Ivory Tower to Silver Screen
April 7, 2011 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Who are some film directors, screenwriters, and TV showrunners who went to grad school in the humanities, or taught in humanities departments before going into show business?

I am particularly interested in people who did, or tried to do, a Ph.D in philosophy. So, for example, Terrence Malick went to Oxford and Errol Morris went to Berkeley (although I believe neither one finished). Anybody else?

I'm also interested in hearing about people with other backgrounds in the humanities. One who comes to mind is David Milch--although he's got an MFA (AKA art school, not humanities), he then taught English Lit at Yale.

What other academics, or would-be academics, started writing for the screen, directing, or created a show?
posted by Beardman to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Kathryn Bigelow did graduate work in film theory at Columbia and was in the Whitney Program; she taught at CalArts.
posted by neroli at 9:19 AM on April 7, 2011

David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood, Luck) has an interesting (but rather non-traditional) academic CV.
posted by caek at 9:20 AM on April 7, 2011

Terrence Malick studied philosophy at Harvard, went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scolar, and taught philosophy at MIT.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:23 AM on April 7, 2011

Duncan Jones started doing a PhD in Philosophy before switching to film school
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2011

TV writer Eric Kaplan (Futurama, Malcolm in the Middle) did years of graduate work in philosophy, although I believe he never finished his dissertation. (Full disclosure: we went to high school togther and I know him a bit.)
posted by neroli at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2011

Wes Craven was, briefly, a humanities professor.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:29 AM on April 7, 2011

Dolph Lundgren was not a humanities person, but it is worth noting that he has a master's in chemical engineering and he received a Fulbright scholarship to MIT.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2011

Charles Randolph was a professor of Philosophy in Vienna.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:37 AM on April 7, 2011

Merril Markoe has a masters in art, taught at USC and co-created Late Night with David Letterman.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:38 AM on April 7, 2011

Jeremy Leven
Hong Sangsoo
Herschell Gordon Lewis, father of the splatter film
And Bollywood, not Hollywood Arindam Chaudhari
posted by Ideefixe at 10:42 AM on April 7, 2011

Ethan and Joel Coen are philosophy majors.
posted by effluvia at 10:55 AM on April 7, 2011

William Goldman was teaching at Yale when he sold Butch Cassidy for the highest-ever amount then fetched for a screenplay.
posted by meadowlark lime at 11:12 AM on April 7, 2011

Joseph Kosinski has a Masters in architecture from Columbia.
posted by vorfeed at 12:35 PM on April 7, 2011

Jane Espenson studied under George Lakoff at UC Berkeley.
posted by lesli212 at 5:21 PM on April 7, 2011

Kathryn Bigelow did graduate work in film theory...

Lots and lots and lots of filmmakers have graduate degrees in film. A lot of what you learn in film school, especially at the graduate level, is theory.

I think this is an important distinction to make, as it seems the OP is looking for filmmakers who were specifically involved in academia within other non-film disciplines.
posted by Sara C. at 6:39 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Big night out in Riverside, CA   |   What do BOUNCE and FAMILIAR mean in a WWII... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.