Evans begins many of his classes by asking students what shows or movies they've recently watched. (Photo: Dayne Young)

EMST’s Matthew Evans workshops TV pilot through prestigious Stowe Story Labs

Matthew Evans, Assistant Professor of Entertainment and Media Studies, recently had the honor of collaborating with some of the finest writers in the country through the Sidewalk Narrative Lab from Stowe Story Labs.

Evans career in screenwriting and active writing projects both guide his teaching content for EMST students. (Photo: Dayne Young)

The lab is typically hosted in conjunction with the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, though it was a virtual event this year.

“I was honored to be selected by the Stowe Story Labs, which are known for their fantastic workshops, top-notch industry mentors and its network of alumni,” Evans said. “It’s validating to have one’s work selected, and humbling to share it with other writers.”

The four-day program blends presentations, mentorships and discussion to help writers hone their crafts. The Stowe Story Labs requires participants to be invited. Only a few, including Evans, of more than 600 applicants were invited this year.

At the late-August virtual event, Evans presented his writing and received feedback from some other of entertainment’s best minds.

He brought his newly-written sci-fi pilot “Hellas” as a launching point for group brainstorming. It is an original one-hour television show set on Mars in the dystopic near-future.

Evans said the collaboration enhanced his work, especially the process of pitching it to industry mentors in the Sidewalk Narrative Lab.

“When pitching, you really have to strip away all that stuff that doesn’t matter—simply because you have to be so concise,” Evans said. “So, that level of focus was helpful in thinking about my main character, which then led to me rewriting some of the script’s scenes.”

Matthew Evans began teaching at Grady College in 2019.

Many of the broader lectures encouraged techniques that helped shape Evans and his future work, including lessons he plans to incorporate with his students in EMST at Grady College.

In particular, Evans cites expertise from David Pope, a script analyst. Pope encouraged authors to pursue “speaking about the unspoken.”

“Using clips from movies, he had some great examples of subtext—including the use of humor, passive-aggression, and metaphor,” said Evans. “I plan on adding these to my toolbox when teaching.”

A member of the Writers Guild of America, West, Evans’ portfolio already includes scripts written for HBO Films, Cloud Nine Productions at CBS TV, and more. He plans to pitch “Hellas” to executives in Hollywood with hopes of it getting picked up for production.

Date: September 24, 2021
Author:  Dayne Young,  dayne@uga.edu