California State University, Northridge had the honor of welcoming Emmy Award-nominated writer and producer Jeph Loeb, head of the television division for Marvel Entertainment, at this year’s first Commerce of Creativity Distinguished Speaker Series on Sept. 24.
Interim Dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication Dan Hosken introduced CSUN English professor Charles Hatfield, and CSUN Cinema and Television Arts professor Jon Stahl, who facilitated a Q&A session. Stahl asked Loeb how his education prepared him for such a prolific career. Loeb explained that he went to Columbia University “for the wrong reason.”
As an undergrad, he was limited to majoring in film criticism, which was the only movie-related discipline available at the time. Loeb finally pursued his dream of learning the actual craft when he attended Columbia’s filmmaking graduate program. He talked about the development of his film and television career that jumpstarted with the movie, Teen Wolf, which became a huge box office success in 1985.
“Teen Wolf became Teen Wolf,” Loeb said. “I didn’t know at the time, we just wanted to make a good movie.” Loeb said he did not know where his career was going to take him, but he emphasized that if it was not for him willing to expand his horizons and experiment with new things he could do, Loeb may never have discovered his full potential.
“Don’t turn your nose up at any job. You don’t know where it is going to take you,” he said. “The life you’re building for yourself is a brick wall, and some of them are perfectly cut and some of them are not, but you can’t make the wall without all of those pieces.”
Loeb noted it was important to stay focused while building one’s career as well.
“Discipline is the most important part,” Loeb stressed. “You need to do your thing every day. When you say you’re going to do something on Wednesday, you have to be done with it on Tuesday. You need to know how to be a screenwriter and know the business of screenwriting.”
Determination and a fearless attitude to try new things was a constant theme throughout Loeb’s career. He had his first attempt at television writing on the Emmy Award-winning TV series Smallville. He was among the few “Hollywood people” to write iconic comics like Batman, Superman and Spider-man.
“I think I have survived the last 30 years because I zig when so many people zag,” he said. “If anyone asks me what I do, I tell them I’m a storyteller.”
Loeb captivated the audience at CSUN with an inspirational message and an insightful look into his career in television, film and comics. He left the crowd with a few friendly reminders to become the best at doing what they love.
“You need to believe in yourself,” Loeb said. “You need to believe that what you are working towards is going to happen. Don’t let people wake you up from your dreams. Have them wake you up from your nightmares.”