News from 2018

From Egypt to SCA and Back Again
December 21, 2018

Alumnus Adam Nazih Makary, who graduated in 2018 with an MFA in Film & Television Production, is now in Cairo, Egypt working on his debut feature. Makary, a former journalist, is adapting the classic novel Beer in the Snooker Club, a story of identity, politics, and coming-of-age in the midst of an Egyptian revolution.

THE MISC LIST: The 15 Most Significant Social Impact Films of 2018
December 21, 2018

USC MISC (Media Institute for Social Change) ranks the year's most popular and acclaimed films that entertained and also contained impactful social change themes. 

Alumnus Maintains His Creative Drive While Battling ALS
December 4, 2018

Jon Huntley, who graduated in 1997 from the School of Cinematic Arts with an MFA in Production, recently wrote and edited the short film Matt and Maya. Huntley has been living with advancing ALS, a nervous system disease that impacts all physical functions, rendering him unable to speak or move his arms or legs. However, while living in long-term care at care at the Wasserman Campus of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, Huntley found the support and resources to live out his dreams. Read more about Huntley's journey in making Matt and Maya.

Pam Douglas’ Book Gets 4th Edition
Writing Professors’ Iconic Work in Stores November 1st
November 20, 2018

Television has been called the new novel by media scholars. Women and men who wish to express themselves in modern times turn to the small screen as often as they turn to the written word or the film industry. John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television Professor Pam Douglas was ahead of the curve on treating television drama as an art form. Her book Writing the TV Drama Series was a pioneering work that treated TV as art and continues to be the go to instructional book for aspiring writers.

SCA Comedy Fest: Women Running the Show
November 20, 2018

Prominent show-runners Yvette Lee Bowser (executive producer of Netflix’s Dear White People), Natasha Leggero (co-creator and executive producer of Comedy Central’s Another Period), and Gemma Baker (co-creator and executive producer of Mom on CBS) kicked off Saturday of SCA Comedy Fest. They sat down for an insightful, inspirational, and informative panel discussion about the ever-changing voice and influence of television. Read about their experience-from how they came to find their own writing voices, to making the transition to a management role, to advice for other women hoping to break into television.

Frasier: 25th Anniversary Celebration
November 19, 2018

The Eileen Norris Cinema Theater was home to a lively reunion for part of the classic sitcom Frasier’s cast and crew. They reminisced about the creation process, and hinted at what the future hold for the iconic Frasier characters. Read about the most popular event from the fourth installment of USC Comedy Fest. 

Kenya Barris Honored with the Jack Oakie & Victoria Horne Oakie Masters of Comedy Award
November 19, 2018

The creator of the critically acclaimed TV show black-ish joined SCA for the fourth edition of the USC Comedy Festival. Barris was the guest of honor at the Jack Oakie & Victoria Horne Oakie Masters of Comedy Lecture Series, which was moderated by SCA alumnus and celebrated filmmaker, Tim Story.

From the School of Cinematic Arts to Pixar Animation Studios
November 15, 2018

Mahyar Abousaeedi, who got his MFA in Animation in 2004, is amazed that it has been 15 years since he started working at Pixar. He sat down with his alma mater to share the unconventional story of how he decided to change careers and moved to California on an artistic hunch. Read about how Abousaeedi's time at SCA prepared him for a career in animation during a time of great technological change, and his advice for future filmmakers. 

Documentarian Finds Herself Behind the Lens
November 2, 2018

MFA candidate Mary Gerretsen has found a unique way of understanding her own life experience through the stories of others. Gerretsen came to SCA after working in television in Canada with a clear focus of wanting to make documentaries. She grew up with filmmaker parents, who taught her the power of cinema and the importance of laughing through pain. Now, Gerretsen is exploring those same themes in her work. Read about her journey of success and sel-discovery.

Animation Student Creates VR Game for Oculus
October 15, 2018

Senior Brenda Chen's VR game Chrysalis, which was commissioned by Oculus for its Rift headset, is now available online. Chen was one of 14 winners of the Oculus Launch Pad competition, and her demo was chosen from hundreds of pitches to be funded by Oculus to become a fully realized game. Chrysalis is a virtual reality exploration game where the player gets swallowed by a giant sea creature and goes on an adventure in its belly, filled with puzzles, plot twists, and goofy characters along the way.

Writing Student Wins Million-Dollar Screenplay Competition
October 15, 2018

Stanley Kalu, senior in the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television, has won the 2018 The LAUNCH screenwriting competition, which offers at least one million dollars in film financing and a $50,000 education grant to the winner. The competition was open to students in accredited institutions from all over the world, and Kalu's screenplay, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, was selected and is now in development.

SCA Wins Big at Student Academy Awards
October 12, 2018

The Student Academy Awards recognizes the best projects made by students enrolled in
colleges and universities around the world, with Gold, Silver and Bronze medals going to
awardees whose films emerge as the best of their categories. Of the more than 1500 entries
from 400 schools represented in this year’s competition, USC School of Cinematic Arts student
films claimed prizes in narrative, documentary and animation categories for U.S.-based

SCA Rocks the Vote
October 9, 2018

SCA Votes organizes a Pizza+Democracy day to get the community registered to vote!

John Carpenter Brings Halloween to SCA
Alum screens iconic horror film
September 26, 2018

When talking about the alumni of the School of  Cinematic Arts who have changed the film, television, and video games industry, any list will be incomplete without horror icon John Carpenter.  Most notably, his work with fellow alumi Dan O’Bannon and Nick Castle.

Sundance Hit Searching Gets Major Theatrical Release
August 23, 2018

The highly anticipated thriller Searching, which was written, directed, filmed, edited, scored, and produced by USC alumni, played to a full house at Eileen Norris Cinema Theater on July 18th. Searching, which opens in theaters nation wide Labor Day Weekend, is the first feature film to be made entirely from the vantage point of a computer screen. The young and innovative alumni sat down with SCA before the screening for an intimate conversation about their journey from film school to the big screen. 

Christine Acham Named Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
August 20, 2018

The Division of Cinema and Media Studies professor is the first to hold this permanent deanship at SCA, highlighting the School's commitment to educate, empower, and engage all students, faculty, and staff. Read her perspective on the new position and program plans for the coming year. 

Crazy Rich Asians Screened at USC Opening Night
August 17, 2018

Alumni Jon Chu and Kevin Tsujihara brought their highly anticipated movie to SCA, followed by a lively Q&A about culture and representation in Hollywood. Director Jon Chu, who graduated from the Division of Film & Television Production in 2003, shared his experience and advice with the audience, while 1983 USC graduate and Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros, Kevin Tsujihara, reflected on his Trojan Family legacy and the future of Asian Americans on the big screen.

Documentary Filmmaker With Many Stories To Tell
August 2, 2018

2017 MFA graduate Yongle Wang is at the beginning of an exciting and diverse career! A writer, director, and editor with a unique perspective on the world, Wang has found a true passion for addressing large social issues through the lens of individual stories. She sat down to share her own personal and educational experiences, explaining how they have shaped her global understanding of humanity and the types of stories she hopes to tell. 

A Unique Summer Education for Chinese Directors in Partnership with Shanghai Tech
July 31, 2018

For the last three years, the USC School of Cinematic Arts has offered a 9-week summer master class in directing to working Chinese professionals looking to perfect their craft. The program begins with a four-week production workshop in Los Angeles, followed by travel to Shanghai to film final projects. Film & TV Production Professor Sheldon Larry is currently in Shanghai with the 12 directors selected in 2018 for this competitive program, and they sat down to share their experiences before departing! 

Student Receives Prestigious Opportunity Through the US-UK Fulbright Commission
June 1, 2018

Leila Hoffpauir, a sophomore in the Cinema and Media Studies Division, was recently chosen to participate in the Fulbright Summer Institute for Film and Media at the University of Birmingham. For three weeks this summer, Leila will travel to the United Kingdom with participants from all over the country on one of the most selective summer scholarship programs operating world-wide.

Film & TV Production Student is Chosen for HBO Access Writing Fellowship
May 24, 2018

MFA candidate Sara Alize Cross was one of eight people selected from over 3,000 submissions to get one-on-one script mentorship from an HBO executive. In her journey of academic and artistic success Cross has refined her skills as a writer, and found her utmost passion for storytelling as a director.

Alumni Profile: Bomani Story
May 22, 2018

Bomani Story is a writer, producer, and director that, since his time at USC, has made short films and written a feature, Rock Steady Row, which won the audience and jury award at the 2018 Slamdance.

Alumni Profile: Romi Barta
May 21, 2018

Romi Barta is a television writer and graduate of USC Comedy that has written for shows such as Santa Clarita Diet and Foursome. Drawn to sitcoms from a young age and a former improv performer, she discovered that she enjoyed making people laugh and wanted to find a way to create a career doing that. 

2018 USC Games Expo Showcases Over 80 Games
May 16, 2018

This year the School of Cinematic Arts teamed up with the Viterbi School of Engineering to highlight all of the work students, faculty, and alumni put into the innovative world of game design. Sponsored by Jam City, an L.A. based mobile game development company, the event transformed the SCA campus into an interactive game play space for the entire community. 

2018 Commencement Speakers
May 11, 2018

Please click to see the videos of the 2018 Commencement Speakers Kevin Tsujihara and Amanda Silver

SCA Alumni Stories: Noopur Sinha
May 9, 2018

Stark graduate Noopur Sinha ‘15 discusses her success in short film and digital content, her experience working in both Hollywood and Bollywood, and her web series The FOB and I. She also shares the story behind Kat, a short form series that covers the millennial struggles of its lead character, a cat, that she helped to produce for Amazon.

Tim Story Gives Advice to Future Filmmakers
May 8, 2018

Director of box office hits such as Think Like a Man, Ride Along, Barber Shop, and Fantastic Four sat down with SCA students for a question and answer session as part of the Our Voices series of events held by the School’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

SCA Celebrates the Dedication of the John C. Hench Endowed Chair
May 4, 2018

Teresa Cheng, head of the Division of Animation and Digital Art, became the first recipient of the School of Cinematic Art's 31st endowed chair. Cheng, who has worked in animation for over 30 years, was joined by trustees of the John C. Hench Foundation as well as her colleague Andrew Millstein, President of Walt Disney Animation. The evening honored the extraordinary legacy of John C. Hench's 65 years of work in the world of Disney, and spoke to the vision Cheng has for the future of her division. 

Lisa Kudrow Receives Oakie Master of Comedy Award
April 27, 2018

The Emmy Award winning actor took some time to discuss her career with Sex and the City writer Michael Patrick King as part of the annual Oakie Masters of Comedy Lecture Series presented by USC Comedy. 

Mark Hamill Discusses His Career and Gives Advice to Students
April 27, 2018

The legendary actor, best known for his role as Luke Skywalker in George Lucas's Star Wars, gave a master class at the USC School of Cinematic Arts Norris Theater. From his early days in Hollywood to the celebrity brought on after Star Wars, Hamill shared his experience and wisdom with students.

USC Games Expo
An Exhibition of Student Games
April 25, 2018

USC Games Expo is an exhibition of the years’ best, most innovative games and interactive projects from across campus, showcased under one roof. For the first time, in 2018, thanks to the support of marquee sponsor Jam City, the event has expanded to beyond current students, and includes alumni, faculty, and other strategic partners. The core of the event is the culmination of a collaborative effort between the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, with participating students from SCA’s Animation, Writing, MA+P, Cinema & Media Studies, and Production divisions, as well as students from across USC’s campus.

SCA Students Shine at Getty Center's College Night
April 20, 2018

Students from the Interactive Media & Games, Animation, and Media Arts & Practice divisions were represented at the unique event showcasing different genres of artistic work. 

SCA Alumni Stories: Frank Balkin
April 6, 2018

Frank Balkin ‘90 explains the role of talent agencies and how to navigate them. Drawing from his own experience as Partner and Head of Television at Worldwide Production Agency, Balkin sheds light on how to actually become an agent, and how he came to represent notable clients such as Michael Goi (American Horror Story), Hunter Via (Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy), and more.

Faculty Profile: Irving Belateche
March 23, 2018

Screenwriting Professor Irving Belateche discusses his own work, the inspiration he receives from his students, and the growing trends in expectations from modern audiences.

Alum Wins WGA Award
March 22, 2018

Andrew Rothschild, who graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts from the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television, recently won the 2018 Writers Guild Award for Adapted Short Form New Media.

Alum Documentary Featured in Game Developers Conference
March 19, 2018

Nicholas Dobkin's feature film, Touching Sound: The Technika Documentary, will be screened on March 21st as part of the first film festival at the Conference. 

Highlights From Planet of the Apes Exhibit
March 19, 2018

Featured at Hugh Hefner Exhibit Hall in the George Lucas Building through May 2018, this exhibit accompanies the retrospective "50 Years of Planet of the Apes."

Planet of the Apes Impact and Evolution
March 19, 2018

Filmmakers from throughout the decades gather to discuss the franchise on its 50th anniversary. 

USC Games #1: 2018 Edition
The Princeton Review Names USC the Number One Video Game Program for the Seventh Year
March 14, 2018

The Princeton Review ranked USC Games the number one video game program in 2018 for its undergraduate programs. Either the graduate or the undergraduate program has been ranked the number one program for game design for seven out of eight years. USC Games represents an exciting collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts' Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering's Department of Computer Science.

SCA Alumni Stories: Ann Austen
March 13, 2018

Having written for Power Rangers as well as various Disney Channel original films, Ann Austen '85 shares her experiences in children's feature and television writing. She also shed light on her 2016 Emmy winning Pre-School Children's Animated Program, The Snowy Day, based on the children's book that broke the color barrier in mainstream publishing.

Documentary Filmmaking and Social Change
March 9, 2018

2017 Cinema & Media Studies alum Audrey Emerson has taken her amazing accomplishments at USC and translated them into the beginnings of an impactful career in documentary film production. Working in the intersection of media and social advocacy, Emerson shares her story of success and advice for future students. 

Faculty Profile: Martzi Campos
March 2, 2018

Martzi Campos, an alumna of the School of Cinematic Arts and current designer at the school’s Game Innovation Lab discusses new developments in video game design, as well as the undergraduate courses she teaches at SCA.

Lalo’s House Screening and Discussion Brings Awareness to the Realities of Human Trafficking
March 1, 2018

MFA Alum Kelley Kali’s thesis film, which won the Programmers’ Award for Best Short at the Pan African Film Festival, offers an artful and socially evocative portrayal of horrendous human rights violations occurring in Haiti. The creators and stars of the film sat down with social change advocates to discuss their ambitious project, and plans of making Lalo’s House into a full-length feature. 

Directors Guild of America Honors Alumni at the 23rd Annual Student Film Awards
February 23, 2018

Gisele Tong, Sanford Jenkins Jr., and Mei Li Ying were distinguished among African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and women filmmakers.

SCA Alumni Stories: Gwydhar Gebien
February 23, 2018

Gwydhar Gebien ‘16, a graduate of the School of Cinematic Arts production program discusses her own story at USC, her career in film production, as well as her current role with the Jacobson Group, an accounting firm that provides services for major entertainment organizations.

Ph.D. Student Finds New Ways of Understanding Holocaust Rememberence
February 13, 2018

Maria Zalewska from the Cinema & Media Studies division incorporates her work in media and memory studies with cinematic representations of the Holocaust.

John Wells Names the Writing Division
February 9, 2018

The TV boom that began more than a decade ago and shows no sign of slowing down—currently referred to as the “Platinum Age” of television—has influenced the evolution of the Screenwriting program at the School of Cinematic Arts. This spring, one of the architects of television’s rise made a major gift to the program which is now known as the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television.

The Getty Center's "Savant of Media"
February 9, 2018

MA+P alum Kevin McGowan brings his technical and storytelling know-how to the museum.

The End of an Era: Larry Auerbach Retires
February 6, 2018

Larry Auerbach announces his retirement after twenty-five years at the School.

Professor Howard Rodman to be inducted into Final Draft’s Screenwriters Hall of Fame
February 5, 2018

Renowned screenwriter, novelist, and educator Howard Rodman will be inducted into Final Draft’s Screenwriters Hall of Fame on February 8th. Rodman is Professor and Former Chair in John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television.  He is known for the screenplays Saving Grace and August, which both debuted at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and Joe Gould’s Secret, which opened Sundance in 2000. His screenplay F. was voted one of Hollywood’s Ten Best Unproduced Screenplays by Premiere magazine. Rodman is also the artistic director of Sundance Institute Screenwriting Labs and USC’s Scripter Awards. Grace was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award in the Best Screenplay category. He is past President of Writer’s Guild of America, West.

Faculty Profile: Sonja Warfield
February 2, 2018

Sonja Warfield, a lecturer with the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television, as well as a graduate of the School of Cinematic Arts, discusses her work at SCA, her inspirations as an educator, and offers advice for aspiring screenwriters.

Hollywood Foreign Press Association Funds $2 Million Scholarship
February 2, 2018

Last summer in Oxfordshire outside of London, 18-year-old Amy Sotnick was hanging out by the river with a few friends enjoying the warm evening air when she got an email on her phone. She recalls, “It was from USC and I’d already been accepted, so I wondered ‘What’s this?’ Then I read that I’d won a scholarship from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It was a massive surprise!”

MA+P Professor Takes on Infertility Myths in New Film
January 31, 2018

Gabe Peters-Lazaro's new documentary, One More Shot, debuts on Netflix! 

From USC to Virtual Reality
January 30, 2018

Alum Scott Stephan is on the forefront of virtual reality innovation. His inspiring  journey of success, and advice for cinema students. 

The SCA alums win the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Sundance/Amazon prizes for the film Search
January 24, 2018

Search, co-written, produced and directed by SCA Alums Sev Ohanian (MFA, Production, ’12) and Aneesh Chaganty (BA, Production ’13) is one of Sundance’s most buzzworthy films this year. Told entirely through a computer screen, it follows a father, played by John Cho, who enlists a compassionate detective (Debra Messing) to track down his missing daughter. The daughter’s computer holds the most clues about her disappearance and the dogged father/detective team becomes engrossed in her online life.

SCA Alumni Stories: James Morosini
January 19, 2018

A USC graduate, James Morosini '14, discusses his experiences acting in major television shows such as American Horror Story, what it is like to work at the helm of one's own projects, and reflects on his time as a student at USC and his journey since then. 

Showcase Magazine
SCA’s undergrads launch a digital publication to share and celebrate personal projects
January 17, 2018

This year the SCA Undergraduate Student Council sought to create a space for undergraduate cinema students to connect and interact with the creative work of their peers. As the President of the SCA Undergraduate Student Council, Raphael Rosalen led the charge, and the new innovative magazine Showcase was created.

SCA Alumni Stories: Drew McClellan
January 11, 2018

Turning his passion for helping children into a career in academia, Drew McClellan '11 now serves as Senior Program Specialist and Department Chair of Cinematic and Visual Arts at the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts where he encourages the next generation of filmmakers to create their own work at a professional level. McClellan recently reflected on his time at USC, while also giving advice to students who are just starting their careers in the industry.

Alumni Spotlight HIKARI
January 10, 2018

Is there a theme you feel like you keep going back to in your work?”
This was one of my first questions to SCA alumna, artist, and director, Hikari Mitsuyo Miyazaki, who is also known as HIKARI.
She paused for a second, then gave a big toothy smile: “I like to focus on family.”