The Department of Film, Television, and Media and the Screenwriting Program would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to award-winning playwright, television & film screenwriter Kemp Powers for taking the time to share his work, his time, and his wisdom with us last week, October 7-8, 2021.
During Kemp's visit, he conducted an authentic conversation with the Black Film Society (BFS), held two informative Q & A's after the screenings of his award-winning films Soul and One Night in Miami..., and led an intensive workshop session with Professor Burnstein's FTVM 427, the advanced screenwriting seminar. 

Kemp Powers and the Black Film Society (BFS)

                                                                                                                photo courtesy of Reyana Patterson

On Thursday, October 7, 2021, at 4:00 p.m., Kemp Powers met with the Black Film Society in Space 2435 North Quad before the Michigan's premiere of Soul. He engaged in an intimate conversation with BFS members about character building and navigating the industry -- and gave those interested in moving to L.A. practical advice for working in California. 

photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala 

"It was awesome to talk to Kemp. Every student who attended leaned in as Kemp answered questions about how to make your first year worthwhile (spoiler alert: a big part is finding things you enjoy outside of the world of film and networking) and [as he discussed the importance of] keeping a competitive but giving spirit." 
     -- Reyana Patterson, BFS

Kemp Powers and SOUL 

How It All Began...

Last March in his memorable zoom as a Benedek Visiting Artist with all FTVM screenwriting students and many production students, Kemp Powers mentioned that he hoped he would be able to see Soul on a big screen someday with a live audience. As Director of the Screenwriting Program, I knew right away that we had the perfect place and the perfect partner to plan such an event. Thanks to Russ Collins, CEO/ Executive Director Michigan Theater Foundation, Sarah Escalante, Director of Programming & Communications, and the entire terrific Michigan Theater staff, Soul was screened to an audience of over 600 people on October 7, 2021… the date we had circled on the calendar six months ago with Kemp’s permission and his promise to come to Ann Arbor for the screening. None of this could have happened, however, without Kemp connecting us to Amy Crisper at Disney and Chris Wiggum at Pixar who generously agreed to license Soul to the Michigan. 

photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala 

When Kemp was introduced before the screening, he immediately FaceTimed his co-director and co-writer on Soul, Pete Doctor (Up, Inside Out, Monsters, Inc.), and showed him the huge crowd in the beautiful, historic Michigan Theater. Mr. Doctor proclaimed this was the largest audience ever to see Soul in person! Kemp added to this historic evening by conducting a Q&A after the screening that was equal in length to the Academy Award Winning Best Animated Feature itself!

                                                Text contributed by Director of Screenwriting, Professor Jim Burnstein

Kemp Powers and FTVM 427: Advanced Screenwriting

                                                                                                                        photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala

Pictured from left to right: Dallas McGhee-Henry, Ashley Morrow, Ariel Berman, Kemp Powers, Justin Levine, Sophia Raines, Jim Burnstein; at front, Reyana Patterson

On Friday morning, October 8, 2021, Kemp Powers met with advanced screenwriting seminar students (FTVM 427) where he reviewed the first 5 pages of their second original feature screenplays and gave each student terrific notes for moving forward. To the students’ surprise and delight, Kemp told them their pages were better than the ones he wrote when he took Screenwriting I in our program with Professor Terry Lawson when he was a Knight Wallace Journalism Fellow at Michigan. The session was followed by a special lunch where Kemp discussed any and all of the students’ questions about screenwriting and life beyond college. It was a four-hour meeting the students will never forget!

photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala 

Kemp Powers and ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...

On Friday evening, October 8, 2021, the Screenwriting Program and the Michigan Theater presented One Night in Miami... for which Kemp was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Lynette Clemetson, The Charles R. Eisendrath Director of Wallace House (pictured at top, right), hosted a special conversation and Q&A with Kemp about the making of this great and important film which he also produced.