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I’m betting that the number of people who apply to The University of Texas at Austin because they are interested in careers in radio, television, and film might go up just a tad now. One of UT Austin’s well-known alumni, Matthew McConaughey, is going to be an instructor of record soon, and so will be teaching a course!
Matthew McConaughey has been appointed a professor of practice at his alma mater, the University of Texas, according to the Austin school.
The Oscar winner — whose Hollywood career was launched with his role as Wooderson, the pot-smoking ladies’ man in “Dazed and Confused” — will teach at the Moody College of Communication starting this fall.
He has been teaching the Script to Screen film production class with faculty member and director Scott Rice since 2015 as a visiting instructor, shaping the course’s curriculum and giving students a behind-the-scenes look at film production.
“It’s the class I wish I would have had when I was in film school. Working in the classroom with these students gives me a chance to prepare them,” said McConaughey, who graduated from UT with a film degree in 1993.
This is neat! I admit that I was a tad skeptical when I saw this headline. (I wasn’t sure whether this was another James Franco situation.) But, Matthew has been a visiting instructor for 4 years (I didn’t know this) and has had a hand in designing the course while working with another faculty member, Scott Rice. He’s clearly serious about this work and is the real deal. Here’s his page on the department website. He lists his expertise as “Production” and “Narrative filmmaking.” It’s apparent that the department knows that Matthew would be a draw. At the bottom of his faculty webpage is the caveat, “Please note that the script-to-screen advanced producing course is only available to RTF [Radio-Televsion-Film] upper-division students who have completed specific prerequisites; non-majors will not be admitted to this course.”
Matthew said that he’s teaching the class that he wanted to take when he was a student. Since he’s someone who is “in the industry,” I’m sure that he’s been creating a class that students find both engaging and useful for their own development as filmmakers. Kudos to Matthew for wanting to give back to his alma mater and the students. There’s a world of difference between excelling at a particular collection of skills (e.g. those relating to filmmaking) and being able to teach others those skills. Teaching well is incredibly difficult. The fact that the university is allowing Matthew to teach on his own means that he has proven himself to be a decent instructor, and congratulations to him for that. (I’m choosing to be optimistic rather than cynical here. Obviously, the university knows that Matthew can bring in a lot of aspiring filmmakers, but since he’s been teaching there for a few years already, before being given his own course, I don’t think it’s completely naive to assume that he’s a good instructor.) I hope that he and his students enjoy the experience, and am curious to see what, if anything, we might learn about his course.
Photos credit: Getty