|McHale wins film award for ‘Last Exit to Normal’|
|Written by Elizabeth Brei, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Sunday, 04 December 2011 14:43|
John McHale, associate professor in the School of Communications, has won the Best Short Script at The Flickers: Rhode Island International Film Festival, for his television show pilot “Last Exit to Normal.”
The Flickers is in its 16th year, according to its website. They accept film submissions in a range of categories from 60 countries and 31 states.
George T. Marshall, executive director of The Flickers, said “Last Exit to Normal” was one of 364 submissions.
“The competition was very keen,” Marshall said.
McHale said one of the goals he has for his writing is to show the divine as it works through his characters.
“I think that God is evident through history,” he explained. “The divine inside of us compels many people to improve the world.”
“Last Exit to Normal” is the story of an unnamed rehabilitation facility set in Normal.
“I’ve found that spirituality is really the only way people can overcome addictive behaviors,” McHale said. “If people realize that spirituality is a way out of that slavery, out of that addiction, then it serves a good purpose.”
He also wrote, produced and directed “Picture This: The Fight to Save Joe,” an award-winning documentary which was a factor in Joe Amrine’s release from the Missouri death row in 2005.
McHale said he hopes to continue to grow as a writer and one of the ways in which he contnues to do so is through teaching.
“That’s the challenge every writer faces, to continually challenge oneself to learn,” he said. “When I get to teach, I learn.”
Being able to write has always been a goal of McHale’s.
“Every student should have a ten-year plan,” he explained. “My ten-year plan was to be in a position where I could write drama.”
He said his current professional position affords him this possibility.
“There comes a point in one’s career when one should do what one really wants to do and really loves,” he said. “I’ve been afforded through a magnificent university, Illinois State University, the position where I can now write drama.”
McHale holds six degrees from several universities, including a professional certification in film production from New York University.
“In all of those degrees, I’ve had an interest in film,” he said.
McHale is also faculty advisor for the ISU Documentary Project, which will host the 5th annual ISU Documentary Project Socio-Political Film Festival on April 4 in Capen Auditorium.
McHale said that while he hopes to someday sell and produce his script, he is currently happy writing.
“I am committed to spending the next ten years of my life writing scripts and honing my craft,” he said.
McHale said he sees the Flickers award as validation for his work.
“When you’re alone with that blank cursor, you don’t know if you’re successfully writing drama,” he explained. “This was the universe saying keep at it.”