Tony Gilroy Inspires Montclair with ‘Bourne,’ ‘Star Wars’ and his Advice for Future Writers

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Published October 17, 2018
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The Montclarion
Moderator Susan Skoog (left) leads the discussion with multiple Academy Award-nominated writer and director, Tony Gilroy (right) Collin De Lade | The Montclarion

The Film Institute at Montclair State was thrilled to host Academy Award-nominated writer and director Tony Gilroy on Monday night, Oct.15. The School of Communication and Media Presentation Hall was packed with Montclair State students anticipating the discussion between Gilroy and Susan Skoog, the head of The Film Institute at Montclair State.

“Tony Gilroy is my idol,” Susan Skoog admitted when discussing the impact of the event. “I’m so thrilled to have him at [Montclair State] and moderate the discussion. The turnout was amazing, and it’s great that the word got out and how the event completely sold out.”

Some of the biggest takeaways of the event were Gilroy discussing his creative process and his experience with the “Bourne” franchise and rewriting “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

The biggest reaction from the crowd came from Gilroy explaining the everyday objects that are forbidden in the “Star Wars” franchise.

“I was going to include the first bathroom scene in ‘Star Wars,'” Gilroy said. “It would have been the first time a mirror was in the franchise. But it was cut right before filming as executives came running to me yelling, ‘There are no mirrors in ‘Star Wars.'”

Gilroy continued talking about the various other objects that are forbidden from being in “Star Wars” movies, along with explaining the production issues “Rogue One” was experiencing when he was brought in.

“[The film was missing] purity of need, purity of character and the driving force for the characters,” Gilroy said.

Tony Gilroy Reflection

Susan Skoog and Tony Gilroy reflecting over “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” along with Gilroy’s various other bodies of work. Collin De Lade | The Montclarion Photo credit: Collin De Lade

Audiences filed out in awe with the wisdom Gilroy shared with the crowd. Plenty of Montclair State students came out inspired to follow Gilroy’s advice.

“I got a better look at what it really means to be a screenwriter and what it means to get out of here and further your creative exploration,” said sophomore filmmaking major Jerry Harney.

Harney also shared what he considered to be his favorite moment in the discussion.

“The highlight moment of the discussion was hearing someone so successful talk about their films in such a casual way,” Harney said.

Senior television and digital media major Victoria Ballinger was surprised to see the Academy Award nominee act very human and down-to-earth.

“I really liked how real he was,” Ballinger said. “He didn’t just give us fluffy answers. He was just himself and that really got to a lot of students especially and that’s what a lot of people need to hear. They need to hear the real-life scenarios rather than hearing a fantasy of the real world.”

Filmmaking major Jessica Vega came out of the event enjoying Gilroy’s discussion on doubt and hesitations when writing.

“Everyone struggles while screenwriting,” Vega said. “No small part is invaluable. I really like how he talked about how the smallest parts are the hardest to write and yet the biggest, most action-packed scenes were the easiest.”

Tony Gilroy 1.jpg

Tony Gilroy discussed the ins and outs of screenwriting with Montclair State Students. Collin De Lade | The Montclarion

Vega’s favorite point in the discussion was when Gilroy emphasized his passion as a writer.

“[I liked] when he said he doesn’t focus on structure,” Vega said. “I know that in film school there’s always a technical structure, but when he emphasized the need to write, I can really relate to that.”

The Film Institute at Montclair State was very pleased with the turnout and the discussion with Gilroy. They are prepared for their upcoming events as well, such as the next Friday Night Frights event on Oct. 26 and the Sidney Lumet event on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m.

When asked about the upcoming events, Skoog expressed that she is eagerly anticipating them.

“I really want to push students to come,” Skoog said. “Even Tony Gilroy praised Lumet’s ‘The Verdict’ as the perfect film; so listen to him!”

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