Isabella Vergun

Isabella Vergun

MFA, Writing for Screen & Television '18

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1. What interests you the most about writing? I've always loved stories. Telling stories, listening to stories, picking apart bad stories -- it's been a pastime for almost as long as I can remember. I wrote all kinds of things growing up, and I learned pretty quickly that writing helped me to be much more thoughtful about what I was saying and why. I was always the kind of kid (and often the kind of adult) that had so much constantly buzzing around in her head that when she tried to express it out loud, it often came out all wrong. Writing helped focus those thoughts a lot. I fell in love with screenwriting in college because I think that film and television are conduits for telling complex, multi-layered stories in a way that a lot of other media just can't. Between the writer(s), director, editor, sound designer, actors, and other hundreds of people involved in bringing a movie to life, there are so many opportunities for collaborative creativity and artistic interpretation. I just love the idea of being part of that kind of experience. 

2. What originally led you to studying writing? I had a double major in English and Religion in undergrad, as well as a minor in Film Studies. I'd always loved writing, but it wasn't until I took my first screenwriting class in my junior year that I really found the medium for me. My professor, Tom Pope, was incredibly encouraging, and my classmates really pushed me to come up with new and better ideas every week. Honestly, if it weren't for them, I don't know if I would have ever ended up here. I'm incredibly lucky to have had them as a constant source of motivation, and that my family has always been 110% supportive of me pursuing my passion.

3. What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply to SCA? Be honest. The professors who are reviewing your applications aren't looking for the most technically perfect application they've ever seen -- they're looking for potential, they're looking for ability, but more than anything, they're looking for you. Be creative, be uninhibited, and make your personal statement as much of a microcosm of yourself as you possibly can. This isn't the time to "play it safe;" make an impression.

4. How has this program prepared you so far in your career in entertainment? I feel like I have a much better understanding of how to write a screenplay to be both compelling and accessible. I've become a more concise and purposeful writer, gained experience working in internships relevant to my field, and begun forming a network of incredibly talented people who I think will be valuable contacts and friends for the rest of my life. More than anything, this program has helped give me the confidence to believe I really can succeed in this industry.

5. What have been your biggest challenges at USC? Self-discipline! I'm reliable with deadlines, but left to my own devices, I fall into that trap of "well, I could write today...or I could watch 18 straight hours of Netflix instead." One of the best things that USC is doing for me is helping me cultivate a routine: having a quiet place just for writing, figuring out which hours I write best during, and trying to write something every day, even if it's not exactly what I had planned. I'm also learning how to pick and choose my projects better; I've got the tendency to overcommit in the moment if I get really excited about something new.

6. What are you involved in right now? Where can people find out more about your work? I recently finished a first round of rewrites on two features and hope to start my first adaptation next month or so. I've also been working with some classmates to develop a webseries about the end of the world (it's a laugh riot). Apart from screenwriting, I've been writing music with my bandmates for a new EP, as well as teaming up with some fantastic Interactive Media students to write a horror video game. Anyone who'd like to know more about me and/or what I write is welcome to send me an email or follow me on social media!