BFA, Writing '14
How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of screenwriting? Since coming to USC, I’ve learned a lot about how screenwriting is just the first step in a long and changing process of film and television production. However, it’s an important step—scripts have to have the energy, driving characters and emotions that can propel a film from a synopsis in the writer’s head through rewrites, production, filming, editing and more. Because the screenwriting program requires students to take production class CTPR-290 with students in other disciplines, we get to see this importance of a strong story firsthand. If I’m not excited to write my script, then why would anyone else be excited to read it, much less produce it or watch it?
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? I would encourage prospective screenwriting students to be as honest to themselves as they can be in their writing, work and application materials. Don’t worry if you think your application doesn’t meet some sort of specifications you think the application committee will be looking for, or if you don’t think it represents your career goals. There’s a lot to learn at school if you’re open to changing the way you work and the way you write; you never know how your writing will change once you get here.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in screenwriting? The faculty in the School of Cinematic Arts has so much knowledge and advice to offer. Even though I haven’t entered the world of working writers, I think I have been offered a greater glimpse into the film industry than if I had gone to another school.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? One of the biggest challenges I have faced at USC is learning to write what I know. For me, that didn’t mean necessarily writing specifically from life history, but writing characters that drew directly from my emotions and doing research about places and people when I needed to. And classes outside of the film school can even help with this too. I feel more comfortable writing a character (and I think that character becomes more real) if I know more about what I’m writing about.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view which you bring to USC? I grew up sharing classrooms, car rides, dinners, and weekend plans with five brothers. A lot of the stuff I write has to do with family experiences and people living together in close quarters even if they might rather prefer some more space; even when I write a script about zombies or a script about lawyers, the characters end up sounding like siblings. I have my family to thank for that.