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.

Four students earn top awards at 2021 BEA Festival of Media Arts

Editor’s Note: Taylor Potter and Ana González are BEA Best of Festival winners. Their television pilot script won out of all first place winners in the student category. They will split the $1,000 prize.

Students in Grady College’s Department of Entertainment and Media Studies  won big at the Broadcast Education Association’s creative competition, Festival of Media Arts. 

Fourth-year students Taylor Potter and Ana González took home first place for original television series pilot script. Second-year student Hyde Healy received an award of excellence in the same category, and fourth-year student Tévon Knight received an award of excellence for a short video.

The BEA is the premiere international academic media organization driving insights, excellence in media production and career advancement for educators and students. The competition receives over 1,500 submissions representing students and faculty from schools around the world.

Potter and González developed their television pilot, “Buyer’s Remorse,” in Professor Matthew Evans’ writing for television course, which was launched last semester. The show depicts the perils of a realtor who, desperate to make a mid-career comeback, resorts to dealing drugs to save her family from foreclosure but becomes the catalyst for her family’s destruction. 

The course’s emphasis on peer collaboration allowed Potter and González to refine their work, and it taught them important lessons on story, character and conflict.

‘“Buyer’s Remorse” seeks to discover the lengths to which a mother and wife would go to save and protect her family at the expense of herself and her career,” they said.

The moment the “Buyer’s Remorse” team learned of their award.
Healy’s pilot script for the show “Command Sandwich” showcases his passion and skill for writing. Healy wrote the pilot before taking classes in the EMST program. His sister Isabella, who studied cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, played an active role in providing feedback for the script’s first draft, Healy said.

“I used my dysfunctional workplace experience in food service as the basis for this pilot. I love comedy, and my dream job is to write comedy professionally, so I thought I’d used the time granted while the world was shut down to write this pilot,” Healy said.

He credits involvement in clubs like The Industry and Sharkwing Sketch Comedy for exposing him to student work and inspiring him to write the pilot. 

Knight also received an award of excellence for his one minute campaign video of Brianna Hayes, a candidate for UGA Student Government Association president in 2020. 

“In the span of about 72 hours, I directed, shot, and edited the project together,” Knight said. “I think this award was a true confidence boost. BEA is not easy to compete in because colleges across the nation send in high-quality pieces.”

One key element Knight took away from his Grady classes is the necessity to devote all of himself to the project in order for it to feel authentic and be effective. The shooting styles and compositions used in the video were techniques he learned in Professor Garland McLaurin’s cinematography class, Knight said.

EMST faculty give recommendations for shows, movies, games

Grady College encourages all students, faculty and staff to remain informed with the University of Georgia’s information and resources regarding coronavirus at: uga.edu/coronavirus.

In following the advice of national health officials to stay home, many people are searching for movies, shows and games to consume. Grady College asked entertainment and media studies professors which content they recommend others see. Here are their recommendations.

APPS:  

 

Taylor Miller

The Peabody Awards iOS app
“It curates a list of the previous four years of winners, citations by jurors for why they won and links to where they can be watched.”

JustWatch
“It is a search tool into which you can type a show and season and see which all streaming services carry it/or where it can be purchased.”

 

TELEVISION SHOWS:

 

Matthew Evans

“Seinfeld”
Streaming platform: Hulu
“Normally, I’d wax poetic on classic movies. But given today’s headlines, I recommend “Seinfeld.” Although there are “Best Of” lists available, you can pretty much pick up anywhere. They’re all hilarious, and at 22-minutes a pop, it’s a nice break without making a huge commitment. Sure, it feels like “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-lite, but that’s okay: we all know that Larry David was the real genius behind NBC’s hit. It’s the best way to distract yourself from living in a real-world version of “Contagion,” which I’d also recommend, by the way.”

Jay Hamilton

“Better Call Saul”
“New season of the best character study on TV since Mad Men. No need to watch its related show “Breaking Bad” to be immediately immersed and marvel at the writing and acting. Start with Season 1 if needed.”

Garland McLaurin

“Mad Men”
Streaming platform: Netflix
“It’s a good series that follows interesting characters over a period of time.”

“Pose”
Streaming platform: Netflix
“A great show that follows the 80’s ballroom culture.”

“Who Killed Malcolm X
Streaming platform: Netflix
“Great doc series about the facts surrounding the murder of Malcolm X”

Taylor Miller

“Chernobyl”
Streaming platform: HBO
“This Mini-Series asks a simple question: what is the cost of lies? With its incredible storytelling, an event from history is scripted into a powerful parable that could not be more prescient for this moment. I simply don’t know of a better mini-series. Make sure to listen to the accompanying podcast after each episode to learn why certain production choices were made, hosted by “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” host Peter Sagal.”

“Schitts Creek”
Streaming platform: Netflix
“While the first two seasons may seem a little slow, they set the important groundwork for a very funny show with way more heart than you’d imagine. If laughter through tears is your favorite emotion, you’ll love a refreshing swim up Schitts Creek.”

“The Golden Girls”
Streaming platform: Hulu
“With 180 episodes, there’s enough charm, humor, and good ol’-fashioned nostalgia to last you quite awhile! And the studio audience laughter will make you feel less alone.”

 

MOVIES:

 

Kate Fortmueller

Anyone who wants to watch great movies should at the very least sign up for the 14-day free trial for The Criterion Channel. This month they have a series called “Film Plays Itself,” which has movies like “Sunset Boulevard,” “The Player,” and “The Bad and the Beautiful.”

“The Player”
Streaming platform: Criterion Channel
“Satire of Hollywood filmmaking staring Tim Robbins. As with all Robert Altman films it has a stellar ensemble cast, overlapping dialogue, and a mix of genres (in this case black comedy/film noir). I like this film’s biting critique of Hollywood filmmaking and culture.”

“$”
Streaming platform: Criterion Channel
“Bank heist set in Germany starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn with a score by Quincy Jones. This is a stylish movie that combines Goldie Hawn’s quirky style of humor with a genuinely suspenseful bank heist.”

Jay Hamilton

“Lady Bird”
“Greta Gerwig’s breakout feature is infinitely better than “Little Women.” Lead Saoirse Ronan and the script captures the sassy turmoil between a single mom and her on-the-cusp young adult daughter. A paean to following your own path to find yourself.”

“I, Daniel Blake”
“Palme d’Or winner at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival by long-time gritty realist Ken Loach. The northern English accent may be tricky for American ears, but turn in the subtitles if you need to. A heartfelt, unyielding portrayal of the precarious times in which we live, plus the need for a deep human response to confront it.”

Garland McLaurin

“Purple Rain”
Streaming platform: Netflix
“You can’t go wrong with Prince.”

“Sorry to Bother You
Streaming platform: Hulu
“A great film from Boots Riley”

VIDEO GAMES:

 

Shira Chess

FREE MOBILE GAMES
“Dash Adventures”: “For those who have not previously played a game in the Dash franchise, you are in for a fast-paced treat. In “Dash Adventures,” you work through zany adventures as a waitress and entrepreneur, saving a town from a variety of disasters. Kicking in a little bit of money from time to time gives you more abilities to complete levels and areas. The level styles are varied and the challenges are fun and just a bit weird.”
“Hungry Babies Mania”
“Polar Pop Mania”

INEXPENSIVE MOBILE GAMES (under $5)
“Donut County”: “You play as a hole in the ground. Seriously. An army of racoon bros are destroying an area oddly similar to Los Angeles and the player guides a hole in the ground as it sucks up items, becoming larger with the more things that fall into it. In our chaotic times, there is something oddly cathartic about swallowing up everyone and everything into a hole in the ground.”
“Monument Valley (1 & 2)”
“Gorogoa”

MID-PRICE MOBILE GAMES ($5-$15)
“Stardew Valley” “For more involving play I cannot possibly recommend a game more than Stardew Valley. Stardew is what is referred to as “slow gaming” – you are farming, mining, fishing, and performing other tasks that seem relatively normal, on the surface. But the game is infused with some odd moments of magical realism (it’s like FarmVille but really weird). Also, you can have involved relationships with non-player characters. If you are looking for an absorbing experience to take you out of your doldrums or anxiety, I can’t recommend a better experience than Stardew Valley.”
“Ticket to Ride”
“Oxenfree”
“Broken Age”

“For those with iOS, getting a one month subscription to Apple Arcade gives free play for a long list of games that are included. Ticket to Ride (mentioned above) is a great asynchronous board game with a digital version. You can play with up to 4 friends over the course of hours/day/weeks.”

 

From the Peabody Awards:

 

Documentaries

“Independent Lens: Dolores”   [Peabody Winner] Network/Platform: PBS
“Peter Bratt’s exhilarating portrait of activist and community organizer Dolores Huerta serves as a timely reminder of the power of collective action in service of social justice.”

“Blue Planet II”   [Peabody Nominee] Network/Platform: BBC AMERICA
“A view of our oceans using the latest diving and submarine technologies reveals we have more in common with, and are more connected than we ever imagined, to our deeply threatened seascapes.”

“The Jazz Ambassadors”   [Peabody Winner] Network/Platform: PBS
“A story about the people, especially African Americans, who created jazz and the pivotal role their contributions played in cold-war diplomacy, American race relations, emerging black identities, and newly independent third world nations around the world.”

Entertainment

“The Americans”   [Peabody Winner] Network/Platform: FX Networks, Hulu
“A rare show that has won two Peabody Awards, including one last year for its final season.  It tells the complex story of two Soviet spies deeply undercover as middle-class American parents dealing with patriotism, family, relationships, and duty.”

“Hannah Gadsby: Nanette”   [Peabody Winner] Network/Platform: Netflix
“A blistering treatise that finds the tragedy in comedy, in which Hannah Gadsby commands, breaks apart, and reconstructs the standup comedy special format all while delivering a powerful message.”

“My Brilliant Friend”   [Peabody Nominee] Network/Platform: HBO
“The adaptation of the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet novels follows two girls and their personal triumphs and tragedies against a setting that swirls with political, social, and cultural strife in post-war Naples, Italy.”