Noted Director Speaks at MHS
On Monday, November 11, screenwriter/producer/director John Lee Hancock came to campus to speak with Mrs. Malott’s Fairy Tales in Fiction and Film classes as well and Mr. Randolph's Film class to discuss his work. Mr. Hancock (pictured here with Mr. Randolph on his left and Mrs. Malott on his right) has a long resume of writing, directing, and producing films such as “The Blind Side,” “The Alamo,” “The Rookie,” “My Dog Skip,” and the TV series: “L.A. Doctors”. Mr. Hancock was invited to speak primarily about his writing of the screenplay “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012) as it related to what the Fairy Tales and Film classes have been studying.
Mr. Hancock graduated from Baylor University and practiced law for a number of years before he decided to pursue his passion of writing and directing. After a few years of living the life of a “starving writer,” he got is big break by working with Clint Eastwood on the movie, “A Perfect World”. Clint Eastwood graciously allowed Mr. Hancock to be on set all the time and Mr. Hancock considers that experience, without formal film school, to be his on-the-job training. He not only spoke about his beginnings, but experiences on set and his style as a director. He shared that the two most important things about being a director are “to create a playground for everyone to do their best work, and to set the tone for the film.” As a director, one film can take a year and a half or more to make.
The students enjoyed seeing a preview of his upcoming film, “Saving Mr. Banks” which is the behind-the-scenes story of the making of “Mary Poppins.” He discussed the many things that go into writing and directing a film such as character portrayal and development, working with the actors, tone, hues, technology, maintaining the integrity of the script, and gut-level instinct. He also discussed the many roles that go into making a film such as the writer, rewriters, director of photography, graphic designer, costume designer, and more. He went on to explain that the role of director is much more than simply directing the actors. He is in charge of every aspect of the movie, from the color of the paint on the wall to which watch a character will be wearing. As a director, he works with the movie until it finally makes it to the big screen, from editing the final version to selling the movie and navigating all the politics involved.
Mr. Hancock is a family friend of one of our students and graciously accepted her family’s offer to speak. “I was thrilled for the opportunity for our students to talk to someone about the process of making these films a reality,” says Mrs. Malott. The students certainly learned a great deal from Mr. Hancock's visit.