Screenwriting Faculty and Staff
HAL ACKERMAN has been on the faculty of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television for the past twenty-five years and is currently co-chair of the screenwriting program. Among his close mentees are Sacha Gervasi, Pamela Gray, Scott Kosar, Nicholas Griffin and many others. His book, "Write Screenplays That Sell…The Ackerman Way," is now in its third printing, and is becoming the text of choice in a growing number of screenwriting programs around the country. He has had numerous short stories published in literary journals over the past two years, including New Millennium Writing, The Pinch, Words and Pictures, Southeast Review and Passages. His short Story, "Roof Garden" won the Warren Adler 2008 award for fiction and is published by Kindle. "Alfalfa" was included in the 2006 anthology, "I Wanna Be Sedated…30 Writers on Parenting Teenagers." "Sweet Day" is just out on HarperCollins Publishers Digital Media Cafe read by Academy Award nominee Robert Forster. Hal has sold material to all the networks and major studios. His play "TESTOSTERONE: How Prostate Cancer Made a Man of Me" will be mounted in New York under its new title "Prick." Hal's first novel, "Stein, Stoned," was published in 2010. The sequel, "Stein, Stung," will be out in March 2012.
RICHARD WALTER, the author of the best-selling "Screenwriting – The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing" and "The Whole Picture," has written numerous feature assignments for the major studios and has sold material to all three major networks. He has also written many informational, educational, and corporate films. His novel, "Escape From Film School," was published by St Martin’s Press in 1999. He appears regularly in the national media discussing popular culture issues, and lectures on screenwriting throughout the world. Richard is Co-Chair of the screenwriting program at UCLA. His new book, "Essentials of Screenwriting," is available at bookstores and from web retailers July 1, 2010.
EYAL ALONY, Program Director, is a graduate of both the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting and the UCLA MFA Screenwriting Program. He completed his undergraduate studies in theater arts at UC Santa Cruz. Eyal is the receipient of the Zaki Gordon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting, the Harmony Gold Award for Excellence in Screenwriting, and the Milton Sperling Award for Excellence in Screenwriting. While a student at UCLA, Eyal placed in the UCLA screenwriting competition twice, both as an honorable mention and as a winner. In addition, Eyal's screenplay RETURN was a semi-finalist in the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition. Eyal co-wrote and co-produced the upcoming film SILK, co-written and directed by Catherine Dent and starring Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo.
TIM ALBAUGH, writer/producer, is a graduate of the world famous UCLA MFA screenwriting program. Tim has taught screenwriting at UCLA, UC Irvine, Hollins University and Pixar Animation Studios. As a writer, he has sold or optioned scripts to various studios and production companies. He wrote the film TRADING FAVORS starring Rosanna Arquette, Devon Gummersall and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Under their POPULAR FILMS banner, Tim and producing partner Sean Sorensen have projects in development at Warner Bros., HBO, Reason Pictures, Hudson River Entertainment, and Echo Lake Productions. The original screenplays WEASEL (by Steve Bagatourian) and CROAK (by Rich Davis) were written in Tim's classes and subsequently set up as co-productions between Popular Films, Hudson River Entertainment, and Echo Lake Productions. Some of Tim's other students have sold scripts to numerous studios, producers and production companies including John Cusack's New Crime Productions, The Coen Brothers, Michael Bay, Wendy Finerman, Nickelodeon Films, Gough/Millar, New Regency Productions, HBO, Mandalay Entertainment, Showtime, Lifetime and all the major television networks. The film THE MACHINIST, starring Christian Bale, was written by Scott Kosar in Tim's UCLA class. The latest film written in Tim's class to be produced is BALLS TO THE WALL written by Jason Nutt and directed by Penelope Spheeris (WAYNE'S WORLD).
MARC ARNESON is a graduate of both the Professional Program in Screenwriting and the MFA Screenwriting Program at UCLA. He’s won a number of honors including the UCLA Screenwriters Showcase, the Jack Nicholson Prize in Screenwriting, the Harmony Gold Screenwriting Award, the Zaki Gordon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting and the Showtime/Tony Cox Screenwriting Award at the Nantucket Film Festival. He was a 2007 writer-in-residence at the prestigious Screen Writers Colony, and in 2009 his feature script “Just Peck” was independently produced starring Keir Gilchrist, Brie Larson, Marcia Cross, Adam Arkin and Camryn Manheim. Marc has also written professionally in other media including internet shorts for the Game Show Network and in 2011 co-wrote and sold a half-hour pilot script to Fox Television Animation.
DEBORAH BARON has written feature scripts on assignment for 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Interscope, MGM, UA, various independent production companies, and actors Richard Dreyfuss and Meg Ryan. Her television credits include: "Hunter" (on staff; CBS), "Legwork" (on staff; 20th Century Fox/CBS), "Major Dad" (Universal/CBS), "Cagney & Lacey" (CBS), and various episodes for 1-hour series on NBC, ABC, and UPN. She has taught in the MFA screenwriting programs at UCLA, USC, and AFI; and in graduate programs at universities in Santiago, Chile and Calcutta, India (both funded by Fulbright grants). She has also worked as a "testimony reviewer/writer" for the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
PAUL CASTRO, a member of the Writers Guild of America for almost a decade, is a writer with extensive professional experience in film, television and digital media. He has been a hired-gun writer for the top studios in town. While still a UCLA MFA grad student, Paul landed a three picture, million-dollar deal sparked by co-chair Richard Walter. That deal included two of his original screenplays, one of which became the Warner Bros. feature film hit, AUGUST RUSH starring Robin Williams, Kerri Russell, Freddie Highmore, Terrence Howard and Jonathan Myers. That same year Paul directed two music videos for RCA records and was awarded The Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Grant Award. Legendary Oscar winning actress Shirley MacLaine heralded Paul Castro as one of the best screenwriters she's ever worked with in her fifty years of movie making. Paul's original screenplay EILEEN'S ICE, starring Ms. MacLaine, will begin production in 2010. Paul wrote EILEEN'S ICE in co-chair, Richard Walter's 434-screenwriting class in 2000. Oscar nominated Terrence Howard is attached to star in Paul's script RUNNING WITH GOD. Paul has been part of the UCLA family as a student and faculty member for twelve years.
BENNETT COHEN is a screenwriter and playwright. He has numerous television and cable credits, including the features "The Hunted" with Harry Hamlin and Madchen Amick for USA and "Rainbow Drive" with Peter Weller for Showtime. He has written for PBS, UPN, Fox Television, Universal Television, and Nickelodeon. His half-hour drama “The Fix” for PBS’s anthology series “Foto-Novelas” was nominated for a Humanitas Award. His stage credits include a commission in 2001 to write a theatrical adaptation of the Ursula K. LeGuin novel "The Dispossessed" for the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Bennett also co-authored the book "The Zebra Murders: A Season of Killing, Racial Madness, and Civil Rights" which will soon be a motion picture starring Jamie Foxx and produced by Brad Pitt.
PHIL GUIDRY has written projects for Walt Disney Imagineering, 42 Entertainment, and the Second City Theatre. His feature work includes co-writing "Sibling Rivalry" for Tapestry Films and "Get Rob A Job" for National Lampoon Films. Phil is currently a writer/producer for the ESPN show "Jim Rome is Burning." He received an Emmy nomination as a prime time and late night writer for NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Phil's writing has been published in Sports Illustrated, Outside, and Conde Nast Traveler, as well as anthologies by Hyperion Press and Nelson Thornes Press. Phil holds a B.A. from USC and an M.F.A. from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. For the past few years he has taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced screenwriting at UC Irvine.
DAVE JOHNSON is a graduate of both the Professional Program in Screenwriting and the MFA Screenwriting Program at UCLA. While a student, his script FLESH AND BLOOD won the UCLA Spec Showcase, the Jack Nicholson Award in Screenwriting as well as the Harmony Gold Award. It was also used as an example in the screenwritng book "Write Screenplays that Sell." Along with being a produced Television writer (Jake 2.0/UPN), Dave has sold and developed feature films for Walt Disney Pictures (YOU AGAIN), 20th Century Fox (BMOC), Paramount (SWEET CHILD OF MINE), New Regency (MAN WEDDING), and Universal Studios (REPEAT AFTER ME). Currently, Dave is writing and developing an animated feature film for Fox Animation (Ice Age, Rio).
MARK KRUGER has been a screenwriter and television writer since 1990. In addition to writing the movie "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" directed by Bill Condon for Gramercy Pictures, he was recently a writer and a producer on the Emmy nominated TV series "The 4400" for the USA Network. He was also a writer on the TV series "Revelations" for NBC and "Tru Calling" for FOX. Other TV credits include the movie "The Dead Will Tell" for CBS and the miniseries "Frankenstein" for Hallmark. Mark has also worked with filmmakers Wes Craven and Clive Barker and has written for Dreamworks, Miramax, Disney, Paramount, HBO, CBS, FOX and Sony Television among others. Mark began his career in the entertainment industry as a VP of Production for Scott Rudin Productions and the Turman-Foster Company. He has taught screenwriting at UCLA since 1999.
CHRIS KYLE has sold live-action and animated pitches and screenplays to Disney and Universal, as well as to several production companies, and he wrote and created a TV show that is in development at The Hub. He has also written commercials for ESPN and the NBA. Chris has taught rewriting and advanced screenwriting at UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and National University. Chris earned his MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, where he received the Jack Nicholson Award in Screenwriting, the Screenwriters Showcase Award, the Abraham Polonsky Award, and a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award.
NEIL LANDAU's film and television credits include the cult teen comedy "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead," "Melrose Place," "The Magnificent Seven," "Doogie Howser, M.D.," "The Secret World of Alex Mack," "Twice in a Lifetime," MTV's "Undressed," plus sold one-hour drama TV pilots for CBS, ABC, Warner Bros., Disney, Lifetime, and Freemantle. He serves as writer and co-executive producer on the new 3D animated feature "Tad: The Lost Explorer" from Paramount and StudioCanal. Neil is also developing an original historical miniseries for HBO Europe. He's the author of 101 Things I Learned in Film School (Grand Central Publishing, 2010). His second book, The Screenwriter's Roadmap, arrives in bookstores in September, 2012, from Focal Press. The book features nuts and bolts screenwriting guidance from Landau, plus interviews with 21 A-list Hollywood screenwriters, including Tony Gilroy, David S. Goyer, Scott Z. Burns, Billy Ray, Melissa Rosenberg, David Koepp, and Eric Roth. Landau is currently working on a new book for Focal Press entitled The Showrunner's Roadmap - on the art and craft of creating, writing, and sustaining episodic TV series - which also includes interviews with today's top TV showrunners. Neil is a professor in the MFA in Screenwriting and Producing Programs at UCLA School of Film, Television and Digital Media, and a guest lecturer in the MFA Screenwriting Division at USC School of Cinematic Arts.
WEIKO LIN started his career in the theater writing and directing original independent plays and musicals in Los Angeles produced at UCLA's Royce Hall, Veterans Wadsworth Theatre, and East West Players' David Henry Hwang Theater. His newest work for the stage, 100 Days, had its developmental staged reading at Chicago's Silk Road Theatre Project, which led to its Los Angeles production in 2011 at The Loft Ensemble. In film, Weiko has written a dramatic feature for The Mark Gordon Company (2012) and Good Worldwide, Inc (THE MESSENGER). He also has a comedy with Madhouse Entertainment (THE BOUNTY HOUNTER, SAFEHOUSE) attached to produce. Currently, Weiko is developing a German crime thriller remake with Atlas Entertainment (THE DARK NIGHT). As writer/producer, Weiko optioned the English language remake rights to the biggest Taiwanese box office hit, CAPE NO. 7, which he is currently adapting. A Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award recipient and a Nicholl Fellow Finalist, Weiko is on the faculty at Northwestern University's M.F.A. Writing for the Stage and Screen Program. As a Fulbright Senior Specialist, he has also taught M.F.A. screenwriting at Taipei National University of the Arts. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Weiko is currently developing a new script-driven film production model that bridges the world's fastest growing film market in China and Hollywood.
CINDY MCCREERY is a graduate of the Walt Disney/ABC Feature Writing Fellowship program for the 2002-2003 year. Her script POWDER PUFFS got her into the program and was sold to Disney after she finished the fellowship. After the sale of POWDER PUFFS Cindy immediately wrote and sold her next feature spec script, SOCCER MOM to New Line Cinema. In the fall of 2005 Tollin Robbins and Josephson Entertainment approached Cindy with the true story of Maria Pepe, the first girl to play in the Little League. Cindy came up with a pitch with the producers and sold the pitch to Nickelodeon/Paramount. In 2006 National Geographic Films hired Cindy to rewrite ELEPHANT WILD and later in 2007 in partnership with Warner Brothers, they hired her again to develop and write FREE WILLY: ESCAPE FROM PIRATES COVE which was released in March of 2010. Also in 2007 Cindy sold a pitch of a revamped BABY BOOM for MGM. In 2009 Disney Channel hired her to adapt the book, RISING STAR into a Disney Channel Original movie. In 2010 Cindy optioned her original script, HOW TO DATE A PRINCE to Radar Pictures and HOLDING PATTERN to Unique Entertainment. She recently was hired with her friend and collaborator, Tara Miele to write the Disney Channel Original Movie, UNPLUGGED. She is currently writing and developing feature specs as well as original ideas for TV. Along with her writing, Cindy has been teaching Introduction to Screenwriting for the Film Studies department at UC Santa Barbara for the last six years and most recently the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting. In the fall of 2011 Cindy joined UT Austin’s Department of Radio TV and Film as an Assistant Professor of screenwriting.
JENNA MCGRATH has spent the past six years working as a screenwriter. Shortly after graduating from the UCLA MFA Screenwriting Program, she landed her first feature film assignment. She has written for Strike Entertainment, Universal, MGA and Disney XD. Together with her writing partner, she wrote seven episodes of the upcoming series PACKAGES FROM PLANET X. Jenna began teaching screenwriting in 2007. In 2010, she traveled to Uganda to serve as a screenwriting mentor in the Maisha Film Lab, a program that fosters local filmmaking communities in East Africa. In her spare time, Jenna is member of the U.S. Freediving team and holds two national records for breath-hold diving. She believes that writing, like diving, rewards the brave.
ALEX METCALF is an award-winning writer whose work has been produced on radio, television, theater and film. Alex's most recent film is AN AMERICAN AFFAIR with Gretchen Mol, released by Screen Media Films. His WWII spy thriller, STANDING IN THE FLOATING WORLD, written for Astrakan Entertainment, is scheduled for production in Japan. His script THE FABULIST is also scheduled for production. Other produced works include the RED TEAM (Regent Entertainment), HOPE STREET (Fox) and the television series LAZARUS MAN (TNT). Alex has created original works for Disney, Paramount, Fine Line, Fox and HBO, as well as for independent production entities.
STEPHANIE MOORE received her MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA. She won the Harve Bennett “Written By” Prize in Screenwriting and the Harmony Gold Screenwriting Award. She has taught screenwriting at UC Irvine, UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, and Hollins University’s MFA Program. She was a guest lecturer at Pixar University. Stephanie’s students have been winners of several screenwriting awards, including the Nicholl Fellowship and the UCLA Professional Program Screenwriting Competition. Stephanie’s students have had their scripts optioned and sold, including Marc Maurino’s sale of INSIDE THE MACHINE in 2011 to mini-major studio CBS Films, a script written in Stephanie’s Professional Program in Screenwriting Online class. Stephanie co-wrote LIFE-SIZE, starring Tyra Banks and Lindsay Lohan, an original movie for ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney.” She was hired by Disney to co-write LIFE-SIZE 2.
FERNLEY PHILLIPS is a graduate of the Professional Program in Screenwriting and broke into the industry with his spec, THE NUMBER 23, starring Jim Carrey and directed by Joel Schumacher. He has since written for Warner Bros, Paramount, Fox, Universal, and Dimension. He is currently working on a project for Nicole Kidman and James Wan and developing a TV series with Stan Lee.
BRIAN PRICE received his BA in Theatre and Film from Yale University and his MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA in 1999, where he won the Harve Bennett "Written By" Prize, the Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme Screenwrtiting Prize, and the Screenwriter's Showcase. While still in school, Brian was featured in SCRIPT MAGAZINE when THE MANY LIVES OF BOBBY IVERS, his first spec, was optioned by Universal Pictures. Since then, he's written numerous feature scripts for both studios and indies, including THE SPEED QUEEN for Christina Ricci's Blaspheme Pictures and ATTICUS for Scanbox Entertainment. Brian also directed the feature comedy BOTTOMFEEDERS, which won several festival awards including the Indie Spirit Award at Toronto's Planet Indie and the Audience Award at the DC Independent Film Festival. Before teaching for the Professional Program at UCLA, Brian developed and oversaw the screenwriting curriculum at the Brooks Institute of Photography. Most recently, Brian's script "Whale Farts" won 1st place in the 2007 Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition.
JAMES SCHMERER received his BS degree in Television and Motion Pictures from New York University. He has been a producer on three television series and Executive Story Consultant on six others. As a free lance writer, he has written over two hundred television episodes in addition to writing soaps, animation and features. He has been teaching screenwriting since 1989.
JOHN SWEET is proud to be a 1997 graduate of the UCLA graduate screenwriting program. Prior to entering the program he was a working TV writer. His produced writing credits include: "Braxton" (an original television pilot for RHI) "Mr. President" (series episode for Carson Prod/Fox Network) "Learning the Ropes" (network television episode for RHI) "Face to Face" (movie of the week for Hallmark Hall of Fame/CBS) "The Great Elephant Escape" (movie of the week for Hallmark Hall of Fame/ABC) After entering the graduate program John optioned a script which was featured at UCLA's Showcase. The script was made into a feature film "The Affair of the Necklace" which was distributed by Warner Brothers and premiered in 2001. The film starred Hilary Swank, Christopher Walken, and Adrien Brody.
WENDALL THOMAS received received her M.A. in English in 1986 and has since worked as a casting director, director's assistant, script reader, story editor, development executive, entertainment reporter, script consultant and screenwriter, writing and developing projects for companies including Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Universal, Showtime, PBS, RKO, A&E, NBC, T&C Film, ACC Entertainment, Gabriel Films and Scottish Screen As a lecturer and consultant, she has taught in the UCLA Film Program since 1997, has been a Star Speaker for the Los Angeles Screenwriting Expo and the Santa Fe Screenwriting Conference, and runs the Living Room Lecture Series in LA. Internationally, she has consulted for the Atelier du Cinéma Européen Producing Program in Paris, lectured throughout Europe for the Arista Screenwriting Workshops, run two Writer's Mentorship Programs for the UK Film Commission, and has held Rewrite and Dialogue workshops for the The New Zealand Film Commission and the Melbourne International Film Festival. Recent student/client films include: THE SPACE BETWEEN (Official Tribeca Entry, 2010), THE MOST FUN YOU CAN HAVE DYING (2011), THE COMMUNE (2009), REPUBLIC OF TWO (2012) and WE ARE NOT WHAT THEY SAY WE ARE (2011).
LINDA VOORHEES holds an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA and won the Jack Nicholson Screenwriting Award for her screenplay, "Mother Earth." She wrote and was executive producer on the TNT cable movie "Crazy From the Heart," which was an ACE award-winning film. She has worked with all three major networks on MOW and rewrite projects, including "Lion King II" for Disney animation. Linda wrote and directed the films "Raising Genius," starring Justin Long, and "Out of Omaha," starring Dave Foley and Lea Thompson. She also teaches in the UCLA MFA Screenwriting Program.
IRIS YAMASHITA was nominated for an Academy Award® for her first produced screenplay, "Letters from Iwo Jima". Directed by Clint Eastwood, "Letters from Iwo Jima" received a Golden Globe award for "Best Foreign Language Film" and was nominated for 4 Oscars®. Currently, Iris is in development on an original script to be directed by Shekhar Kapur, who previously directed "Elizabeth" and "The Four Feathers".
KRIS YOUNG has written six movies for the Disney Channel including "Teen Angel" and "Teen Angel Returns." He's written for Columbia, Nickelodeon, CBS, Trimark and producers Richard Pryor and Terence Chang. He received his MFA in screenwriting at UCLA in '98, was a screenwriting showcase winner and placed 2nd in the Goldwyn Awards. His micro-mini movie "Mosquito Cupid" was recently produced for ABC-Touchstone. Kris teaches screenwriting for UCLA's Professional Program and the undergraduate film school.