February 29, 2024

SCA Launches Virtual Production Senior Thesis Course

By Benjamin Pola

Movie poster for virtual production thesis Dr. Supernova's Evil Plan

The USC School of Cinematic Arts will debut its first virtual production senior thesis projects this Spring which will be made in the Film & Television Production Division's latest course, CTPR 587: Group Production Workshop. Developed by SCA Professors Everett Lewis and Scott Kroopf, heads of SCA’s directing and producing tracks, this cutting-edge class, informally dubbed "Virtual Production Thesis," leverages cutting-edge techniques, including USC's state-of-the-art LED wall donated by Sony.

Kicking off this semester is Dr. Supernova’s Evil Plan, a tale of a nefarious supervillain unexpectedly tasked with babysitting his cheerful daughter in his evil lair while scheming against his archnemesis. Written and directed by Adam Yuster ’24 and produced by Miranda Montenegro ’24, Soren Anderson ’24, and Peter Stark Producing Alum, Gabriel J. Medina ’21, this marks SCA's first student-led virtual production project. 

Filming will take place on Stage D at the Robert Zemeckis Center, utilizing SCA’s new LED Volume wall, with production slated to begin in April 2024.

Yuster and Montenegro, with prior experience in virtual production garnered from internships and professional roles, are excited about applying their industry expertise to spearhead and realize their own project.

Dr. Supernova’s Evil Plan underscores USC School of Cinematic Arts' dedication to revolutionizing film education and propelling its students to the vanguard of the industry.

To learn more about the film visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dr-supernova-s-evil-plan-a-usc-thesis-film#/

Meet The Team:

Head shot of writer and director Adam Yuster
Adam Yuster 24’
(MFA, Film & Television Production)

As a child, the films of Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg captured Adam’s imagination, whisking him away on grand, rousing adventures designed for the big screen. Now, he writes and directs films that aspire to invoke similar feelings of heart, humor, and wonder. His previous effort as a writer/director, Cupid Jr., was an Official Selection at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, and several of his screenplays have been honored as finalists at the Nashville and Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competitions. Adam earned his BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University and is currently pursuing an MFA in Film and Television Production at the University of Southern California. While in New York, he wrote over thirty news articles for The Hollywood Reporter and interned for the Agency for the Performing Arts. When not writing or directing, he likes to play guitar, read comics and go to Disneyland with his girlfriend.

Headshot of producer Miranda Montenegro
Miranda Montenegro ’24
(MFA, Film & Television Production)

Miranda Montenegro is an award-winning Latina filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She graduated from UCLA in March 2020 with a B.A. in English and concentration in Film, Television and Digital Media. Montenegro was a live music photographer for several years before working for Sony Pictures Entertainment and Entravision Communications Corps. Her short 2022 film, U.S. vs. Beltran, has screened at film festivals across the country including the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival. In 2023, Montenegro directed an episode of a USC-produced television show, Sketch. That same year, she was part of the inaugural cohort of the mitú x Walmart Filmmaker Mentorship Program, and wrote and directed a short film, Queso Bueno. From June
2022 to January 2023, 

Montenegro worked as a director’s assistant on Star Wars: Skeleton Crew. She is currently associate producing a feature documentary about the 1947 public school segregation case, Mendez v. Westminster. Montenegro is a third-year M.F.A. Film and Television Production candidate at USC School of Cinematic Arts, and has received multiple awards and scholarships, including the George Lucas Family Foundation Scholarship, Broccoli Family Foundation Scholarship, Dr. Rodolfo Montes Memorial Scholarship and Certificate for Outstanding Work in Diversity and Inclusion.

Headshot of producer Soren Anderson
Soren Anderson ’24
(MFA, Film & Television Production)

Soren Anderson, hailing from Portland, Oregon, is a producer, tech enthusiast, and storyteller committed to bridging the gap between technology and storytelling. After receiving a B.A. in Media Arts and Computer Science from Pitzer College, his passion led him to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where he's finishing his final semester of the MFA Film & Television Production program. Soren maintains a focus on producing and creative problem-solving using cutting-edge technologies such as generative A.I., virtual production, VR, and motion capture. Soren has spent most of his time at USC developing his skills as a producer and first assistant director on several productions including The Visit (2023), The Act of Crying (2023), and Nena (2024). He is also currently producing an untitled narrative VR project in collaboration with the Interactive Games & Media Division. Supported by USC’s new and highly competitive SPARK grant, he and his team hope to spearhead the world’s first interactive VR experience to utilize only neural radiance fields (NERFs). In his spare time, Soren writes and directs short films that utilize generative AI. 

With a background that encompasses both film production and computer science, Soren aims not just to push the boundaries of traditional media but also to redefine how stories are experienced.

Headshot of producer Gabriel J. Medina
Gabriel J. Medina ’21
(MFA, Peter Stark Producing Program)

Gabriel J. Medina is a distinguished MexicanAmerican writer, director, and producer acclaimed for his compelling documentary “Painter of Dreams, ” an Official Selection at NALIP. He has also impressed audiences with his captivating narrative short films “Disposable” and “Eternidad. ” A graduate of the prestigious Peter Stark Producing program at USC, Gabriel brings a wealth of talent and expertise to projects.