Baylor graduate award winning filmmaker talks with students

Baylor alum John Lee Hancock, director of movies such as "Saving Mr. Banks" and "The Blind Side", Skyped the Baylor Women of Film to talk about his experience in Hollywood. Shae Koharski | Multimedia Journalist

Emma Whitaker | Reporter

Baylor Women of Film hosted alumnus John Lee Hancock, the film director of “The Blind Side”, “The Founder”, and “Saving Mr. Banks”, via Skype Thursday night. He talked about the multifaceted aspects of filmmaking and many students voluntarily showed up to ask the filmmaker questions.

Hancock, Baylor Law School graduate, moved to Los Angeles to gain momentum for his film endeavours. Hancock compared directing to coaching, every person needs to be handled in a different way.

“You want to build a family. It’s a little like the circus. You spend hours and hours together, people go eat meals together,” said Hancock.

Hancock said he loves the preparation for a new film. When students asked Hancock how he researches to create a realistic film, Hancock said stories come in different ways. The Highwayman, which is a movie about Bonnie and Clyde, took Hancock into intensive research about the two criminal’s lives.

“You always going to artistic freedom, but it’s important to be realistic,” Hancock said.

Hancock said with “Saving Mr. Banks”, a Disney movie, artistic expression was an ordeal with the issue of large corporation branding. The movie characterizes Walt Disney realistically, which, according to Hancock, was hard for Disney to swallow at first.

“Disney held their branding so dearly, and held Walt so dearly, that they would never say anything bad about him.”

According to Hancock, eventually Disney had a change of heart.

“So you saw him smoking a cigarette, drinking a little, so what? They said we should make the movie. I give Disney a big hats off for letting us make the movie,” said Hancock.

When asked which film was Hancock’s favorite, he smiled and said they are too hard to compare.

“They’re kinda like children. You send them all out of the house, dressed and fed, and just trust they’re ready for the world,” said Hancock.

For sheer fun, Hancock said the “Rookie” was his favorite to make. He had a lot of freedom. He said they played baseball everyday at lunch during that the making of the movie.

Hancock, who referred to Sandra Bullock as “Sandy”, was accustomed to answering students’ questions about actor and director relations, filming weather concerns, and other challenges in a director’s world.

According to Hancock, everyday has its challenges, but this is what makes the job fun. His advice to college students is to stop worrying so much about what the market wants. Hancock said his success came when he stopped second guessing himself, and just start writing stories that appealed to his interest.

“The marketplace gets sick and tired of everything sounding the same. Write what makes you come alive. Go with what you love. Please yourself first before you try to please an audience,” said Hancock.

Spring Branch senior Danial Halsell came to the lecture because of the impact Hancock has had on the current film industry, such as Netflix.

“John Lee Hancock is a Baylor legend. I would love to hear him talk about the film industry, and what he is doing with Netflix, since that is where the industry is headed towards. I just wanted to hear him talk, he’s a cool guy,” Halsell said.