Project Description

LEW POSTER

Directed By Lonnie Ray Senstock

Once in a Lew Moon

| runtime: 75 minutes | documentary | Documentary, Biography, Drama, History | 2015

Synopsis

Once in a Lew Moon is the story of a man from the midwest, a small town kid from a some times troubled past. As Lew Hunter grew up in Guide Rock and Superior Nebraska, his days were filled with reading the classics his mother would insist upon. Lew eventually found himself in a lot of trouble. Forced to either attend military school or straighten up, Lew had his work cut out for him. Dirt poor this family was, and many times catching their own food by fishing and hunting. Lew attended Wesleyan college and his grades were less than desirable. Until one day he stumbled upon a theater production play and decided to try out for it. He landed a role and was astounded at the way the audience responded to his character. He eventually stumbled upon his love for writing. Struggling at Wesleyan and working as a Janitor for a radio station in Lincoln Nebraska, he applied for future educational advances but was turned down due to his grades. Determined to do better, he wrote ninety six letters and sent each letter out individually in hopes someone would grant him a break to attend and further his career. Northwestern University said to him, “We will give you a chance to attend even though your grades are not up to par. You can attend, but you cannot receive in your four years here anything lower than an A grade in any class or you’re out!” Lew agreed. In this time he not only advanced, but he did not receive anything less than an A grade! He then felt he wanted to go further. He asked thirty six people over a span of time if he should move to Hollywood or stay in Chicago? Only one out of the thirty six people said to him, “Boy, if you want to be a writer and move up you have to go to Hollywood if you want it bad enough. If you don’t, then stay here in Chicago.” He didn’t listen to the thirty five folks that said to stay in Chicago and listened to the one person he thought made the most sense to him. He gets to Hollywood and takes a job as a mail clerk at NBC. Starting at the bottom with a degree? He though this was crazy, but he took the job. He was nick named there the, “Headlight kid.” Lew was always the first to come to work early in the morning and the last car to leave at night. After work he would sneak around and listen to the veterans of filming. He’d take notes and wanted to again, move up. Lew eventually became an executive at all three major TV networks, NBC, ABC, and CBS. During this time he wrote on such films as “Bewitched”, “Little House On The Prairie” and more. Lew wasn’t satisfied just yet. He then advanced himself to teach at UCLA in the writing program and ended up writing one of the most successful books of all time, entitled “Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434.” It was at the time the only book that not only spoke of how to write a script but literally showed you how. Lew was the youngest person to ever be tenured at the school of UCLA and was known for taking his students onto the professional sets of film and TV to learn hands on. He had such icons in his classrooms speak, everyone from Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot-director) to Alexander Payne (director-Election, Citizen Ruth, Nebraska.) In this time of teaching screenwriting Lew felt that it wasn’t right to just teach writing to writers, if he hadn’t written anything successful himself. He decided to take a whole year off from teaching. He moved home to Guide Rock Nebraska to write. In a year’s time, Lew wrote six scripts. He sent them out to be seen and read, but nothing come of them. Just as Lew thought as a writer, since nothing was happening, he decided to take a job at a morgue in his home town there. The day before he was going to start the job, the phone rang. It was Aaron Spelling. Mr. Spelling loved the script that Lew wrote titled then, “The Glass Hammer” (later re-named “If Tomorrow Comes.”) The film was produced by Aaron Spelling starring a young Patty Duke. The film was a success and that lead to Lew then writing the film “Fallen Angel” starring Richard Masur. The film became such a hit it was watched by over 42% of America, making it the number one movie of the week at the time, and later number 3 movie of all time watched. Lew felt only then since he had written some things that were successful that it was now ok to teach writers again how to write since he had the experience and had made it. He was nominated for an emmy and launched the careers of some of the most successful writers of all time, such as Mike Werb (writer/creator of, “The Mask”, “Laura Croft Tombraider”) to Don Mancini (creator/producer/director of the popular franchise, “Chucky.”) Also during this time, Lew is known as the go to guy when ever there is a battle between books written and films made. He often works with LA’s most feared lawyer Bertram Fields doing expert witnessing. Lew and his lovely wife Pamela created long ago something known as the “Writers Block.” Where once a month writers, directors, producers, you name it, all gathered at the popular house of Lew and Pamela’s in Burbank California where deals were made among other crazy things. Today Lew still teaches currently at the UCLA writing department during the winter season and has built a beautiful colony mansion back in Nebraska where he moved back to Superior Nebraska. His wife Pamela is the host and was the creator behind the idea of building the colony mansion to have writers come all over the world to take his classes for two weeks. He teaches it twice a year, for two weeks, writers who come and attend his colony classes get to learn how to write a professional script and it’s a one of a hands on experience. Lew Hunter’s time is given to many organizations and charities, along with a mentoring program called S.C.A.R.E.D which helps young kids. He’s often seen with Tom Osborne as well as visiting and giving lectures all over the world, from Croatia to the far east. He came from nothing and accomplished his goals and dreams to become one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriting professors. His famous tag line is, “Write On!”

Cast

Hal Ackerman Himself
Timothy Albaugh Himself
Shelly Anderson Herself
Ronald Bass Himself (archive footage)