Dressed in jeans and a white polo and sporting a pair of aviators, Tamlin Hall looks like he’s been in Los Angeles his whole life. It’s not until he starts to talk that his Southern drawl reveals his Georgia roots.
Hall, a second-year screenwriting graduate student in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, took his life in a completely new direction when he made the decision to come to UCLA. Despite his non-film background, Hall has managed to write television pilots and screenplays and has been awarded for his work.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from the University of Georgia, Hall moved to Orlando, Fla., where he spent six months selling accounting software to the produce industry. Hall said he realized that he was unhappy, but was unsure of what to do until one day when everything changed.
“I’m religious, and I kind of felt like God was saying, ‘You need to be an actor,’ and that’s what started it. I started acting and took my first acting class in Orlando,” Hall said.
In addition to acting, Hall said he also turned to writing during his time in Orlando, which led to the development of his first screenplay.
“When I was there, I wrote lyrics and I wrote poetry,” Hall said. “This girl broke my heart, and I had read a book and one of the rules was to turn a negative into a positive. I (thought), ‘My heart’s broken, I don’t know what to do, I’m so stagnant – I’m going to write a screenplay.’”
Hall said he then moved to L.A., continued to act, and even gained entry into the Screen Actors Guild after booking a couple of national commercials.
As he gained experience and continued writing screenplays, Hall ultimately made the decision to apply to the graduate screenwriting program at UCLA and will graduate in June.
Hall was awarded the David & Lynn Angell Fellowship in Comedy Writing from the HUMANITAS Prize in September for his original pilot “Young.” Hall said his script was a “dramedy” about the life of a young boy who struggles with the absence of his father, who he never knew and who died while serving in a war.
Hall first began to develop his pilot while taking a comedy writing class taught by Neil Thompson, a professor in the School of Theater, Film and Television. Thompson, whose extensive experience in the television industry includes a producing role on the TV series “Malcolm in the Middle,” said the idea for “Young” was very ambitious and he wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Hall at first.
“There are people who have a real energy about them, and he didn’t, so I wasn’t sure at the beginning what I was going to get from him,” Thompson said. “But he was so game. That’s what I really liked about him. … He was very open to stuff and he was very easy to work with.”
Since the success of the pilot for “Young,” Hall has been working on a UCLA commercial titled “UCLA Single Dad,” which he wrote, produced and directed. The commercial has been entered in the UCLA Fund Bruin Video Contest – voting ends on May 29, he said.
In the weeks leading up to his graduation, Hall has also been working on an independent study course with Dan Pyne, a visiting assistant professor in the School of Theater, Film and Television, who said Hall’s real-world experience affects the way he writes and sees the world of his scripts.
“It’s great when (writers) come out of entirely non-writing backgrounds and that we have a lot of other kinds of experience because it gives you other stuff to write about,” Pyne said. “One of the things that separates him out is he has this very strong and compelling and entertaining Southern voice. … He’s able to create these really vivid characters that are specific to the South but still have some universal quality to them.”
Ultimately, Hall said he hopes to be able to set up a production company in Georgia and employ people from the local community.
For now, Hall said he is working with a manager and trying to maintain balance in his life as he continues to pursue his writing.
“As a screenwriter for TV, you have to translate what you see on paper,” Hall said. “So I love to see stuff. I just love to observe.”