This Narrow Ledge–a performance of spoken word by Screenwriting Professor Marilyn Beker, premiered at the Fountain Theater in Hollywood on November 3. The collection of deeply personal yet issue-driven pieces were performed by a troop of six gifted actresses and covered an impressive array of topics–among them the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, shock therapy, plastic surgery and the worth and politics of women’s work. Though all the pieces are intense, many of them are also downright funny. Visiting Screenwriting Professor David Clawson said the filled-to-overflowing theater “pulsed with pathos and humor.” Subsequent performances are planned.
The LMU Center for Excellence in Teaching named Adriana Jaroszewicz, assistant professor of animation, one of five Master Teachers. The program acknowledges teachers who excel in inventiveness and effectiveness in the classroom and provides opportunities for them to mentor and share expertise with instructors across campus.
“I believe that in order to be an effective teacher one needs to constantly pursue professional development in both pedagogic literature and practice in the discipline,” said Jaroszewicz. Recently, she presented groundbreaking research on the application of Laban Movement Analysis-based methods as animation pedagogy at the Carnegie Academy, Lilly West Conference and the Society for Animation Studies. She also is offering a new course this spring, Programming 3D Animation Tools (ANIM 340).
She continues to develop her skills in the field by pursing professional projects. Her most recent film, the animated short El Botin (The Looting), which combined 3D computer animation and miniatures, was selected for the Women’s Independent Film Festival and won the following awards: Best Animation, Best Directing and Best Visuals. El Botin was inspired by the stories of the Mexican Revolutions she heard from her grandparents and parents.
Before joining Loyola Marymount University, Jaroszewicz was senior digital trainer at Sony Pictures Imageworks. “I hope to keep bringing my enthusiasm about animation to my students and share with them best practices in this field,” she says.
You’ve typed the two most exciting words in your screenplay: FADE OUT. This is your twenty-second revision on your genre-bending period piece based on your accidental trip through the Mediterranean coast. Everyone who’s read it has given you their two cents, but overall people love it. What do you do next?
For Carrie Gutenberg, Catlan McClelland and Myles Reid, three recent screenwriting MFA graduates (all class of ’14), they found professional representation with scripts that had way better premises than mine.
“Dark alley, handshake, firstborn,” said McClelland wryly when I asked him how he got signed.
As much as I would love to believe that was true, Gutenberg told it to me straight. “A manager that attended one of our LMU pitch sessions asked to read my material. She was brave enough to take a look at two features of mine and offered to work with me to develop one of them for the marketplace,” said Gutenberg. “Needless to say, at the end of the meeting I asked her if we were officially ‘in a relationship’ or just ‘casually dating.’ Thankfully she likes commitment.”
A big myth about securing professional representation as a writer is that it leads to overnight success with an Oscar and an Emmy around the corner. The truth is, getting signed means you have a new hill to climb. It’s the beginning of a partnership that hopefully brings years of successful projects. “It’s exciting, but life feels like hurdling. Once you crest one obstacle, you’ve got the next one to look forward to, and it’s coming fast,” said Reid.
All three have spent the last three years in SFTV’s Screenwriting MFA and credit LMU on having an impact on their signings. The program boasts ‘What separates our school from other schools is our third year launch into the industry.’ It seems the program has accomplished that goal for these three.
“Probably the three years of intensive writing is what helped the most. Without the time spent on that and the body of work that goes with it, it wouldn’t matter how good I could make my scripts sound in a meeting,” said Reid. “The stack of rejected scripts from most places is sky high, so learning how to work consistently and constructively to whittle an idea into a first draft into something people might enjoy was the best gift LMU gave me.”
With a deal in hand, you’d think these three alums’ days have changed drastically, but really it’s only fueled their desire to turn out better writing everyday. “I now have zero excuses not to write every day. If there is someone out there who is working on my career then I need to be working at least 10 times as hard,” said Gutenberg.
All three are working on scripts with their new representation. “A horror-comedy about a gated community full of evil white folks who eat newly-arrived minority families. It’s called White People Problems. No, really,” said McClelland.
Some ideas are a little stranger than others, but these alums certainly are writing, and as a recent graduate from the screenwriting program, it’s a solid beginning.
SFTV is currently accepting applications for our graduate programs in Screenwriting, Writing and Producing for Television, and Film & Television Production. Click here for more information and application materials.
“Is this a joke?!,” was Mindy McKoin’s (Production – M.F.A. ‘12) first reaction upon learning that she had been selected for the Directors Guild of America Assistant Director Training Program. “After I settled down, I realized what I worked so hard for was finally coming true. It’s surreal. I’ve applied more than once and couldn’t believe I got it. All the work paid off.”
The Directors Guild of America Assistant Director Training Program is a highly competitive program aimed at aspiring ADs. The two-year program offers intensive on-the-job training combined with seminars and special assignments. As a trainee, McKoin will be working with seasoned DGA members who work professionally as second assistant directors, first assistant directors and unit production managers on the sets of various features, television series and commercials.
McKoin initially thought that being an assistant director wasn’t for her until she spoke with LMU production professor Charles Swanson. Swanson encouraged her to pursue the path, saying that her personality, and how she worked on set, are qualities that make a successful first assistant director. With that seed planted, McKoin was determined to hone her skills as an assistant director and found a seasoned assistant director in SFTV’s head of production administrator John Syrjamaki. Syrjamaki told her about the DGA Program and helped with McKoin’s application. “Without Charles and John, this wouldn’t be possible,” said McKoin.
As an SFTV graduate, McKoin’s experience in the production program has prepared her well. “LMU does such a good job at making us well-rounded filmmakers because we have to work on other people’s projects – you’re not one-dimensional. Working all those projects, I saw the difference of having a good assistant director versus a bad assistant director. It’s a balance of being super strict and being too relaxed. Being an assistant director is not about having a power trip. You have a servant’s heart helping others. You really shine by pulling the best out of people.”
Currently, McKoin is immersed in the required reading assigned to her and getting her DGA standardized resume ready. She also plans to get all her personal travel in because once the program starts she needs to be ready to work. According to McKoin, many of her assignments will be in Los Angeles, but she has spoken to past program trainees who have been assigned to projects all around the world.
To find out more about the program, watch the video below.