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News from 2021

Alumni Spotlight: Ilan Benjamin '16
December 13, 2021

Ilan joins us to discuss his creative journey from writer’s room to Tik Tok.

The Power of the Web Series
December 3, 2021

The web series is an ideal format for storytellers interested in exploring identity and creative approaches to storytelling. While Hollywood continues to grapple with inclusion, the internet has allowed for more diverse narrative screen characters and stories as multicultural, LGBTQIA+, indigenous, disabled, female, and marginalized creators have been empowered to create low-budget and successful web-based stories. On November 5th the SCA Council for Diversity and Inclusion held a discussion with creators of acclaimed web series.

Vitória Vasconcellos Makes Mark in Horror
November 18, 2021

Vitória Vasconcellos, a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies program, is a prime example of that very ethos. As an actor-director, Vasconcellos flexes her expertise both in front of and behind the camera, capturing everything from conventional coming-of-age dramas to experimental horror films.

Ethan Lee
BA in Animation and Digital Arts '25
November 12, 2021

An interview with Animation and Digital Arts freshman Ethan Lee.

Layla Yun
Media Arts & Practice '23
November 12, 2021

An interview with Media Arts & Practice junior Layla Yun.

Ryan B Wilson
BA, IMGD '25
November 12, 2021

An interview with IMGD freshman Ryan Beltré Wilson.

Alumni Spotlight: Ken Kwapis
November 8, 2021

Ken joins us to discuss his recent book, But What I Really Want To Do is Direct, as well as the director’s craft.
 

Voodoo MacBeth Makes a Splash
November 4, 2021

LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR. That’s the heading on the application to join USC’s Feature Film Production class. Faculty Advisor/Producer John Watson (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) was looking for a way to give more of his students feature film experience and came up with the groundbreaking concept of uniting ten directors for a single full length film. Like a TV series, where episodes are often assigned to different directors, Watson’s directors are each assigned to a scene in the film. “We have consistent actors, a consistent DP, consistent production designers, consistent heads of departments across the board. The element that changes is the director,” says Watson.

Activist Filmmaker Daniel Kennedy Debuts Documentary Suicide Bridge
The SCA Summer Program film opens the Coronado Film Festival on November 10th
November 3, 2021

The SCA Summer Program film opens the Coronado Film Festival on November 10th

Akkad Endowment Launched at SCA
November 1, 2021

Malek is the producer of the films that gave us Michael Myers, the horror genre’s most enduring “boogeyman.” The character has been terrifying audiences since Jamie Lee Curtis first took that fateful babysitting gig in 1978’s Halloween. The original films were produced by Moustapha Akkad, Malek’s father, who fueled his son’s early love of filmmaking by giving him odd jobs on his productions, including mopping up fake blood on the set of Halloween 4. Malek has produced the Halloween sequels for the last twenty years, including Halloween Kills which debuted atop the box office on October 17th.

Trojans Help Open the AMPAS Museum
September 29, 2021

Two Cinema & Media Studies graduates and one current CAMS Ph.D student from the USC School of Cinematic Arts helped curate the new Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science Museum in Los Angeles. The contributions of Manouchka Labouba, Emily Rauber-Rodriguez and Sophia Serrano were invaluable in the groundbreaking new museum.

Freshman Brings Hong Kong Vision to Cinema & Media Studies Program
September 23, 2021

The Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies program transforms students into skilled artists, media makers and leaders in their chosen fields with a unique, interdisciplinary learning experience. Throughout their studies, students are encouraged to bring their own productions to life through filming and editing, highlighting their distinct points of view and backgrounds. 

Justin Accardi Foundation for the Arts Launched
September 8, 2021

Justin Accardi found his joy in the arts. As a student in the Business of Cinematic Arts (BCA) program, he was as much interested in what was happening on the stage or in front of the camera as what it took to make it all happen. Accardi, who died in 2019, was a talented performer himself. He sang acapella with UnderSCore and performed with sketch comedy while attending USC. He also enjoyed losing himself in a movie in any of the screening rooms at the School of Cinematic Arts.
 

New Podcast Explores Neuroscience and Art
FLOAT from Mary Sweeney and Jonas Kaplan Covers Narrative and Dreamscapes
September 6, 2021

The USC School of Cinematic Arts and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences share a long history of exploring consciousness and the human experience from different points of view. Beginning September 5th, the podcast FLOAT from Mary Sweeney, the Dino and Martha De Laurentiis Endowed Chair in American film and Jonas Kaplan, from the Brain Creativity Institute and Co-Director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center, will shine a light on how science and art are closer than many people would expect. The podcast is supported by a grant from the USC Provost’s program for Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Alumni Spotlight: Jivitesh Dhaliwal '21
September 1, 2021

Jivitesh joins us to talk about the extensive game design process and his journey as an artist.

Microsoft Contributes to Gerald A. Lawson Fund
August 9, 2021

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios announced today that it will make a significant contribution to USC Games’ Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund for Black and Indigenous Students, which was established in May with the goal of increasing inclusion and representation in the games and tech industries.  The Fund, which is named for one of the first Black engineers in gaming, offers financial support to Black and Indigenous students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in USC’s #1 ranked game design program. Students who receive support from the fund will be known as Lawson Scholars.

Ed Saxon and Nina Yang Bongiovi to Lead Stark Division
August 5, 2021

Check out deadline.com's coverage of the Stark Division

In Motion 2020 - 2021
August 5, 2021

Check out the School of Cinematic Art's 2021 Magazine In Motion.

Alumni Spotlight: Kaitlyn Yang '11
August 2, 2021

From founding her own company, Alpha Studios, to being named as one of Forbes “30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment,” Kaitlyn Yang '11 has done it all at such a young age. 

Alumni Spotlight: Jiedi Chen '16
July 5, 2021

Jiedi joins us to share her story of entering the industry and how the SCA community has helped shape her career.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Cat Gensler
June 14, 2021

Cat Gensler, from Tustin, CA, is a 2020 Graduate in Film and Television Production. They are the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award for Sound.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Claire Dundee
June 14, 2021

Claire Dundee Graduated with a BFA in Film & TV Production in 2021. Dundee directed the film, Monsters of Mine, a film about a lonely girl who uses high-tech glasses to fill her world with imaginary monster friends, but when they break, she discovers the value of true human connection.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Connor Williams
June 14, 2021

Connor Williams Graduated with a BFA in Film & TV Production in 2021. Williams produced the film, Monsters of Mine, a film about a lonely girl who uses high-tech glasses to fill her world with imaginary monster friends, but when they break, she discovers the value of true human connection.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Liam Walsh
June 14, 2021

Liam Walsh Graduated with a BFA in Film and Television Production in 2020. Walsh directed the film, You Missed a Spot, about a mime living in a world where everyone is a clown, and must find his voice to save the girl of his dreams. The film was the First Look Industry Award Winner for Genre film.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Noah Donner-Klein
June 14, 2021

Noah Donner-Klein, from Los Angeles, CA, is a 2021 Graduate in Theater. They are the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award for Sound.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Hannah Bang
June 9, 2021

Hannah Bang, from Gwangju, South Korea is a 2020 graduate with and MFA in Film and Television Production. They are the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award for Screenwriting.

Alumni Spotlight: Vanessa Monterosa '14
June 1, 2021

Vanessa Monterosa '14 joins us to talk about her experience working in education, her thoughts on using technology and social media to educate our youths, and her mission at Hack the Hood to support communities of color by spreading access of tech and data literacy programs to enable economic mobility.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Damon Laguna
May 20, 2021

Damon Laguna, from Thousand Oaks, CA is a 2020 graduate of the MFA program in Film and Television Production. He is the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award in Directing.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Queen Kim
May 20, 2021

Queen Kim (A.K.A Kim Jonghee), from Seoul, South Korea, is a 2020 graduate of the MFA program in Film and Television Production. He is the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award in Producing.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Tara Jenkins
May 20, 2021

Tara Jenkins, from Phoenix, Arizona, is a 2021 graduate of the MFA program in Film and Television Production. She is the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award in Cinematography.

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Yucong Chen
May 20, 2021

Yucong Chen, from Qingdao, China, is a 2020 graduate of the MFA program in Film and Television Production. She is the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award in Editing.

Conversation with Professor John Rosenberg
May 19, 2021

Conversation with Film & Television Production Division Professor John Rosenberg about editing and his work on his writing about the field.

Joe Wallenstein Publishes Flynn and Miranda: Your Right to Remain Silent
Director of Physical Production novelizes famous legal case and human cost
May 10, 2021

Joe Wallenstein, the Director of Physical Production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, has worn too many hats to count during his career. His titles have included, but are not limited to, screenwriter, director, producer, educator, speaker, and non-fiction author. In March 2021, Wallenstein added “true crime author” to the list with his latest book Flynn and Miranda: Your Right to Remain Silent.

USC Games Launches Scholarship Fund named for African-American Games Pioneer, Gerald A. Lawson
Take-Two Interactive is the endowment’s first contributor
May 7, 2021

USC Games with Take Two launch the Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund for Black and Indigenous Students, which begins generating support for incoming students in the fall 2022 semester.

Alumni Spotlight: Clayvon Harris ’93
May 3, 2021

Clayvon Harris ’93 shares her journey from being a writer to substitute teacher, as well as her thoughts on the necessity of education reform not just in Philadelphia, but across our country. 

Writing Students Go Online for Their "First Pitch"
April 30, 2021

Writing Students Go Online for Their "First Pitch" 

Alumni Spotlight: Karl Baumann '18
April 6, 2021

Karl joins us to talk about the ways that media can be implemented to better human lives, from urban planning to storytelling; his experience with new technologies such as augmented and virtual reality; and his contributions to fighting back against the COVID pandemic.

Gail Katz to Head the Division of Film & Television Production Division
Susan Arnold will assume new Vice Chair role
April 6, 2021

Gail Katz, producer and tenured professor at the School of Cinematic Arts has agreed to lead the Division of Film & Television Production. The division, commonly known as “Production” is perhaps the School’s best known decision, considered to be among the world’s best training program in every aspect of the technical skills needed to make moving image media. The division is divided into the six tracks: Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, Cinematography and Sound. 

A Conversation with Cinema & Media Studies Professor Priya Jaikumar
Her book Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space receives international recognition
April 1, 2021

Conversation with Cinema & Media Studies Professor Priya Jaikumar about her book Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space

SCA Hosts a Teach In
March 25, 2021

Available on the SCA YouTube Channel: Professor Tara McPherson leads explainer of the Jan 6 Capitol riots.

SCA’s Council for Diversity & Inclusion Keeps Pushing for Change
March 25, 2021

Last summer, a newly resurgent Black Lives Matter movement inspired a series of heated SCA town hall meetings. Council for Diversity & Inclusion head Evan Hughes recalls, "After the murders of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, students wanted to make sure their voices were being heard about the relationships they have with campus security, for example, how classes are discussing race, and how campus learning environments need to be thoughtful about showing images that can be traumatic for students. Understandably, there was a lot of hurt and anger from students demanding change."

Cinematographer John Simmons, ASC Drops in on USC
March 24, 2021

Cinematographer John Simmons, ASC drops into Professor Chris Chomyn, ASC and his course CTPR 557 course

"Teach In" on Capitol Riots
Tara McPherson Leads Panel on January 6th Insurrection
March 23, 2021

Tara McPherson leads Teach In on the historic precursors of the January 6th insurrection at U.S. Capitol. 

Three Scholars Champion the "Civic Imagination”
March 18, 2021

In the summer of 2016, three USC scholars gathered at an 18th-century castle in Austria to teach 70 college students from around the globe how to dream about the future. The Salzburg Global Seminar likely qualifies as the most glamorous venue to host workshop leaders Henry Jenkins, Sangita Shresthova and Gabriel Peters-Lazaro, but it's only one of many places where the trio has championed the practice of "civic imagination" through world-building exercises. Additional to the workshops they've run over the past eight years, Jenkins, Shresthova and Peter-Lazaro have produced two recent books filled with fresh thinking about media activism.  

Alumni Spotlight: Shaina Ghuraya '20
March 2, 2021

Shaina joins us to talk about her passion for filmmaking, her participation in the Easterseals Challenge, as well as embracing the quirky.

Animator Yoo Lee Reflects on Project Involve
March 2, 2021

Late-blooming animation auteur Yoo Lee MFA '22 spent 20 years in the fashion industry before the birth of her daughter Sky motivated a complete shift in priorities.  Inspired by Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, Lee started making DIY stop motion music videos to entertain her little girl. "They were fun, but I knew I needed to learn the fundamentals," Lee says. Moving from New York to Los Angeles with her child and sound designer husband, she enrolled in 2019 at John C. Hench Division of Animation + Digital Arts. 

Alumni Spotlight: Leslie Lehr '82
March 1, 2021

Leslie joins us to talk about her journey becoming a writer, what writing means to her, and her thoughts on how her writing and filmmaking paths converge.

Alumni Spotlight: Carla Banks-Waddles '00
February 17, 2021

Carla shares her experience moving through the writer’s room ranks, working through the pandemic, and being a part of an industry that brings stories to life on the television screen.

The Caucus 38th Annual Awards Gala Honors SCA Professor Gail Katz
February 12, 2021

The Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors' 38th Annual Awards Gala Honors SCA Professor Gail Katz