William Horberg, producer of films including "Death at a Funeral," "Cold Mountain," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Adventureland."
In the Great Works Symposium at Drexel’s Pennoni Honors College this year, the chosen theme is comedy. And what could be funnier than a funeral?
Well, when you’re talking about 2007’s “Death at a Funeral,” the answer is “not much.” So now that it’s come time for the symposium’s Q&A to discuss how to put together a comedy, the natural choice was William Horberg, the film’s executive producer.
“One thematic thread running through all of the symposium’s classes this year is the fact that comedy is a craft — and one that’s difficult to construct,” said Melinda Lewis, the 2015–16 visiting fellow for the Great Works Symposium.
Horberg will speak on the differences between comedy and drama and the uniqueness of film before a screening of the original, British “Death at a Funeral” (Horberg was also producer on the American version released in 2010) at 1:15 p.m. on April 15 at the URBN Annex.
Comedy can be something as simple as a pie to the face (which, to be fair, works for The Three Stooges) but it often requires a significant amount of thought, which Horberg will discuss.
“It takes a lot of work to create a joke, sitcom, or comedy film,” Lewis explained. “Horberg’s work as a producer will provide some insight to the intricacies involved in making films and, in the case of ‘Death at a Funeral,’ working with and adapting to different types of humor to make a deliciously dark farce that works in the United States and Britain.”
With experience stretching roughly 20 years, Horberg has been involved with a plethora of films over the years ranging in a variety of genres. Beyond “Death at a Funeral,” he produced “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Cold Mountain,” and “The Kite Runner,” and worked as executive producer on “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Synechdoche, New York,” and “Adventureland.” In 2007 alone, Horberg produced seven releases, six of which he was credited as executive producer.
The Great Works Symposium — which, in May, will be rebranded as The Symposium — is an interdisciplinary, research and writing course offered through Pennoni Honors College on topics of broad public interest that also have great societal impact. While comedy is the theme this year, past themes have included energy, democracy and the frontiers of science. Next year’s theme will be water.