Write what you know. It’s one of the first mandates that you learn when you are studying writing. As exciting as it sounds to live in a world full of dragons, wizards, or time travel, these are elements of stories that have come from a writer’s brain, their imagination. As up-and-coming writer Bradley Jackson puts it, “I think you write the type of story you want to write, and you use your own emotions and experiences and dreams to inform that.”
Though he went to UT to become a filmmaker, Jackson realized that writing was more entertaining. A writer has the freedom to create any world, any situation they want to explore — there are no limits to what can be written down. “When you’re directing, your dreams become narrowed down into something real,” Jackson explains. “With an article, writing is a real thing, but with screenwriting it’s just a blueprint, it isn’t real until it’s a movie.”
Jackson has been a writer for several years. He began his career while still attending college by writing a series of commercials. It wasn’t until shortly after his time at UT that this love transformed into a lucrative living, writing for Compass Learning, an educational entertainment company.
Spring boarding from a collaborative writer to a screenwriter isn’t that far-fetched when you consider that he used to want to be a film critic. “I wrote some movie reviews for the high school paper and teen mags, and I hated it. It wasn’t fun to write about a movie that’s already been made,” Jackson says.
He decided to make his own films, one of which is the recently wrapped “Intramural.” An epic sports movie for those who don’t deserve one, as the tag line reads, is the world that Jackson plunged into. With the mandate in the back of every writer’s mind, he based this story on his friends who were playing intramural football, and the idea expanded from there.
Sports movies aren’t hard to write, with the format being so brilliantly laid out there by films from the past. The domain of “Intramural” is something none of us have seen before, which is exactly what attracted Jackson to this story. “I wanted to write a comedy that people haven’t seen before,” Jackson notes.
This is his first feature-length script that is seeing a real world adaptation. He’s also producing this film, and he has been there throughout the whole process, seeing pages literally becoming scenes. This was something that was important to him, not only as a writer and creator, but as for knowing what is happening to the story throughout the process. The process of making “Intramural” has been one for the record books.
They found the perfect director in Andrew Disney, who Jackson was a fan of and the only one he wanted behind the camera. Next came the dream cast list, some of which were actually cast. “This cast is a big ensemble cast — 36 speaking roles — and we can only cast six to seven in L.A. because of budget, and we have some amazing actors that we work with all the time that we want to be in the movie,” Jackson says.
That Jackson is both a writer and a producer on this film is uncommon for most writers, but one that he took as a privilege and honor. “I think a writer’s job on set is very tricky. I’ve had to walk a thin line, which I think I’ve done an okay job with,” Jackson says. “You aren’t the boss on set, not even close, but our director is really cool and I can go to him with suggestions. The actors and I have a good relationship, and they have come to me to ask me if they can change it.”
Jackson and crew have assembled some of the best comic actors of our generation — ones that will be break out stars in the future — such as Kate McKinnon (SNL), Jake Lacy (The Office), and Beck Bennett (AT&T commercials). Jackson sounds like a proud parent when he talks about his cast. “The goal we had going into making this movie was let’s make a movie that in five years from now people say ‘How did you get that cast?’” Jackson gushes. “Like ‘Wet Hot American Summer,’ how did they get all these people? They made it right before all those people got big.”
This team effort is something they are hoping to bring to a wide audience, but first will make the festival rounds. This film will be the sports movie that we all grew up loving, the ones whose montages still stick with us. The important thing to remember about this movie is, that even if it was shot locally, with a little budget, it doesn’t mean it’s not an epic movie. “We don’t pretend to be an indie movie, we just have an indie budget,” Jackson says.
Jackson and the team behind “Intramural” are the embodiment of Austin film. They are creating something they believe in without the ludicrous ties that are attached to studios, yet it is something that will resonate with people around the world even though it is filmed in the bubble that is Austin. For a writer, there is nothing better than that.
Next up for Jackson is his work on the documentary “Dealt.” “It’s a documentary about the world’s greatest card magician, who happens to be blind. He lives in San Antonio, his name is Richard Turner,” he says. For more information, visit the “Intramural” website.