Writing a Pressure Cooker
Tyler McKellar (BA ’99) didn’t mess around when he entered Brigham Young University. He knew he wanted to be an advertising major and graduated in three-and-a-half years. He spent considerable time with his advisor to make sure he was taking the correct classes to “get in and get out.”
He managed to wedge in a few filmmaking classes, though, because he maintained a hope that he could do screenwriting as well.
McKellar achieved his first goal quite quickly after graduation. He worked for major advertising agencies in San Francisco and Seattle before returning to his hometown, the rural community of Tetonia, Idaho, where he has a majestic view of the Teton Mountain range and does freelance advertising for clients nationwide.
It looks as if he is achieving his second goal as well. His script, Stuck, which revolves around the lives of several people who get stuck in elevators during a power outage in New York City has been picked up by producer/director Mitchell “Mitch” A. Davis (BS ’82) and is being released Dec. 4 as a major motion picture called Christmas Eve.
“This is the first script I have ever directed where I did not write the screenplay myself,” says Davis. “It was such a great story and written in such a producible way, that I bought the script. I am really pleased with how well it turned out.”
“I have heard it said that, all pyrotechnics and action aside, most drama comes down to two people sitting in a room, talking,” McKellar says. “I followed this idea as I wrote. I believed that if the writing was good enough, a producer could look at it and say, ‘This is doable and affordable.’”
That doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have tension, he adds. “Putting people in a confined space with strangers or people with whom you typically wouldn’t get along with creates a pressure cooker in which these stories can bounce around.”
McKellar has not yet seen the movie, but based on the trailer, he believes his characters are essentially intact. He is particularly pleased that Patrick Stewart and James Roday (Psych) are in the film.
Christmas Eve was not written as a Mormon script, but McKellar has hopes he can have success with some of his works that are more church-centric. One is based on the life of Chuck Woodworth, a BYU alumnus who boxed professionally but gave up his boxing career to serve a mission. At the end of his mission, however, he got permission to compete in a heavyweight boxing match. He wanted to win and use the earnings to help a family he met on his mission travel to be sealed in the New Zealand temple. Another screenplay is a fictional adventure where a Mormon couple crossing the plains get separated in a storm and are abandoned by the company. The couple, which was having marriage problems, need to survive on their own and decide whether they are going to continue to Salt Lake City and whether they will remain married.