Alumni Spotlight Graham Gordy ’99

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Graham Gordy completed his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing at NYU where he received the Goldberg Award for Playwriting.  His plays have been produced and performed by Naked Angels, The New Group, New York Stage and Film, The Drama Dept., and The Royal Court (London).  His screen credits include “War Eagle, Arkansas” and “The Love Guru.” His work has been published in “Oxford American,” “Imbibe Magazine,” “ArkansasLife,” and “The Arkansas Times.” His TV pilot “The Wreck” was purchased by AMC and his screenplay “The Slow Rise of Wesley Sinker”is being produced by Anonymous Content. He currently writes for the upcoming Sundance Channel drama, “Rectify.”

What are you doing now professionally?

I wrote for the first season of the upcoming Sundance Channel drama,
“Rectify,” which we shot in Georgia this summer and will air early
next year. I’ve recently completed an adaptation of the Max Allan
Collins series “Quarry” into a television series. Director John
Hillcoat (“The Road,” “Lawless”) is attached to direct and executive
produce and we’re going to try to sell that in the coming months. And
I just finished a new feature screenplay called “This Is My Heart,”
which will go out to directors in the coming weeks.

What books, artwork or other movies have inspired you, overall or recently?

A few favorites for fiction: Knut Hamsun’s GROWTH OF THE SOIL, CATCHER
IN THE RYE, DON QUIXOTE. A few for non-fiction: Agee’s NOW LET US
PRAISE FAMOUS MEN, Wright’s NON-ZERO, and Erazim Kohak’s THE EMBERS
AND THE STARS. A few movies: “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Verdict,” “Raising
Arizona,” “Amelie.” TV: “Homeland” (I hope they can sustain what
they’re doing), “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire.” Oh, and I’ve been reading
a lot of contemporary poets lately. It helps inspire whimsical and
ridiculous stage directions. Tony Hoagland, Bob Hicok and Nick Lantz
are all worth reading.

Who are some early mentors or teachers that have inspired you?

My father. Former titan of UCA, Dave Parker. Playwright Frank
Pugliese. UCA professors: Mike Schaefer, Conrad Shumaker, Richard
Gaughan, Charles Harvey, Gary Borjesson. NYU professors: George Malko,
Kenny Lonergan.

What is the most helpful professional advice you have received?

Ten years. Keep doing it every day for ten years. If you can feed
yourself during that time, you’ll be such a great writer by the end
that they’ll have to hire you.

How did your experience at UCA help shape your professional career?

My time at UCA was invaluable. I came in utterly unfocused and without
interest in any particular field (or in an education for that matter).
But I had a handful of teachers who strongly supported my inclinations
and indulgences and made me feel, probably for the first time in my
life, intellectually adequate and prepared to attempt a career in this
ridiculous business.

What is your dream project?

I have a few. In features, the screenplay I just finished is it. I’ve
been trying to write it for six years and finally wrote it after two
years of trying. It may never get made, but I don’t care because at
least it’s finally out of my brain. In TV, the show we sold to AMC a
couple of years back was it. It didn’t go at the time. Maybe we’ll get
another chance. Regardless, if I were going to spend five years of my
life in a small room writing one story every day, it would probably be
that one. And the third is a stage play. I’m not sure what it is yet,
but it’s in there somewhere.

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