Jennifer Maisel most recently developed an original pilot called “The 626” with Super Deluxe and adapted two Jane Green novels—Tempting Fate and To Have and to Hold, which aired in June. She currently is working on a two-hour about campus rape and institutional betrayal with Just Singer Entertainment. Her screenplay “Lost Boy” was filmed starring Virginia Madsen. She wrote The Assault and The March Sisters for Mar Vista Entertainment and Double Wedding for Jaffe Braunstein. She has written movies for NBC, ABC, MTV and Lifetime, was a staff writer on the television series Related, wrote a pilot for ABC Family and an animated feature for Disney. Maisel has developed original pilots with Bunim-Murray, Ineffable, Stun Media and MomentumTV and co-created the critically acclaimed web series Faux Baby with Laura Brennan and Rachel Leventhal. The screenplay adaptation of her play The Last Seder won Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenwriting Award, meriting her a month’s stay in a haunted farmhouse at the Nantucket Screenwriter’s Colony. A graduate of Cornell University and NYU’s Dramatic Writing program, Maisel is also an award-winning playwright whose Eight Nights will premiere at Antaeus Theatre in October 2019; the play is currently part of a nationwide event called 8 Nights of Eight Nights, raising funds and awareness for HIAS. She has taught playwriting at University of Southern California and guest-lectured around the country.
On adapting novels “I like the puzzle of taking something that’s epic, novels are epic, even not great novels are epic, and you have to figure out how to find the essential spine to it and give shape to it as a writer.” — Jennifer Maisel
Laura Brennan’s eclectic writing career includes television, film, theater, web series, fiction and news. Behind the scenes, she has helped production companies develop movies, TV pilots and limited series. She has taught pitching workshops to executives at Netflix and Film Victoria, as well as MFA programs and undergraduate classes at universities including Stephens College, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Boston University and National University.A graduate of Yale University, Brennan has won awards for journalism, television writing and fiction. Her children’s book, Nana Speaks Nanese, tackles the confusing changes brought on by dementia in a reassuring and straightforward way. She hopes it will help families facing a diagnosis of dementia open up a conversation with their young children. Her web series Faux Baby is also for parents, but it is definitely not for children—or even safe for work.
“You are not everything to everyone. And you shouldn’t try to be. You should figure out what you do best and double down on it. Learn the stuff that you’re not great at so that you are comfortable and confident but narrow down what it is you really bring to the table ” -Laura Brennan
This gave us the chance to meet potential students (and a few who had already been accepted) and answer questions about how the program operates.
It’s always fun to engage with people and share our enthusiasm about the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting – and nowadays part of the fun of Zooming is checking out other folks’ backgrounds whether they are virtual (are they using the TARDIS of the Golden Gate Bridge) or their real office bookshelves. (Hey – I have that same book on my bookshelf!).
If you have any questions that weren’t answered during this Open House, send them directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to answer them.
We’re pleased to present a new slideshow designed by graphic artist Phoenix Bussey, a Stephens College undergrad, using photos taken by MFA candidates during the last few years of workshops. We think it tells our story well. Write. Reach. Represent.
London, United Kingdom Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 12:30 am BST
Eastern Time, ET Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 7:30 pm EDT
Central Time, CT Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm CDT
Mountain Time, MT Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 5:30 pm MDT
Pacific Time, PT Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm PDT
Sydney, Australia Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 9:30 am AEST
Learn more about this ground-breaking program focused on bringing more female and underrepresented voices into the mainstream media. The MFA boasts an impressive record of success and some of the best faculty and mentors in the industry.
As part of our sponsorship, we hosted this MasterClass on television writing with one of our valued mentors – Valerie Woods, most recently co-executive producer of Queen Sugar, interviewed at the festival by our writer-in-residence, Ken Lazebnik.
Learn more about television writing and storytelling with a female focus in our low residency MFA program — rolling applications means there is still time for you to join our Fall 2020 cohort and learn from working writers like Valerie.
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My college is actually in the state of Missouri but we are what is called low residency. So students come to Los Angeles and the picture on the bottom is the Jim Henson Studio in Los Angeles and this is where the students come for workshops twice a year. You’ll see Kermit standing on top. Before Kermit this was the Charlie Chaplin studio founded in 1917 and was never torn down. So it is the original buildings that Charlie Chaplin did all his work in and now we do it with our students. So I you can see the difference in Missouri is quite far away from California.
A Note About This Presentation
A clip from my keynote speech at the 10th Screenwriters´(hi)Stories Seminar for the interdisciplinary Graduation Program in “Education, Art, and History of Culture”, in Mackenzie Presbyterian University, at São Paulo, SP, Brazil, focused on the topic “Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered.” I was especially pleased with the passion these young scholars have toward screenwriting and it’s importance in transmitting culture across the man-made borders of our world.
To understand the world we have to understand its stories and to understand the world’s stories we must understand the world’s storytellers. A century ago and longer those people would have been the novelists of any particular country but since the invention of film, the storytellers who reach the most people with their ideas and their lessons have been the screenwriters. My teaching philosophy is that: Words matter, Writers matter, and Women writers matte, r so women writers are my focus because they have been the far less researched and yet they are over half the population. We cannot tell the stories of the people until we know what stories the mothers have passed down to their children. Those are the stories that last. Now is the time to research screenwriters of all cultures and the stories they tell because people are finally recognizing the work of writers and appreciating how their favorite stories took shape on the page long before they were cast, or filmed, or edited. But also because streaming services make the stories of many cultures now available to a much wider world than ever before.
Many thanks to Glaucia Davino for the invitation.
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Deborah Starr Seibel is a multiple award-winning journalist and screenwriter. For the past eight years, she has been an instructor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in the John Wells Division of Writing for Film & Television. In addition, she serves as a mentor for Stephens College’s MFA in Screenwriting program. In prime time television, Deborah recently sold two pilots to CBS and is credited with four years on staff. During those years, she wrote six episodes for the final season of NBC’s Sisters and spent three additional years on the staff of Promised Land, the spin-off to CBS’s Touched By An Angel. She has also written episodes for Mysterious Ways and 21 Jump Street.
As a television reporter, Deborah won a George Foster Peabody award for investigative journalism, two Emmy Awards and First Place from the Associated Press for one of her documentaries. As a print journalist, she has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Parade and USA Today. In addition, she is a long-time national correspondent for TV Guide.
In 2010, Deborah was awarded a USC Annenberg Fellowship to receive her Master’s Degree in Specialized Journalism/The Arts.
“If there isn’t a kernel of truth you shouldn’t be writing. You get to know the people in a writers’ room better than your family, because you have to bring yourself, your stories, your history, your family experience into that room or you have nothing to contribute because nobody on this planet has lived the life you’ve lived and if you don’t bring that into the writers’ room, what good are you? What we are as artists are people who are trying to allow other people to feel that they are not alone.”” Deborah Starr Seibel
Sahar, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. I am first generation Iranian-American and come from a Muslim family, so it took me a while to realize that this career was even a possibility. If you can’t see it, it’s hard to believe you can also do it. By that, I mean that I didn’t know any other Muslims or Iranians who worked in Hollywood even though I grew up twenty minutes from all the studios. I remember driving by the Disney Animation building on the 134 freeway on my way to school every day and just think it was the coolest place in the world. But for me, it felt unattainable.
Ten years later, I’m having meetings there all the time. I was always interested in storytelling from a young age. My sister and I would put on plays for my family and I developed an interest in photography in high school, but I never considered film as a career until I was in college. I had planned to become a journalist because that was the closest thing to film that I could consider a tangible career. But when I started school at UC Irvine and began interning at different newspapers, I realized how much journalism was changing in an era of digital media.