Hot off the heels of her critically-acclaimed film Dear White People, LMU alumna Effie Brown (Film and Television – B.A. ’93), has been tapped by Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films to produce the feature film adaptation of Omar Tyree’s bestselling book trilogy Flyy Girl. According to Deadline: “Brown and her banner Duly Noted will oversee development and recruitment of the creative team alongside Codeblack’s Jeff Clanagan and Quincy Newell. Nicole Jefferson-Asher is on board to write the script. The story explores the journey of Tracey Ellison, a successful businesswoman and workaholic who believes that money is always the key to happiness. In the midst of her life journey, Ellison is forced to reinvent herself and rethink her relationships, her career and her definition of success.”
Read our recent Q&A with Brown where she discussed the ins-and-outs of producing and provided useful advice to young filmmakers here. Congratulations Effie!
Clinical Assistant Screenwriting Professor Paul Chitlik’s PSA Look Around, about people with disabilities, is getting a lot of play. Produced by LMU students, including Eli Portillo (PROD – M.F.A ’16) as DP and Khalilah Waajid (PROD – M.F.A ’17) as editor and an SFTV student crew (and a couple of student extras), it premiered at the WGA Theater, and continues to screen ahead of films shown there all month. It’s also featured on the WGA’s online magazine, and last month, it played at Sundance during a panel on diversity in film. The panel was hosted by RJ Mitte, an actor with mild cerebral palsy who is best known for his portrayal of Walter ‘Flynn’ White, Jr. on the AMC hit television show Breaking Bad.
Chitlik pitched the idea for Look Around to help shed light on people with disabilities – a population that is often overlooked in film – to the Writers with Disabilities Committee of the WGAW and brought Michael Doughtery on board to write a script. Chitlik then suggested producing it on the LMU campus. The purpose of the PSA, he said, is to encourage writers to consider specifying people with disabilities in some capacity in their screenplays. While there are no campus screenings planned, the PSA is available for use by LMU instructors at any time.
Attention history buffs! Professor Glenn Gebhard’s documentary, Greetings from Fire Island (2013, 57 mins), has been released online at Amazon and Cinecliq. The film is also available to watch on Vimeo. The made for TV movie has aired on select PBS stations. Discover the natural beauty of this tiny island located off the coast of Long Island’s south shore and the people who have inhabited the island, past and present.
There was not a dry eye in the room when Angelina Jolie presented not one, but two full-ride scholarships for Loyola Marymount University during The Hollywood Reporter’s 23rd Annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, Dec. 8 at Milk Studios. Melissa Sandoval and Megan Castillo – LMU class of 2019 – will join last year’s LMU/WIE Scholarship recipients, LMU Freshmen Paolo Franco and Melissa Martinez, becoming the first members of their families to attend college. All four scholarship winners are high-achieving teenage girls who completed the Women in Entertainment Mentorship program, a partnership between the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and The Hollywood Reporter.
“It was an incredibly tough decision for the committee to choose the two LMU/WIE Scholarship recipients. It really came down to making two dreams come true,” said LMU SFTV Director of Development Stacy Barnes. “Both Melissa and Megan wrote eloquently in their essays how LMU was their dream university and what our mission meant to them. We know their commitment to service and leadership will be a tremendous asset to our student body.”
Melissa and Megan credited their mentors with helping them to achieve this milestone. Melissa’s mentor, Janice Marinelli, President, Disney Studio Global, and Megan’s mentor, Shana Waterman, a former SVP at FOX Television, were there every step of the way, helping the girls study for SAT’s, prepare college applications and just providing life guidance.
Of course, it was also a thrill for the girls to receive the news and a hug from Angelina Jolie. “She is my dad’s favorite actress,” said Melissa. (Just wait until he hears!) Among the many other inspirational women at the breakfast were Shonda Rhimes, recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award; Melissa Rivers and Sarah Silverman, who presented a tribute to the late “brave” comedienne Joan Rivers, and a couple of men, too, including Jay Leno.
The scholarships are made possible through the generosity of donors [Associated Television International founder] David and Laura McKenzie and through the philanthropy of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. The LMU/WIE Scholarships are awarded in partnership with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and The Hollywood Reporter, and LMU School of Film and Television.