This semester I was lucky enough to get into one of the most popular classes at USC, CTCS 466–or in layman’s terms, “Film Symposium.” Even though the School of Cinematic Arts offers this class, it is generally made up largely of non-majors who want a chance to take advantage of USC’s incredible connections with Hollywood. Every Thursday night in this class, following a lecture from the brilliant Leonard Maltin, students get to see a film before it is released in theatres, and each week one or more guests come in who have worked on the film and talk to the class about their experiences.
One of my favorite films we have seen so far this semester was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I absolutely adored this film and would highly recommend it! Beyond being able to watch a fantastic film, what really made this particular class special was that our guest was the author of the novel (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) on which the film was based, Stephen Chbosky. Stephen succeeded in adapting his own novel, which (I learned in class) is virtually unheard of in the film industry, and he directed the film himself.
Stephen was a stupendous guest. He remains my favorite person to come into the class to date. One thing that makes Stephen unique is that he is actually a USC alumnus. In fact, not only is he an alumnus, but he actually took CTCS 466 in 1992 when he was a student at USC in the exact same theatre that the class is held in today. Thus, he had a unique perspective on what it meant to be a guest in the class. He was incredibly open to our questions and really encouraged us to come talk to him individually after the screening. It was clear that it meant a lot to him to be back at USC and that he loved being there to talk to current USC students. He even missed the New York City premiere of Perks of Being a Wallflower to come and talk to our class!
Stephen was also incredibly funny, and he shared some hilarious anecdotes from his experience filming Perks with the class. One such anecdote revolved around the rating of the film. Since Stephen wanted a PG-13 rating for the film, he was only permitted to use the f-word once. As a result, the cast of the film had a bet going throughout the entire shoot over who would get to be the only one to say the f-word in the film. (As it turns out, Ezra Miller, who plays Patrick, won the bet when he improvised a line that included the f-word in the truth-or-dare scene of the movie. During the remainder of shooting Ezra apparently frequently teased Logan Lerman, who plays Charlie, about stealing the only f-word, because in the screenplay Charlie was supposed to say the f-word.)
Since I loved the movie and Stephen so much, I am now reading the novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I cannot put it down. It is exquisitely written. I would definitely recommend it! I am INFINITEly grateful to USC for affording me the opportunity to hear from such an inspirational speaker! One thing is for sure, Stephen Chbosky has gained a loyal fan!