Gordy Hoffman
Gordy Hoffman

Hometown: Fairport, NY
Current location: Los Angeles, CA
Job title(s): Writer/Director

Q:  What did you study at KU?
A:  I had a double major in English and economics, graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Q:  How did your educational experiences at KU prepare you for your career?
A:  It opened my mind to different viewpoints and actually educated me about how the world works.

Q:  What do you know now that you wish you’d known in college?
A:  Don’t skip class! I wish I could sit in every one of those classes again.

Q:  How are you still connected to the university?
A:  I am a member of the professional advisory board of the film and media studies department at KU, as well as having done guest workshops on screenwriting. I’m a regular attendee at Los Angeles alumni functions, and love to travel to watch the jayhawks play.

Q:  Most people don’t continue to be involved with their alma mater after they graduate, so why is being an active member of the Jayhawk Nation important to you?
A:  As we all know, Kansas is one of most special schools in the world, so the bond we share is tremendous. I love wearing my gear around the country and feeling all the love wherever I go.

Q:  Were you involved in any organizations in college?
A:  I drank heavily.

Q:  Where were your favorite hangouts in Lawrence?
A:  The Crossing, the hawk and the wheel. And the stacks at Watson.

Q:  How did you get started as a screenwriter and director?
A:  I made a film when I was twelve, so it’s always been with me. Have been writing plays and screenplays since I left KU.

Q:  What resources did you use (i.e. books, seminars, lectures) to help learn screenwriting (talk about what you’d recommend here, as well)?
A:  I read a lot of screenplays through my competition and that probably taught me the most. Read screenplays if you want to do anything at all in the film industry. You must develop an eye for identifying strong material.

Q:  Which aspects of prep (i.e. brainstorming, character development, plotting, research, outlining) do you tend to devote the most time and focus to?
A:  I start writing, don’t spend too much time prepping. I do like to watch some movies to think about the type of movie I’m looking at.

Q:  Is there a specific approach you use to dig into your characters and develop them? If so, what are some of those techniques?
A:  We have to be emotionally honest with ourselves, and once we’re able to do that in service of creation of a character, our characters come alive. If we can’t share what we know about the emotional story of our lives, we won’t write anything people will care about. It ain’t easy.

Q:  Do you have some key screenwriting principles you keep in mind at all times while developing and writing a script?
A:  Do something new. No one listens to the same songs over and over, only sometimes. Tell the truth about people and don’t be scared to write something embarrassing. You only have so much time. 

Q:  Do you work with a specific screenplay structure in mind – three acts, eight sequences or some other paradigm?
A:  Every child tells a story with a beginning middle and end. Everything jumps off that to sell books and classes. Listen to a child tell a story and you’ll see Casablanca.

Q:  What is your writing process like on a typical day?
A:  When I can, I get away to a coffee house or a donut shop and do the best I can. I try to write every day, late at night or very early. It’s what I do best, so blowing it off hurts my feelings. 

Q:  Why did you create your BlueCat Screenplay Competition?
A:  I thought it would be a good idea to make money, but that has never worked out, but along the way it’s been wonderful. I love it and writers love it too, so I’m lucky.

Q:  What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the entertainment industry?
A:  Read screenplays. Watch Kurosawa, Ford, Renoir and Bergman. And Caddyshack.

Q:  What are your top 10 movies of all time?

  • Animal House
  • Contempt
  • The Third Man
  • La Dolce Vita
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Unforgiven
  • Citizen Kane
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Chinatown
  • The Seventh Seal

Q:  Why did you move to Los Angeles?
A:  I wrote a movie.

Q:  What do you love most and least about living in Los Angeles?
A:  I can’t see my family because they live other places, but that’s about it. I love LA!

Q:  What is your vision for our Hollywood Hawks group?
A:  We keep growing in the spirit of jayhawk nation and share our talents and resources to help each person realize their dreams!

Q:  Who are your biggest influences?
A:  Probably Fellini and Shakespeare.

Q:  What inspires you?
A:  People! They give me ideas every day. People are beautiful!

Q:  What is your current project?
A:  I’m working on a movie with Abigail Leigh Spencer.

Q:  What qualities must a person have to succeed in this business?
A:  You only need ambition, but just remember, success doesn’t make you happy.

Q: How has filmmaking changed in the last ten years?
A:  Probably where people watch your movies. It’s not in the theatres anymore!

Q:  Favorite places in Los Angeles?
A:  Dodger Stadium, In and Out, Farmer’s Market, and Gower Street!