Executive of Warner Brothers speaks at BYU

Bill Draper, executive at Warner Brothers meets with students after a forum on Sept. 19. (Simon Liu)
Bill Draper, executive at Warner Brothers meets with students after a forum on Sept. 19. (Simon Liu)

“So are you lucky or what?”

Tom Lefler, a film professor and co-host of the forum, sat patiently as his guest thought of a response. It didn’t take long for his guest, Bill Draper, to answer.

“Partly,” he said.

Draper was invited to speak at a forum on September 19 in the Harris Fine Arts Center, where he and Lefler spoke to film students about Hollywood.

Draper’s job as a vice president of production is to determine the logistics and finances for new movies. At any given time, he is simultaneously overseeing the production of up to 20 movies. He has worked on a number of films from “The Matrix” trilogy to the “Harry Potter” series. The forum was co-hosted by Tom Lefler, an associate chair of the film department.

“He gave us good insights into how to navigate the studio industry,” said Leo Koopmans, an English major from St. George, Utah, “I wanted to understand more of the business side of things.”

Surrounded by BYU’s aspiring screenwriters, directors and actors, Draper gave students insight into the cut-throat world of Hollywood entertainment. Draper told Lefler that film students need to understand both film and business to be successful in Hollywood.

“This is not called show art,” Draper said, “This is show business.”

Draper has worked on a number of films over the course of his career, including “Wrath of the Titans,” “Green Lantern” and “Sherlock Holmes.” He said that, with many films being shot around the world in different time zones, he needs to be ready to work at any given moment.

“When you make a movie, it’s not a job. It’s a lifestyle,” Draper said.

Draper told students his favorite day of the year is Christmas because that is the only day he doesn’t receive any phone calls.

Students at the forum were curious how Draper balances his work and personal life. Responding to a question about time management, Draper said that even though work can be time-consuming, balancing it with his family is a priority and he actively makes time for them.

Draper praised the film program at BYU for giving its students valuable hands-on experience in addition to education. Other alumni of the program agreed.

“It’s a fantastic program,” said Jordan Petersen, a media arts assistant. “It’s about as good as it can be.”



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