'College Land': Video Transcript

Douglas Tirola (BA Philosophy and English, Miami, 1988) [writer, director, producer, and filmmaker]: I started in the film business in a very traditional way. I was a production assistant, a set production assistant, which means someone who is on the set basically telling people to go away, don't make noise, the big movies star's around but you're saying "no it's just a commercial" so people will keep moving on. Somewhere in that process, I ended up working on a film called A League of Their Own.

I started writing, and I wrote a number of screenplays for different studios. I worked on other people's screenplays, I had a really nice career, but nothing got made. I don't know why — maybe the scripts weren't good enough, maybe they didn't have the right producers, but…somewhere around mid-2000s, I met somebody, and they said, "Hey, are you interested in documentaries?" I immediately said to them, "I can make this into a documentary," and that documentary was called An Omar Broadway Film. It was accepted to the Tribeca Film Festival. During the festival, it was bought by HBO Films. And so, 8 years later, I've produced and directed 10 other documentary films.

My most recent film is a documentary called Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, which is about the story of The National Lampoon, the magazine and the company most people know as the filmmakers behind Animal House and all the Vacation films. My interest in National Lampoon really is not that dissimilar than a lot of people my age, which is at an inappropriate age my dad took me to see Animal House. It's the only film I've ever seen with him twice in a theater. And at that point, I started to look for the magazine. I'm at home, and I'm looking at my bookshelf, and I see this book called The 10th Anniversary National Lampoon Book, which was edited by another Miami alum, P.J. O'Rourke. I took this down and I started looking through the book, and I realized that a lot of the content in there had sort of been with me for years. It's one of those few archives of my life that has gone with me everywhere, and I thought this would be a great idea for a movie.

When I got to Miami, I was a political science major. My dad had gone to Miami and he was an attorney. And I don't know if I ever seriously thought about being a lawyer, but I didn't know what to do, so I followed that path. Coming to Oxford, Ohio really was a culture change that was not like my life before and really not like my life since. And I think it opened me up, being in these classes with people whose views sort of might be at odds with my own, and teachers who'd chosen to be here in the Midwest as opposed to teaching in New York City or New England. And I think that’s a big part of who I became as an adult in an odd way.

One of the things I think about when I think back about my time at Miami is that we almost never went home for three-day weekends. I think it's just such a special place, such a special time in your life. You think you're on your own, but you're just so young, and just to spend as much time here as possible. I think Miami's great because it's not one of those weekend schools where everyone is going home to be with their high school friends. It's like you stay here and take a lot of pictures because it's beautiful. I always say, if Disney World had a 'College Land', like they have 'Future World' and 'Wild West World', it would look like Miami.

[April 2016]