SULA hosts special film screening at Universal Studios
January 19, 2016
Universal Studios was the site of a special Syracuse University-sponsored screening of the film Straight Outta Compton, which was followed by an interactive panel discussion of the production. Attending the January 13 event were students in the University’s LA semester, graduate students in the Newhouse School’s television-radio-film department and audio arts program, as well as local alumni. Before the screening, those attending had the opportunity to network at the Universal Studios commissary.
Based on the story of the group NWA from Compton, California, that rose to hip hop fame in the 1980s, Straight Outta Compton was shown in a private screening room to a full house. After viewing the film, audience members had the opportunity to ask questions of the panel, moderated by Oscar-nominated writer/producer and Syracuse University alumnus Rob Edwards ’85. Panelists included film editor Billy Fox, music supervisor JoJo Villanueva, supervising sound editor Mark Stoeckinger, and actors Neil Brown Jr., and Marlon Yates Jr.—who revealed this was his first movie audition.
Panelists fielded questions about how the music was chosen and the process necessary to decide which iconic songs to include; the difficulties in editing the film from 3.5 hours to a 2.5 hour run time; how the actors were chosen; and what they did to prepare for the film.
“We learned that much of the script was ‘structured improvisation,’” says Joan Adler, the University’s assistant vice president of regional programs in Los Angeles, who organized the event. “Billy Fox and the editorial crew admitted that at some point they stopped relying on the script and just worked with the shot material.”
Drawing on his own experience as a writer, Rob Edwards talked about the pluses—and potential pitfalls—of straying from the script, and the actors discussed the challenges they faced improvising their roles.
“The audience loved the film and learned a lot from the panelists,” says Adler. “Rob Edwards drew on his vast knowledge of the industry to share important details of film making—and experiences the actors had in making the film were just incredible. The evening was a huge success.”