News from 2017

Faculty Profile: Michael Bodie
December 13, 2017

Media Arts + Practice Professor discusses his career as a media creation educator

USC Games Projects to be Showcased at Playstation Experience
Lineup Led by Walden, a game
December 9, 2017

The University of Southern California’s premier video games program USC Games will feature hands-on playable code for three of its key releases at Sony’s 2017 PlayStation Experience on December 9th and 10th in Anaheim, California: Walden, a game, The Night Journey, and Cat and the Coup.

SCA Alumni Stories: Valerie Meraz
December 6, 2017

Valerie Meraz '99, SVP of Content & Acquisitions for Turner Entertainment Networks, opens up on her journey as a Peter Stark alumna to becoming a trailblazing executive for Showtime and Turner Networks. She gives invaluable advice to prospective entertainment executives and shares the impact of diversity within the C-suite.  

Teresa Cheng Named Animation Chair
Veteran Animation Executive to Lead Visionary Division
December 6, 2017

Veteran Animation executive to lead John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts.

SCA Students Win Hack Music LA
November 16, 2017

LA Phil’s Music and Artistic director, Gustavo Dudamel believes, “music is a fundamental human right.” So for the first time Hack Music LA partnered with LA Phil Harmonic to create a hack-a-thon that brings technology and music together to find new and innovative ways to make music accessible. Students could apply as individuals or teams of three and were encouraged to work with partners in different disciplines, from musicians to animators to filmmakers.

Q and A: Kara Keeling
Read about about her teaching and writing, and what you should be watching
November 13, 2017

Professor in the Bryan Singer Division of Cinema & Media Studies talks about her teaching and writing, and what you should be watching

Queer Cut
Camaraderie and Community at USC and Beyond
November 13, 2017

Queer Cut, an organization straight out of SCA, is dedicated to promoting the visibility of LGBTQ media on campus and building support amongst LGBTQ students, professors, and allies.

SCA Adds Mexican Grant
November 13, 2017

This year the School of Cinematic Arts is a first-time recipient of a $10,000 IME-BECAS grant. Funded by the government of Mexico, the grant will support SCA students from Mexico or of Mexican origin with demonstrated financial need.The Government of Mexico established the scholarship program in 2005 with the objective of facilitating “the academic and profession development of Mexicans in the United States in order to better integrate and contribute to the society in which they live as well as to link their knowledge to development of their places of origin in Mexico.”The scholarships support students across the United States including many studying at California colleges and universities.SCA’s first IME-BECAS scholars were awarded in the 2017-2018 academic year.

SCA Alumni Stories: Arjun Rihan
November 10, 2017

Arjun Rihan '08 has worked on some of Pixar's biggest animated movies such as Brave, Finding Dory, and its latest film Coco, which celebrates the richness of Mexico's culture and Dia De Los Muertos. Arjun credits his success to SCA's Hench Animation program, which gave him the necessary tools and mentorship to create Topi. This award winning, USC thesis film garnered the attention of Pixar, where he has been working for the past nine years, since graduating from SCA. 

Professor Jason E. Squire Hosts Micro-Budget Panel
DIY movie-making discussion packs SCA 108
November 7, 2017

On October 18, 2017 the question on every film student’s mind was asked in SCA 108, “What does someone do after they graduate?” There was a different feel in the room at Jason E. Squire’s DIY and the Micro Budget Feature Model because,on this particular evening, the panel was made entirely of people who had made those first steps into the professional world through small films and they had a clear answer.

Gifting a Cinematic Education to South and East L.A. High Schoolers
Entrepreneur and SCA Professor Diego Berdakin underwrites a Good Neighbor program
November 2, 2017

Diego Berdakin has pursued many endeavours in his professional career. A successful entrepreneur and investor, Berdakin is a founder of various consumer internet-based businesses including BeachMint, a Santa Monica based social commerce company that is now part of The Lucky Group. He is also an investor in several prominent companies including Dropbox, Uber, NastyGal, and Postmates; and a partner in FabFitFun, Re/Done, iEscrow, and Weaving Capital. Yet he also makes time for the role of Professor at the School of Cinematic Arts, teaching his methodologies to students aspiring to make their own way in media business.

“Giggle Break”: One Alum’s Big Break into the World of Funny
October 30, 2017

Alum Daniel Rashid talks about the success of his comedy channel Giggle Break

Media Arts + Practice Student Aroussiak Gabrielian Wins Rome Prize
October 30, 2017

Aroussiak Gabrielian, a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts + Practices is a 2017-2018 awardee of the Rome Prize, among the most prestigious awards given for scholarship in the art world.

Teresa Cheng Named Animation Division Chair
October 20, 2017

The USC School of Cinematic Arts unanimously selected veteran animation executive and producer Teresa Cheng as the new Chair of the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts.

Media Arts + Practice students featured at this year’s ARS Electronica Festival
October 6, 2017

Four Media Arts + Practices students had works featured at the world famous ARS Electronica Festival

SCA Alumni Stories: Trey Alsup
Creator of the Situation Room at the Reagan Library
October 5, 2017

Trey Alsup '94 is the writer and creator of "The Situation Room Experience," a simulated, interactive game at the Ronald Reagan Library educating and enabling participants to recreate fictional, crisis scenarios. Alsup is also known for his extensive experience designing live-action role-playing games (LARPS), and writing and producing national gaming conventions, including Gen Con. 

SCA Donor Hugh Hefner Dies
September 29, 2017

Hollywood legend Hugh Hefner, who passed away on September 27 at age 91, was a longtime friend, supporter, and benefactor of the School of Cinematic Arts, having generously donated to the School.

Fourth Consecutive Starkie Awarded the PGA’s Debra Hill Fellowship
September 18, 2017

The Producers Guild of America has awarded its prestigious Debra Hill Fellowship to a Peter Stark Producing Program graduate for a fourth consecutive year. This year's recipient is the fifth overall from the Stark Program, more than any other University, and USC is the only university to win the fellowship in consecutive years, let alone four straight. ?The fellowship was established in 2005 following the passing of pioneering producer Debra Hill, who was committed to mentoring next-generation producers. 

Kevin Feige Establishes Endowed Fund at the USC School of Cinematic Arts
Marvel Studios President Donates $500,000 to further Creative Producing
September 18, 2017

Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, has made a gift to his alma mater, the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), to further the art and craft of creative producing. The Kevin Feige Endowed Fund for Creative Producing will help to provide support for classes on how to take projects from idea to distribution, fostering the skills needed to successfully turn a pitch into a commercial product.

SCA 2017 Grad Ariel Heller wins Student Academy Award
September 14, 2017

Recent MFA Production grad Ariel Heller is a Student Academy Award winner in the narrative filmmaking category. We spoke to Ariel about the inspiration behind his winning thesis film, Mammoth, which deals with the turmoil of terminal illness, and about his current projects.

SCA Alumni Stories: Matthew Jensen
September 12, 2017

Cinematographer, Matthew Jensen '94 has earned numerous television and film credits on some of Hollywood's biggest projects ranging from Game of Thrones to Wonder Woman. Jensen recently reflected on his process, while also sharing advice for those looking to pursue a career in this field.

Inside the Movie Business: The Upside of Disruption
August 23, 2017

Associate Professor of Practice Jason E. Squire’s scholarly work was honored at The Museum of the Moving Image in New York with a panel discussion based on The Movie Business Book Fourth Edition, “Inside the Movie Business: The Upside of Disruption.”

SCA Alumni Stories: Yvette Amirian
August 8, 2017

From reality TV to documentary filmmaking, Yvette Amirian ’05 has utilized her talents as an editor to craft dynamic, entertaining stories. Now an adjunct professor at USC School Of Cinematic Arts, Amirian continues to share her wisdom with her students. She recently discussed her passion for editing, the road that led her back to SCA, and her advice for current students.
 

IMGD's Tracy Fullerton and Lishan AZ are Games For Change Winners
Fullerton's Walden, a game, takes the top prize for Most Significant Impact
August 1, 2017

Tracy Fullerton, Director of the USC Game Inovation Lab, received several awards last night at the Games for Change awards for Walden, a game, while recent alum Leshan AZ's Tracking Ida took Best Gameplay

Danny Bilson Named Interactive Media & Games Division Chair
July 28, 2017

Video game executive, screenwriter, and producer Danny Bilson, who has taught at SCA since 2005, will be the new Chair of the Interactive Media & Games Division.

The Global Exchange Program
July 26, 2017

Each summer since 2006 film students from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) and Communication University of China team up to create documentaries as part of the Global Exchange Program, which was created by SCA professors Marsha Kinder and Mark Jonathan as a partnership between the two schools. 

Pepsico's Pepsi and Mountain Dew Contest at SCA
July 17, 2017

Pepsico recently invited students from the School of Cinematic Arts to create short films for its Pepsi and Mountain Dew brands, with the winning films going live on YouTube and Facebook this summer.

SCA Alumni Stories: Josh Scherr
July 12, 2017

After a trip to see Star Wars ignited an interest in special effects and animation, Josh Scherr ’97, honed his skills as a member of the first graduating class of SCA‘s Animation Division. Now, through his work on the Uncharted series at Naughty Dog, Scherr continues to push the envelope in the world of narrative gaming, first as an animation lead, more recently as a writer. He recently reflected on his work while providing helpful tips on breaking into the industry.

AFS Documentary Filmmaker Workshop
June 28, 2017

The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) has partnered with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to foster cultural understanding through filmmaking. 

Faculty Profile: Lisa Leeman
“From the Heart to the Head”: An SCA Film Professor’s Take on Narratives and Social Change
June 12, 2017

Lisa Leeman, SCA professor and alum, is an award-winning filmmaker best known for her social-issue documentaries that are driven by powerful character-driven narratives. In this interview, Leeman talked about her classes, inspiration, and experiences working on her directorial debut, Metamorphosis: Man into Woman, which follows a transgender animation artist’s transition. The film is thought to be the first American film to chronicle a gender transition and was awarded Sundance’s Filmmakers Trophy (1990).
 

Robin Williams Remembered at Chair Dedication
June 9, 2017

SCA Professor and USC Comedy Co-Founder Barnet Kellman honored as inaugural Robin Williams Endowed Chair in Comedy, graciously funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

SCA Alumni Stories: Yuechuan Ke
June 7, 2017

Director and cinematographer of Once Away, an episodic documentary for China Central Television, Yuechuan Ke ’06, opens audiences to various global perspectives through his engaging work that promotes love and equality.

Alumni Profile: Raquel Korman
The Director of Forever Home Speaks on her BAFTA Shortlisted Film
June 5, 2017

Raquel Korman ‘16 is a documentarian and video game designer, who uses her skills as a storyteller and media maker to give voice to those often overlooked in society. In her new documentary Forever Home, Korman follows the story of a family in California who adopt a group of foster children with different backgrounds and challenges.
 
The documentary was produced in the USC School of Cinematic Arts course CTPR 480 and, after a successful festival run, was shortlisted for a student BAFTA.

The Women of the Business Office
June 5, 2017

From processing payroll for all School of Cinematic Arts employees, professors and student workers, to handling the Dean’s accounts and those of student media makers, the women of the business office serve every member of the SCA community. 

COMMENCEMENT 2017: Jennifer Todd
May 12, 2017

Watch the 2017 Mary Pickford Alumni Alumni Award Winner Jennifer Todd

COMMENCEMENT 2017: Ron Meyer
May 12, 2017

Watch the 2017 Commencement Address by Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal Ron Meyer

COMMENCEMENT 2017: Suzanne Todd
May 12, 2017

Watch the 2017 Mary Pickford Alumni Award Recipient Suzanne Todd

An Experience for all the Senses: Rhythms + Visions / Expanded + Live 3
May 9, 2017

Rhythms + Visions / Expanded + Live 3 will light up the outdoor spaces of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex in an evening of music, interactive animation, projection mapping, animated inflatables, and virtual reality. Innovative artists Refik Anadol, Miwa Matreyek, and Patterson + Reckinger will perform an eclectic program of contemporary visual music and audio-visual art.

SCA Professor Ted Braun honored with The Joseph Campbell Endowed Chair in Cinematic Ethics
May 4, 2017

The Chair honors the prolific American mythologist who is recognized for extensive work in comparative mythology, and was instrumental to the ‘Star Wars’ phenomenon

SCA Alumni Stories: Christine T. Berg
May 3, 2017

With the creative versatility as a writer-director of narrative storytelling and virtual reality, SCA alumna Christine T. Berg ’09 tells stories with great compassion and bold honesty. Berg recently discussed her winding path to becoming a storyteller, her experience writing and directing her laborious work of love called Wonder Buffalo, and her exciting time spent in the VR world.

Open Letter to John Singleton
May 2, 2017

Often you will hear the old adage, “Hollywood is all about who you know.” We hear it time and time again. Somewhere in the middle of my journey of becoming a filmmaker, it hit me: this is an incomplete statement. The entire back half of the sentence is missing.

Talent Week April 17th-21st
May 2, 2017

Highlights from this years Talent Week at SCA.

USC Comedy Presents: 30th Anniversary Screening of HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE
April 26, 2017

New SCA Professor Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans screened talk about the making of their classic film.

Larry Auerbach Honored at SCA
Head of SCA’s Industry Relations Office Retires after Twenty-Five Years at School
April 14, 2017

An era at the USC School of Cinematic Arts came to an end on April 12th as Associate Dean of Industry Relations Larry Auerbach celebrated his retirement after twenty-five years at the School. His retirement w

USC Comedy Hosts Young Alumni Mixer
April 13, 2017

Professor Barnet Kellman and USC Comedy host six recent SCA graduates for a panel discussion and mixer with current students.

Faculty Profile: Eric Hanson
March 29, 2017

Eric Hanson is a professor in the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts, where he teaches courses on animation and virtual reality. Professor Hanson brings his experience as a visual effects designer to his VR work and his classroom. During our interview, Professor Hanson shared some of his favorite VR work such as Oculus’ Dear Angelica, which drew a lot of attention at Sundance.  
 

Ron Meyer Announced as Commencement Speaker
Jennifer and Suzanne Todd Honored with Pickford Alumni Awards
March 23, 2017

On Friday, May 12th, the newest class of graduates from the USC School of Cinematic Arts will be welcomed to the Trojan Family by 2017 Commencement Speaker NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer, the former President and co-founder of Creative Artists Agency and one of the entertainment industry’s longest-serving executives. In addition, Producers Jennifer Todd (Live by Night) and Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland) will each receive the Mary Pickford Alumni Award at the ceremony.

HFPA Endows $2M Fund for International Student Support
March 17, 2017

Endowment is SCA's largest and most substantial fund for international students.

Jason Reitman Leads SCA Student Directing Workshop
March 13, 2017

Reitman (Juno, Up In The Air) joins Professor Barnet Kellman for night with his two comedy directing classes.

SCA Dedicates The John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television
March 3, 2017

On Thursday, March 2, the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) dedicated its newly named John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television with a celebration of the Division and its benefactor, writer/director/producer John Wells.

SCA Alumni Stories: Sam Rosenthal
February 23, 2017

Creative Director and Founder of The Game Band, SCA Alumnus Sam Rosenthal discuses the design principles that go into his games as well as independent game making. Rosenthal shares his enthusiasm for the art and craft of game design as well as the commonalities interactive stories have with other forms of entertainment.  

Student Spotlight: Laurie Gardiner
February 22, 2017

Current MFA Film and Television Production candidate, Laurie Gardiner, has recently been accepted to a prestigious summer program, the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) this summer in Graz, Austria.

Alumni Profile: Xaiver Burgin
February 16, 2017

SCA Alumni, Xaiver Burgin at the Sundance YouTube New Voices Lab, the writer/director participates in the inaugural story lab for short form digital series

SCA Family Stories: Jean de Meuron
From the Summer Program to the Oscars
February 13, 2017

All alumni of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Summer Program make short films. Some of these films go on to have successful screenings. Some of these films go on to do well at film festivals. Some of these films launch careers. Of all these films, one film, La Femme et le TGV (2016), has climbed the mountain to receive a nomination for the highest award available in the medium -- an Oscar nomination.

SCA Alumni Stories: Ruth Vasquez
February 9, 2017

Self-named the “Mary Poppins of visual effects,” SCA alumna Ruth Vasquez recently discussed her career as one of the industry’s top render managers. Vasquez shared about the underappreciated yet vital nature of data management and offered advice to students who have yet to find their passions.
 

Faculty Profile: Ellen Seiter
February 1, 2017

Ellen Seiter is a professor in the Bryan Singer Division of Cinema and Media Studies. She also holds the Nenno Endowed Chair in Television Studies. She recently won the 2016-2017 Pedagogy Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. The award is given for instruction, publication and development of educational materials, and service/value in Cinema and Media Studies Pedagogy. 

Student Spotlight: Evan Dodson
Writing Division undergrad is on the 2016 Black List
February 1, 2017

Evan Dodson is a junior in the School of Cinematic Arts’ Writing for Screen & Television Division. In December he became the youngest screenwriter to make The Black List, the annual survey of Hollywood executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays. 

[SUNDANCE BLOG] Peter Bawiec
A Sound Designer Reflects on Park City
January 31, 2017

Peter Bawiec is a sound designer and re-recording mixer. He graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts in 2015 with an MFA in Film & TV Production. Within just one year from his graduation, he held key creative positions on 18 feature films and 3 television pilots. Three titles got into the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, two of which screened this year.

Ellen Seiter is Cinema and Media Studies’ Teacher of the Year
January 30, 2017

Ellen Seiter has been awarded the 2016-2017 Pedagogy Award, from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

SCA Alumni Stories: James Foley
January 12, 2017

Director of two installments of the Fifty Shades saga, James Foley ’79 made his directoral debut with Reckless (1984), starring Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah, and since then has cultivated a versatile career. Foley recently recounted his time as a student at SCA, discussed his experience directing the critically acclaimed House of Cards and the highly anticipated Fifty Shades sequels, and offered his insight into the ingredients needed for a fulfilling career.