A screenplay written by Bitterroot College English Instructor Matthew Kaler was chosen for the 2018 BloodList, an annual list of the "most liked" yet unproduced dark genre screenplays as voted on by film and television executives.
Kaler's script titled "Bitterroot" made the "Fresh Blood Selects" category which is dedicated to promoting writers unrepresented in the film industry.
Kaler said he took a screenwriting workshop in graduate school, taught himself further form and process and is grateful to be included in the selection.
""Bitterroot" is the first script I've carried through numerous drafts and I'm honored for it to be hosted on the BloodList shoulder-to-shoulder with talented storytellers," he said. "I've taught myself what little I know about the screenplay form through reading and writing in a vacuum so having an audience respond is a sincere joy. Painful as it can be, I enjoy the writing process, it's all I can control anyway, and am grateful that is the case."
Kaler has been writing since he was in grade school and wrote illustrated a 20-page children's book in the third grade. As an undergraduate, he majored in English with a creative writing focus. Then he was accepted into the University of Montana's graduate program in creative writing where he focused on poetry and completed his MFA in 2008.
"Ten years later, I'm still sitting at a desk and producing pages," Kaler said. "Not exactly lucrative but it keeps the blood pumping."
Kaler has been a faculty member at Bitterroot College for five-years. He has taught eight different classes in Hamilton: Developmental Writing, Introduction to Technical Writing, College Writing I: Composition, College Writing II: Advanced Composition, Introduction to Creative Writing Workshop, Introduction to Film, Introduction to Literature and Modern American Literature: 1865-present.
Kaler said he writes because he is "wildly passionate about story, particularly in cinema."
"I write because it's an unshakable yet cathartic act to wake early, sit with the dark of the mind, and see what surprises," he said. "A poet I like invented the term "storynivorous" to describe one of our less tangible human appetites. I'm on that diet and a confessed narrative junkie. Writing and failing, which I've done a hell of a lot of, just feels better than not knowing."
Communication and critical thinking skills are two skills he teaches his students.
"These skills also come in handy with personal connection," he said. "I don't advocate for English majors. Instead, I evangelize rhetorical skill with reading and writing followed by heaps more after that."
Empathy is another human asset Kaler's student learn though studying creative works like literature and film.
"The great film critic and writer Roger Ebert said that 'the movies are like a machine that generates empathy,'" Kaler said. "We need more of it. Empathy is required to immerse ourselves in stories and I do believe that with study and practice they give back to us."
The plot of Kaler's horror and science fiction screenplay "Bitterroot" goes as follows: "Marnie Graham, an isolated widow, is fighting to save her Montana ranch from foreclosure. After a meteor lands in the wilderness bordering her property, animals begin dying in increasingly grotesque ways, and she finds herself pitted against an otherworldly life-form that stalks its victims not only in the physical world, but that of the mind."
Read "Bitterroot" online at www.bloodlist.com/the-lists/2018-bloodlist/.
Bitterroot College Director Victoria Clark said the college is thrilled to see Kaler recognized for his creative talents.
“Too, the College is proud to have a writing instructor who is actively engaged in the craft he teaches — this is a win-win for students and instructor alike,” Clark said. “Now we just eagerly await a production company to pick up Matt's script and run with it!”