Spring 2020: Life After Film School

You’ve made the investment, you’ve taken the time to hone your craft, and you’re ready to take the media industries by storm… but how? This spring, SFTV in Conversation brings seasoned pros to campus to discuss how their work helps mediamakers break into the industry and to offer strategies for how to stand out as a new graduate. Mark your calendars—this don’t-miss monthly series will be filled with insights to help you convert your talent and drive into a successful career.

All events are on Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm in the Mayer Theater. Panel participants will be announced as they're confirmed throughout the semester. Check this page frequently for updates and RSVP information.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020: Fellowships + Labs: The Many Benefits and Tips on Applying

Participating in fellowships and labs is a great way to get your work out into the world, learn from seasoned pros, and make important industry connections (plus ease the transition from film school to real world). Come hear from decision-makers behind some of the top programs to learn what they have to offer and get some tips on how to craft a successful application. RSVP here.

Meet the Panel

Dea Vazquez, Project Involve Manager | Film Independent

Dea Vazquez joined Film Independent in 2014 and oversaw the application process and coordinated day-to-day operations for the Artist Development labs and programs. Currently, she serves as Project Involve Manager, the signature mentoring program that fosters the future generations of visual storytellers with the goal of a more inclusive industry. Before joining Film Independent, Dea was the Coordinator at The Murtha Skouras Agency, a top Below-the-Line talent agency representing award-winning cinematographers, production designers, editors, costume designers, and producers, where she tracked all feature projects in development and pre-production in both the independent and studio spaces, and prior to that, the in-house Production Coordinator at Colibri Films, a commercial production company for the Hispanic Market. She holds a BA in English Literature from Boston University.


Melissa Verdugo, Manager of Programs | Women In Film

Melissa Verdugo is a versatile Producer in the Television, Film and Live Event space. She got her start in Theater Production and Arts Education before moving to the live comedy space as the Director of Corporate Booking for LEG Live. She soon combined her backgrounds to become a Talent Manager for Levity Entertainment, building a strong roster of Stand Up Comedians and Comedic/Broadway Actors over the course of 6 years before moving on to Producing full time. Her credits include producing over 20 Stand Up Specials for Comedy Central, HBO, Netflix and Showtime, numerous pilots for Travel Channel and Food Network, National Campaigns for Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper, and Angel Soft with Deutsch LA, and the inaugural year of the Cabo Comedy Festival. Melissa is currently the Manager of Programs at Women In Film Los Angeles and strives to tell scripted and non-scripted stories that positively impact our world.


Cathleen Young, Executive Director | Humanitas

Cathleen Young came to HUMANITAS by way of her 20-year career as a Hollywood television writer. She has written 13 two-hour network movies for ABC, NBC, CBS and Lifetime. She was a staff writer on two network series, MacGyver and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Young won the HUMANITAS Prize and a Christopher Award in 1995 for her ABC Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation A Place for Annie, which was a WGA Award finalist and nominated for an Emmy. Young’s other credits include CBS Movies of the Week Everything to Gain, Her Own Rules and Lifetime’s Navigating the Heart. The daughter of two newspaper reporters, Cathleen has also written for Working Mother Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and The Chicago Sun Times. St. Martin’s Press published Young’s biography of Isabella Rossellini, Quiet Renegade.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020: Film Festivals: How to Make the Circuit Work for You

Everyone knows that film festivals can catapult a film into the spotlight and launch a creator’s career, but first you gotta get in—and how that happens is less clear. A panel of programmers from a range of festivals will give you the inside scoop on what they’re looking for in submissions and how to make the festival circuit work for you. RSVP here

Wednesday, March 4, 2020: Representation: Agents and Managers Demystified

Before you can tell someone to call your agent, you have to actually get an agent. Or a manager. Or both? Our panel of film reps will demystify their job descriptions and help you figure out what kind of representation makes sense for your career—and how to find it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020: Life After LMU: SFTV Alums on What To Do Post-Graduation

Join a panel of recent alums who have successfully broken into the industry as they discuss their lives after LMU and provide invaluable insights into what to do after you get that diploma. Graduation isn’t the end of the road—it’s the beginning of a long and fulfilling career.

Previous Programming

Fall 2019: The New Storytellers with Katie Ford

Screenwriter and playwright Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality, Desperate Housewives, Prayers for Bobby) explores the contemporary storytelling landscape in this unique interview series. Three-act structures and the Hero's Quest have become relics, replaced by fast-moving, inclusive, myth-based narratives that are more diverse and more interactive. It's an exciting time to be a creator and a storyteller, and these conversations will show you why.

Katie's four-part series will include game-changing Hollywood industry professionals like Carolyn Strauss—who ushered in new paradigms with shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones as an executive at HBO—and other TV and film creators who are working at the cutting edge of new storytelling forms.

Part essay, part interview, and part audience participation, for four Thursdays in October, this speaker series will not only make you think, it will let you know that the new storyteller is... you.

Thursdays at 5:00p in the Mayer Theater (Comm Arts Building 100) October 3, 10, 17, and 24, 2019. See each session and RSVP below.

October 3, 2019: The Beginning of the New: HBO in the Late ’90s

Guest: Carolyn Strauss, former President of HBO Entertainment, now an independent producer (Executive Producer, Game of Thrones, Deadwood: The Movie, Chernobyl). Click to hear the conversation.

The premieres of Sex and the City in 1998 and The Sopranos in 1999 sparked a tectonic shift in both storytelling techniques and audience viewing habits. As blasé network fare gave way to new and dynamic forms of storytelling on premium cable, these shows made HBO the place to be for audiences and creators alike.

As President of HBO Entertainment, Carolyn Strauss played a major role in that shift. An executive ahead of her time, it has taken the rest of the business 20 years to catch up to where she started in the late '90s. Katie will talk to Carolyn about her vision for new modes of storytelling then and now, and her hands-off approach to working with creators, a revolutionary technique in itself that has since proven a great gift to audiences.

October 10, 2019: Girls Girls Girls: The New Feminine Narrative

headshot of Jane Anderson

Guest: Jane Anderson, Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and playwright (Writer, Olive Kitteridge, The Wife). Click to hear the conversation.

Ever wonder what it is about contemporary narrative structure that makes shows ripe for a Netflix binge? It owes more to All My Children and Dallas than you may realize. What was once used to literally sell soap—writing about relationships, creating suspense, and fostering an audience's deep caring about characters—has become the stuff of Emmy nominations, and keeps audiences coming back for more.

In this conversation, Katie and Jane will discuss the feminine narrative and its journey from being a maligned women's genre (from radio to daytime soap operas and through to primetime soaps) to becoming the key ingredient in creating binge-worthy TV.

October 17, 2019: Telling the Stories You're Meant to Tell

headshot of Steven Canals

Guest: Steven Canals, Creator and Co-Executive Producer of the Emmy Award- and Golden Globe Award-Nominated Pose. Click to hear the conversation.

Steven Canals took a look around the contemporary television landscape during his time as a Screenwriting MFA student at UCLA and noticed a huge gap in the representation of LGBTQ people of color...as in, there wasn't any to speak of. So he decided to do something about it and created Pose in an attempt to start filling that representational space. But making change is never easy...

After pitching the show to 150 executives—none of whom wanted to buy or develop it—an Executive Producer from the History Channel named Sherry Marsh told Steven not to change a thing. She got it in front of Ryan Murphy, who saw Steven's vision and came on board as Executive Producer in 45 minutes. Steven is a study in the heart of being a writer, he and Katie will discuss his passion, his determination, and the powerful drive it takes to make a difference in storytelling.

October 24, 2019: Creating a Black List Script

headshot of Megan Halpern

Guest: Megan Halpern, Director of Events at The Black List. Click to hear the conversation.

Every year, The Black List releases its prestigious list of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Since its founding in 2005, four hundred Black List scripts have been produced, grossing over $26 billion in box office revenue worldwide. Black List movies have won 53 Academy Awards from 262 nominations, including four of the last ten Best Picture winners and ten of the last 22 best screenplay Oscars.

To close out the series, Katie will talk to Megan about what makes a Black List script, about where authenticity and heart meet box office, and about how to create work that resonates for a worldwide audience. It will be essential info for not only screenwriters, but directors and producers as well.