Prize-Winning New Orleans English Teacher Branches into Screenwriting

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

Many writers and teachers dream about writing film scripts that sell, but success is rare and far between. This is not the case for the English teacher who won Jesuit’s high “Profile of a Jesuit Teacher Award” in New Orleans.

In addition to teaching English, Michael Begg serves as the assistant disciplinarian at his school. His most recent script, “The Milk Route” earned a number of accolades at film festivals around the country:

  • Finalist in Peachtree International’s 2014 festival
  • Top ten finalist at Reno Tahoe’s International’s 2015 festival
  • Official selection at the 2015 Sacramento and Richmond festivals

Begg received a rare opportunity to learn from the masters when he won a Paulist Productions Scholarship from the CineStory Foundation. The award enabled him to travel to California and meet with fellow writers. Begg also had the opportunity to meet with producers who introduced him to the finer points of screenwriting.

“The Milk Route” drew from his experience helping a milkman deliver milk in New Orleans from midnight to 5 AM. While Begg drew from his experiences, he told the Clarion Herald that the story “has all the heroic qualities” of the milkman, but is not him.

Long a movie buff, Begg traces his interest in screenwriting back to watching “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” when he was in sixth grade. Screenwriter William Goldman subsequently won an Oscar for the screenplay.

Begg’s students take great interest in his screenwriting and enjoy it when he breaks down the scripts of movies they watch for class. He thinks that being known as a writer has a positive influence on his students. Also, Begg thinks that being a writer makes him a better teacher and vice versa.

In addition to his teaching and writing, Begg also works on creating a curriculum for a high school screenwriting class for an online school whose board he serves on. Begg will keep his day job teaching, though, since it’s “a little bit hard” to break into the industry.