Stanley Kalu

Stanley Kalu

BFA, Writing for Screen & Television '19

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How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of writing for film and television? I’ve learned that the image of an artist, hunched over a typewriter, cigarette betwixt teeth, clicking away at a masterpiece is outdated. Partially because this is the 21st century and no one uses typewriters anymore but also because the nature of the art form---screenwriting--- is largely a collaborative effort. Sure, lone wolf types exist (here’s to you Nic Pizzolatto) but the most joyous and often most challenging aspect of screenwriting is working effectively with other justifiably inflated egos.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to the Screenwriting program? APPLY. Seriously. If you have made it to the student stories page, you’re probably at least considering the idea, right? Good. Here’s the thing, the only reason you wouldn’t apply is because you’re anxious about not getting in. You’ve probably looked at the acceptance rate, cried a little, paced back and forth, and taken one of those “what-has-my-life-come-to” naps. Relax. First off, we’re all pretty anxious over here. So you’re halfway there, kid. Second, if you are excited about your work and believe in it and couldn’t imagine a world in which you weren’t writing…apply. Things have a way of working out.

How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline? Screenwriting is rewriting. This is our mantra. Our principle. It is a lesson that lies in the undergrowth, peeking its head when we learn of structure and character development, of Aristotle and Robert Towne. Creation, of any kind, is a pursuit that demands excellence and execution, both of which I have been taught to near through the act of rewriting, through the act of revision.

What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? Transitioning. I’m an international student from Nigeria. America, at first, was a hard pill to swallow. But the film school, particularly the writing program, provided a strong core of like-minded individuals who helped ease the process.

What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? My family is functionally nomadic. We’ve lived in seven different countries since my birth and have moved houses more times than I care to think about. The root, un-root nature of my life has blessed me with an array of cultures, styles and characters to draw from. My fractured perspective turns my writing to mercury. Ever shifting. Ever changing. Always different.