Name: Marcus Lux
Majors: CMS and English (Creative Writing)
Hometown: Lacey, WA
Favorite Movie: Her (2013)
When did you know that you wanted to write screenplays?
I knew that I enjoyed creative writing back in high school. When I entered UW, however, I initially pursued a career in medicine. I took a few science-related courses and performed badly in almost all of them. So, at the end of my freshman year I forced myself to make a tough decision: do I continue struggling on this path that I wasn’t even passionate about, or do I pursue something that I am good at and makes me happy? Switching from medicine to creative writing and later CMS felt like leaping off of a cliff, not knowing where I was going to land. But I never looked back. Both my grades and mental health improved as a result.
Tell us about the experience of seeing your work become realized or hearing it read by other people.
Having a room full of strangers read off your work is both a weird and lovely feeling. To see characters that I’ve created being actualized by real people is strange because someone other than the voice in my head is personalizing these lines. But this feeling is also mixed with a lovely one, in that my work is put under a spotlight that rarely passes over me.
Among screenwriters past and present, whose work do you most admire?
My favorite one working today is Barry Jenkins, a personal hero and inspiration of mine, mainly because of Moonlight (2016). A lot of what makes up my screenwriting style is inspired by his work. Whether it’s the tasteful uses of “beats” throughout the dialogue or the personalized notes attached to certain descriptive elements, he is a master at manipulating mood and emotion. Meeting Barry Jenkins is on my bucket list.
Next year, you'll begin a Screenwriting MFA program at UCLA's film school -- one of the best in the nation. What are your thoughts about transitioning to graduate study?
Getting into my dream MFA program has given me validation and confidence. Of course, a part of me still feels nervous. The professional environment of graduate school is bound to be intense. But I’ll also be surrounded by dedicated and talented people, so I’m dead set on contributing all that I can to this experience.
What has majoring in CMS meant to you, personally?
Every professor that I’ve had was significant to my education. A big shout out to Shawn Wong for creating such an enriching and skill-sharpening environment in which I could evolve as a screenwriter. To Slaven Svetinovic, Sudhir Mahadevan, and Félix Viscarret for helping me develop a stronger understanding of the technical aspects of filmmaking. And especially to my advisor Nancy Sisko, for helping and supporting me throughout my undergraduate experience.
Advice for new majors?
CMS has its challenges. For me, they had to do with time commitment and setting priorities. Give yourself time to consume and digest all these films that you’re watching for classes. The CMS major is not friendly to procrastinators, and I know that because I am one. But it’s definitely worth doing, as it provides a lot of knowledge about the art of cinema. It’s also a great major if you are hoping to work in the film industry, as long as you’re aware of the challenges that lie ahead.