Show Times: The Descendants with producer and Screenwriter-in-Residence Jim Taylor

by Jason Madanjian / Beacon Staff • November 17, 2011

Nov. 17, 7:00 p.m. | Bright Family Screening Room | Free

strongJason Madanjian, Beacon Staff/strong

How do you say goodbye to your adulterous dying wife without hatred in your heart? Can you cope with being a single dad of two daughters, one rebellious and the other heartbroken? In the new movie emThe Descendants/em, George Clooney’s character is faced with these very dark and complicated questions. This is the story that writer-producer Jim Taylor was tasked with helping to bring to fruition.

The film will screen tonight at 7 p.m. in the Bright Family Screening Room, before hitting theaters nationwide tomorrow.

Following the screening will be a Qamp;A with Taylor, who is also the current Semel Chair in Screenwriting at Emerson College.

“When I was hired, it’s partially because of what I can bring outside the classroom and to the community as a whole,” said Taylor. “So my upcoming film being released during my time here is perfect.”

After receiving an email in the spring inquiring his interest in teaching a semester at Emerson College, Taylor says he gladly accepted. Now months into teaching his advanced screenwriting course, Taylor is excited to show off his newest work.

emThe Descendants /emis the latest film Taylor and lauded independent director Alexander Payne have collaborated on. Other credits together include co-writing such critically acclaimed films as emElection/em (1999), emAbout Schmidt/em (2002) and emSideways /em(2004). emSideways/em was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture. Taylor and Payne walked away with Oscars for the screenplay they co-wrote.

During the screening, Taylor will get a chance to talk about numerous aspects of the film’s production. Unlike previous collaborations with Payne, Taylor did not co-write the screenplay, but says he served as a “creative” producer.

“My role involved acquiring the book, hiring the writers, and supervising the writing process,” said Taylor. He added that he stayed involved throughout the film’s entire production, consulting with Payne about casting and editing.

The duo’s films are known for their dark themes sprinkled with the satire of American society. Together, they run the production company Ad Hominem Enterprises, formed in 2005.  The two have been working together for almost two decades.

“We met about 20 years ago in New York City,” said Taylor. “I needed a room and Alexander had one.”

Based on a book of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings, emThe Descendants /emhas screened to near universal acclaim and star George Clooney recently said in a Rolling Stone interview that he would be shocked if the film were not nominated for Best Picture. emThe Descendants/em marks the first time both Taylor and Payne have made a feature-length film since emSideways/em.

In between writing and producing films, Taylor enjoys the occasional teaching job and sharing his knowledge and experience with the film industry.

“I try to be as honest as I can with my students,” he said. “I talk about my own insecurities as a screenwriter. Screenwriting is mostly about perseverance.”

emMadanjian can be reached at jason_madanjian@emerson.edu/em

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