We introduce you to juror Willard Huyck, an IES Abroad Paris (Academic Year 1965-66) alumnus and Oscar-nominated writer, director, and producer! With past accomplishments like American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Howard the Duck, Willard shared his experience of studying abroad with us, how it inspired his film writing, and his advice to young filmmakers.
Writer, Director & Producer
IES Abroad Paris Alumnus, 1965-66
Q: Why did you choose to study in Paris?
A: Who wouldn't want a school year in Paris? International travel wasn't as common for students in 1965 as it is now. At that time, Paris was the capital of the Nouvelle Vague in cinema, which attracted me to the City of Light like a moth to a projector lamp.
Q: What are some of your most memorable study abroad experiences?
A: I spent most of my year abroad visiting the two Cinémathèque Françaises that showed classic movies in those day. That definitely didn't help my grades, but it did provide me with a great education in film. At the end of the year, I went to Switzerland with my IES Abroad girlfriend, whose parents had a chalet there and happened to be out of the country—talk about living large! After staying for a couple weeks, I took the Orient Express from Switzerland to Istanbul in a non-sleeping car—talk about painful!
Q: How would you condense the spirit of study abroad into one word?
A: Groovy! (Remember, it was 1965.)
Q: In 1979, you co-wrote and directed the film French Postcards about American exchange students in Paris. What was it like to return to France as a filmmaker?
A: Returning to Paris 12 years later to make a film about a junior year abroad was a vindication for my pathetic school record—very much like George W. Bush "43" saying he was proof a "C" student could become president. While making French Postcards, we gave IES Abroad students a chance to be extras. Unfortunately, they learned quickly they would just sit around a lot waiting to be used and didn't show up again.
Q: Which of your film-related accomplishments do you feel the most proud of?
A: My partner and I wrote quite a few scripts that we loved and were proud of and didn't get made. American Graffiti is my favorite among the ones that did get made. It was the most personal, in that it had some characters and incidents from my life.
Q: What is your favorite documentary?
A: I think Virunga is one of my favorite recent documentaries.
Q: What advice would you give to young filmmakers today?
A: My advice to young filmmakers today would be to go into long-form cable television. That's where the most interesting work is being done, and filmmakers are given more freedom than in movies or network TV.
Q: What impressed you most about the submissions in the inaugural Study Abroad Film Festival?
A: I was knocked out by the quality of the shorts in the IES Abroad Film Festival. They were smart, original, heartfelt, and well-crafted. Also, my three favorites were made by women, and that got me extra points from my wife.
Visit our Film Festival Jury page to read additional bios and interviews!
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