Faculty: Screenwriting

Faculty

WENDALL THOMAS (Fall Lecture Series and Q&A)

Since receiving her M.A. in English, Wendall Thomas has worked as a director’s assistant, casting assistant, development executive, entertainment reporter, and film and television writer for companies including Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, Showtime, PBS, A&E, and NBC. All three of her Cyd Redondo mystery novels—Lost Luggage, Drowned Under, and Fogged Off—have received multiple award nominations and her short fiction has appeared in the crime anthologies Ladies Night, The Last Resort, Murder-A-Go-Gos and the upcoming Crime Under the Sun.

She has lectured, mentored, and consulted for a series of international screen agencies, including The British Film Commission, Film London, The Atelier du Cinéma Européen Producing Program in Paris, The Northern Ireland Film Commission, The New Zealand Film Commission, Script to Screen NZ, Screen Australia, Film Victoria and The Southern Australian Film Corporation. She helped direct the La Bôite Theater’s Stage to Screen initiative and ran the “Retold” Diversity initiative, and the Projector Writing and Directing program for Screen Queensland. She was also a featured lecturer at the Melbourne International Film Festival from 2011 through 2019.

Wendall’s students and clients include winners of the Samuel Goldwyn Writers Award, the UCLA Professional Program Contest and the UCLA Nate Wilson Joie de Vivre Award as well as finalists in the Page International Screenwriting Awards, Screencraft, The Writer’s Lab, and the Austin Film Festival Contest. They have written for shows including The Chi, I’m Dying Up Here, Superstore, and MacGyver and their produced features include, Escape Room 2 (Sony), The Water Diviner (Warner Brothers), The Republic of Rick (Official Selection Slamdance), Any Day Now (Winner Audience Award Tribeca Film Festival), and The Truth Below (MTV Films).

KRIS YOUNG (Winter Lecture Series and Q&A)

Kris received his MFA in screenwriting from UCLA (’98) where he was a finalist in the Screenwriting Showcase and placed second in the Samuel Goldwyn Awards.  He has written six movies for Disney Channel including Teen Angel (Jason Priestley and Jennie Garth) and Teen Angel Returns. He has also written pilots for CBS and Nickelodeon, as well as features for Columbia, Trimark and producers Richard Pryor, Terence Chang and Bill Badalato. His micro-mini movie, Mosquito Cupid, was produced for ABC-Touchstone. Young was also a staff lyricist for five years for Grammy-winning R&B producer Freddie Perren (I Will Survive) where he wrote for Grammy Award winning and nominated artists such as Tavares, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Peaches & Herb, The Spinners and Johnny Gill.  (A music career highlight for Young was having a song performed on Soul Train.)  Young was a founding member of the WGA Asian-American Committee, co-chairing from 2006 to 2013.  He’s been with the Professional Program since 2001 and has taught the undergrad senior concentration in screenwriting for UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television since 2005. He’s also taught for L.A. Film Studies Center, UCLA’s Summer Arts Program for teens, Visual Communications, East-West Players and the L.A. Juvenile Probation Center in Watts.

WEIKO LIN (Spring Lecture Series and Q&A)

A finalist of AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship and recipient of a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, Weiko earned his MFA in Screenwriting and B.A. in English (Creative Writing) at UCLA.

He is currently developing two original one hour series for Disney+ Asia and a WWII bio pic for Oscar Nominated producer Andrew Lazar. Previously, he adapted the U.S./China co-production feature in development based on the New York Times best-selling memoir River Town by MacArthur Fellow Peter Hessler for Fugitive Films and acclaimed director Lu Chuan (Disney's Born in China) and has adapted a TV pilot for Super Deluxe (former digital studio of Turner/Warner).

Weiko has written projects for The Mark Gordon Company, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Ivanhoe Pictures, Don Mischer Productions, and Wanda Pictures. He produced and wrote the original story for the Chinese language romance film 100 Days 真爱100天 which was released theatrically in Taiwan and was an official selection at the prestigious 2014 Golden Rooster Hundred Flowers Film Festival in Mainland China. As producer and original story writer, Weiko's Chinese language action thriller Retroactive 追击日 is set up at Wanda Pictures. His other international writing credits include 2016 Shanghai Disney Opening Ceremony and 2014 Huading Global Film Awards executive produced by Emmy winner Don Mischer.

From publisher of Save the Cat! and The Writers Journey, Weiko's book CRAZY SCREENWRITING SECRETS: HOW TO CAPTURE A GLOBAL AUDIENCE is available wherever books are sold with the traditional Chinese edition  好萊塢劇本創作術 released in 2022 for Greater China.

A Fulbright Senior Specialist, he has also served as an advisor at Sundance Collab. A current active member of Writers Guild of America West and Dramatist Guild, he is represented by Anonymous Content and United Talent Agency.

MARC ARNESON

Before coming to Los Angeles, Marc earned a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia. He is a graduate of both the UCLA MFA and Professional Screenwriting Programs, and has won numerous honors including: the UCLA Screenwriters Showcase, the Jack Nicholson Prize in Screenwriting, the Harmony Gold Screenwriting Award, the Zaki Gordon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting and the Showtime/Tony Cox Screenwriting Award, as well as being selected writer-in-residence at the prestigious Nantucket Screen Writers Colony. He has since developed and sold online, television and film projects including the independently produced feature Just Peck (written while a UCLA MFA student), starring Academy Award nominee Brie Larson. Marc has been a screenwriting instructor at UCLA since 2011, teaching Professional Program students as well as visiting filmmakers from the Accademia Nazionale Del Cinema, Bologna, Italy. Additionally, he was a Visiting Professor of Screenwriting at the Hollins University MFA Graduate Program and currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

RITA M. AUGUSTINE

If teaching screenwriting for the Professional Program at UCLA has taught Rita anything, it’s that all quirky character traits have their balancing compensations, and she is no exception. Thus her love of writing in lonely solitude has propelled her into constant human contact, bringing many extraordinary relationships in Hollywood and the world beyond.

Since graduating from the MFA Screenwriting Program at UCLA, for example, her story of a rescue mission on Jupiter’s moon Europa has led to friendships with the actual NASA scientists working on the Clipper Mission to Europa; paid rewrites in tandem with sci-fi screenwriter David Twohy (The Riddick Chronicles); and ImageMovers has signed a letter of intent to produce for Robert Zemeckis—director of Contact, a movie that profoundly influenced her script. (Most recently, the Chinese government has just issued a now-rare approval to film it in the next two years as a US–China co-production.)

Her works for hire have also led to unforgettable collaborations including with Hong-Kong action director Gordon Chan and star Maggie Q on the Vancouver set of King of Fighters (the SNK Playmore videogame adaptation); story development for multiple co-productions with international teams on location in Shanghai and Beijing; and close working relationships with Rick Porras (co-producer of The Lord of the Rings); Shiao Yi (one of greatest wuxia “martial-arts heroes” genre novelists of the modern era); and many other directors, executives and producers in Hollywood and around the world.

Next up, an epic actioner set in mythical Hawaii that Rita was hired to rewrite and co-produce with Thomas Pa’a Sibbett (an executive with Jason Momoa’s Pride of Gypsies) is being packaged for Amazon and out to directors including acclaimed New Zealand filmmaker Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors). And while she’ll never get to meet the subject of her just-completed limited series (a fact-based, labor of love about Shakespeare and the “Dark Lady” who brought him down a rabbit hole of madness, creative breakthrough, and to the brink of execution for treason)—it will be soon be in hands of the next best thing: producers who work with Kenneth Branagh.

MICHAEL COLLEARY

Michael is a screenwriter, television writer and showrunner, producer, educator, and consultant.  He started his career at UCLA film school where he earned an MFA, and won the Jack Nicholson Award and the William Morris Award for screenwriting excellence. 

During this 30+ year career he has worked for all major movie studios and TV networks. His produced credits include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; the family movie Firehouse Dog; and the TV series Unnatural History. He won a Saturn Award for the John Woo-directed action thriller Face/Off, which the New York Times deemed “one of the best 1000 movies ever made.” 

In the mid-90s, Michael returned to UCLA to teach its famed 434 screenwriting workshop. His students have gone on to become writers, producers, and directors with such credits as A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Bojack Horseman, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Patriot, The Boston Metaphysical Society, The Tick, and many more.  

For his contributions to the UCLA screenwriting program, Michael was honored with The Lew and Pamela Hunter/Jonathan and Janice Zakin Chair in Screenwriting. In 2016 UCLA appointed him a “Regents’ Lecturer," for which he presented a program of films entitled Screenings for Screenwriters. In Winter 2021, he taught a 10-week course on TV Pilot Writing for Sweden’s prestigious Story Academy located on Ingmar Bergman’s home island of Gotland.

Michael is currently showrunner of the TV thriller series Professionals starring Tom Welling and Brendan Fraser, which is set to air on American television in 2022.  He is also attached as writer/showrunner of a one-hour drama adaptation of Frenchie and the Devil, based on the life of notorious British gangster Stephen French.

JENNIFER EDWARDS

Jennifer is a writer who targets an audience’s heart. She has multiple produced television movies including Just For The Summer, A Storybook Christmas, Deadly Jealousy: The Killer Cousin, is in development on several more optioned projects and works as a writing consultant. She has a Screenwriting MFA from UCLA where she also won a Sloan Foundation Screenwriting Award for her original feature Family Brew. Growing up in a small town in Ohio, she always wanted to write, but first pursued other goals. She earned a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Mount Holyoke College, and spent her junior year at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, where she volunteered to teach English to Ethiopian and Sudanese refugees. She went on to teach high school English and English as a Second Language in Texas. She believes in the power of story to transform our lives and our world and creates content that entertains and encourages.

SIMON HERBERT

Simon is the co-writer/director/producer (with fellow UCLA screenwriting alums Phil Guidry and David Whelan) of the horror feature Savageland - released internationally by Terror Films. Savageland has won eight awards including: Best Director at the New Orleans Horror Film Festival; and Best Feature in Nevermore, NC; the Independent Filmmakers festival, CA; Eerie Horror Fest, PA; and the Atlanta Horror Film Festival, GA. Simon has won the Harmony Gold Award in Excellence. Comfortable in all genres, he nevertheless specializes in elevated genre horror, noir and thriller. He is currently working on his second novel “Chaser.” He is the producer and host of the screenwriting podcast “UCLA Story Break.”

WILL HONLEY

Will has more than a decade of experience writing for film and television. Originally from Missouri, he spent his first several years in Los Angeles haunting the halls of UCLA, graduating from both the Professional and MFA Programs. Will has sold or optioned material to Sony, Universal, Disney, Blumhouse Productions, Davis Entertainment, Automatik Entertainment, Crypt TV and Original Films. His script Flashback, written when he was still in grad school, was featured on the annual Blacklist. Will's feature credits include The Hive, Bloodline and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. His original screenplay, Blood, directed by Brad Anderson and starring Michelle Monaghan, is slated to be released later this year. On the television side, Will sold his original pilot, Reset, to NBC. In addition to his solo work, Will adapted the novel Verity for Amazon Studios with his writing partner, April Maguire. The two of them also sold an original thriller series to NBC, and their original sci-fi spec, Amelia, is set up at Millennium Media. Currently, Will is writing a scary kids movie for Disney and an action horror movie for Platinum Dunes.

BRIAN KING

Brian is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and the UCLA Professional Screenwriting Program. A screenplay he wrote at UCLA, Breakdown In Evandale, was optioned to Warner Bros Studios and launched his writing career. His first produced screenplay, Cypher, debuted at the Toronto International Film festival and starred Lucy Liu and Jeremy Northam. Brian wrote and directed his next screenplay, Night Train, which starred Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski, and Steve Zahn. His next produced screenplay was Haunter, which starred Abigail Breslin and Stephen McHattie. It debuted at the South By Southwest Film Festival. Brian’s most recent screenplay, Contraction, is scheduled to go into production in 2022. Brian has also optioned multiple television pilots and screenplays that are currently in development. He is currently in post-production on a short film, Hopscotch, which he wrote and directed.

CHRIS KYLE

Chris is a film and TV writer who lives in Santa Monica with his wife and two girls. He’s written for Disney, Universal, Sony and ESPN. He’s developed film and TV projects with Playtone (Tom Hanks) and Four By Two (Sacha Baron Cohen). He’s the co-writer of JODY, which appears on the Black List Table Reads and stars Constance Zimmer and Ed Quinn. Chris graduated from Duke University and UCLA, where he received the Jack Nicholson, Abraham Polonsky, and Samuel Goldwyn screenwriting awards. He’s been teaching at UCLA since 2011.

JENNA MCGRATH

Jenna has spent the last several years writing for Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Disney XD, and Strike Entertainment. Past shows include Best Friends Whenever, Bella and the Bulldogs, Kickin It!, Packages from Planet X, and Avengers Assemble. She and her writing partner sold a pilot to Nickelodeon. Jenna earned her M.F.A. at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, where she was awarded a Streisand/Sony Fellowship. She is also a two-time national record holder in the extreme sport of freediving. She believes that writing, like diving, rewards the brave.

SALVADOR PASKOWITZ

Salvador is the 7th son of 8 brothers and 1 sister from a famous Mexican/Hungarian surfing family. His father is a Stanford doctor who bucked convention and traveled the world with his LatinX partner and their 9 kids. Their exploits were featured in the award winning documentary Surfwise, by Doug Prey and Magnolia Films.

Salvador's career origins began as part of the surf apparel industry, where he was chief designer for Billabong Sportswear and later Hurley Clothing. In his youth was classically trained in oil on canvas at the Arts Students League in New York City. Salvador published his first comic book (Surf Crazed and Wave Warriors) as a teenager. Both featured in the internationally published Surfing Magazine. 

An avid reader of all books since his childhood days of traveling and surfing Salvador turned to Screenwriting full time in 2009 and in 2015 "Age of Adaline", which Salvador created and co-wrote, starring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford, was released worldwide by Lakeshore Media. Salvador’s next projects include: PARADISE LOST feature film. Studio: Amazon Ent., based on the Vanity Fair article THE LOST BOYS OF MALIBU. ALIVE INSIDE feature film. Studio: Wayfarer/Disney+, based on the documentary of the same name, Director: Justin Baldoni. AURORA feature film. Studio: CJ Ent (Snowpeircer, The Handmaiden), Director: Drake Doremus, Location: Iceland, Production: to start Spring 2021. HELL HELP US series television. Producers Andrew Trapani, Steven Schneider. BUT I KNOW I LOVE YOU feature film. Sean Robins, Paramount Pictures based on the book .  As well as numerous studio and production-company adaptations: DDLC Dino DeLaurentiis Company Project title: St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves . LD Entertainment Project title: Girl Underwater. Lastly: MADRE, a spec script, based on the life of his Mexican mother’s life, to be his first directorial debut. Produced by Justin Chon, (Ms. Purple, which Salvador co-produced).

BRIAN PRICE

Brian is an award-winning screenwriter and director who has worked with major studios, independent producers, and television networks around the world, including Universal, Warner Bros., Endgame, Blaspheme Pictures, Scanbox Entertainment, Hudson River, and Mother Films. He’s currently the Director of Graduate Screenwriting and Film at Hollins University, and has taught screenwriting at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, RIT, Yale University, Johns Hopkins, and the Brooks Institute, where he developed their M.F.A. screenwriting program. His students have gone on to direct for folks like Steven Spielberg and to be nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes, but most impressively, he still gets residuals for playing the vice president of the Burt Reynolds fan club in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. His book Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting, published by Focal Press, is required reading in screenwriting programs around the world.  He received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.F.A. from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

LISANNE SARTOR

Lisanne received her BA in English from Yale University and is a graduate of both the Professional Program in Screenwriting and the MFA Screenwriting Program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. While at UCLA, she won the Samuel Goldwyn Award one year, placed third another, won the Jack Nicholson Prize in Screenwriting and the Harmony Gold Screenwriting Award. Her original screenplay, Cleaverville, was produced by Alexander/Enright Productions and aired on Lifetime Television. She’s developed projects with Hearst TV, the DeAngelis Group, Roth/Arnold Productions and more. Before becoming a screenwriter, she was a DGA assistant director via the DGA Assistant Director Training Program. She wrote and directed the award-winning short film Six Letter Word via the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. Six Letter Word has screened at over fifty film festivals around the world, including the Telluride Film Festival and the American Pavilion at Cannes. She wrote the feature version of Six Letter Word and will direct it with producer Tani Cohen producing.  She is board president of The CineStory Foundation, a screenwriting nonprofit dedicated to nurturing new screenwriting talent through writers retreats and fellowships.

JULIE ANN SIPOS

Julie Ann began her career in the prestigious Warner Brothers Writers Workshop and became a writer for the cult classic Disney’s Recess (ABC), voiced by Dabney Coleman, Pamela Adlon, Allyce Beasely, John Astin and Tim Curry. She created the online entertainment portal mirroring the successful launch of the 24-hour Disney Junior cable channel; while her novel interactive experiences drove record box office for Up, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Tangled and The Princess and the Frog. She introduced the American Girl brand to original music and animation; wrote and developed its original series Z. Crew and WellieWishers for Amazon Prime Kids; and oversaw character publishing, features, specials, digital shorts, live theatrical and retail events. Her work has earned multiple critical accolades, including the Parent's Choice Award, the Common Sense Gold Seal (An American Girl: Lea to the Rescue) and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children's Programming (An American Girl Story: Melody 1963, Love Has to Win). A 2004 graduate of the MFA Screenwriting program at the UCLA School of Film, Television & Digital Media, Sipos blogged semi-anonymously as “Julie Goes to Hollywood.” The 10-year online confessional tracking her steep uphill climb through the trenches gathered a loyal following of 2MM+.

HUGH STERBAKOV

Hugh has sold television and feature scripts to cool places including Disney, Paramount, Fox, SyFy and Freeform, and developed projects with awesome people like Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Donald De Line, Gale Anne Hurd, Ben Stiller and the team at Midnight Radio. He created, wrote and executive produced Transylvania, a pilot for CBS Television Studios and the CW, which was produced but didn’t go to series. His therapist says he’ll get over that someday (but she’s lying). He also co-created and wrote the critically acclaimed comic book Freshmen, authored the novel City Under the Moon, and has two Emmy nominations and an Annie Award for Robot Chicken. He’s currently writing Lucid, a tech thriller for Warner Bros. and Blumhouse, with Ashton Kutcher slated to direct. Just like the Fresh Prince, he was born and raised in West Philadelphia. But that guy is a huge movie star, and Hugh has an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA. So… call it a draw?

JIM STRAIN

A veteran screenwriter (Jumanji, Bingo, Summer of the Monkeys, Space Warriors), Jim is a native of Denver, Colorado. He’s written for virtually every major studio in Hollywood, dabbled in theater, contributed to magazines and newspapers, and published a few books. He wears many other hats including that of a lecturer, consultant, and sometimes artist. He most recently wrote three episodes for the Netflix series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, including These Old Bones, nominated for the Outstanding Television Movie Emmy in 2020. Netflix is also producing the stop-motion animated television special “Alien Xmas,” based on the award-winning children’s book Jim co-wrote with Stephen Chiodo. Jim holds an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA and an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri.

DAVID WAGNER

David began his career in the entertainment industry at 10 years of age performing in numerous musicals, including "The King & I" with Yul Brynner. Wagner went on to become the 1984 vocal champion on Jr. Star Search with Ed McMahon. He also voiced the character of Linus Van Pelt in the CBS Special "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", and recorded the Peanuts album "Flashbeagle." Wagner graduated with a BA in Film with an emphasis in screenwriting from CSUN, and completed two years of UCLA's Professional Program in Screenwriting where he won the "Best Screenplay" competition. Wagner went on to write several movies including "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" with Ryan Reynolds, and "The Girl Next Door" with Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert.

IRIS YAMASHITA

Iris was nominated for an Academy Award® for her first produced screenplay, Letters from Iwo Jima. Directed by Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima received a Golden Globe award as Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for four Academy Awards. Currently, Yamashita is in development on an original script to be directed by Shekhar Kapur, who previously directed Elizabeth and The Four Feathers.

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