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Oscar-winning Writer Screens Documentary at MNU

Kevin Wilmott with event organizers
University News
Karen Flanders, Dr. Victoria Haynes, Kevin Wilmott and Bruce Flanders after the screening of the film.

MidAmerica Nazarene University hosted Kevin Willmott, film director, Oscar-winning screenwriter and professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas for a screening, discussion and meet-and-greet on Monday, March 18, 2019, in Bell Cultural Events Center.

Bruce Flanders, library director, opened the evening with a warm welcome and prayer. Dr. Victoria Haynes, professor of nursing and chair of the MNU Diversity Advisory Council introduced Willmott before Willmott spoke briefly about his film. After watching the 20-minute educator version of the documentary William Allen White: What’s the Matter with Kansas, Dr. Haynes interviewed Willmott about the project.

Willmott recounted growing up in Junction City, Kansas, and how there was no such thing as film classes, so he wrote plays, such was his need to tell stories. After attending Marymount College in Salina, Kansas and then New York University, Willmott realized that moving to Los Angeles to make films was never an option. He wanted to tell his stories in his way with the support of his family and friends in Kansas, something he would miss if he was anywhere else.

When Willmott was writing and producing the William Allen White documentary, he was also writing for the Oscar-winning 2018 movie BlacKkKlansman. For Willmott, working on both projects simultaneously brought home that the same race-related issues are dealt with over and over again, even today.

When asked what advice he would give a student wanting to break into film, Willmott joked, “Don’t do it!” He then seriously advised that students get a working encyclopedia of films in their minds--to watch classic films from the past and learn from great filmmakers. He also advised students to be patient and persistent, as he has found such a goal requires commitment and sustained effort.

After the formal interview, Willmott spent time with the audience, answering questions, giving advice and encouragement and posing for photos. View the Flickr gallery here.
 

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