John Pierret, a senior media studies and production (MSP) student at Klein College of Media and Communication, knows that a standout script requires both excellent writing and staunch dedication. In his creative scriptwriting class last spring, he wrote The Art of Moving On," a heartfelt screenplay about letting go. The piece earned him recognition at Klein, but his willingness to share his work is what led to his acceptance into the Cape Cod Story Summit, a multi-day writer's retreat that brings leaders in the film industry and notable authors together with budding creative talent.
"The Art of Moving On" was crafted out of one of the early assignments in Pierret's creative scriptwriting class. Students were asked to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art and write a script based on a work that caught their attention. Pierret chose the "Portraits of Hiram Charles and Elizabeth Brown Montier," two separate paintings of newlyweds Hiram Charles and Elizabeth Brown Montier, a free African American couple who lived in Philadelphia during the 19th-century. Pierret began writing a story of romantic and personal loss, a narrative that he continued exploring throughout the rest of the class's assignments. His steadfastness resulted in a 22-page longform screenplay that won first place at the 2020 MSP Awards in the "Best Long Form Script" category.
Kristine Weatherston, an associate professor of instruction in the MSP Department who teaches the creative scriptwriting class, says that Pierret produced a special piece that deserved recognition outside of the classroom.
"Part of the ethos of MSP is that we do encourage students to make work with the intent of it going out into the world, and that it isn't just for the classroom," Weatherston says.
When Pierret found out about the Cape Cod Story Summit from another professor, he took initiative and applied using "The Art of Moving On" as his writing sample. The summit will be held in Massachusetts next month, and Pierret was chosen as one of five recipients of the Jeff Arch Fellowship, which covers $2,000 of his summit tuition. Each fellowship winner was given final approval by writer Jeff Arch, who wrote the 1993 romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle. Pierret is raising money through Fundly to help cover the additional costs.
Pierret hopes to further improve his writing as he progresses in his goals. His other commitments, including working as a program director and an on-air host for WHIP Radio and serving as a Klein Rising Peer Mentor, are aided by his advanced communication abilities. As a transfer student who started at Temple University last academic year, he says that he wants to "make the most" of the rest of his time at Klein and prepare himself for life as a creative professional who tells authentic stories.
Weatherston says that she would not be surprised if Pierret works with screenwriting heavyweights like Ava DuVernay or Shonda Rhimes in the future, or even launches his own production company.
"I felt so connected to everyone in John's script in such a short amount of time," she says. "That's a writer who knows that every word matters."
Pierret believes that Klein and the creative scriptwriting class have been instrumental in his growth not only as a student, but also as an individual, and is very excited to get to work at the summit. "I really appreciate Klein and the...opportunities to allow me to express myself creatively," he says. "It wouldn't have happened if I wouldn't have had that class or interacted with my professors, so I'm just thankful for the professors and Klein in general."