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The terror of Jaws resurfaces on the big screen, and an opportunity for aspiring screenwriters

by Mark Burger

The UNCSA Big Screen Film Series will conclude its series of screenings on Saturday,(Aug. 28 with the special 35 th anniversary presentation of the classic thriller Jaws in the Main Theatre of the ACE Exhibition Complex, located on the UNCSA campus (1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem).

Based on Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel, Jaws took the nation by storm summer of 1975, becoming the first film to crack the $100 million mark at the box-office on its initial run. The film put director Steven Spielberg on the map (where, in a sense, he’s still comfortably ensconced) and revolutionized the marketing and promotion of motion pictures.

Amity is a pleasant seaside town on Martha’s Vineyard, attracting thousands of tourists each summer. But this summer, something else has come to Amity: a great white shark, a relentless killing machine that terrorizes the populace and threatens to ruin the town’s economy.

In a last-ditch effort to rid Amity of its unwelcome intruder, police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) teams with oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and local shark-hunter Quint (Robert Shaw), taking to the open seas to track down and destroy the shark, that age-old conflict between man and nature taken to its most suspenseful extremes.

This screening is the latest in the ongoing series titled The Big Screen: Treasures from the Moving Image Archive, sponsored by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.

Jaws spawned countless imitations and ripoffs, as well as three sequels of increasingly inferior quality — including one in 3-D and one that featured Michael Caine in a supporting role (even he couldn’t save it) — but the original Jaws remains a benchmark in filmmaking. The film won Academy Awards for Best Editing, Best Sound and for John Williams’ unforgettable score, with an additional nomination for Best Picture. In addition to Scheider, Shaw and Dreyfuss — all of whom are terrific — the cast also includes Lorraine Gary, Jeffrey Kramer, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and Murray Hamilton as Amity’s increasingly worried mayor. Novelist

Benchley also appears in a cameo role as a TV reporter.

Jaws is rated PG — although the ads originally included the addendum “…may be too intense for younger children” — and the screening begins at 7 p.m. (Be on time, because the opening scene in the movie is one of its most memorable!) Tickets are $8, $2 for UNCSA students. All proceeds from the series will benefit the UNCSA School of Filmmaking scholarship programs.

For more information, see www.kenanrts.org.

Any movie (good or bad) begins with the script, and any script begins with the first word.

Filmmaker and educator Lovinder Gill, one of the founders of the Gillder Frontier, will moderate an ongoing screenwriting class beginning this month in Winston-Salem. If you’ve ever thought about writing your own screenplay, or were simply interested in the creative process of screenwriting, this class is designed to encourage and enlighten potential screenwriters about what makes a screenplay and, to an extent, what makes a movie.

In addition to more than seven years of teaching experience on the collegiate level at the UNCSA School of Filmmaking (where he was also a student) and East Carolina University, Gill is also an experienced filmmaker. His big-screen credits include the 2004 romantic comedy Chicks 101 (which he wrote, produced and directed), the 2008 family film Lost Stallions: The Journey Home (which he wrote and produced) and the 2009 biographical drama Wesley (which he produced). Gill recently completed production on the upcoming drama StaleMate (which he wrote, produced and directed). Gill has studied screen writing for more than 15 years and has an MA in screenwriting and film studies and an MFA in screenwriting.

“This class is designed for everyone who ever wanted to write a screenplay but could never find the space for it,” said Gill. “There are no arbitrary deadlines or huge amounts of work. Everyone works at their own pace and can learn without pressure. They will learn multiple forms of screenplay structure, in addition to my own thoughts on it. They will also learn by studying films and from each other. After they understand structure, they will learn by doing and reviewing. The doing is their writing and the reviewing is of movies and their classmates’ work.”

Class orientation will be held Wednesday, Aug. 25, with classes officially beginning one week later, on Sept. 1. Weekly classes will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday evenings at the Gillder Frontier corporate offices (200 Brookstown Ave. Suite 2, Winston-Salem).

The registration fee is $125 per month, and early registration is strongly suggested, as space is limited to 10 students.

For more information, call 336.816.3355 or e-mail gill@gillder.com.

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