works in other creative mediums that inform and fuel my own work.
WP: What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Alys: Emotionally, as a disabled screenwriter, I’m very aware that not everyone has the opportunity to write like I do. So, I have to shift my mindset from, “I have to write,” to “I get to write.” It’s amazing what that tiny change in perspective can do! Practically, if it’s a time or energy problem, I grant myself grace and do what I can when I can. Even thinking about writing is productive for the process! If it’s a motivation or inspiration problem, I fill my cup with anything that brings me joy. New movies, flipping through a comic book, going to the theatre, taking long walks! Building new neural pathways from things as simple as taking a new route to my grocery store can help my creativity bounce back.
Trevor: When I’m having trouble finding the motivation to write, I often employ the trick of giving myself permission to write the worst version of a scene possible. If I can get myself to sit down and write one scene with the idea that it can totally suck, I usually find that the writing quickly becomes less of a chore once the process has begun.
WP: What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
Alys: My favorite movie is A Muppet Christmas Carol. My favorite book is The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller.
Trevor: It’s so hard to pick favorites as they seem to change throughout different periods in my life. The Wizard of Oz was my absolute favorite movie as a kid and it has continued to inform the stories I write to this day. As for the book, Shogun by James Clavell is one of my all-time favorites. Reading that epic novel felt like discovering a whole new world. I love being drawn into and immersed in lives and worlds I know little about.
WP: What’s your favorite quote about writing?
Alys: “You can edit a bad page; you can’t edit a blank page.”
Trevor: “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” – Ernest Hemingway. Although a little crude in language, I like this quote because it reminds all writers that even the great Hemingway wrote bad first drafts and that the real work of writing is getting a draft finished so that one can begin the more important process of refining and revising, which in my view is often where the real magic happens.
WP: Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
Alys: Gotta be Nora Ephron!
Trevor: Raymond Chandler is the writer on whom I modeled my own debut novel “Angel of Vengeance”. It was after reading The Long Goodbye and Dracula back-to-back that I got the creative inspiration to write a novel about a hardboiled detective who gets turned into a vampire by a femme fatale in the 1940s. I loved the idea of marrying noir hardboiled tough guys with my love of vampires, and Chandler’s dialogue and stylistic prose inspired me throughout the writing of the book.
WP: What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
Alys: There’s nothing I love more in this entire world than getting to talk about story with people who love it as much as I do. The idea of spending a semester with fellow writers, talking about what makes a great story and then watching those writers work on their own great stories? It’s a dream come true.
Trevor: I view both writing and teaching as high callings. Both are powerful tools for dismantling prejudice and promoting empathy and understanding among individuals from different backgrounds, and both contribute to raising consciousness and making the world a better place, which is why I find the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience by combining the two by teaching writing to the next generation of creative filmmakers so exciting.
WP: What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
Alys: Whether they want to write Batman fanfilms just for fun or the next Best Picture winner, I want my students to leave my class feeling more excited than ever to sit down at their laptop and make that dream come true.
Trevor: My goal is to teach the nuts and bolts of effective screenwriting, while also demystifying the screenwriting career for my students by bringing my firsthand knowledge of how the industry actually works into the classroom. Additionally, I am committed to establishing a classroom environment that promotes open dialogue and respectful communication. I will encourage students to express their thoughts and opinions freely, while also cultivating an atmosphere of empathy, understanding, and acceptance. By fostering mutual respect and active listening, I hope to create a space where students can engage in meaningful discussions and learn from one another’s perspectives as they lay the groundwork and learn the skills for successful careers in the industry.
WP: Anything else?
Alys: Come to my screenwriting course for lessons on character, structure, and theme; stay for my bad puns, a session on how corsets are like movies, and the inclusion of the 2005 Wes Craven classic Red Eye on the syllabus.
Thank you to Alys and Trevor for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!