School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

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Mary Sweeney, M.A.

Dino and Martha De Laurentiis Endowed Professor
Media Arts + Practice Division, Ph.D. Advisor

Affiliated Divisions:

John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television
Media Arts + Practice Division


Award winning filmmaker Mary Sweeney teaches Graduate Feature Screenwriting  Thesis and “Dreams, the Brain and Storytelling" in the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen and Television, and “Myth and Metaphors” in the Division of Media Arts + Practice. She was a key collaborator with David Lynch as his producer, writer and editor for twenty years. She edited Twin Peaks TV, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Hotel Room, Lost Highway, The Straight Story and Mulholland Drive, for which she was awarded the 2001 British Academy Award for Best Editing. Sweeney wrote, produced and edited The Straight Story earning Richard Farnsworth an Academy Award nomination. Her producing credits include Lost Highway, The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire, directed by Lynch, Nadja, and Baraboo, her directorial debut based on her original screenplay. She was a Consulting Producer for Matthew Weiner’s series The Romanoffs, and writer of episode three, House of Special Purpose.

Sweeney is the co-host of the podcast FLOAT where she explores the creative place where art and science meet with Dornsife's Jonas Kaplan.

Sweeney has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2001.  She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Editors Branch, of the Academy Museum's Inclusion Advisory Committee and on the Editors Branch Task Force for the Academy Museum. Since 2013, Sweeney has been the Chair of the Board of Directors of Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and over 250 year-round, international programs. She was a co-founder and Board Vice President of Desert X Art Biennial in the Coachella Valley.  Sweeney is a Film Expert for the American Film Showcase and Global Media Makers State Department grant programs, as well as a Fulbright Specialist. She has traveled to Jordan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Myanmar, Egypt, India and Cuba for these grants to mentor filmmakers.