By Kaila Ward
Jack Gilbert, APU professor in the TFT Department died Sunday evening, March 26, after nearly 24 hours of fighting for his life. Gilbert suffered from low oxygen levels as a result of a pneumonia attack.
Gilbert had taught in TFT since its inception, helped create APU’s screenwriting curriculum, and taught many of the courses in it. Many students are having difficulty picturing the rest of their APU career without Gilbert.
“There will clearly be some grand element missing, because every single one of us dreams of telling stories for a living. Jack’s forte was story, and those of us who took any courses with him developed huge admiration for his prowess there,” junior cinematic arts major Connor McCabe said. “The more time you spent with Jack the more you believed that you could do anything you put your mind to.”
APU alum Kristen Rea credits much of her writing growth to Gilbert’s method of teaching.
“The arts are competitive and sometimes cruel and Jack was never either of these, but fostered a learning environment that had us help each other instead of compete,” Rea said. “He had a quiet and great sense of humor, that if weren’t paying attention to, you would miss.”
Aside from teaching at APU, in Hollywood Gilbert served as the Director of the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop, the entertainment industries most prestigious writing program. He also taught screenwriting at colleges such as Regent University in Virginia and Columbia College in Illinois. Gilbert was also instrumental in establishing Act One’s TV Track Writing Program, which has placed many writers in network writing workshops and television shows.
Act One TV Writing Program Alum Mollie Bickley St. John organized a Facebook Prayer Group for Gilbert Sunday evening, just an hour before his death. Hundreds of APU students were involved.
“There has been a constant steam of posts on Facebook about Jack Gilbert and how he impacted each individual’s life. The amount and the things said show that Jack impacted many and was dearly loved. One of my friends organized a FB group called “ We Love You Jack Gilbert” as an outlet for the community to grieve and remember Jack together,” Rea said. “For myself, I will continue to write and make art in his honor.”
The TFT department has tentatively scheduled a memorial service in the Warehouse Theater on Friday, April 20 at 11 a.m. for APU community members to gather and share their memories of Jack. In addition “Saint Alex,” the situation comedy pilot written by his students, will be screened as part of the department’s Premiere Night on April 27 at the Writers Guild of America theater in Beverly Hills.
At the suggestion of Jack’s close friends, Janet & Lee Batchler—and with the blessings of Jack’s family—APU is creating the Jack Gilbert Memorial Scholarship Fund for screenwriting students. Contact University Advancement for more details.