This summer, Kirven Blount will be speaking at the Amherst campus about his career. A Renaissance man much like his father, Roy Blount, Jr. (whom he’ll be speaking with), Kirven has written and directed a feature film, an off-Broadway play, an HBO spec pilot, a book, and written and/or directed and/or edited and/or produced and/or acted in a multitude of other delicious productions. He is currently producing a Travel Channel docu-series called “Ghost Adventures.” We sat down and asked him a few questions about his childhood, inspirations, and what books he loved.
GREAT BOOKS SUMMER PROGRAM: What role did literature play in your childhood?
KIRVEN BLOUNT: Books were everywhere during my childhood, literally and figuratively. My parents met as English majors in college, so the written word was their lodestar. My Dad had a gigantic old dictionary prominently displayed on an old wrought-iron stand. If I didn’t recognize a word, that big book was my Google. Bookshelves were crucial design elements. I read pretty voraciously, everything from Woody Allen to Jim Carroll to the Hardy Boys. When I got an award in high school for creative writing, I was genuinely stunned. Writing was something I took utterly for granted – why would I get recognized for that?
GBSP: Did any one person in your life stand out as fostering a love of the arts, writing or literature?
KB: Both of my parents made unique contributions to my word devotion. Mom loves regionalisms and oddities in speech, Dad fetishizes words on the page (and vice versa). After my parents divorced, my Dad married the playwright Joan Ackermann. She read Enid Blyton to me, engaged me in weird character voices, cast me in plays at her small theater, and introduced me to Tintin. She is amazing.
GBSP: What was your favorite book as a teenager?
KB: I’m never good at identifying favorites, but I remember reading a lot of Stephen King (the adult me doesn’t get that). I loved The Mysterious Stranger, The Basketball Diaries, and All The King’s Men.
GBSP: Have you always wanted a life in the arts? You’ve been an actor, producer, director, musician, writer…do you feel that one of these creative roles is best suited to your personality and/or talents?
KB: I wanted to be Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann when I was a kid. I didn’t want anything else. I wrote a lot of weird pieces and drew praise for my drawings (of Lynn Swann), but the video yearbook I produced for a post-high-school internship program was kind of seminal. I love how production combines a lot of different disciplines into one satisfying whole, but I especially love the teamwork aspect. There’s something about putting on a show that alters DNA. Because it must go on, the show becomes paramount. Obviously people behave like idiots and productions have been derailed by bullsh*t antics, but, in general, people put aside their ego, pettiness, and physical limits in service of the show. I like how the many hats I’ve worn over the years have combined into a Technicolor Dream Hat. At this point, I have some sort of facility in a lot of different directions.
GBSP: What can you tell us about a current tv or film project you are working on?
KB: Right now I’m a Producer on the Travel Channel docu-series “Ghost Adventures.” Because of the unique nature of that role on this show, my Technicolor Dream Hat comes in handy. I write, I act, I direct, I cast actors, I command troops, and I edit it all together. All the shows I’ve worked on over the years inform this (very odd) job at one time or another.