Alumnus Creates Campus Film Competition

Legendary Pictures CEO Offers Internships

Contact: Vige Barrie
Phone: (315) 859-4623
March 25, 2008

Thomas Tull '92
Thomas Tull '92
"We are very democratic here about where we get ideas for movies as they can come from anywhere. A member of my team suggested the film treatment challenge – and I thought, Hamilton is a great school with smart people and a theater department, so why not?" explained 1992 Hamilton alumnus and Legendary Pictures founder, chairman and CEO, Thomas Tull, in a recent interview. 

A film treatment competition sounds intriguing, but what is it? In a word, opportunity. The Legendary Film Treatment Challenge, being sponsored by Tull, offers Hamilton students an opportunity to present an idea for a film for review by Legendary's group of production company professionals. 

On Thursday, April 17, Tull and executives from the Legendary team will come to campus to talk with all interested students in a series of open information sessions. Among the topics they will address are the steps that precede the making of a film, including the creation of a film treatment. Attendees will also hear about the elements of a film treatment in order to be able to enter the challenge which will be held in fall 2008. 

The following spring, selected finalists will be flown out to Los Angeles, put up in a hotel and given the opportunity to pitch their treatment to the Legendary creative team just as the highest level directors and writers do today. Although there is no guarantee that the winning entry will be made into a film, finalists will have the invaluable experience of meeting with professionals in the film industry to discuss their work. 

In defining a film treatment, Tull explains that it is no more than telling a story and explaining how that story can be presented visually in film. "Is this story cinematic? What will it take to put this on screen? To tell the story?" According to Tull, these are the kinds of questions a student must ask in the process of creating a treatment, a document that is typically no more than a few typed pages. 

Tull is also offering two summer internships at his company to rising seniors and this year's graduates. The goal of the internship program is to provide students with hands-on experience within the entertainment industry and a holistic overview of Legendary's operations. Interns will rotate within two departments of the company, the creative development and the new media, business development and home entertainment department. "This is a great opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge about the field – everything from the tedium of running errands to an inside look into how film financing is put together," said Tull. 

Explaining his first introduction to the world of movies, Tull reminisced, "I have loved the movies since I was a little kid. You sit in a theater, and you never know where you will end up. I was and am a real film geek. I never had aspirations to be an actor or director, but I feel fortunate to have been successful in other businesses because it has given me opportunity to make movies." 

"My talent is to recognize needs and opportunities and to figure out how to fill them. I decided to wait a year after Hamilton before trying law school. I had moved back to my hometown – a somewhat economically depressed area -– and I saw that there was a need for services like laundromats – that were clean, safe, well lit and attended. And they were successful, and I sold them. I saw another need and created a chain of auto repair shops. I started small businesses, built them up and sold them." Eventually Tull's involvement in raising private equity led him to North Carolina and more opportunities in the technology area. 

His entrance into the movie business was precipitated by another serendipitous event. "In 2003, I happened to be at a dinner seated next to the chairman of a major motion picture studio. He was talking about the movie business and how it needed help in terms of its financial structure. I suggested that if the movies would partner with the private equity world, I could possibly create a new financial model for the studios. He didn't seem particularly convinced. 

"I did my homework, created a plan, talked with my blue-chip private equity investors and then spoke to all the studios about what we might do. I immediately felt very good about Warner Brothers and we struck up a relationship that has proven extremely rewarding. Together, we co-finance and co-produce films while Legendary develops it's own slate of films as well." 

"I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Hamilton. A part of anything I have done, anything I have succeeded at is rooted in the education I received there," said Tull who transferred to Hamilton in his sophomore year. "My years at Hamilton helped me gain coping skills, understand how to get along with a diverse set of people. … There was an enormous pool of talent - incredible professors who were dedicated to teaching. I learned how to think and how to express myself at Hamilton. It was an impactful experience." 

In offering advice to seniors, he said "When you are at college, you don't have the pressures of earning a living, but when you leave you are shoved out of the nest and into the world. It is helpful if you know the long term direction in which you want to go, but don't sweat it if you don't know exactly what you want to do. I didn't have any idea. I think what's most important is to know what you are good at and enjoy, not what you think you should enjoy. Eventually things become clearer. You have to have intellectual honesty. Don't try to do something that feels unnatural or uncomfortable." Tull's experience and satisfaction in the business world serves as validation for this advice. 

"It is a privilege every day to get up and go to work. At the premiere of "Superman Returns" (Co-Produced by Legendary), I sat in the theater and thought, 'this is unbelievably cool,' watching our logo come up on the screen, thinking of all the months and years of preparation that led to this and that it all started as just a pile of papers. I can't believe I get to do this." Tull is also the co-founder and vice-chairman of the video game company Brash Entertainment. 

For additional information about the Legendary Pictures internships, students should contact the Career Center at 859-4346 or log onto HamNET. For additional information about the Legendary Film Treatment Competition, students should contact Claudette Ferrone at 859-4019 or