An Evening with Sloan Foundation Short Films and Panel Discussion with Grant Recipients & Sloan Mentors

February 11, 2019, 7:00 P.M.

SCI 106, Interactive Media Building, 3470 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90007

The USC School of Cinematic Arts and the Sloan Science Foundation invite you and a guest to attend

An Evening with Sloan Foundation Short Films and
Panel Discussion with Grant Recipients & Sloan Mentors


7:00 P.M. on Monday, February 11th, 2019

SCI 106, Interactive Media and Games Design Building
3470 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90007


Dessert reception to follow in the SCI Building Lobby.

Animation and Production Grants: March 2, 2019
Writing Grant: April 27, 2019

About the Event

Please join us for three short film screenings that won Alfred P. Sloan Production grants. After the screening there will be a Q&A with the filmmakers, moderated by Thomas G. Miller, ACE, the Sloan Production mentor, alongside a recent recipient of the Sloan Writing grant, and Sloan Mentors Alan Baker and Mark Jonathan Harris.

The Alfred P. Sloan Award is a merit-based award open to all divisions of the cinema school and to both graduate and undergraduate students. It is administered through the School of Cinematic Arts, but the final award-winner decision is made by the Sloan Foundation. This is a prestigious award whose intention is to promote accurate, non-stereotypical portrayals of science and scientists in media.

There are 3 categories for this award: Animation ($17,500), Production ($22,500), and Writing ($15,000). 

Information on all the Alfred P. Sloan grants can be found on the SCA Community website in the scholarship section:

About the Films

Li Shan

During the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in China in 2003, doctor Li Shan suspects the government has hidden the seriousness of the situation. He goes on a secret mission to attempt to discover the cause of the illness and save his patients from this disease.

Directed by Wenqi You. Running time: 27 minutes.

The Collector's Gift

The Collector’s Gift is an animated, modern day fairytale about a young girl who discover the key to creating a new world.

Directed by Ryan Kravetz. Running time: 9 minutes.

Under Darkness

In World War II Poland, a young Jewish woman struggles to survive after her family is murdered. Refusing to give up, she joins the Soviet resistance, and realizes that through photography she can remember the past while documenting for the future. This film is based on the inspiring true story of Faye Schulman.

Directed by Caroline Friend. Running time: 20 minutes.

About the Panelists

CAROLINE FRIEND (Writer/Director, Under Darkness)

Caroline Friend is a filmmaker with a passion for bringing the past to life through writing and directing. She is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California where she majored in Film & TV Production, as well as History. While at USC, she was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant to write and direct Under Darkness, a short film about a female World War II photographer and soldier. Caroline has directed other projects in collaboration with the USC History Department and Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, and her work has been screened at film festivals internationally. She currently lives in Los Angeles and continues to seek meaningful historical content to bring to the screen.

SHIRLEY MILLER (Sloan Script Winner)

Born to a school-teacher mother and a prison-guard father, both who worked tirelessly to serve broken systems without recognition, Shirley Miller became obsessed with standing out and standing up at an early age. Whether it was snorting lines of pepper to win a bet to pay for a friend’s movie ticket, sitting with the kid that nobody else would at the lunch table, or hijacking a high school graduation ceremony so he could express to his class how much he loved them Say-Anything-style, he now embarks on an endless journey to bring stories of unsung underdogs—both invented and from history—to a mass audience, often adding in dashes of his own kinetic energy and off-kilter humor. He’s eternally grateful for every passing minute, and so now he’d like to thank the one person that actually made it to the end of this bio.

About Shirley Miller's Sloan Grant-Winning Screenplay, Nerve

Nerve is a pilot that kicks off an envisioned anthology series exploring an unsung woman hero of science and history each season. The script tells the story of Rita Levi-Montalcini, a Jewish-Italian neurobiologist who battled sexism, fascism, and the confines of a secret lab to eventually win the Nobel prize.

WENQI YOU (Writer/Director, Li Shan)

Wenqi You was born in Xi’an, China. Though her school was busy and stressful, literature of all kinds stayed as her best friend growing up. In 2010, she was admitted to Peking University to pursue her bachelor degree in Economics. Soon she found out she didn’t have the passion for it. Instead, she fell in love with the beauty and power of cinema and decided to become a director. She wanted to tell emotional stories that touch the audience as human beings, with innovative cinematic language inspired by traditional Chinese culture and Hollywood industry filmmaking. At the beginning of 2015, she flew to Los Angeles to attend USC film school as a graduate student. In 2016, she received the Alfred P. Sloan grant for her short film Li Shan. As the writer and director, she managed to make this a successful China-US co-production with more than 300 international collaborators throughout the two-year process. She graduated in May 2018, and had successfully become one of the struggling filmmakers living in Los Angeles. But one thing is for sure: she will never give up her dream of uniting people through cinema.   

About the Sloan Mentors

ALAN BAKER, B.A. Associate Dean, Administration & International Projects

Alan Baker joined USC in 1998, and since 2009, he has served as the Associate Dean, Administration & International Projects at SCA where he is responsible for developing new and overseeing current international programs.

Since 2011, Baker has been a co-Principal Investigator of American Film Showcase (AFS), a multiyear grant from the U.S. Department of State that sends American filmmakers and documentaries to countries throughout the world for workshops, festivals, and special programs.  During 2015-2016, AFS traveled to 35 countries, and in 2016-2017, it will visit 40 countries.  Baker has accompanied filmmakers to Russia, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Kazakhstan, and numerous others. 

In 2015 and 2016, Baker completed multi-year consulting and workshop agreements with ShanghaiTech University and the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, and he has overseen several workshops for both educational institutions in Shanghai, Beijing and at USC. 

In addition to the Chinese programs, SCA has had a five-year agreement in Malaysia with Multimedia University’s Faculty of Cinematic Arts program.  SCA has produced short workshops in writing, production, cinematography and editing, in addition to conducting external reviews of their overall cinema program. 

Over the past several years, Baker and SCA have also worked closely with a new university in Ankara, Turkey, the American University in Dubai, and a women’s university in Saudi Arabia 

Between 2007-2009, Baker was the Principal Investigator for the U.S. State Department’s Fusion Arts Exchange program that brought international and American university students to USC for six weeks of intensive writing and production classes taught by SCA faculty. 

In 2005, Baker organized the first of a series of summer production workshops in Amman, Jordan for aspiring filmmakers.  He was also involved in the initial development of Jordan’s Red Seat Institute of Cinematic Arts

Between 2005-2009, in collaboration with the Ford Foundation and Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Baker supervised several workshops for Vietnamese filmmakers at USC and in Hanoi. 

For the past 18 years Baker has also been the principal SCA liaison with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film School program which awards annual competitive grants in screenwriting, production and animation to SCA majors.

Prior to coming to USC, Baker worked for more than 25 years in television programming and production, as Vice-President of Programming at 20th Century Fox Television and earlier at Paramount Television.  Baker spent the first seven years of his television career at the Los Angeles Public Broadcasting station where he produced more than 200 cultural, documentary, and public affairs programs.

Between 1982 and 1984, Baker joined the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and the 1984 Olympic Games where he managed all publicity and press for the 10-week international Olympic Arts Festival. 

Baker is married to prominent children’s book author and co-founder of the 25,000 member Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  He has three grown sons, two very young granddaughters, and one badly behaved dog.

MARK JONATHAN HARRIS, B.A., Distinguished Professor

Mark Jonathan Harris is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and Distinguished Professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

Among the many documentaries he has written, produced and/or directed are Huelga!, the landmark film about Cesar Chavez and the Delano grape strike (1968); and The Redwoods, which won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary and helped establish a redwood national park (1968). The Long Way Home, a film he wrote and directed about the period immediately following the Holocaust, won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1997; and Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, which he also wrote and directed, won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 2000 and was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for inclusion in its National Film Registry. Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003), a documentary that he wrote on slavery in America, was nominated for an Emmy for a Nonfiction Special and Harris was nominated for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming. He also wrote The Cutting Edge:  The Magic of Movie Editing, a documentary about editing produced by BBC-TV, NHK, and STARZ, which is shown in film schools around the world (2004). In 2007, he produced Darfur Now, a film about the humanitarian crisis in Africa, which was nominated as best documentary of the year by the National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics Association and won an NAACP Image Award. Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders, a film he executive produced, premiered at the Venice film festival and was shortlisted for the 2011 Oscar for best feature documentary. Code Black, another documentary he executive produced about ER doctors, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival and became the basis for the CBS series of the same name. In 2016, he co-wrote and co-directed Breaking Point:  The War for Democracy in Ukraine, which has won awards at multiple international film festivals including Best of Show at the Accolade Global Film Competition.

In addition to filmmaking, Harris has written five novels for children and three books of non-fiction as well as articles, essays, and reviews in a number of national newspapers and magazines including TV Guide, American Heritage, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.  

In 2010 the International Documentary Association honored him with its Scholarship and Preservation Award. He holds the Mona and Bernard Kantor Chair of Production at the School of Cinematic Arts, where he heads the documentary program.


Thomas G. Miller, ACE, was associate producer on the feature documentary Licensed To Kill (POV-PBS), and co-produced the feature documentary Code Black. He has also edited the feature documentaries Good Kurds, Bad Kurds (Independent Lens-PBS), Home of the Brave (Sundance, BBC, CBC), and Camp Out (MTV/Logo). Miller produced and directed, the award-winning documentaries One Bad Cat (Ovation) and the IDA Humanitas Award-winning documentary Limited Partnership (Independent Lens-PBS). Other credits include editing and producing television films for Discovery, Fox Family and WNET’s series on disabilities, People in Motion.

Tom served on the board of the International Documentary Association for 9 years, and is a member of the American Cinema Editors (ACE), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Writer’s Guild of America, West. Since 2004 Tom has been a Professor of the Practice of Cinema Arts at USC. He’s also a board certified pediatrician and served as a medical consultant for Sesame Street

Check-In & Reservations

This event is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Ave. We recommend Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Thomas G. Miller