School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

Directory Profile

« Back to Directory

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


Feature film director, writer, editor and producer Mary Sweeney teaches Graduate Screenwriting Thesis and “Dreams, The Brain and Storytelling.”

Sweeney has a long history of creative collaboration with David Lynch, beginning with Blue Velvet in 1986.   She edited Twin Peaks Television (1990), Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me (1992),  Hotel Room, HBO, (1993),  Lost Highway (1996), The Straight Story (2000) and Mulholland Drive (2001), which earned her a British Academy Award for Best Editing.  Sweeney wrote the screenplay for The Straight Story for which Richard Farnsworth received an Academy Award nomination. Her producing credits date to 1995 with Nadja, directed by Michael Almereyda, and include Lost Highway, The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire (2006), directed by Lynch, and Baraboo (2009) her directorial debut based on her original screenplay. Baraboo won a Best First Feature prize at the Galway Film Festival and the jury prize for Best Feature and Best Director at the Wisconsin Film Festival.

Sweeney was installed as the Dino and Martha De Laurentiis Endowed Professor in 2012.

She is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Film Independent, sponsor of the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival. She has a Master's Degree in Cinema Studies from NYU, and actively serves the independent film making community in Los Angeles.

Sweeney is a Consulting Producer/Writer on Matthew Weiner’s anthology series “The Romanoffs.”