Last Word: From Bucknell to Breakfast Club

Father and son parlayed their English majors into Hollywood success.

By Andrew Meyer '71 and Jake Meyer '08

Father-and-son combo Andrew Meyer '71 and Jake Meyer '08 couldn't be more different at first glance. The first thing you notice is the height (Jake is well over 6 feet, and his father, well, isn't). Andrew swam sprints for Bucknell, while Jake was a shot putter for the Bison. But they share the same gummy smile and a shockingly similar résumé.

Andrew was an overnight success at Bucknell. He was a key member of the concert committee and charmed the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and others into stopping by Lewisburg. Eventually, A&M Records called to figure out the identity of this 20-year-old who kept changing their tour schedules. Andrew graduated with a job awaiting him at A&M Records. There he started A&M Films and went on to produce movies such as The Breakfast Club, directed by a little-known talent named John Hughes — whom Andrew discovered — and Fried Green Tomatoes.

Like his father, Jake packed up his car and drove cross-country to LA after graduation. He landed in advertising, where he partnered with Paramount Studios, Relativity, Lionsgate, Open Road, A24 and Focus Features to launch their media-buying campaigns on digital. The Meyer boys just seem to do well with the studios.

Both think that this is more than just dumb luck. "As an English major at Bucknell I learned the importance of efficiency and clarity in writing," Andrew says. "My professors were always cutting back my indulgent prose, forcing me to focus on the core of the story and teaching me how to tell the story in a concise way so the reader would stay engaged. This is especially critical in writing a screenplay because every line costs money to shoot. My Bucknell English professors taught me those skills."

Jake offers a less technical explanation: "In Hollywood you can either build relationships or you can't. From the very beginning, I had professors like Shara McCallum and Tameka Cage, who would sit us in a room and challenge us to communicate. Whether in writing, discussion or face-to-face with a professor, we had to be capable of making a clear point. If you're someone who can walk into an executive's office and explain what you need without wasting 30 minutes of their time, then you're going to go far."

Bucknell represents a lot of good memories for the father/son team. Andrew reminisces about how he'd walk away from the concerts in the '60s with bags of money he had to keep under his bed until the banks opened the next day. And both agree that one of the best days of their lives was when Andrew pulled Jake out of his high-school classroom to give him his acceptance letter to Bucknell. Being able to share that excitement as a family tradition was an exhilarating feeling.

Ultimately, the duo says they never would have had their Hollywood success if it weren't for their years in the Carnegie and Vaughan Literature buildings, where their English classes met. The time they spent there prepared them for working in Hollywood. While they've never worked together on a movie (which seems strange), maybe their first tandem effort could be about Bucknell. The blue-and-orange sunsets look ready for their closeup.

 
Andrew Meyer '71 is a professor at Savannah College of Art and Design. He is preparing a feature film to be shot this summer. Jake Meyer '08 has launched more than 20 national feature films, including Spotlight, Dirty Grandpa and Dope.

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