Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2006 | People

Iowa Filmmakers: Scott Beck & Bryan Woods

By Shelbi Thomas

Most college students want their MTV. In Scott Beck and Bryan Woods' case, MTV also wants them. Following a first-place finish in the network's "Best Film on Campus: Trailer Challenge" contest this past winter, the UI communication studies juniors clinched a movie development deal that could lead to a Hollywood career.

Beck and Woods haven't stopped brainstorming since movie directors, MTV staff, and online voters selected the trailer for their drama University Heights. To make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the self-taught filmmakers will take time off school to focus on scriptwriting and pitching their movie ideas. They hope to turn their script Anniversary—the story of a couple whose marriage is tested when they meet a father desperate to save his dying son—into a blockbuster hit.

Thanks to digital technology and local actors and crew members willing to work for free, Beck and Woods have kept costs on each of their 17 films to under $300. If Anniversary becomes a major motion picture, their budgets will soar into millions of dollars.

The Bettendorf natives have worked toward this goal since sixth grade, when their collaborations featured Star Wars action figures. Now, movie-making takes up their every spare moment. Since they formed their own production company, Bluebox, in 2001, their short and feature films have been screened at festivals nationwide and have won several awards, including a top 50 spot in actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's "Project Greenlight" competition.

Although they have different tastes—Beck prefers dramatic films, while Woods opts for suspense—the filmmakers thrive off each other's creativity and share equal writing, directing, and producing credit. "We love films, and this is the only thing we can see ourselves doing," says Beck. "It's not just about money; it's about substance and whether the audience will remember the film's message."

Even with Hollywood on the horizon, Beck and Woods ultimately plan to return to the state that nurtured their dreams. "Most movies are made in Los Angeles because that's where the industry is based. Unfortunately, that means most movies are about L.A.," says Woods. "Other places should have their stories told, too."