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September 3, 2008

Margaret Mehring

Considered the Best by Her Colleagues

Dr. Margaret Mehring, a renowned scholastic writer, film director, and humanitarian, as well as a long-time professor in the School of Cinematic Arts, has died at 82.

Margaret Mehring, founder of the USC Filmic Writing Program, consults with colleagues on set.
The beloved academic innovator of the Filmic Writing program, was also a political activist who led the university in creating the only monument dedicated to the First Amendment, entitled, “Blacklist”, based on the Hollywood 10—the blacklisted writers during the McCarthy era of the 1950s.

Of her varied accomplishments, Mehring’s book, The Screenplay, A Blend of Film, Form, and Content, is still used by universities across the country, and was a primer for teaching technique to filmmakers like John Singleton.

Her textbook on how small groups could create political movements, How to Win: A Democratic Grassroots Handbook, was initially written to aid a fledgling Democratic congressional candidate named Henry Waxman in winning his seat in 1974. These works and 50 other educational and documentary films demonstrated her depth of understanding in exploring the democratic process.

Shortly after her husband, filmmaker William Samuel Mehring died in 1957, she and her son Will, who was 18 at the time, led a band of Iranian filmmakers to document their history dating back to 4000 B.C. And, in the last years of her life she encouraged young people of the Oglala Lakota Tribe to employ media to document and teach all of us how to environmentally guard the world.

At the time of her passing on July 3 from acute leukemia, Mehring was noted to say that she was too busy to die because of her political involvement with this year’s state Democratic party.