Sam Raimi Speaks to Aspiring Film Students at Boston College

Boston College welcomed legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi to campus last week to speak to students interested in a career in filmmaking. As director of the first Spiderman trilogy, The Darkman, and the screenwriter and director of the Evil Dead franchise, Raimi's presence at BC was monumental. Celeste Wells, associate professor of the BC Communication department, moderated the event, one which required an invitation and student “bouncers” at both doors in order to preserve the event’s exclusivity. 

Raimi was incredibly grounded and personable as he sat behind a Gasson Hall lecturing desk and talked attendees through his writing process and career thus far. 

“Writing [scripts] was a chore, at first,” Raimi divulged to the students hanging on his every word. “It was a muscle that became necessary over time.” The esteemed writer and director made sure to emphasize that writing is an incredibly difficult undertaking. The only way one could accomplish such a feat, according to Raimi, is for writers to write what they love. “You don’t have to be great,” he assured the audience. “You just have to follow the thing you love.”

When asked by Wells if Raimi had any advice for BC students, as they notoriously strive to be so successful that they often do not try something they know they may fail at, Raimi reflects silently on the question, then leans in as if he is going to tell the audience a secret. To their delight, he does. 

The horror phenom dives into the tale of one of his first, and worst, films of the genre. It was Raimi’s earliest film on a larger budget, and he was determined to do everything exactly right. Opening night, the excited novice walked into the theater expecting a packed crowd, yet he was met with three people and a sea of empty seats. Two people walked out in the first twenty minutes requesting their money back, while the third stood to leave a little while later and told Raimi to keep his money. “That theater door slamming,” Raimi admitted, “was the loudest echo that just kept reverberating in my mind.” 

Raimi had failed, and this terrible reception appeared to be the end of the world. Yet instead of floundering in his own missteps, the driven filmmaker worked to realize where he had blundered and became even more passionate about his love for film. “There is nothing stopping you except the belief that you can’t,” Raimi imparted to BC’s perfection-driven students. “Start small, band together… find a team to make a tiny movie and keep doing it.”

The Darkman director and co-writer thoughtfully strove to weave in how students could utilize a Boston College education in each of his answers. “Everything else that a university like this offers you guys is what other people don’t have,” Raimi declared. 

Wells heartily agrees. “I am in my 13th year at Boston College, and over that time, I have watched our reach in media continue to expand.” She states that Raimi’s sentiment “reiterates our goal as a university to aid students in a comprehensive journey of discovery about themselves and the world around them.”  

Boston College may not be the first school that comes to mind when considering a career in film, though Wells readily pointed out that “some of my past students who majored in Communication now work for CNBC, NBC, CBS, Walt Disney, Apple TV, Netflix, Hearst, Spotify, and Bloomberg.” Wells also shouted out BC’s “relatively new” Journalism minor, contesting that it “has really begun to increase our reach into those communities, with regular fellows in the program like, currently, Charles Sennott, who, I understand, has been a wonderful resource for journalism students interested in finding their way into the field.” 

The university has made great strides in its endeavors to become more integrated into the entertainment and journalism industries; Sam Raimi’s visit and the tireless efforts of its staff involved in the humanities are staunch indicators of such changes. It is possible that Raimi’s legendary visit may be merely one of many with prominent figures in the field as Boston College works harder to encourage the passions of all its students.

Lover of brunch and the O.C. Cannot spell the word defeiently to save my life.

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