IN THIS SECTION
WENDALL THOMAS (Fall Lecture Series and Q&A)
Since receiving her M.A. in English, Wendall has worked as a director’s assistant, story editor, development executive, entertainment reporter, and film and television writer for companies including Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, Showtime, PBS, A&E, and NBC. Her mystery novels (Lost Luggage and Drowned Under, Poisoned Pen Press) have been nominated for Lefty, Macavity, and Anthony Awards and her short fiction appears in the crime anthologies Ladies Night, Last Resort, and Murder-A-Go-Gos. Her third novel, Fogged Off, dropped November 2021.
She has lectured and mentored for international screen agencies including the British Film Commission, Film London, The Atelier du Cinéma Européen Producing Program, the Northern Ireland Film Commission, the New Zealand Film Commission, Script to Screen, Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, Film Victoria, the La Boite Theater’s Stage to Screen initiative, The Retold Diversity Project, and the Melbourne International Film Festival.
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 Awards, The Writer’s Lab, and Austin Film Festival Contest. They have written for shows including The Chi, I’m Dying Up Here, Superstore, and MacGuyver and their produced features include Escape Room 2 ( Sony), The Water Diviner (Warner Bros.), The Republic of Rick (Official Selection Slamdance Festival), Any Day Now (Winner Audience Award Tribeca Film Festival), The Space Between (Official Tribeca Selection), 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 Fulbright Senior Specialist, Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award recipient, and AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship Finalist, Weiko received his B.A. in English (Creative Writing) and M.F.A. in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA. Native fluent in Mandarin, he produced and wrote the original story for the Chinese-language romance film 100 Days 真愛100天 shot on location in Matsu Islands. It world premiered at Hawaii International Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Followed by a theatrical nationwide release in Taiwan, it premiered in Mainland China as an official selection of the 2014 Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival. He wrote a half-hour dramedy pilot Exclusively Chloe based on YA Penguin novel for Super Deluxe (former digital studio of Turner) and adapted the co-production feature River Town, the New York Times bestselling memoir by MacArthur Fellow Peter Hessler for Fugitive Films and director Lu Chuan (City of Life and Death, Disney Nature’s Born in China). He has written for Shanghai Disney Opening Ceremony as well as other projects for The Mark Gordon Company, Ivanhoe Pictures/SK Global (producer of Crazy Rich Asians), Don Mischer Productions (producer of The Academy Awards), and Wanda Pictures. 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 Chinese editions set to be published in Mainland China and Taiwan in 2022. A current active member of Writers Guild of America West and Dramatist Guild of America, he is represented by Anonymous Content and United Talent Agency.
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
Since Rita’s epiphany—deep in the suburbs of Philadelphia—that she would commit her life to screenwriting (the best job she dared imagine), she’s been on a terrifying and exhilarating journey. Terrifying because each success (and failure) has led to a threshold into the unknown. Exhilarating because each time she’s stepped across, she’s found fulfilling collaborations, friendships, and meaning on the other side.
Graduating from the MFA Screenwriting Program at UCLA (where she studied alongside many talented graduates of the UCLA Professional Program) was the first step that made the rest possible. Winning and later producing the UCLA Showcase led to representation by top Hollywood agents and managers and the development of her projects with executives and producers at major studios including Warner Brothers, Sony, and even having her script considered by the head of Fox as their summer tent-pole. Winning the Sloan Screenwriting competition led to NASA-mentorship, paid rewrites in tandem with screenwriter David Twohy (The Fugitive, Pitch Black), and recently ImageMovers has signed a letter of intent to come on as producers of her script Ice Moon Rising (set on Jupiter’s moon Europa), with Robert Zemeckis to potentially direct and film on location in Australia. (Nowadays, Rita even spends Thanksgivings with the NASA Clipper Mission scientists who will be sending an actual spaceship to Europa in 2024.)
It was a UCLA producer friend who hired Rita to write the greenlit draft of the SNK Playmore videogame adaptation of King of Fighters, directed by Hong-Kong action director Gordon Chan and starring Maggie Q. This led to membership in the Writer’s Guild and being hired to write US–China film co-productions on location with international teams in Shanghai and Beijing, including Rick Porras, the co-producer of The Lord of the Rings, and Shiao Yi, one of greatest wuxia (“martial-arts heroes”) genre novelists of the modern era.
These experiences, along with her undergraduate background in ancient literature, convinced producers to bring her in as a co-producer on Hawaiian Goddess, along with Thomas Pa’a Sibbett, an executive with Jason Momoa’s Pride of Gypsies. Rita was recently hired to rewrite the script, and her draft is now out to A-list directors including Zack Snyder. Back on the East Coast, not far from her place of origin, director Michael Maren (who just finished filming Shriver with Michael Shannon and Kate Hudson) is attached to direct her thriller Mirror Lake, set in the New York City literary world.
Coming full circle, Rita is now thrilled to teach alongside some of her brilliant fellow classmates, helping the upcoming generation of UCLA Professional Program students hone their screenwriting skills to pursue their own rewarding journeys into the unknown.
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 is the co-writer/director/producer (with fellow UCLA screenwriting alums Phil Guidry and David Whelan) of the horror feature Savageland-- released by Terror Films, internationally. Savageland has screened at numerous festivals including: Comic-Con; Morbido Festival, Mexico; and FilmQuest Film Festival, Utah. It has won eight awards including: Best Director at the New Orleans Horror Film Festival; and Best Feature in: Nevermore, NC; Independent Filmmakers festival, CA; Eerie Horror Fest, PA; and the Atlanta Horror Film Festival, GA. Simon usually writes solo, and has won the Harmony Gold Award in Excellence. He has no fear of any genre; but knows that he is terrible at comedy (his one ‘comedy’ script – unfunny at a sub-atomic level - was buried in a lead container in the Mariana Trench; where rotations of freestyle aquatic pit bulls, 11,00 meters down, still guard it bravely from the gaze of innocents), which frees him up for darker stuff. Noir. Horror. Thriller. Simon hates people that get “your” and “you’re” mixed up (and will visit your house to explain the difference), but otherwise has a sunny disposition. He models his screenwriting classes on the fine example of R. Lee. Ermey in Full Metal Jacket, and you will give him twenty. He is repped by Management 360.
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, 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, and Blood, directed by Brad Anderson and starring Michelle Monaghan. 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 a scary kids movie to Disney. Additionally, their original sci-fi movie, Subservience, is set to be released later this year, directed by SK Dale and starring Megan Fox. Currently, Will is writing a thriller for an independent financier and an action horror movie for Platinum Dunes.
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 two most recent screenplays, Contraction and Hopscotch, are both scheduled to go into production in 2024. Brian has also optioned multiple television pilots and screenplays that are currently in development.
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 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 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).
Rocco draws upon years of experience working on high-profile features. His career in VFX and animation production spans over a decade. Employed by studios such as Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Walt Disney Feature Animation, Rocco’s production credits include The Polar Express, The Simpsons Movie, and Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.
After attending UCLA’s Professional Program, Rocco left production and shifted gears to writing full-time, receiving his M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. While there, he won the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award (1st Prize) and a UCLA Screenwriters Showcase award.
Rocco has sold original features, both live-action and animation, to studios such as Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures Animation. On the TV side, Rocco served as a writer and consultant on the hit Netflix animated series Voltron: Legendary Defender. He’s written shows for Dreamworks Animation Television, Cartoon Network, and developed high profile IP’s for Warner Bros TV Animation and Nickelodeon. He also served as Story Editor on Middlemost Post, an original animated series now streaming on Paramount +. Most recently, he produced an animated feature based on his Goldwyn award-winning screenplay, Inspector Sun and The Curse of the Black Widow, starring comedian Ronny Chieng in the titular role. Worth noting, the original script was started in UCLA’s Professional Program and finished in the MFA. Since its worldwide theatrical release, it has been a Best Animated Feature nominee for Spain’s Goya Award, and was an official selection of the 2023 Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The movie hits U.S. theaters October 13th, 2023.
Rocco guest lectures at UCLA, and has been an adjunct professor at DePaul University Chicago. Married with three daughters, he splits his time between Los Angeles and Chicago.
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.
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 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?
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 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 also produced the stop-motion animated television special Alien Xmas, based on the award-winning children’s book Jim co-wrote with Stephen Chiodo. Most recently Jim wrote two television movies for the CW Network -- A Walton’s Thanksgiving and the remake of the Christmas classic The Walton’s Homecoming, named the Most Outstanding Television Film for 2022 by the Family Film Awards. Jim holds an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA and an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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 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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