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Moxie Community Highlight

Moxie Community Highlights
Join us as we delve into the vibrant Springfield, MO community and its integral role in supporting Moxie Cinema. In this series, we'll highlight the incredible individuals and partnerships that bring the magic of cinema to life in our city.

🎥 #MoxieCommunityHighlight with Rich Amberg - Screenwriter & Film Professor at Missouri State University. Rich is partnering with The Moxie for a series based on a class he is instructing this semester at MSU called Cinematic Storytelling.

This series is courtesy of the Department of Communication, Media, Journalism and Film at Missouri State University. It is open to the public and Free for Moxie members.

Could you tell us about your connection to Moxie Cinema?

The Moxie has always been there for me, my family and my students. I’ve loved seeing new independent films there, and particularly love that, as a member, I get to see so many old favorites up on the big screen where they belong. I also appreciate how often the Moxie screens projects by local filmmakers; my wife and I premiered our short film there. I’ve watched many colleagues and students’ premieres, and I’ve been particularly proud to see my son’s short films on the big screen through events with SATO48 and Plotline Film and Media Education.

Can you share insights about your Cinematic Storytelling class and what you hope both students and the community will gain from this series?

I might love movies to an unhealthy degree. So I resist the thinking that there’s some simple screenplay formula—that certain plot events must happen on a certain page to be considered correct and certain characters absolutely must act certain ways because “that’s how you’re supposed to structure movies.” Simple formulas lead to generic, formulaic screenplays. I focus on breaking past formulas and seeing the many ways that filmmakers can tell stories effectively—across all types of film and television. We watch wonderful movies from all eras. They represent different genres, styles, perspectives and sensibilities. Then we pull them apart to see how those filmmakers accomplished what they did—what narrative structures and devices they employed to make the audience care. My hope is that students will learn how to apply the specific cinematic tools we discuss to engage audiences, sustain their interest over time and tell cinematic stories more effectively. I’m thrilled to be partnering with the Moxie to screen excellent movies in the process.

Among the films in the lineup, which one are you particularly eager for students/community to experience on the big screen through the lens of cinematic storytelling?

I’m the kind of guy who loves both Fellini and Spider-Man, so I’m as excited for folks to experience the dark, mind-bending labyrinth that is Mulholland Drive as I am for them to watch Russell Crowe fight a tiger in Gladiator. But if I have to pick one movie that really is for everyone, it’s The Big Chill. Witty, charming, insightful‚ it makes you want to catch up with old friends.

What are some other films the audience should seek out with cinematic storytelling in mind?

Too many to list! If you love a film, it’s undoubtedly doing something right and you can pull it apart and learn how it works. I’d suggest people seek out as many well-made movies by as many different filmmakers as they can. If you want a curated list, the Moxie’s Essentials series is a great place to start.

Do you have a standout Moxie memory or favorite screening experience?

All of my Moxie experiences have been great. If I had to pick one, I’d say it was a few years back at a Moxie Mornings screening of Duck Soup. At the time, my son was maybe four years old and getting him to sit still for any black-and-white movie seemed like a heavy lift. But I wanted to see Duck Soup on the big screen, so I trusted there was method to Mike’s programming madness of screening Marx Brothers for kids. My son kept stony-faced silence through some of Groucho’s early one-liners and Chico’s first song, but couldn’t help but laugh when Harpo started his slapstick. By the end, he was falling out of his seat laughing at the pure anarchy unfolding on screen. On the ride home, he declared it was the best movie he’d ever seen. Well played, Moxie Cinema; well played.