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Congratulations to our newest alumni from our Professional Programs in Screenwriting, Writing for Television and Acting for the Camera. Here is a clip from our Certificate Ceremony on June 8, as well as a pic of our awesome special guest Whitney Cummings!

 

 

The writing staff from the Oprah network’s David Makes Man talked to our students about their upcoming show

 

Writers JAS WATER (This is Us), TAOFIK KOLADE (Atlanta, Barry),  JOHN STRAUSS (Mozart in the Jungle, There’s Something About Mary) and SUE CHUNG (Gotham, Agent Carter) joined our Writing for Television students.

 

Our Producing students spent an evening with TED SARANDOS,  Chief Content Officer Netflix.

 

Our Acting for the Camera students visited the Mom set to meet with cast, writers and producers and watch a taping. Two nights later Mom star ALLISON JANNEY won an Oscar.

 

JON WAX, Head of Drama Series and Movies for YouTube Originals, visited our Writing for Television students.

 

JENNIFER ANISTON taught her second master class for UCLA’s Professional Program in Acting for the Camera. (Click the video!)

 

Improv legend RYAN STILES joined TV legend JOEL MURRAY‘s class for a night of improv.

 

Writer/Producer DAMON LINDELOF was a special guest in our Screenwriting and Writing for Television programs.

 

JASON BATEMAN!

 

JOE MANGANIELLO visited our screenwriters.

 

WENDELL PIERCE from HBO’s The Wire.

 

Director SACHA GERVASI taught an excellent master class during prep for his new HBO movie starring Peter Dinklage.

 

Writer/Actor/Producer/Comedian WHITNEY CUMMINGS.

 

Acting legend ALFRED MOLINA.

 

Screenwriter ANDREA BERLOFF.

 

Actor CARLOS BERNARD.

 

A fantastic master class by director JAMES PONSOLDT. He’s also a Professional Program in Screenwriting alum!

 

MARCO FARGNOLI, Director, The Mindy Project.

 

Actor MINDY STERLING from Austin Powers!

Alumni News

 

Tyron Carter (Writing for Television) was hired to write two freelance episodes of Legends of Tomorrow and a third for Arrow.

 

 

Rita Rucker (Acting for the Camera) booked a Co-Starring role on the show Snowfall on FX.

 

 

 Steven Canals (Screenwriting) is the co-creator and co-executive producer of the FX dance musical series Pose, co-created, directed and executive produced by Ryan Murphy.  The series features the largest transgender series regular cast, as well as the largest LGBTQ cast ever for a scripted series.

 Sylvia Jones (Writing for Television) wrote for Showtime’s The Chi.

 

 

Sally Jo Effenson (Producing) was a producer on Mudbound. 

 

 

Daniel Hogg (Screenwriting) was executive producer on the feature film The Devout, which was nominated for the John Dunning Discovery Award at the Canadian Screen Awards (the Canadian Oscars). The Devout stars Charlie Carrick (Reign), Ali Liebert (Wonder, Ten Days in the Valley), and Gabrielle Rose (The Sweet Hereafter).

 

Rayne Roberts (Producing) is a Creative Executive at Lucasfilm.

 

 

Stephanie Allain (Writing for Television) produced Burning Sands, which made it into the U.S Dramatic Competition at Sundance before being released on Netflix.

 

 

Heather Marion (Producing) is a writer on Better Call Saul. 

 

 

Kranti Kanadé’s (Producing) groundbreaking film CRD opened in the US and India. Critics around the world are calling CRD “bold, brilliant & subversive, charming and fearless, and something that no Indian film has done before.” “This astonishing film heralds the arrival of a bold new voice in world cinema where all limits are breached and boundaries crossed. Be prepared for a breathtaking journey, the likes of which you’ve never been on before.”

Rishi Chitkara’s (Screenwriting) script codename: Santa has been optioned by USA Network/Universal Cable Productions for development as an original TV holiday special.

 

 

Jacob Nasser (Producing) was Executive Producer of 3 feature length films. Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story starring Trace Adkins Judd Nelson & Kim Coates – US distribution by Cinedigm released in 20 cities theatrically, sold 75,000 in first 3 weeks. Running Away – starring Paula Tricky, Holly Deveaux, and William McNamara. My Daddy Is In Heaven –  starring Jenn Gotzen, Corbin Bersen, T.C. Stalling.

 

Chanté Bowser (Acting for the Camera) recently appeared on Lee Daniel’s acclaimed NBC show Star, Lethal Weapon, and in the Lifetime movie Faith Under Fire with Toni Braxton.

 

 

Rafaella Biscayn (Acting for the Camera, Producing) wrapped as SR on the dramedy pilot Dirty Laundry  which she co-wrote & produced, shot a supporting role in the thriller film Los Angeles Overnight featuring Lin Shaye (Insidious) & Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show) by Australian Director Michael Chrisoulakis,  has been in over 18+ commercials including a National Commercial Campaign for NESPRESSO with George Clooney, Danny Devito & Helena Mattson – directed by Grant Haslov (CAA), and booked an episode as co-host for Season 3 of Global Child TV’s travel show, distributed on Iberia, British, Delta, Cathay, SAS, LATAM, Thai and Royal Jordanian airlines. She is currently one of the Lead Hosts of CockTales Series, a comedic female-driven talk show on SEEKATV!

Maribel Apuya (Screenwriting) produced, directed and narrated The Sakada Series (34:44), three documentary shorts that capture the personal stories, struggles and successes of the Sakadas and of the second-generation Filipino Americans in Hawaii.

 

Liz Snyder (Writing for Television)  was a finalist for the Sundance Episodic Story Lab, a participant in Women in Film + The Black List Episodic Lab, a Quarterfinalist, Cinestory TV/Digital Fellowship, and her two Scripts, Derailed and The Troubles were selected for the ATX Festival/Black List TV staffing consideration partnership.

Olivia Liang (Acting for the Camera)  has performed as a guest star on Blackpills’ Pillow Talk, starring Patrick J. Adams, a co-star on Netflix’s One Day At A Time, and a co-star on an episode of ABC’s Grey Anatomy, directed by Ellen Pompeo. In addition, Olivia was selected from thousands of applicants to perform in the ABC Discovers Showcase. You can also see her in the recent Marine Biologist commercial for ABC Mouse, the How To Be A Disney Hero Misfit/OhMyDisney commercial as Mulan, and an upcoming Best Buy commercial.

 

Jean Su (Producing) and A.W. “Tony” Scott‘s (Screenwriting, Writing for Television) Broadvision Entertainment, a production and distribution company, theatrically released its first feature film, Grey Lady.   Grey Lady was written and directed by John Shea (Southie), and stars Eric Dane (The Last Ship, Grey’s Anatomy), Natalie Zea (The Detour, Justified) and Oscar-nominated Amy Madigan (Twice in a Lifetime, Places in the Heart, Field of Dreams, Gone Baby Gone).   Broadvision produced Grey Lady in association with Beacon Pictures, and Jean Su served as Executive Producer.

 

Robyn Osborne Paris (Screenwriting) wrote, directed and starred in The Room Actors: Where Are They Now? It premiered at Raindance in London, won Best Director at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and played in festivals all over the world before landing on the homepage of Funny or Die.

 Liz Buda (Screenwriting) won first prize for excellence in dramatic writing for her script Zero Hour in the 62nd annual Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards.

 

Joshua Koopman (Acting for the Camera) recently appeared in commercials for: Boston Bruins, IBM, Dunkin Donuts, Maine Tourism Bureau, SAI Global, TJ MAXX, Total Wireless and NH Lottery.

 

Tiwana FLoyd (Acting for the Camera) booked a National Walmart commercial directed by Antoine Fuqua.

 

 

Lakpathy Wijesekara (Producing and Monetizing Your Digital Series) directed the feature film Star Rider and the web series Rydeshare Chronicles.

 

Liz Kelly (Screenwriting) is currently Manager of Creative Affairs for 21st Century Fox’s Global Inclusion department, where she manages the Fox Writers Lab and Fox Directors Lab, Fox’s pipeline programs for emerging, diverse television writers and directors.  In this role she also serves as a scout for diverse talent at numerous film and TV festivals across the country, including the New York Television Festival, where she judged the Independent Pilot Competition as a member of the JHRTS Next Generation Committee, and the ATX Television Festival, where she will be judging the TV Pitch Competition.  Kelly has served as an industry mentor at the NALIP Media Summit and at LA Skins Fest’s Native American Writers Pitch Fest. She was invited to be part of Creative Artists Agency’s “Amplify:  Next Gen” group of up-and-coming entertainment artists, agents, and executives.  Kelly is a member of the Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society (JHRTS), and was chosen to be part of JHRTS’ exclusive Mentorship Program.

Sara Price (Screenwriting) is now Kurt Sutter’s assistant. They’ve been developing projects and a new spinoff of Sons of Anarchy, Mayans MC, has been ordered to pilot.

 

 

Marissa Tam (Writing for Television) was staffed on the Blacklist.

 

 

 

Ioanna Meli (Acting for the Camera)  starred in a viral youtube video Ascendance with Dwayne The Rock Johnson, an Auschwitz documentary produced by Steven Spielberg, narrated by Meryl Streep and directed by James Moll, and commercials for Babbel and Visa-Commerce. She was a lead in the drama pilot Dirty Laundry, and the short films Isabel (with Jamie Donnelly) and Life in Color.

 

 

Nicole Riegel (Screenwriting) will write the miniseries Soldier Girls for HBO. Veep’s Emmy-winning star/executive producer Julia Louis-Dreyfus will Executive Produce.

 

 

Caitlin Fryers (Screenwriting) wrote for the show Wynona Earp on SyFy.

 

 

Jaimie Uyreshiro (Writing for Television) wrote an episode of MTV’s Mary + Jane .

 

 

 

Barbara Curry’s (Screenwriting) thriller script The Boy Next Door was produced by Jason Blum/Blumhouse and starred Jennifer Lopez . Her screenplay Anything for Love premiered on the Hallmark Channel.

 

 

Lisa Ebersole (Screenwriting) wrote, directed and produced her hilarious new web series 37 Problems.

 

 

Megan Rikos (Screenwriting) premiered her feature film Crushed at the Montreal World Film Festival. The script was written in John Sweet’s screenwriting workshop.

 

Jaia Thomas (Producing) launched a management company for influencers called The Presley Group and produced 9 Rides, a feature film made entirely on the iPhone which premiered at South by Southwest.

 

Nicole Favale (Producing) is an Associate Producer on the new comedy special Louie Anderson: Big Underwear.

 

 

Kristin Catalano (Screenwriting) wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary Clarence. After being in 15 film festivals, it was picked up by Indican Pictures and is now streaming.

 

 

Nanou Matteson ( Screenwriting) co-founded Sparklight Films, a San Francisco Bay Area entertainment production company that champions and produces award-winning female-driven projects, including East Side Sushi, winner of 13 Audience/Best Narrative/Best Screenplay/Jury Awards and distributed by Samuel Goldwyn and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; Carrie Pilby, starring Bel Powley, Gabriel Byrne and Nathan Lane, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was distributed by The Orchard; and Remember Me, starring Academy Award® winner Rita Moreno.

Raeanne Giles (Acting for the Camera, Screenwriting) wrote and produced a new web series Playdates Anonymous. It was nominated for Best Comedy for Vancouver Web Fest and also chosen as an official selection of Rome Web Awards.  Eliana Rosen (Acting for the Camera) is also a main actor in the series.

 

Jean de Meuron (Producing) is credited as Executive Producer on the Oscar nominated La Femme et le TGV.

 

 

Dan Mazeau (Screenwriting) was hired to write a feature for Tom Cruise.

 

 

 

Kovid Gupta (Producing) was Assistant Director on Prem Ratan Dhan Payo – the 4th highest grossing film in India of all time. He’s also the Script Head on a prime time soap opera called Bahu Hamari Rajni_Kant. and recently authored a book (published by Harper Collins) called Kingdom of The Soap Queen: The Story of Balaji Telefilms, a non fiction book on one of India’s leading movie and TV studios.

 

Adam Saunders (Producing) produced When We First Met, starring Adam Devine, Alexandra Daddario and Shelley Hennig, About Alex with Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, starring Aubrey Plaza, Jason Ritter and Maggie Grace, Family Weekend starring Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Modine and Olesya Rulin, and Shimmer Lake starring Rainn Wilson and Ron Livingston.

 

Marcelo Mitnik (Screenwriting) is credited as Executive Producer and Story on the Oscar nominated Chau, Beyond the Lines.

 

 

 

Vitor Cardoso (Screenwriting) wrote and Directed a short movie called Fly A Way in LA which was selected by the NY LA International Film Festival.

Jason Sleisenger (Acting for the Camera) did a Regal Cinemas Moviebill AR (Augmented Reality) promo/commercial which airs at Regal Cinemas Nationwide before every feature film.

Marisa Luz (Screenwriting) shot an 8 episode web series called Sycamore Valley, starring Rachel Hroncich (Writing for Television).

Julie Anne Wight (Writing for Television) wrote for 5th Ward for the Urban Movie Channel.

Ivon Millan (Acting for the Camera) secured a spot in the feature film Do Not Reply starring Jackson Rathbone from Twilight.

Roy Zafrani (Screenwriting) recently won Best Screenplay Short award at LA Indie Film Fest, and another award at the Social Machinery Film Festival in Italy for his script Over the Wall.

Nada Djordjevich (Screenwriting) adapted Common Ground, a feature that she wrote during the Fall Semester at the UCLA TFT Professional Program, into a short for directer Lisa Ginsburg.

Lorelei Ignas (Writing for Television) is now a writer at NBC’s Writers on the Verge.

Sharon Rapose (Screenwriting, Writing for Television) produced and edited Konnichiwa Brick Lane.

Samantha Bowling (Acting for the Camera) co-starred in the indie feature film Back to Awesome, which was released on Amazon and iTunes.

Madeleine Holly-Rosing (Screenwriting) guest lectured at Dreamworks on crowdfunding and was interviewed in an article about crowdfunding in the Berlin Film Festival Magazine.

Christine Roney (Screenwriting) published her novel, Beyond Stone, based on one of the loglines she created in the program.

Jen Tousey and Darren Fitch (Producing) wrapped principal photography on an inspirational short film.

Geetika Budhiraja (Screenwriting, Acting for the Camera) produced, wrote, directed and acted in the film Naked for the 48 Hour Film Project. Her film made it to the top films of the festival. It was screened at the LA LIVE, Regal cinemas.

Bryan Kett (Writing for Television) won the Slamdance award for best original teleplay with a pilot he wrote in our program. Slamdance received a record-breaking 3,600 submissions for the Writing Competition.

Sarah Polhaus (Screenwriting) won the Austin Film Festival in the short category for her script FutureHealth.

Davina Willett (Writing for Television) won Best TV Pilot teleplay contest at LA Femme International Film Festival.

Heather Faris (Screenwriting) won the Page Awards (Action/Adventure) and was a Semifinalist for the Nicholls Fellowship with her feature script Ripple.

Heidi Nyburg’s (Screenwriting and Writing for Television) pilot Silicon Curve won Script Pipeline’s First Look contest. Her pilot Aeternum was a finalist in Script Pipeline’s TV Writing Contest. Both were written in our Writing for Television workshops. Her feature Just Be Cool was Scriptapalooza Semifinalist, Quarter Finalist Final Draft Big Break, and her feature Meeting Lorne Michaels was Semi Finalist Final Draft Big Break.

Matt Clingempeel and Brendan Vogel (Screenwriting) were finalists in the Spotlight Screenplay Competition. Brendan completed the first draft of the script during his time in UCLA’s Professional Program under the guidance of Wendall Thomas. Brendan was also a quarter-finalist in Final Draft’s Big Break Screenwriting Contest.

Matt Clemons (Screenwriting) was a Semifinalist in the Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

Sarah Marsh (Writing for Television) advanced to the second round (top 15%) of the Austin Film Festival for her pilot Hell In Heels.

Rachael Blackwood (Writing for Television) advanced to the final three of Final Draft’s Big Break contest.

Ana R. Dominick (Screenwriting) won 1st Prize in the Rhode Island International Film Festival, was a Top 3 Finalist in Nantucket Film Festival and LA Shorts Fest, a Semi-Finalist in the Fade In Awards, and a Quarter Finalist in BlueCat Screenplay Competition.

Professional Programs alumni dominated the finals and semi-finals of the CineStory Foundation competition. Congratulations to Dave Pirinelli, Alice Denard, Barbara Rey, Tyler Chatham, Erin Fischer, Odin Ozdil, Christina Pamies, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, Heidi Nyburg, Jo Buckman, Tameson Duffy, Michael Miller, Paige VanTassell and Renee Buck.

Mike MacMillan (Producing) produced Talk to Irene starring Geena Davis.

Courtney Kocak (Screenwriting) and her writing partner wrote two episodes on the first season of Amazon’s new animated comedy series Danger & Eggs, voiced by SNL‘s Aidy Bryant, as well as a Get Out the Latino Vote commercial for the DNC. She, with her best friend, Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Stephanie Beatriz, also launched a sex and dating talk show called Reality Bytes in partnership with JASH.

Lauren Caltagirone (Screenwriting) wrote for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Tyrrell Shaffner (Writing for Television) directed/wrote/produced the short Bully in NYC for Eli Roth’s Crypt TV, and produced short films for award-winning female directors Rebecca Feldman and Bridget Palard.

Darren Fitch (Producing) secured a position as Producer at Woven Digital.

Paul R. Puri (Writing for Television) is a medical consultant on Chicago Med.

Jason Ancona (Screenwriting) wrote, directed, and produced a feature film called Dr. Cheapskate, which was a Toronto Film and Video Awards winner in the No Budget Category. Dr. Cheapskate was also accepted into a number of other festivals, including the Laugh or Die Comedy Festival, Independent Filmmakers Showcase in Los Angeles, Illinois Film Festival, SuperGeek Film Festival in Miami, and the Phoenix Comicon Film Festival.

Joe Saroufim (Screenwriting) is now a Creative Executive at CAA Marketing.

Jeremy Hsu (Writing for Television) was selected as a NBC Writers On The Verge fellow. His spec episode of Fresh Off The Boat, which he wrote in his Professional Programs workshop, was an Austin Film Festival finalist.

Scot Semer (Screenwriting) and Renee Buck (Screenwriting) had their scripts make it to the Quarterfinals of the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship

Sandra Kate Burck (Acting for the Camera) was on Rush Hour on CBS and ABC’s The Middle.

Selina Ringel (Producing) shot her first feature film.

Puja Mohindra’s (Screenwriting) comedic web series, Geeta’s Guide To Moving On, was an official selection for the New York Television Festival, and advanced in the Sundance Institute Episodic Story Lab and the Sundance Institute Youtube New Voices Lab.

Destri Martino (Screenwriting) celebrated the first anniversary of The Director List database– created to make it easier for execs and producers to find experienced female directors for their film and tv project

Rachael Blackwood’s (Writing for Television) TV pilot Firebrand advanced through to the semi-finals of the PAGE Awards.

Asit Viyas (Producing) is producing the feature film Thanks You, Cancer.

Kathleen K.C. Cromie (Writing for Television) was a finalist in the PAGE Awards for her UCLA Prof Program pilot The Fift and a Finalist and Semi-Finalist of two scripts in Creative World Awards, including her UCLA spec Grimm: The Second-to-Last Unicorn.

Julie Anne Wight (Writing for Television) was a Nicholls Quarterfinalist, Top 3 in Comedy/Rom-com Features, Final Draft Big Break for her script My Clone’s an A-Hole.

Matthew Schutt (Writing for Television) received 2nd Place in the One-Hour category for Scriptapalooza TV Better Call Saul: Law and Order spec, and Top 10 in Pilots,  Final Draft Big Break for pilot written in the UCLA Prof Program, Wednesday Night Suicide Club.

Chas Jackson’s (Writing for Television) pilot Gents (written while on the program) reached the final of the NYTVF script competition.

Former Professional Programs Director Eyal Alony’s script Skin Deep was chosen for Film Independent’s Directing Lab.

Shafik Bahou (Acting for the Camera) booked a co-star role on CBS’s Madame Secretary.

Jeremy Hsu (Writing for Television) was selected as one of the CAPE fellows.

Libby de Leon (Producing) produced Captain America Civil War Reenactment for Funny or Die.

Corey Deshon (Producing) co-produced and wrote the feature film Shine.

Thomas Lim (Producing) wrote and directed a new feature film Sea of Mirrors. The film was shot entirely in Macau (China) on the iPhone.

Brian Craft and Tim Meloney, (Screenwriting) have recently launched their production company Mojo Road Entertainment. Their first feature, the sci-fi thriller I-Volution is in development with David L. Snyder (Academy Award Nominee for Production Design on Blade Runner) attached as production designer.

Vera Brooks (Screenwriting)  recently wrote and produced a four part web series. The Untitled Project is a comedy about a ten year old girl not happy with being homeschooled. Breaking the 4th wall, she shares disdain for her classmates and schemes to return to public school.

John Ward (Screenwriting) was one of the winners of the Telefilm Canada New Voices Award.

Chris Kyle (Screenwriting) co-wrote the screenplay Jody, which has been produced by the Black List Table Reads podcast.

Marta Suarez (Screenwriting) adapted Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy for FreemantleMedia and Telefonica for Spanish television’s premium channel #0.

Rajeev Chhibber (Acting for the Camera) appeared on Fresh Off the Boat on ABC.

Steve Cuden (Screenwriting) released his second book, Beating Hollywood: Tips for Creating Unforgettable Screenplays.

Mike Miller (Writing for Television) won 1st place in the sitcom category for the 21st Spec Spectacular with his teleplay The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy is a VIP.

Daniel Negret (Screenwriting) made it to the top 20 in the Cinequest competition.

Brian King and E.L. Katz (Screenwriting) wrote and directed the feature Cheap Thrills.

Patrick Hasson (Screenwriting) directed the film Blood Shed.

Natasha Pincus (Screenwriting) was nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards (Video of the Year and Best Editing) for the music video she created for Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

Uday Chopra (Producing), CEO of YRF Entertainment, has joined with Pierre-Ange Le Pogam and his company Stone Angels to produce and finance Grace of Monaco the Olivier Dahan-directed film starring Nicole Kidman in the title role.

Timothy Tau‘s (Screenwriting) screenplay Kaohsiung was a Quarterfinalist in the Zoetrope Screenplay contest and the Scriptapalooza Contest.  His screenplay Welcome to Eden was a Quarterfinalist in the Scriptapalooza Contest as well.

Q&A – Instructor Neil Landau – Writing for Television

What is the future of the television industry? We asked UCLA Writing for Television instructor and author of TV OUTSIDE THE BOX: Trailblazing in the Digital Television Revolution in this month’s Q&A.

Over the next five years, how can we expect the television industry to change?

We’re moving from a linear TV business, with scheduled shows in time slots, commercials, and overnight TV ratings, into an on-demand global digital/streaming TV business.  It’s not just about ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox anymore.  We now have a plethora of on-demand TV networks (broadcast, premium cable, basic cable), both AVOD (advertiser supprted video on demand: Hulu, Sony Crackle, CW Seed, and now virtually every network offers an “all-access” AVOD option) and, of course SVOD (subscription video on demand) streaming networks like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu+.  The viewer is now in charge of what and when to watch.  Serialized series are now preferred because they create an ongoing relationship with an audience, and no one is worried that if a viewer misses an episode or two that he won’t be able to catch up. But with so many platforms and networks, the audience is now fragmented, and the only programs that are getting huge ratings are live sports and some major events.  On-demand has also made anthology and limited series viable again (Fargo, American Horror Story, True Detective, Black Mirror, Making a Murderer).  We’ve also added the term “binge-viewing” to the vernacular.  Netflix doesn’t like the term because it sounds perjorative, but I love having the option of watching every episode as fast as I choose, a la a great page-turner novel.  If you can’t put it down, why is that bad?

Is there too much content out there?  

FX Chief Jon Landgraff recently made headlines by pronouncing that we’re now in a “content bubble” with an unprecedented 415+ scipted series available across multiple platforms.  But I take the view that lots of choice is a good thing, especially when it encourages connection; we may not have the office water cooler, but we now have the global water cooler conversation happening via social media.  To me, there may be too much mediocre TV series, but there can never be too much great TV.  I wouldn’t call it a content bubble.  I’d call it a content Renaissance.  There has never been a greater demand for fresh, original, authentic voices in the TV business than right now… and I anticipate that need will continue to expand in 2016… and then plateau due to what I’ve coined as “digital Darwinism.”  We also need to bear in mind that “high quality” television is very subjective.  House of Cards might fit the bill for one viewer; Fuller House might fit the bill for another viewer.  It’s all about many choices as opposed to one series needing to appeal to everyone in the broadest (safest) sense possible; now we have something for everyone.

What is the formula for creating good content?  

Originality + authenticity.  Fresh ideas, distinctive voices, and arenas — a glimpse into a world we don’t know, or only know superficially.  But, as with movies and plays and novels: it always comes down to creating iconic characters and then seeing how they perform under pressure.  Great storytelling is always about fascinating, flawed, complex, and sympathetic characters getting in and out of trouble.  One of my former UCLA Screenwriting professors, William Froug used to tell us: “In real estate, it’s location, location, location. But in screenwriting it’s conflict, conflict conflict.”  Or as our leader Richard Walter always says (it’s our credo): “Don’t be boring.”  I like to encourage my TV writing students to take risks on the page by pushing their characters to the edge.  What’s the line he or she might never cross?  Then have them cross it.  You can learn how to create great TV series by studying brilliant TV series, from Oz and The Wire, to The Sopranos and Breaking Bad; from All in the Family,  M*A*S*H, Taxi and Cheers to Seinfeld, Modern Family, Veep, Louie… and way too many to mention here.

In what way will the Professional Program in Writing for Television prepare students for a career in this changing television industry?

Our motto in the School of Theater, Film & Television is “Creating What’s Next.”  So while it’s essential to learn from the masters from the past, we keep our eye on the future.  We’re on the cutting edge of new streaming series on Netflix and Amazon and Hulu.  I’ve invited in panelists from Orange Is the New Black, Transparent, Casual, along with creators/producers/ writers/showrunners from Better Call Saul, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jane the Virgin, Switched at Birth, Homeland, and, again, too many to mention here.  The Professional Program in Writing for Television encourages innovation, so I’m going to invite experts from the rapdily expanding field of Virtual Reality storytelling, as well as web series.  We also encourage diverse voices writing from their own authentic experience.  While we’re nimble and adpating to the ever-changing TV biz, we’re also pragmatic and want to see our students succeed by not only creating and selling their original pilots, but also seeing them get staffed on TV series — where the majority of the jobs exist for screenwriters today.  We want your fresh, unique, specific voice and can help you develop and hone your craft.  We teach the basic nuts and bolts so you can learn them, but then transcend them.  There is no formula for success except talent and hard work; you can’t succeed with one without the other.  90% perspiration, 10% inspiration is the common analogy.  Luck and timing also play a large role.  The harder I work, the luckier I get.

You can learn more from Neil every week in our Professional Program in Writing for Television.

Q&A – Instructor Tim Albaugh – Screenwriting

Meet UCLA Screenwriting Lecturer Tim Albaugh.

In this issue’s Q&A Tim discusses the state of the industry, the five most important screenplay elements, securing representation, and more.

THE FILM INDUSTRY IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING.  WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF THE FILM INDUSTRY, AND HOW CAN SCREENWRITERS BREAK IN?

Even though the state of the industry is constantly changing, one thing remains the same:  good material makes waves.  Write a great script; something original and fresh.  I always tell my students to write the movie only they can write.  The days of the huge spec script sale are gone, but writers can’t lose sight of the fact that their scripts are pieces of their resumes; and a good script will get you noticed.  It may never get made, but it will get you work.  Everyone talks about how owning an IP (intellectual property) gets you into the game.  Sure, the studios all tend to be adapting comic books into huge films, but you aren’t going to break into the business writing a movie like that.  There are already tons of working writers out there who do it well, and get paid very well to do it.  Write that personal script.  One that shows you can tell a story well.  Opportunity will follow.

 

THERE IS A LOT OF INFORMATION ON SCREENWRITING AVAILABLE IN BOOKS AND ON THE INTERNET.  WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF STUDYING SCREENWRITING AT UCLA?

Yes, it seems every day there is a new book or blog about writing that promises to pass along the secret to success.  But, it’s one thing to read about it; it’s another thing to actually do it.  In our program, you are forced to write.  Every day.  Whether you want to or not.  And you are held accountable for the work.  At the end of your first year in our program you will have written two feature screenplays.  That’s a lot of work.

Besides accountability, another benefit is the relationships you will build.  Hollywood is a town built on relationships.  It’s nice to have a great script, but it’s worthless if you can’t get anybody to read it.  In our program you will not only forge relationships with your instructors (who are working writer/producers), but you will forge relationships with the writers, directors, producers and studio executives of tomorrow:  your classmates.

 

WHAT ARE THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF AN ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY?

Conflict.  Conflict.  Conflict.  Conflict.  Conflict.

I digress.  Besides conflict (both external and internal) you need a protagonist who can sustain the film and drive the narrative.  Someone who is relatable to an audience.  Someone who is flawed.  And their flaw needs to create the narrative of the film.  For example, in “Finding Nemo” Marlin is overprotective to a fault.  We understand why:  his whole family was eaten.  Except for Nemo.  Nemo, on the other hand, is inquisitive and a tad rebellious.  Why?  Because his father is overprotective.  And from those elements comes the plot.

A strong premise is important, too.  It’s the argument you are making about the human condition with your script.  Some may call it theme.  It’s the whole point of your script.  But, it needs to come organically from the characters’ pursuit of a goal.  You don’t want the tail to wag the dog.  By pursuing what she wants (plot), a character comes to discover what she needs (premise/theme).  Not every character will arc, but every story should have a premise.

A clear, tangible goal is an important element of a screenplay, as well.  It gives a script focus.  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  The goal in “Finding Nemo” is, uh, to find Nemo.  In “Tangerine” it’s to find the pimp.  Simple is the key.  Then that gives you the room to explore character.

Another important element of a screenplay is subplots.  Too many times I find screenplays flat and one dimensional and that’s because they lack subplots.  Subplots serve to complicate the protagonist’s goal, but they also carry the larger thematic thread, or premise.  For example, in

“The Sixth Sense” the subplots not only complicate Malcolm’s attempts to “cure” Cole, but they also share the same thematic thread revolving around lack of communication.  It is only when the characters in the film communicate that they succeed.

These five elements are just the foundation of a good script.  There are other elements such as dialogue and action that also play a role, but all the extras fall on deaf ears without a strong grounding in those five core elements.

 

THERE ARE A MILLION CONTESTS OUT THERE.  ARE THEY WORTH ENTERING?

Yes.  But you need to do your homework.  Focus on the contests with strong ties to The Industry.  The “Written in South Dakota” screenplay contest probably won’t do you any good in terms of industry access, but winning it may stroke your ego.  But, the goal of a contest is to get you and your writing noticed.  Industry insiders pay attention to contests like The Nicholl Fellowship; The Disney Fellowship; Austin Film Festival’s competition.  Major competitions with direct access to The Industry. And, of course, The UCLA Professional Program contest is important as well.  The school’s reputation catapults winners of our contest to the “must read” pile.  And, we publicize the winners in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and on Deadline Hollywood.

 

HOW DO YOU GET REPRESENTATION?

By winning a contest!  Well, it’s not the only way, but it helps. But, again, we don’t want the tail to wag the dog or to put the proverbial cart before the horse.  You get representation by writing an original screenplay that showcases your unique voice.  Not just once, but over and over again.  Then you parlay the relationships you’ve made at UCLA to get that script read.  It all fits together nicely.  Your instructors or classmates will have connections.  When they see something good, they will pass it along.  I get requests from agents and managers all the time asking me who the next hot person is coming out of my UCLA classes.  And, of course, I refer the writers I feel have to chops and material to fill the bill.  Don’t forget; agents only get 10% of your earnings because they only do ten percent of the work.  You need to be proactive in the development of your career.  That means not only working hard to be the best writer you can be, but also working hard to forge relationships that will get you read.  At UCLA, we help you do both.

Chanté Bowser – Acting for the Camera

UCLA was such a game-changer for me! While I was fortunate to act in the indie world, I always wanted to formally study acting so that I could take it to the next level but having gone to law school and practicing for a few years, I didn’t think it was feasible to enter UCLA! I finally have technique to go with the talent and am forever grateful to the program for the exposure to amazing decision-makers in the industry as well as the friendships forged. It has been life changing!

 

Kovid Gupta – Producing

UCLA’s Producing Program was truly eye-opening. With little knowledge of the inner workings of Hollywood, receiving a crash course in content production provided a perfect starting point. A traditional film and television professional, I found the video game production class incredibly interesting; the amount of storytelling and creative development that goes into the medium was fascinating. Hearing from various industry-wide experts gave me a solid glimpse into the daily process of creating path-breaking content. Would recommend this program to everyone interested in breaking into the film business!

A.W. Tony Scott – Screenwriting, Writing for Television

One of the best academic programs I’ve ever undertaken – professional screenwriting, writing for television, and advanced courses in screenwriting and television writing. Great instructors and talented classmates. An outstanding experience – worth every penny if you are serious about trying to make it as a professional screenwriter for film or television.

Spring 2017 Update

Since last we spoke…

Stephanie Allain (Writing for Television) produced Burning Sands, which made it into the U.S Dramatic Competition at Sundance.

Jacob Nasser (Producing) was Executive Producer of 3 feature length films. Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story starring Trace Adkins Judd Nelson & Kim Coates – US distribution by Cinedigm released in 20 cities theatrically, sold 75,000 in first 3 weeks. Running Away – Film is in post production starring Paula Tricky, Holly Deveaux, and William McNamara. My Daddy Is In Heaven – Film is in production starring Jenn Gotzen, Corbin Bersen, T.C. Stalling.

Chanté Bowser (Acting for the Camera) appeared on Lee Daniel’s acclaimed NBC show Star.

Jean Su (Producing) and A.W. “Tony” Scott‘s (Screenwriting, Writing for Television) Broadvision Entertainment, a production and distribution company, is theatrically releasing its first feature film, “Grey Lady”, on April 21, 2017.   “Grey Lady” was written and directed by John Shea (“Southie”), and stars Eric Dane (“The Last Ship”; “Grey’s Anatomy”), Natalie Zea (“The Detour”, “Justified”) and Oscar-nominated Amy Madigan (“Twice in a Lifetime”, “Places in the Heart”, “Field of Dreams”, “Gone Baby Gone”).   Broadvision produced “Grey Lady” in association with Beacon Pictures, and Jean Su served as Executive Producer.   Broadvision is leading the marketing and distribution strategy for the theatrical release of “Grey Lady” and is distributing it with Lionsgate.   Broadvision will be solely responsible for the distribution of “Grey Lady” in China.

Robyn Osborne Paris (Screenwriting) wrote, directed and starred in The Room Actors: Where Are They Now? It premiered at Raindance in London, won Best Director at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, was accepted into ITVFest, Seattle Web Fest, Miami Web Fest, and Vancouver Web Fest.

Tiwana FLoyd (Acting for the Camera) booked a National Walmart commercial directed by Antoine Fuqua to premiere during the 89th Academy Awards.

Liz Kelly (Screenwriting), works at 20th Century Fox and recently coordinated the studio’s inaugural Fox Filmmakers Lab, a partnership between Fox and the American Film Institute to increase the number of female directors working on major studio films by giving select alumni of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women opportunities to direct short films based on the studio’s franchises.  The Fox Lab Week, which ran from January 9-12, 2017, included educational panels featuring Fox creative film executives and guest speakers, such as writer/director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, Ghostbusters).

Sara Price (Screenwriting) is now Kurt Sutter’s assistant. They’ve been developing projects throughout 2016 and a new spinoff of Sons of Anarchy, MAYANS MC, has been ordered to pilot.

Lorelei Ignas (Writing for Television) is now a writer at NBC’s Writers on the Verge.

Sharon Rapose (Screenwriting, Writing for Television) produced and edited “Konnichiwa Brick Lane” which will screen at Tampere Film Festival in March.

Samantha Bowling (Acting for the Camera) co-starred in the indie feature film, Back to Awesome, which was released on Amazon and iTunes in November.

Madeleine Holly-Rosing (Screenwriting) guest lectured at Dreamworks on crowdfunding and was interviewed in an article about crowdfunding in the Berlin Film Festival Magazine.

Christine Roney (Screenwriting) published her novel, Beyond Stone, based on one of the loglines she created in the program.

Jen Tousey and Darren Fitch (Producing) wrapped principal photography on an inspirational short film.

Geetika Budhiraja (Screenwriting, Acting for the Camera) produced, wrote, directed and acted in the film “Naked” for the 48 Hour Film Project. Her film made it to the top films of the festival. It was screened at the LA LIVE, Regal cinemas.

Bryan Kett (Writing for Television) won the Slamdance award for best original teleplay with a pilot he wrote in our program. Slamdance received a record-breaking 3,600 submissions for the 2016 Writing Competition.

Sarah Polhaus (Screenwriting) won the Austin Film Festival this year in the short category for her script ‘FutureHealth’.

Davina Willett (Writing for Television) won Best TV Pilot teleplay contest at LA Femme International Film Festival.

Heather Faris (Screenwriting) won the Page Awards (Action/Adventure) and was a Semifinalist for the 2016 Nicholls Fellowship with her feature script RIPPLE.

Heidi Nyburg (Screenwriting and Writing for Television) has done well in many festivals with scripts written in our workshops. Her pilot script Focus was: Top 5% Tracking Board Launch Pad 2016, Semifinalist Script Pipeline 2016, Semifinalist Screen Craft Pilot Launch 2016, Quarterfinalist Final Draft Big Break 2016, Quarterfinalist Page International 2016, Quarterfinalist at Cinestory. Her feature Just Be Cool was Scriptapalooza Semifinalist 2016, Quarter Finalist Final Draft Big Break 2016, and her feature Meeting Lorne Michaels was Semi Finalist Final Draft Big Break 2016.

Matt Clingempeel and Brendan Vogel (Screenwriting) were finalists in the Spotlight Screenplay Competition. Brendan completed the first draft of the script during his time in UCLA’s Professional Program under the guidance of Wendall Thomas. Brendan was also a quarter-finalist in Final Draft’s Big Break Screenwriting Contest.

Matt Clemons (Screenwriting) was a Semifinalist in the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

Sarah Marsh (Writing for Television) advanced to the second round (top 15%) of the Austin Film Festival for her pilot Hell In Heels.

Rachael Blackwood (Writing for Television) advanced to the final three of Final Draft’s Big Break contest.

Ana R. Dominick (Screenwriting) won 1st Prize in the Rhode Island International Film Festival, was a Top 3 Finalist in Nantucket Film Festival and LA Shorts Fest, a Semi-Finalist in the Fade In Awards, and a Quarter Finalist in BlueCat Screenplay Competition.

Professional Programs alumni dominated the finals and semi-finals of the CineStory Foundation competition. Congratulations to Dave Pirinelli, Alice Denard, Barbara Rey, Tyler Chatham, Erin Fischer, Odin Ozdil, Christina Pamies, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, Heidi Nyburg, Jo Buckman, Tameson Duffy, Michael Miller, Paige VanTassell and Renee Buck.

Alumni News 3

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