By Raynard Churchwell
Across the world, Georgia State University School of Film, Media & Theatre Alumni are sharing their talents and producing art for all to see. This is certainly true of GSU alumna and author Quatoyiah Murry. Since graduating from Georgia State University, Murry has composed many books and traveled across the world showing her talents. Most recently, Murry published her book TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema, a novel that discusses under the radar films that deserve more views and recognition.
Murry was born and raised in Macon, Georgia. Growing up, she says she enjoyed being around her family and friends but always knew her fate would lead her beyond her hometown.
“I enjoyed Macon, but I always had this desire to leave and see the world,” Murry said. “Back then Macon seemed so small, and watching movies made me want to venture out.”
Murry developed her passion for film and media during her teenage years. After graduating from Westside High School in 2006, Murry never considered making a career out of it until she arrived at Georgia State University.
“I was probably about 16 when I realized how much I had a passion for movies and television,” Murry said. “I didn’t think of it as a career until I arrived at GSU in 2008.”
“Honestly, it was just my brother mentioning a film career to me on a random phone call one day,” Murry explained. “He told me since I was always talking about movies I should think about being a film critic. So, I did some research to see what schools offered good film courses. Once I saw that GSU was in Atlanta, and it was a public institution, I decided that it was the school I was going to.”
Murry described her time at Georgia State as fun and exciting. During her time as a Panther, she interned at Creative Loafing and did some editorial work around campus.
“I really enjoyed my time at Georgia State because I think it just helped me kind of find what it was that I was looking for and helped foster my love and my passion for film,” Murry said. “I loved all my film professors. I thought that everybody was equally passionate, and they all had different styles of teaching. I also joined the film club that was there at the time. I made good friends that way.”
Murry graduated from GSU in 2010 with a degree in film studies and a minor in journalism. Since graduating from Georgia State University, she has participated in many projects dealing with film, writing, and critiquing. Her latest project is the book she co-authored, TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema. In the book, Murry discusses lesser-known films that can entertain and captivate audiences.
“I’ve always loved cult movies, B Movies, and exploitation films; basically, the movies that are just weird and different. While at TCM, I began working primarily with TCM Underground, which is a late-night block of programming that comes on TCM every Friday night around 2:00 AM for about two to three hours, depending on how many movies are programmed.”
Murry explained how the book came together with the help of her co-author Millie De Chirico.
“In 2021, we were presented with the opportunity to write the book,” Murry said. “Millie had been in talks of writing this book on and off for a while, and then it was finally presented to her. Unfortunately, she was in the process of moving back to Atlanta, so she couldn’t commit to doing it.”
“She offered it to me because she appreciated my insight into these types of movies. But at the time, I was in the process of getting ready to move to Paris. I ended up presenting the idea to her like, ‘hey, what about we write this together?’ So we split the 50 titles that we feature in the book.”
“The book is meant to just be a showcase of some of our favorite cult movies that have been shown on TCM underground during its run. We had over 400 titles to choose from, and we split them 25 and 25. It was a difficult, interesting process because I was getting a Master’s degree at the same time and both of us were in completely different parts of the world, and I was also getting adjusted to living in a whole new country. Now we’re done, and it’s officially out wherever books are sold, and we’re both very proud of the finished product.”
Murry said the biggest inspiration for the book was her and De Chirico’s love for cult movies and their desire to shed light on the ones that haven’t gone mainstream.
“We’ve always done what we could to champion movies that we consider underseen or overlooked,” Murry said. “A lot of those are the types of movies that we feature in the book. We just wanted to uplift these movies that have been very special to us.”
“Outside of our group of friends, I don’t know many people who talk about these movies or who know these movies, so we just wanted to put a spotlight on them.”
With the two authors of the book being minorities, Murry explains why people should buy this book.
“In terms of film, the conversation around “canon” is usually dominated by white men. I think that it’s important to support women of color who have their own alternate opinions about these topics and who are presenting movies that a lot of people have overlooked or misjudged over the years. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons to go out and support the book.”
Murry says her time a Georgia State has helped her obtain the career she has. She credits the professors and infrastructure of GSU for helping her learn and grow.
“During my time at State, the professors that they had in place and the infrastructure of the city contributing largely to film was a tremendous help,” Murry said. “I really enjoyed and appreciated that Georgia State had a place that was for people like me who wanted to just learn the history of film and how to analyze it.”
Murry also says that a few special professors helped her get to where she is today.
“Professor Jim Roberts was my favorite professor while I was at State,” Murry explained. “He was very instrumental in putting me on the path I am on, and just showing me that there are different ways to get into where it is I wanted to be in terms of the degree that I received. I also really loved learning under Michele Prettyman. She was a fantastic professor who opened my eyes to film’s social and political importance.”
Murry says she encourages students to join the School of Film, Media & Theatre.
“I would say come attend because you get the beauty of being in Atlanta,” Murry said. “Some of the best years of my life were spent living in Atlanta. I received many opportunities because of the location. I got to know people who work for Georgia Public Broadcasting and work with some amazing people at the Plaza Theatre and Videodrome.
“Georgia State helped create connections with different parts of the city and different institutions for film lovers. It’s a wonderful place to be.”