Tom Schulman
Thomas H. Schulman

(1951-10-20) October 20, 1951 (age 72)
Occupation(s)Screenwriter, film director

Thomas H. Schulman (born October 20, 1951) is an American screenwriter best known for his semi-autobiographical screenplay Dead Poets Society, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1989.[1][2][3][4]


Following high school at Montgomery Bell Academy, Schulman earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in philosophy, graduating in 1972 from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Schulman pursued his interest in film at the University of Southern California's Graduate School of Cinema.[5]

Dead Poets Society won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1989, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director (Peter Weir).[6] The character of John Keating was inspired by one of Schulman's teachers at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville.[7]

Prior to Dead Poets Society, Schulman had already written several telemovies. However, Dead Poets Society was his first movie script to reach the screen. He was hired to rewrite the hit movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids shortly before the film was due to begin shooting; Schulman had just seven days to turn it from a drama into a comedy.[8]

Other scripts written or co-written by Schulman include comedies Welcome to Mooseport, What About Bob?, Second Sight (which Schulman sold the same day as Dead Poets Society) and Holy Man, which stars Eddie Murphy. The Sean Connery drama Medicine Man, originally entitled The Stand,[6] proved a critical failure. Schulman executive produced the movie Indecent Proposal.

Schulman's directorial debut was the 1997 black comedy 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, which stars Joe Pesci as a gangster attempting to transport a bag of severed heads across the United States. In 2022, Schulman returned to directing with Double Down South, a seedy sports drama set in Mississippi's underground keno pool scene (a world Schulman encountered as a teenager).

In 2009, Schulman was elected vice president of the Writers Guild of America, West.[9] He was a member of the WGA negotiating committee during the extended writers' strike of 2023.[10]


Year Film Credit Notes
1976 Joy Ride: An Auto Theft Written by, assistant director Short film, co-wrote with Bill Crain
1986 The Gladiator Story by, executive producer Co-wrote story with Jeffrey Walker and William Bleich
1988 A Father's Revenge Story by Co-wrote story with Mel Frohman
1989 Dead Poets Society Written by
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Screenplay by Co-wrote screenplay with Ed Naha
Second Sight Written by Co-wrote with Patricia Resnick
1991 What About Bob? Screenplay by
1992 Medicine Man Screenplay by, story by Co-wrote screenplay with Sally Robinson
1993 Indecent Proposal Executive producer
1997 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag Director, written by
1998 Holy Man Written by
1999 Genius Executive producer
2000 Me, Myself & Irene Executive producer
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Screenplay by, producer
2019 My Dad, Stephanie Consulting producer
2022 Double Down South Director, Written by, Producer


  1. ^ "Online Collections | Montgomery Bell Academy".
  2. ^ "Montgomery Bell Academy - A Premier Independent School in Nashville, TN ~ MBA Speaker Series Videos".
  3. ^ "15 Facts About Dead Poets Society". June 2019.
  4. ^ "Dead Poets Society - Reviews".
  5. ^ "Tom Schulman". Humanitas.
  6. ^ a b J. Easton, Nina (August 10, 1990). "Cinergi OKs $2.5 Million for Script to 'The Stand'". The Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Dewis, GM (2011). Dead Poets Society. Sydney: Insight Publications. p. 6. ISBN 9781921411052.
  8. ^ McCurrie, Tom (March 15, 2004). "Dead Poets Society's Tom Schulman on the Art of Surviving Hollywood". Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  9. ^ Writers Guild of America, September 18, 2009, Writers Guild of America, West Announces Final Results of 2009 Officers and Board of Directors Election Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Meet the Negotiating Committee: Tom Schulman". Retrieved February 28, 2024.