Marvel Screenwriter Stephen McFeely Inspires MFA Students

Screenwriter Stephen McFeely, co-writer of The Avengers: Infinity War, and the Captain America series, as well as other movies and shows, brought a warm smile and good humor along with his writing experience to share with the MFA cohort Tuesday night. A casual question and answer session with MFA Program Director Ross Brown was followed by questions from the students and an informal opportunity to chat with McFeely one on one.

McFeely’s answer to the first question, “How did you become a writer?” was indicative of how important and influential early teachers were in his development. “It was the thing I got praised for when I was a kid. I was pretty good in school, generally good grades and all of that, so it was the thing (writing) that I got patted on the head for the most.” McFeely further explained that he wrote a “not very good historical novel” while getting his MA in creative writing, before eventually moving on to writing screenplays. The fact that he did not enjoy immediate success is an inspiration for the writer in all of us.

Technical questions about writing screenplays were met with answers that equated to long hard work. McFeely indicated that they (he and his writing partner Christopher Markus) spend eight weeks making an outline, and then assign each scene a number of pages, which usually equates to approximately 120 pages. A follow-up question about schedules and writing resulted in my favorite quote of the evening: “Your schedule is your schedule, but I think consistency is something we can all respect.”

Co-writer Christopher Markus is a friend since college and they write for Marvel as a team. When asked about conflicts and differences of opinion, McFeely indicated that it didn’t happen often, however, “Once a movie, a day will come when one of us is dug in . . . and usually, someone will just give in. We have a passion meter and whoever is higher on that passion meter gets to win that argument for the day.”

MFA students flocked to this affable and inspiring writer at the close of Q & A. McFeely was pleased to chat and respond to photo requests.

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