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Grant Curtis: UCM alumnus and Hollywood producer

Grant Curtis is a Hollywood producer and filmmaker who was been a part of several major productions.

Curtis is a former student, graduating with his Master in Communication degree in 1997. He grew up in Missouri and currently lives in Los Angeles.

The first film that Curtis collaborated on was “A Simple Man,” directed by Sam Raimi. Curtis would work with him again on other projects such as “Drag Me To Hell,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” and the “Spider-Man” trilogy.

“It’s pretty hard work,” Curtis said. “There’s not much that’s sexy to the job. The end product is sexy and incredible, and for me the end product of a movie is as cool as it gets, but it’s a lot of hard work.”

He said you work on many things that never get made, which is challenging but rewarding.

“It’s difficult. You’ve got to have blinders on to a certain degree because the odds of getting a movie, any movie, made is like winning the lottery,” he said.

As a producer, he said he looks for material that attracts him. He looks into books, scripts, newspapers, magazines and podcasts for stories that he likes.

“I’m constantly trying to consume various narratives and find one that excites me,” he said.

If he finds something that he likes, he tries to go from there and get it made into a production.

He said he tries to tell stories that he would enjoy as an audience member and hopes the same for anyone in this business.

“Hopefully, you are trying to tell, or telling, stories that you yourself would like to see,” Curtis said. “That’s the way I approach it.”

Curtis said his favorite filmmaking experience was working on the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary “Delany,” which he directed. The documentary followed the story of Kansas City Chiefs player Joe Delany who died in 1983 trying to save three young boys from drowning.

The documentary was a personal experience for Curtis.

“It was a story I remembered as a little kid, as an 11-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan remembering Joe Delany, and then eventually, obviously in the film-hood, having the opportunity to tell that story. It was an honor and I had blast doing it,” he said.

In 2016, Curtis came to campus and spoke at the Highlander Theater. He also once taught a UCM class on the history of American Film.

Curtis said he would advise anyone trying to enter the film industry to first find out what they want to do in this business. He said in order to succeed in the film industry, they have to move out to Los Angeles, New York City or Atlanta. He said it’s hard to get into movies if you are not where they are being made at the time.

“Those are the main hotbeds of making movies,” he said.

Curtis also said this is a business based on relationships, and sometimes just being in the right place and the right time can make the difference. Curtis has been in the film industry for 20 years.

“It’s been a good ride and I hope it continues,” Curtis said. “I feel very lucky to have had a career that has lasted this long in a very challenging time in this business and just a very challenging business to begin with.”

Curtis said lasting in this industry depends on perseverance.

“I don’t think I’m successful, I just think I’m a hard worker,” he said. “Just grinding, that’s all I do, grinding it out every day. I don’t think I’ve been successful yet. We’ll see; ask me in 20 years.”

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