Collin Stutz

Digital Filmmaking & Video Production

The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston

Collin Stutz

Collaboration contributes greatly to students’ success in my courses. Collin Stutz , Instructor , The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I instructed my first Writers Guild Foundation High School Screenwriting Workshop in Los Angeles, I officially got the “teaching bug.” In these workshops, writers affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, West took over the teaching of an inner-city Los Angeles high school English class for a two-week period. Students were taught the nuts and bolts of screenwriting and each produced a short film script. Some of the deeply personal stories that emerged were illuminating and, in many cases, mind-blowing.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession

Having worked as both a film development executive and a screenwriter, I understand how good one’s material has to be to break through the impenetrable walls of Hollywood. I weave these stories into my classes to convey to my students the realities, challenges, and opportunities of the profession.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

In my upper-level screenwriting courses, students turn in a first draft of a short script during midterm week. The following two weeks are primarily writing workshops in which both the students and I “tear apart” their scripts, pinpointing structure, character, scene, and dialogue issues. Students learn not only how to receive constructive feedback and implement it, but also how to give constructive feedback. They then use this feedback to rewrite their scripts for their final projects.

Once the scripts have been rewritten, I bring in local Austin actors during the final week of class to perform the students’ scripts. Hearing one’s words performed is always an eye-opening experience. The students take notes during the script readings and then complete an assignment in which they address what they would hope to improve during future rewrites based on the readings.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Collaboration contributes greatly to students’ success in my courses. Writing is rewriting, and writing, like all art, is subjective. It’s important to receive feedback from one’s colleagues. A typical rule of thumb is that if only one colleague has an issue with something in your script, it’s up to the writer’s discretion whether to address it. But, if two or three fellow colleagues have an issue with the same particular story element, it’s definitely worth the writer addressing.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

I would impart the same piece of advice that I received during my last screenwriting class as a student at the American Film Institute—NEVER STOP LEARNING ABOUT WRITING. THE MOMENT YOU DO, YOU MIGHT AS WELL THROW IN THE TOWEL. Just because you’ve attended film school doesn’t mean you know everything about film-making. Never stop learning.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

I am a published author and have co-authored three editions of the officially authorized JAMES BOND ENCYCLOPEDIA. In addition, I am a recognized film historian and have been the head researcher and an interviewee for studio making-of DVD documentaries on several noted filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock.