SILICON VALLEY, CA -- The name RICHARD WALTER is synonym with Film. The professor, novelist and author of best selling fiction has been acquainted with film since he was a student in the Radio and Television department of the Syracuse University, in New York. After completing both his BA and Master degrees, his search for a PhD program in film, brought him to California, where he enrolled in the USC Film program and worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter and script consultant. But a teacher at heart, he decided to share his accumulated knowledge about film with other people, so he began creating Film Seminars which he conducted through North America, London, Paris, Jerusalem, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, Hong Kong, and from the classrooms of UCLA in Los Angeles. California, where Professor Walter held the prestigious position of Associate and Interim Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and Chaired their graduate program in screen writing, until he retired. So, with his classes, his books, his Television Appearances, his seminars around the world, his lectures, and now his seminars and blogs online, Professor RICHARD WALTER, has made possible for thousands, if not millions, of students of all ages and races, to learn the ART of filmmaking.
Knowing that he is the authority in film, Cultural World Bilingual asked Professor WALTER if he would like to share with our readers, some of them students who may be still thinking in a future field of study, his vast knowledge abut film. The following interview is a transcription of a phone interview from his "Home Office" in Los Angeles, where he now works.
He started our interview by Introducing us to his set, which was his view from his studio's window in the second floor of his house, that he described as follows: "A hundred acres of fresh water in the lake reservoir, with the Verdun Mountains stretched in the background. "
C.W. B: What attracted Richard Walter to film?
In Syracuse, I was very comfortable. I had scholarships to attend college, my girl friend lived about an hour away from the University, and I had a cozy apartment, But being comfortable was not my focus when I was twenty years old. So, while I was still in LA, looking for a rider to replace the one I had and drive back to the East Coast, I went to UCLA to place a card on their board, this was before the internet, and I also checked their film PhD program. It did not interested me. It was in Theater Arts with an emphasis in cinema, and it had nothing but analyses, so, I went to USC and in their PhD film school program found everything I wanted. I enrolled in it and never looked back.
I will never forget that three years later, My wife, yes I married that girl in Syracuse, and I went to a party at the house one of my old classmate who now lived in a boat in Sausalito, and had invited some of the former USC alumni to a brunch at the Trident restaurant, , there, and among his guests, we met now famous film editors Walter Murch, who has been editing films sound, since starting on Francis Coppula The Rain People, and Marsha Griffin Lucas, who won an Oscar® for Best Film editing in l977 for Star Wars, written by George Lucas. We even had a chance to spend a night at Lucas's house. And the reason why I mention them here, is that this entire group of now famous people were all former students of USC. (which demonstrates the reason why it important to enroll in a reputable film school)
C.W.B. Based on your experience, Professor Walter, what would you advice a person considering to study Film now?
R.W:"That these are the more exciting times for them to start studying film because the movie business is on right now. Before, there were only a few television stations, but today, there are hundreds. There are also streamers and cables, and everything is changing about film, There are also so many ways to get distribution. So, If any of you have a good idea for a movie, you can even do it (the movie) yourself because it does not cost too much to make a movie today. which may be great news for people who want to make movies. And for those who may want to learn how to write movies (scripts) I was just told at UCLA that all their scriptwriters students are now finding jobs which have been created by cable. So. for film students, today is the best time for those who want to become filmmakers because never has been a better time in the history of making movies that now."
C.W.B. Would you suggest, Professor, that those who want to write scripts of make movies attend Film school first?
"I have written novels which made the best seller's Time's List, my Screen writing book, "Essentials of Screen writing" in its Mandarin translation, is at the top of Amazon's Chinese Film books list. But my point here is that people who goes to film school, not only leans the correct way to do things. but also make connections, and those kinds of connections, with other people in the industry will always be helpful. Going back to my story in Sausalito, where I started. Do you know who else was a guest at that brunch? John Milius, the Director and writer of Apocalypse now. which he wrote with Francis Ford Coppola, and the film Conan the Barbarian. These are the people that you get to know when you go to film schools."
C.W.B. Is there something that you would like to tell our readers about film that you consider of interest?
"People were blown, a long time ago, by an image that moved. They even paid to see the moving images. So, filmmakers started filming the moving sights of the world, such as the tribes from the middle East, running on camels' backs. But in a little while, people got tired of just watching moving objects, so, in November of 1903; The Great Train Robbery was made by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company. It was one of the great firm stories. Since then, people began coming to films to see stories. ">
"Film is story-telling. I remember that one time at UCLA, they told all the students in the Film department: the the editors, the sound people, the make- up artists, even the dress makers, that every one of them was "a story teller" because they were contributing to the story, and films are based on the power of the narrative. All filmmakers should be first story tellers."
"People send me all types of screen plays for me to read and I read the first page, and if the story grabs me, if it makes me want to turn the page and keep reading to see what happens, I read the rest of the script. There was a time when I got a script where the line which indicates the locality which reads EXTERIOR (EXT) and describes the location, which in this case was a High Way, and has another line to indicate the time, which in this film read (DAY) , the student began describing the sun rising in the horizon. I stopped reading. And my reason was that all his description of the sunrise was unnecessary because he had already mentioned that the Scene was on a highway, during the day. That was all that was needed. When writing a good script, you never repeat yourself, What you do, is add information and move the action forward"
C.W.B.: What is your advice to somebody who wants to succeed as scriptwriter in Hollywood?
C.W.B. How about trends? Should they be followed by scriptwriters?
C.W.B. And to end our interview, Professor Walter, you know that your name is synonymous to film, in Hollywood because you have created more film writers during your life, any other person, but what many of us would like to know is what made this famous Hollywood's writer get into teaching?
R.W " By accident. I was very busy in my career, I had sold an script to Warner Brothers and was working as an screenwriter for the major studios and I was very successful. The agents were looking for me, so I was not exactly looking for work, But in l977, I went to this party in Malibu because my wife had insisted that we go, and there, I was offered a teaching job at UCLA and decided to try it. It was one of those surprises. that Woody Allen describes as: success just shows up.
We will finish our interview with a poetically visual allegory of Professor RICHARD WALTER's life. as we imagine it will look if written on a script.
The Tree of Wisdom
EXT: UCLA Campus NIGHT
With the University's red brick building in the background, we see a lush garden, showing a fountain, and behind the fountain an oak tree, which looks dark at night, but being "The Tree of Wisdom" sparkles when illuminated by the sun .because each one of its leaves is made of pure gold.
CLOSE UP: Showing a branch of the tree, its gold leaves and hundreds of brown acorns of wisdom hanging from it as O.S (Off stage) we HEAR a rumble of mixed voices in the background, and watch a large number of stretched fingers in young looking hands, wrinkled hands, white, brown, Black, red and yellow color hands eagerly grabbing the acorns from the tree of wisdom one by one.