KATY BURTON | Scroll Photography

“Charly” screenwriter tells experience

KATY BURTON | Scroll Photography

KATY BURTON | Scroll Photography

Janine Gilbert, an adjunct professor in the department of English at BYU-Idaho who wrote the screenplay for the popular Latter-day Saint movie Charly, will be teaching a screenwriting advanced creative course in Fall Semester 2016.

Gilbert said she graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in film and a minor in philosophy and then graduated from Idaho State University with a master’s degree in English.

Gilbert said she had not always planned to study film.

“I’d always been interested in film,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t realize you could actually major in film. As I reviewed the major, I found classes in film studies, film theory, screenwriting and film production. I realized I wanted to take every single course in the major, so I declared myself a film major.”

She said she worked with Adam Thomas Anderegg, the director of Charly, when they were both students at BYU.

“He asked me if I’d be willing to write the adaptation,” Gilbert said. “I jumped at the chance.”

Gilbert said she finished writing the first draft of the script eight years before Charly was released in theaters.

“Writing the script went very quickly, but most writing happens in revision, and that process occurred on and off over several years,” Gilbert said.

Hannah Anderton, a sophomore studying elementary education, said she did not know Gilbert taught at BYU-I.

“Honestly, it is so awesome that she teaches here,” Anderton said. “I was so inspired by the movie and the book that I would totally take a class                  from her.”

Shania Jacobson, a junior majoring in international studies, said she first watched Charly with her dad as a Sunday activity.

“Ever since that Sunday when we first watched it, I’ve been in love with it,” Jacobson said.

Gilbert said her favorite part of working on Charly was working with others to bring the story to life.

“It’s virtually impossible to make a film all by yourself, and I had the chance to work with some incredibly talented people,” Gilbert said.

She said it was an incredible experience to see the film on screen for the first time.

“I don’t think anything prepares you for watching actors bring a story you’ve worked on to life,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said she thinks part of the film’s popularity is because the film deals with big questions and ideas.                                   

“I don’t think it offers pat answers,” Gilbert said. “It does engage enduring questions and hopefully helps audiences to engage those questions in a meaningful way as well.”

Anderton said she notices the theme of faith throughout the movie.

“The first principles of the gospel are woven throughout this whole movie,” Anderton said. “It teaches us how to apply them through prayer, forgiveness and repentance.”

Jacobson said Charly gives a real-world example of people experiencing trials.

“Just because you’re doing what you’re supposed to doesn’t mean trials aren’t going to come your way,” Jacobson said. “I think that’s a powerful message at the end of the movie.”

Gilbert said she did not get to work on the movie set, but she did get to visit it once.

“It was a blast,” Gilbert said. “It was fun to see the scene shot on set and then look at the final edited version, and it was fun to meet the cast.”

Gilbert said Jack Weyland, who wrote the novel Charly is based off of, was great to work with.

“He was unfailingly supportive throughout the entire process,” Gilbert said.

Jacobson said even though the movie is older, it is still popular and that the story is still relevant today.

“When you have a movie like that and the story is so good, it doesn’t matter how old it is,” Jacobson said.

The movie Charly was released in 2002.

“I’m very happy that people are still watching it and sharing it with others,” Gilbert said.

Copyright 2015 BYU-I Scroll