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March 9, 2012

SCA Family Stories: Dina Gachman

The Author of Fling Girl Speaks to Students

Recent SCA graduate Dina Gachman ‘07 has taken on two seemingly impossible tasks: breaking into the film industry and dating in Los Angeles. After graduation, instead of taking the assistant or PA route, Gachman showed unique initiative by producing her own online graphic novel, Fling Girl. www.flinggirlla.com

Dina Gachman '07

Gachman recently sat down with SCA Family Stories to talk about working in graphic novels, things she wish she was told as a Production Division student and why students need to leave SCA with a “little arsenal” of material.

Let’s start with your name and graduation year. DG: My name is Dina Gachman. Two-thousand seven.

Production Division? MFA in Production. Yes.

What is Fling Girl?  Fling Girl is an online graphic novel and site about a newly single girl braving the crazy dating scene in Los Angeles. It’s almost Sex in the City in graphic novel form but, instead of dating Mr. Big, the girls are dating broke bartenders. L.A. style.

How did the idea come about? Was it originally a film? It started as a book. There’s this thing called NaNoWriMo that’s every November all around the world.

National Novel Writing Month? Exactly. So, a friend kind of challenged me to do that and I thought, “why not?”

I wrote Fling Girl as a novella during NaNoWriMo. It just kind of sat there for a little bit – I was doing other projects. The artist, Amy, and I met and she read the book. We  decided to turn it into an online graphic novel.

Is that fairly common with your friends and classmates? Turning projects into graphic novels? There’s definitely a ton of overlap with all of the graphic novels turning into films and vice versa.  I never, ever thought about going into this world. I didn’t know comics. I barely knew what a panel was.

It feels a lot like making and producing a film every month. It feels like you’re making storyboards. I don’t know if I could have done Fling Girl without film school.

Where can people find out more about Fling Girl and your other projects? The website is Flinggirlla.com. All of the social media is on there. There’s a Tumblr and a Twitter as well. I write a blog that’s a comedic look at the economic divide. That’s BureaucracyForBreakfast.tumblr.com. It has been featured by Marketplace on NPR, AOL News and Chelsea Handler’s Borderline Amazing Comedy.

I just signed with a book agent off of that and the proposal based on the blog is now on submission to publishers. I also wrote a comic book about Elizabeth Taylor that’s being published by Bluewater Productions in September.

Let’s talk a little about your time at SCA. What lessons from SCA do you find yourself relying on most when you do Fling Girl? I think one of the biggest things is how to collaborate. We have a couple of interns but it’s basically just the two of us. Creative collaboration can be intense. You have to be really open. USC teaches you to do that, especially things like 546. I go back to that a lot.

I did have one class where the professor said, “Everyone wants to be a director and to take the glorious path to Sundance but you have to be very open to how your career path is going to go.”

If you get a gig and stay there and it works out for a while, you have to be really open-minded about, “Well maybe I’ll go into comics for awhile.” One day you might go back to directing but being flexible is a good thing to keep with you.

I’m curious about your experience in the Production Division and being a writer. Were most of your classmates aspiring directors? Starting off. At orientation, they asked, “Who wants to direct?” and just about everybody raised their hands.

That changes through the course of the program, which is good.  Some people go into sound. Some people go into editing. Producing. Starting out directing seems to be the thing but people have different paths, for sure.

What about writers in the Production Division? I would say most of the people in the Production Division wrote or wanted to write. Maybe a few people didn’t but most did.

We’re getting close to graduation. Do you have any advice for anyone who is getting ready to graduate in a few months? What do you wish someone would have told you right at graduation? I guess one of the big things is that everyone expects that, “I’m going to get out and take my thesis film to festivals and get a manager.”

You have this idea of how it’s supposed to go and that’s not necessarily the right thing and it’s certainly not what usually happens.  I wish someone would have told me to have at least one feature script and maybe even two.

You can’t just have a film or just have a script. You need to have a little arsenal of material.

This interview series also goes out to perspective students. Do you have any advice for anyone who is a Freshman or a prospective student? It’s hard to find time to do anything but work and classes but I wish I would have come out with more writing. It’s such a great thing to have.