Webster alumni Andy Compton places in semifinals in Academy Nicholl Fellowship for Screenwriting

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Andy Compton credits his personal life experiences as inspirations for his two scripts, “Bellyache” and “Suplex.”

Webster School of Communications alumni Andy Compton placed in the semifinal round of the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting 2021, competing with over 8,000 other applicants. The international screenwriting competition is sponsored by the Academy of Arts and Sciences and aims to bring professional attention to lesser-known screenwriters.

Compton credits his own life experiences as his inspiration, and he said Webster encouraged his artistic development as a scriptwriter.

Andy Compton placed in the semifinals of the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting 2021. Compton’s work is heavily influenced by his personal life and experience at Webster. Photo contributed by Andy Compton.

“Bellyache,” one of Compton’s two semifinal placing scripts, was inspired by his experience watching his mother work in a school cafeteria when he was a child.

The script follows a cafeteria employee who goes viral after being fired from her job for giving free meals to an elementary school student. With this script, Compton sought to deliver a commentary about the school system while paying homage to his mother’s experience.

“I wrote this story to bring some attention to [the school lunch system],” he said. “Whenever something just really affects you emotionally or whatever, it’s like, ‘I have to say something about this.’”

Compton’s other featured script, “Suplex,” follows the story of a young man who escapes the troubles of his abusive household through his love of professional wrestling.

Compton draws connections between the protagonist’s experience and his own. As he transitioned to community college in his late 20s after earning his GED, he faced the same early adulthood insecurity he channels through his art.

“I was really afraid of [going to college] because I was just kind of a crazy kid when I was a teenager,” he said. “I didn’t care about school – didn’t care about a lot of things – so I was very afraid at the prospect of going to college because I didn’t know if I was cut out for it.”

Following his time at community college, Compton transferred to Webster in 2018 and graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in Scriptwriting with a minor in Film and Television Production in 2020.

Compton said the resources offered at the Webster Media Center, along with the guidance of a former professor, were central parts of his growth as a writer.

The gear offered at the Media Center and the experience of making short films gave Compton an opportunity to explore the world of movies and writing.

“Having that Media Center at your fingertips is just invaluable. Take advantage of it, get out there and make movies, and if you’re a writer, it’ll make you a better writer,”  Compton said. “You’ll learn by getting out there and making a film out of the thing that you wrote, you’ll learn a lot about your writing and what works and what doesn’t and what maybe needs to change.”

The Media Center did not just offer Compton access to equipment, however. He also used it as an opportunity to grow with his peers. He said that the best approach to collaborative projects with other students is to value the prospect of learning as peers.

“You’re all equals in that moment, no one knows more than the other. If they do, it’s very little, we’re all learning together,” he said.

Compton’s opportunities at Webster did not end at the Media Center. His Scriptwriting for Film professor Peter Hanrahan, facilitator of the Scriptwriting program, offered guidance and technical understanding to Compton.

“Suplex” was the first screenplay that Compton ever wrote in full, and he said he gained the structural knowledge he needed to write it in Hanrahan’s class. After dealing with repeated roadblocks in his writing, Compton finally completed the piece in July 2019.

Hanrahan describes his experience seeing Compton’s success as a chance to see his natural talents merge with his learned skills in class.

“It’s been amazing to see Andy take that innate talent for crafting character and apply to it the more formal aspects of the medium that he’s learned in his time at Webster,” Hanrahan said.

 

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Molly Foust
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