Insiders: The Art & Commerce of Hollywood

Units: 4
Student Level: Beginning

Jun 25 - Aug 3 Sorry, this class is currently full
Schedule: Tuesday & Thursday 6:00pm -10:00pm
Orientation: Jun 24, 2018 at 2:00 PM
Max. Seats: 30
Faculty: Sebastian Twardosz

The Art & Commerce of Hollywood

About This Class 

The purpose of this course is to demystify the behind-the-scenes world of Hollywood.  You will learn exactly how the business works from people who are in it now and who are succeeding at what they do.  You will come away with a full understanding of the process, a game plan for how to embark on your career, and specific strategies for improving your odds.  Guest speakers will include prominent agents, executives, producers, writers and directors.  This course is specifically designed for emerging filmmakers, producers, and screenwriters.  It is taught from a very practical point-of-view with an emphasis on how to navigate the system and get your career started.  Our goal is to spike your learning curve so you know what the business expects.

Topics for Discussion

  • The major studio system and how it operates from the top down
  • getting and working with agents and managers
  • the spec market and writing screenplays that sell
  • enhancing your “voice” as a writer
  • development from a very detailed perspective
  • script analysis, coverage, and story notes
  • television development and pilot production
  • making and distributing independent feature films
  • film festivals and film sales
  • networking and breaking into Hollywood

Students will be expected to read many scripts from the best writers in the business.  These are the scripts that got their authors noticed in the first place thus enabling you to see what Hollywood wants from new talent.  There will be numerous low-budget independent films to watch.  These are again the films that got their directors noticed.  You will also be expected to participate actively in the discussion. 

In addition, there will be numerous optional screenings outside of class with filmmaker Q&A. 

This course is intense, it will be frank, and you will get a very good idea of what it takes to succeed as a writer, director, or producer.

There will be at least a dozen prominent guest speakers for this course.

Last Year’s Guest Speakers

  • Kristin Burr  (Executive VP of Production @ Disney)
  • Dave Brown  (Manager @ Echo Lake)
  • Evan Daugherty  (Wrote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Killing Season and Snow White and the Huntsman)
  • Karl Gajdusek  (Wrote of Oblivion)
  • Liz Garcia  (Wrote and directed The Lifeguard)
  • Trevor Groth  (Director of Programming at the Sundance Film Festival)
  • Brian Harvey  (Senior VP of Television for The Mark Gordon Company)
  • Janet Jeffries  (Head of Development for Lawrence Bender Productions)
  • Evan Kilgore  (Reader for ICM Partners and Gore Verbinski)
  • Dina Kuperstock  (Agent @ CAA)
  • Franklin Leonard  (Created The Black List (
  • JC Spink  (Produced The Hangover 1-3, The Ring 1-3, Red Eye, and A History of Violence)

Guest Speakers from All Previous Classes
(many have visited multiple times)

  • Jairo Alvarado  (Manager @ 3 Arts)
  • Ram Bergman  (Produced Looper, The Brothers Bloom, Conversations with Other Women, Brick)
  • Casey Bloys  (Senior VP of Production @ HBO)
  • David Boxerbaum  (Agent @ APA)
  • Dave Brown  (Manager @ Echo Lake)
  • Jason Burns  (Agent @ UTA)
  • Kristin Burr  (Executive VP of Production @ Disney)
  • Sheldon Candis  (Wrote and directed L.U.V.)
  • Chris Charalambous  (VP @ Freestyle Releasing)
  • Drea Clark  (Chair of Narrative Feature Competition @ Slamdance)
  • Evan Daugherty  (Wrote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Killing Season and Snow White and the Huntsman)
  • Nadine DeBarros  (VP of Sales & Acqusitions @ Voltage Pictures)
  • Youssef Delara  (Writer/Director of Filly Brown)
  • Hrishi Desai  (Agent @ ICM)
  • Debbie Deuble Hill  (Agent @ APA)
  • Ian Deitchman & Kristin Rusk Robinson  (Wrote Life As We Know It)
  • Lindsay Doran  (Produced Nanny McPhee 1-2 and Sense & Sensibility)
  • Carl Ellsworth  (Wrote Red Dawn, Last House on the Left, Disturbia and Red Eye)
  • Jennie Frankel  (Partner @ Magnet Management)
  • DeVon Franklin  (VP @ Columbia Pictures)
  • Karl Gajdusek  (Wrote of Oblivion)
  • Liz Garcia  (Wrote and directed The Lifeguard)
  • Emile Gladstone  (Agent @ ICM)
  • Trevor Groth  (Director of Programming at the Sundance Film Festival)
  • Ben Haber  (Executive Produced The Smurfs 1-2, Head of Development for Jordan Kerner)
  • Heather Hach  (Wrote What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Freaky Friday)
  • Brion Hambol  (Produced Scenic Route and Natural Selection)
  • Brian Harvey  (Senior VP of Television for The Mark Gordon Company)
  • Eric Hetzel  (Executive Producer of Something the Lord Made)
  • David Hopwood  (VP for Producer Mark Canton)
  • Ramses IsHak  (Agent @ UTA)
  • Ava Jamshidi  (Manager @ Industry Entertainment)
  • Janet Jeffries  (Head of Development for Lawrence Bender Productions)
  • Rian Johnson  (Writer/Director of Looper, Brothers Bloom and Brick)
  • Doug Jones  (Associate Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival)
  • Brian Kend  (Agent @ CAA)
  • Rose Kuo  (Artistic Director of the Film Society at Lincoln Center)
  • Dina Kuperstock  (Agent @ CAA)
  • Anne Lai  (Producer in Residence @ Sundance)
  • Robert Lazar  (Agent @ Resolution)
  • Roy Lee  (Produced The Strangers, The Ring 1-3, and The Grudge 1-3)
  • Franklin Leonard  (Created The Black List (
  • Adam Levine  (Founding Partner & Agent @ Verve)
  • Matthew Lillard  (Actor, Writer, Director, Producer)
  • Alex Litvak  (Wrote The Three Musketeers and Predators)
  • Jill McElroy  (Manager @ Management 360)
  • Stacy McKee  (Supervising Producer of Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Brian Miller  (Writer of Apollo 18)
  • Jon Mone  (Executive Producer of Your Highness, Repo Men, The Wolfman)
  • Geoff Morley  (Agent @ UTA)
  • Nick Nesbitt  (VP of Production for Producer Scott Stuber)
  • Matt Nix  (Executive Producer and Creator of Burn Notice and The Good Guys)
  • Nick Ogiony  (Agent @ CAA)
  • Sheryl Petersen  (Agent @ APA)
  • Ben Ripley  (Writer of Source Code)
  • Nena Rodrigue  (Executive Producer @ Dick Wolf Films)
  • Luke Ryan  (VP of Production @ Mary Parent’s Disruption Entertainment)
  • Chris Sablan  (Agent @ Original Artists)
  • Carin Sage  (Agent @ CAA)
  • Ryan Saul  (Agent @ APA)
  • Geoff Shaevitz  (Senior VP of Production @ Summit)
  • JC Spink  (Produced The Hangover 1-3, The Ring 1-3, Red Eye, and A History of Violence)
  • Larry Stuckey  (Wrote Little Fockers and Elling)
  • Lars Theriot  (Agent @ ICM)
  • Paula Wagner  (Produced Valkyrie and Mission Impossible 1-3)
  • Jake Weiner  (President of Production @ Benderspink, Produced Leap Year)
  • Leigh Whannell  (Wrote Insidious, Wrote and Starred in the original Saw)
  • Seanne Winslow  (Head of Development for Producer Dan Lin)
  • Bill Zotti  (Agent @ CAA)


About Your Instructor

Sebastian has been very fortunate to work with leading companies in both film and television for the past twenty years.  He is currently the host of The Insiders ( which is an entertainment industry talk show produced by TheLip.TV and widely available via the internet.  He is also a partner in Circus Road Films ( which advises and represents emerging filmmakers.  Clients have produced films which premiered at all of the major film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Telluride and Toronto and which were released by most of the leading distributors in all media. 

He was previously a senior acquisitions executive for Allumination FilmWorks (a division of Content Media Corp.) which specialized in the domestic distribution and foreign sales of independently produced feature films.  While there he managed one of the company’s main accounts—a licensing agreement with the Slamdance Film Festival. 

Before that, Sebastian was the head of development for a Paramount-based production company called Craftsman Films which developed numerous studio projects, including early drafts of the feature film reinvention of the Star Trek franchise. 

For three years, he worked in comedy and drama development at Touchstone Television, the tv production division of the Walt Disney Company and ABC, where he staffed on six produced pilots.  He also worked on numerous pilots and on-air tv series for Imagine Entertainment. 

Sebastian’s first production job was from 1995-1999 for Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner’s Paramount-based company where he started as an assistant and was promoted to executive, actively participating in the making of Mission Impossible 1-2 and Without Limits. 

Sebastian started in the business as an agent's assistant in the motion picture department at ICM.  He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1993.  His short film, Silent Rain, received a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as the Student Emmy. 

Sebastian recently co-produced the independent feature Small Town Saturday Night starring John Hawkes, Chris Pine and Octavia Spencer, and he has been an adjunct professor at both UCLA and USC teaching about the art and business of film since 2006.  Born in Poland, he grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

Recent speaking engagements have included:  American Film Market (AFM), Chapman University, Pepperdine University, National Public Radio (NPR), Writers Guild of America (WGA), and numerous film festivals and screenplay conferences such as Albuquerque, Catalina, CENFLO, Dubuque, Durango, Santa Fe, Screenplay Expo, and Waterfront.


“This class is perfect for the program.  No one does it better than Sebastian.”  -- USC Student

“Everyone needs to take this class!”  -- USC Student

“Yes, Sebastian’s class did fulfill my expectations.  It actually surpassed by expectations.”  -- UCLA Student

“I would actually consider taking this course again.”  -- USC Student

I had a lot of fun in Sebastian’s class and I would easily take it again.”  -- USC Student

“His feedback is extremely useful and he has great knowledge in the field.  All of his advice has already been practical.”  -- UCLA Student

“Fun to listen to while you learn.  The info you learn is invaluable.”  -- USC Student

“I loved learning all of the subjects in class.  Sometimes I was so overwhelmed with knowledge that I could not sleep—seriously!”  -- UCLA Student 

“Let him do whatever he wants.  He knows what he’s doing.  Just give him a room and whatever he needs and let him teach.”  -- USC Student

“A great asset to the USC film department.”  -- USC Student

“Every film school should have a class like this one.  The practical business knowledge helps to dispel the myth of Hollywood and makes the film industry more tangible.  I feel I know a lot more about getting a film made now.”  -- USC Student 

“Sebastian is a great instructor.  I would take other classes of his and highly recommend to others.”  -- UCLA Student

“I have a much better understanding of how Hollywood operates.”  -- USC Student

“Sebastian is a strong and passionate speaker who really brings the course to life.”  -- UCLA Student

“Wonderful.  Knowledgeable.  Entertaining.”  -- UCLA Student

It is recommended that students enroll in both The Insiders and The Outsiders in order to have a comprehensive understanding of the contemporary filmmaking landscape.*** 


 *Please note that dates and times of the course are subject to change. All projects are created outside of class time.*