Epic: Two SMU alumni wrote and produced this fantastic fantasy

James Hart '69 talks with SMU Magazine and WFAA News about his experiences at SMU and the making of newly released 'Epic' in collaboration with fellow SMU alumnus William Joyce '81.

SMU alumni James V. Hart ’69 and William Joyce ’81 started a conversation in 1999 that ended up on the big screen May 24 when Epic, their new animated fantasy-adventure film, opened in theaters around the country.

“This all started with grown men admitting they believed in fairies and chasing fireflies and sharing a love for Vikings and Robin Hood and great adventures,” Hart told SMU Magazine.
Inspired by Joyce’s children’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, the action-packed story centers on a battle between forces that work to keep the natural word alive – leaf men, fairies and wisecracking slugs – and those who try to destroy it – the Boggans, a sinister collection of rat-coated creatures. The struggle plays out in a hidden forest realm. Adding a human element is the evolving relationship of Professor Bomba, a bumbling researcher tracking down tangible proof that the miniature world exists, and his estranged teenage daughter, M.K.

SMU Magazine interviewed Hart on May 14, 2013, in the Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House & Insectarium at the Texas Discovery Gardens, a setting similar to the one in Epic. Later that evening, he and Joyce screened the film for students, faculty and alumni of the Meadows School of the Arts Film and Media Arts program.

During the interview, Hart fondly recalled professors who encouraged his talent as a writer and gave him the confidence to pursue a successful career as a writer and film producer.

"Second semester of my senior year I went to the Meadows School of the Arts and there I found where I was supposed to be," Hart said. "I wrote my first play there. . . Joan Prather said I'm going to direct a play and I want you to write one. . . And it blew me away. I stood up in the balcony running the effects and watched my friends do this play. And it changed me."