One evening in June, a crowd gathered in the John and Nancy Hughes Theater in Lake Forest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lake Forest High School program called Telecom—a blend of TV production and narrative visual storytelling that has produced some Hollywood up-and-comers.
But the fast-talking funny man who stole the evening needs no introduction—in Chicago or even Barrington, where he was spotted around town a few years ago when he was rumored to be house shopping here.
Film and television actor/writer/producer Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, Hacksaw Ridge) and television director/ producer Paul Boese (My Haunted House, I Married a Murderer) took the stage for a 45-minute Q & A session. The two were constant collaborators on student projects before they graduated in 1988.
“I really learned in that environment because it was about doing things on your own,” Vaughn said. “On top of acting, I produce a couple TV shows and I was so far advanced (in film) that I cut some of those movies entirely myself. I’d go in the editing room and I knew how to do it, and it started with the basic lesson of continuity here. I never went to college or film school.”
Over the course of the evening, Vaughn and Boese reiterated how similar their high school process was to the professional work they do, and the differences are more a matter of scale, budget, and investor pressure than anything else.
“When I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, I started to realize—why am I waiting for someone else to write a screenplay?” Vaughn said. “A future collaborator of mine wrote a screenplay, and we used to sit and think about how we were going to get it made. It became Swingers. I was more than qualified to go through that experience having done Telecom because we shot that movie in 21 days and you had to be resilient. The biggest thing that I would suggest is to give yourself permission to keep doing what you’re doing now. It’s not much different.”
The most striking part of the evening came as the current crop of aspiring students stood to ask questions, and Vaughn and Boese not only had already seen the work they’d done for class, but knew them by name.
Bailey Lawrence, class of ‘17, stood to ask about advice as she prepared to move to Los Angeles to USC film school.
“I would listen to your TED talk, honestly,” said Vaughn, referring to an LFHS TED Talk Lawrence delivered on project-based learning. ‘I think that you are really ahead of the game. I was inspired, truly, by what you said. Just listen to yourself and have fun with it, keep creating and exploring.”
Whitney Perschke, class of ‘18, asked about how to maintain self confidence in a project over the time it takes to complete it.
“You’re an actress,” Vaughn told her. “You were in The Wall (a New Media project that won first place at the Midwest Media Educator Association’s 7-Day Challenge). You were beautiful in that. Really truthful. You should have great self-confidence.”
He closed the evening with a nod to the creative environment he experienced in high school, and to the importance of the student experience.
“As you get older, you appreciate the teachers that were kind and gave you an opportunity,” he said. “I really am inspired when I watch what you guys are doing. You are further along and know what you need to do more than any of us could tell you.”