For Palomar College Art History Professor Mark Hudelson, his love of paintings and pictures and the many stories they tell inspired him to create his own art through his passion of films.
Since 1996 Hudelson has been writing screenplays that have been nationally recognized and have won awards for their creativity and imaginative take on history. His historic heist film, “Missing Mona Lisa,” is in talks to be produced and turned into film later this year.
“All I do in class is show pictures and tell stories. I’ve always loved movies and so it’s a natural progression to go into screenwriting,” Hudelson said.
Hudelson gets his movie ideas from the films he loves watching. “I like big epic movies like Braveheart, Gladiator, Ben Hur…Everything I have written so far has been a period piece, not contemporary, and will have some epic quality to it, something beyond the everyday,” Hudelson said.
It wasn’t a deep-seeded passion or lifelong drive that drove Hudelson into screenplay ring, but a day at a bookstore.
“I never realized what a screenplay looked like until in the 90s. I was in a bookstore and came across ‘Reservoir Dogs’ Quentin Tarantino script, (and I thought) this is amazing, I can visualize this, and I stared writing from there,” Hudelson said.
Since that day Hudelson has written three full-length screenplays, the biblical adventure, “Three,” the mythical, “Raft of the Medusa,” and the periodic heist, “Missing Mona Lisa.”
Although it is the dream for any script to be produced into a film, “Missing Mona Lisa,” has been anything but. Almost 20 years has past since Hudelson’s idea, but the wait is almost over as production seems emanate.
Larry Thompson, executive producer and CEO of Larry Thompson organization, only had praise for Hudelson. “(He is) very gifted, and is a truly inspired writer. It’s unusual to read a script by a writer that is not in the ‘main stream’ of the business and be perfectly done,” Thompson said.
Thompson met Hudelson four years ago, when his script for “Missing Mona Lisa,” was in limbo with another production company. After reading the script, Thompson bought the rights and is hoping to put the film in production later this year to coincide with the actual theft of the Mona Lisa 100 years ago.
“I firmly believe, and having read three of his scripts, once ‘Missing Mona Lisa’ is made, it’ll get a lot of attention to the film and ascend Mark into the big time,” Thompson said.
The three screenplays that Hudelson has written come from a basic structure that proves to garner success.
“You can’t start a script until you know the ending,” Hudelson said, then added that an ending starts with a premise and blooms into story. “I come up with an idea, something that can hook you, then I do my research…and find the conflict,” Hudelson said.
In a screenplay one page written equals approximately one minute of screen time. Hudelson writes 120 pages focusing on his hero’s conflict, accomplishments and overall journey. This culminates into a full script, but it is up to the writer to find ways to be creative.
“A good artist will learn the rules, follow those rules, unless there is an interesting way to break the rules,” Hudelson said.
“Mark is going to be a very well paid Hollywood screenwriter that can be nominated for an Academy Award,” Thompson said.
Although this is the ultimate accolade for anyone pursuing a career in screenwriting, Hudelson is more humble with his intentions.
“I just want to have fun with [writing]. With all the double crossing and backstabbing with my first producer, I got a vivid view of how Hollywood’s underbelly works, and I have no desire of that to be my full time job,” Hudelson said.
For those aspiring screenplay writers, Hudelson has given some advice. “Read screenplays…[and] watch a lot of movies to get a sense for what works dialogue-wise…”
Though the future looks bright for the Hudelson, he’s not packing his bags to live in Los Angeles just yet. “I love teaching and I love what I do at Palomar. I just like to dip my big toe into Hollywood once in a while to have fun and hopefully see if something happens,” Hudelson said.