February 24, 2024

UT grad back from Hollywood to tell others how to break into business


Matt Milam, senior vice president at Skydance productions, will return home to Knoxville where he grew up and went to school to host a forum on how to get movies made in contemporary Hollywood.

Milam will be joined by Jon Silk, Will Russell-Shapiro and Bryan Unkeless in a panel discussion, which will be held Friday, Oct. 4, in Hodges Library Auditorium at 3 p.m. encouraging students to learn and ask questions about the film industry.

“We are bringing a lot of different aspects,” Milam said. “I grew up in Knoxville and a lot of the things I did came from getting out of my comfort zone and have helped me since I got to Los Angeles.”

Milam started with Warner Bros before moving onto Skydance and working on major films such as World War Z and Star Trek Into Darkness. Milam said that he gained a new appreciation for movies through his classes at UT.

“Through my film classes with Dr. Maland and Larsen, I increased my appreciation for movies,” Milam said. “We watched a Chaplin film, and there were 18 year olds laughing at it. It blew my mind because these were 18 year olds laughing at a film from 70 years ago.”

Milam finds that his experience at UT helped to get him ready for life in Los Angeles.

“You can’t replicate this experience [at UT],” Milam said. “It is a melting pot for student culture and it forces you to deal with different personalities.”

The panel discussion is something that he is looking forward to do because of the opportunities he never got while at school. Milam said that while he was in school, he would of loved to have someone come and talk to him about the industry and some things to look at doing to prepare for it.

Milam assures that the movie business is not just for a niche audience but something everyone can get into. “You can have a basket weaving degree but if you have a passion for movies, you can make it,” Milam said.

He said that the most important thing to do at the panel is to ask questions.

“There is no small enough question that we can answer,” Milam said. “We want to answer all of them.”

Milam added that in today’s world, film is more accessible than most crafts, and there is a need for more diversity in writers, directors and actors to keep making movies.

The panel will being at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, in the Hodges Library Auditorium. There will be door prizes including movie memorabilia and posters for those who come early.

Edited by Marion Kirkpatrick

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