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Q&A With Chris Courtney Martin

Chris Courtney Martin

BS screenwriting & playwriting '14

Chris Courtney Martin

What's going on with you right now? What are the latest developments in your career that you can share with us? 

Right now, I've been in Los Angeles since early February. I'm doing a couple rewrites and taking meetings while my manager shops some of my work around town. I'm also in pre-production on a web series I'll be co-show-running with a very good friend and fellow Philly native. It's called Intuition-- and is actually based on a feature script I wrote for a class my sophomore year, under the guidance of Ian Abrams.  

Can you describe what the process has been for the last few years since graduation that's brought you to this point? 

To put it as simply as possible, the last few years have been about proving to myself over and over again how much I want to work in this industry. Right after graduation, I had a well-paying job working for Drexel in the Procurement office. But I decided not to let myself get too attached to the salary and benefits, and split after about a year and a half to go to Los Angeles permanently (having been introduced to the city via Drexel in L.A.) I was out here for about 6 months before circumstances kicked my butt. I lost my apartment and immediately had to move in with my father in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I was devastated and actually quite depressed at this "failure." But in hindsight, I got some really great things out of Fayetteville. For one, I got to really know my dad, who I'd only first met in person at my college graduation. Career-wise, I did a lot of great work there. That's where I wrote my most decorated script, Pale Horse, which got me a manager. That script also earned enough prize money to get me back to Los Angeles and give me some financial cushion while I get settled.  

How did Drexel prepare you for the challenges of breaking into a tough industry? 

The more obvious resources I got from Drexel are things like co-op, DiLA, connections to alumni, a stellar education. But more than the things I can put on my resume, Drexel affirmed me as a writer and a fighter. At freshman orientation, I believe there were supposed to be about 18 Screenwriting majors starting in the fall. First day of class, there were something like 14-- and as the years ticked by, the numbers dwindled. A significant portion of the class switched majors or left the school altogether. I think there were 6 of us who graduated in 2014. And that was after we picked up a transfer and someone switched in from Film & Video. There was something extremely gratifying having seen the program through to the very end. Especially as someone who really struggled financially in school and had at one point heavily relied on peanut butter or Spam for protein. I'd always known I could survive adversity, but this program taught me I could also thrive in the midst of it.  

What advice would you offer to current or potential students? 

I know clichés from a Screenwriting alum are not a good look, but I'm going to say this anyway-- College really is what you make of it. Grades are important but they're not the only marker of your personal growth. There's an adage that writers use in the business: "look at the note behind the note." I think that can be spun out into "look at the lesson behind the lesson." You might not remember what you wrote for your final paper or even what grade you received. But you'll probably remember how you balanced your work-study gig and extra-curricular's to get it done. You'll probably remember all the crap you waded through to handle your business. And I think the many little ways you'll impress yourself matter more in the long run than anything else.