Marc Lapadula, legendary teacher and mentor and critically acclaimed playwright, screenwriter and film producer, died August 9, 2022 in Springfield, Missouri. He was 62 years old.
A lecturer at the Writing Seminars from 1991 to 2013, Lapadula created and led Johns Hopkins’ screenwriting program. His passionate, energetic and dedicated teaching left an indelible impression on his students, hundreds of whom went on to successful careers in the film industry. Many also stayed in touch with the person who opened their eyes and hearts to the intricacies of telling stories, creating characters and crafting plots, helping them to believe that their work was of value to the world.
“I am the person I am today thanks to Marc Lapadula,” said Alessandra Bautze ’14, assistant professor of screenwriting at Georgia State University. “From the moment I walked into his class, I knew he would have an impact on me. Much has been said about his ability to captivate a hall of students with his enthusiasm and vast knowledge of writing. screenplays and film, and he was an incredible teacher. But what struck me most about Marc was his selfless dedication to his students and the joy he felt in seeing them succeed, even long after graduation. graduation. He made me a better writer, but more importantly, he made me a better person. And he did the same for so many others. His mentorship is the reason I am a screenwriting teacher today. He said everyone has a story, but not everyone has access to the tools to tell it. Those words have shaped the way I approach my career, give screenwriting students the tools to tell the stories that are most meaningful are for them. While we mourn, Marc’s immeasurable contributions to the field of screenwriting, and to screenwriting education, will live on through the values he instilled in us.”
Lapadula’s work includes award-winning plays, screenplays and film productions. His plays, including “StripHer”, “Not by Name” and “Two Shakes”, have been produced in New York off Broadway, England, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Iowa. He had several screenplays commissioned or optional, including “Distant Influence” and “At Risk”, and film adaptations of Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Heart of a Dog” and Miguel de Unamuno’s “Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr”. He produced “Angel Passing,” starring Hume Cronyn and Teresa Wright, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the grand prize at WorldFest Houston. He also co-produced “Mentor”, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
His alumni have written, directed or produced dozens of critically acclaimed films, including “La La Land”, “(500) Days of Summer”, “The Disaster Artist” and “The End of the Tour”, and have scripted for television. shows such as “Family Guy”, “Scrubs”, “Law and Order: SVU” and “Queen Sugar”.
“It’s about doing your best and trying to be the best person you can be, always treating yourself with respect and making sure to instill a sense of dignity in everyone we come in contact with. Not because we just want them to feel good, but because as people we deserve it.”
After leaving the Writing Seminar faculty, Lapadula continued to teach classes in the department as well as in the Film and Media Studies program. He was also a regular instructor in Hopkins’ Odyssey program. Outside of Hopkins, he taught screenwriting seminars in Yale University’s film studies program from 1992 until his death and was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania from 1989. to 2009.
“Marc had a larger-than-life presence in the classroom, fueled by his passion for movies, and he used that same drive and sense of enthusiasm to inspire his students,” said Linda DeLibero, Master of lectures and special advocate for alumni and outreach in the film and media studies program. “He made them believe in their own talent and made them take risks. He also happened to be the nicest person in the world.”
Meredith Ward, a former student of Lapadula and current lecturer in the Film and Media Studies program, is one of many people who credit Lapadula as the basis of their success and enjoyment in the field.
“Marc Lapadula was a man of boundless energy,” she said. “I still remember him attending a performance of the works written by students at the Arellano Theater and literally rolling down the steps with his hands on the railings like a child. I learned a lot about the structure of the story, the sound of good dialogue and crafting a neat narrative from Marc. I became a stronger writer because of his quick-witted and always helpful commentary, and understood the story that Hollywood expects to see so much better than when I arrived. I’m sure I’m one of the many who can tell.”
In recent years, Lapadula has become highly sought after on the speaking circuit, where he has given interactive seminars on his notable and favorite films, delivered with his signature energy and enthusiasm, said Los Angeles producer Josh Siegel ’96 and unit production manager.
Siegel has remained close to Lapadula since her first class with him in 1993, near the start of Lapadula’s teaching career. The dedication they shared for good cinema, always with a side of playful banter, epitomized Lapadula’s generous intellect and exuberant personality. “From Marc’s score, I’m sure the score is around 10,000 to 2 in his favour, and that’s perfectly fine for me. That might not even be that far from the truth. “, Siegel said of their endless banter, barbs, and zingers.
“Marc’s gift was to help people recognize their own abilities and then challenge them to further develop and hone their talents and creativity,” Siegel continued. “Marc’s zest for life, his relentless passion for the craft and his dedication to helping his students achieve their dreams was a marvel to behold. And it was all 100% sincere. Marc wanted each of his students to be the next Quentin Tarantino. . And he wholeheartedly believed they could be.”
For many students, Lapadula was almost synonymous with Gilman 500, the former “tower room” just below the iconic clock, where he taught many of his classes.
“That’s where he welcomed me, as a high school student, to sit in his class, sealing my decision to go to JHU,” said James Freedman ’09. “That’s when he invited me, as a freshman not yet eligible to take his course, to join an end-of-semester party, where he brought some huge hoagies from Philly for his students to enjoy. It was there that I had four of my most memorable lessons, in playwriting and screenwriting, taught by a man who truly loved his craft. Marc’s departure is not not a closing chapter. He left behind many thousands of students from his decades of teaching at Hopkins, Yale, University of Pennsylvania and beyond, on whose lives he left an indelible mark. For me, and for many of us he was more than just a teacher, he was a dear and loving friend who was always there when you needed him.
These hoagies were no exception to his generosity, whether of refreshment or wit. “Marc Lapadula was a happy, smiling presence in our department for years,” said Mary Jo Salter, former Krieger-Eisenhower professor at the Writing Seminars and now a professor at the Academy. “He loved the collaborative nature of film, theater and the classroom. Marc was always eager to discuss new projects and share his joy at the accomplishments of others. It was common for him to surprise us with kind gestures, like a basket of apples left at the office of the writing seminars. His generous spirit will be missed.
Lapadula received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983, a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, in 1984, and a master’s degree in theater arts-drama writing from the ‘University of Iowa Playwrights’ Workshop in 1987. He received a Distinguished Faculty Award at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009; an Outstanding Teaching Award to Hopkins’ Creative Writing Masters Program in 2009; and the Delaware County Heritage Commission Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Historic Architecture in 2011. In addition to colleagues, former students and lifelong friends, Lapadula leaves behind his wife, Jami.
In a 2007 interview with the Hopkins NewsletterLapadula offered a glimpse of the electrifying presence for which he was universally known and loved.
“We haven’t been here on this planet for very long,” he said. “Even if we live to be a hundred, that’s barely enough time to fully experience the world, the people we love, or our own thoughts and feelings. What I want is to learn from my mistakes. Keep striving to do so. It’s about doing the best you can and trying to be the best person you can be, always treating each other with respect and making sure to instill a sense of dignity in everyone we come in contact with. in touch. Not just because we want them to feel good, but because as people we deserve it.”