Oscar-winning actor and Department of Radio-Television-Film alumnus Matthew McConaughey (B.S. ’93) and award winning film director Yann Demange visited Moody College on Oct. 6 to offer career and life advice to about 300 junior, senior and graduate film students in the Belo Center for New Media auditorium before delivering a lecture to his upper-division undergraduate film production class “Script to Screen.”
The pair was on campus to co-teach a class session with Department of Radio-Television-Film Lecturer Scott Rice. In previous semesters, McConaughey has visited with students enrolled in the class, but this visit marked the first time he has also spoken with a broader audience of RTF students.
McConaughey said the class he co-teaches with Rice fills a gap in filmmaking education by addressing all the production decisions and script changes that are made before a film ends up on the big screen.
“I wondered: Is there a way to put science to the magic of how a script gets to the screen?”
“The [students] ask me some innocent questions that remind me of when I was 20 and had those same questions,” said McConaughey in an interview with Texas Monthly following his class. “I wondered: Is there a way to put science to the magic of how a script gets to the screen?”
The focus of this semester’s “Script to Screen” class is McConaughey and Demange’s upcoming new film, “White Boy Rick,” scheduled for release Jan. 26, 2018. The storyline is based on real events and centers on teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who becomes a drug dealer after working as a police informant in Detroit in the 1980s.
During the discussion with students at the auditorium, McConaughey said he briefly entertained going to law school at Southern Methodist University but came to UT Austin in part because of the lower tuition. Originally interested in screenwriting, the Academy Award-winner studied film production, where he learned how film sets operated before transitioning to acting.
The native of Uvalde, Texas, was originally “discovered” in an Austin bar by producer Don Phillips. Phillips cast McConaughey in his breakout role in Richard Linklater’s film “Dazed and Confused,” launching a career that now includes more than 50 acting credits.
In 2014, McConaughey won the Academy Award for best actor in a leading role for his portrayal of determined and gritty AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
The course is available to upper-division students enrolled in the Department of Radio-Television-Film. Further information on applications and enrollment is available on the Radio-Television-Film website.