Panelists included MFA alum Sahar Jahani (Writer, Hana Khan Carries On, The Bold Type, Ramy), Tracy Andreen (Writer, The Holiday Sitter, All Saints Christmas, Two Tickets to Paradise); Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (Writer/Producer, Trinkets, Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Ugly Truth); and Nia Vardalos (Writer/Director/Actor, My Big Fat Greek Wedding films, Larry Crowne, I Hate Valentine’s Day).
It was an engaging, entertaining, and especially supportive group of women talking about the importance of stories about choosing our partners in life.
I attended my first Broadcast Educators Association (BEA) conference last weekend on the invite of Dr. Ed Fink, my former department chair, and greatly enjoyed hosting a pitchathon for graduation bachelor students interested in creating their own television shows.
My co-panelists included two fun colleagues who have become good friends – Jon Vandergriff (Stephens College) and David Morgassen (CSUF). We gave feedback on 9 different pitches and followed it up with a Q&A about the world of being a professional writer. The audience was so interested and engaged that after our session ended, we all grabbed a table together and kept talking until we closed the venue down for the night.
Meeting potential MFA candidates is one reason to attend events like this one – but mostly it’s to make new friends in the academic world and strengthen the friendships you’ve already created; to learn how they approach the teaching of screenwriting or media history and bring those ideas back to my own classrooms.
On this trip, I met professors from Illinois and Michigan and reconnected with folks I’ve worked with at CSUF and elsewhere. Having lunch and hashing over which films or television shows to teach and how to best help students learn to analyze these in order to improve their writing is the heart of such a conference. Meeting the students and hearing their ideas is the icing on the cake.
Whenever I plan one of the Writers Guild Foundation panels that I host during our MFA Workshop I look for things I’m interested in hearing more about. As I’ve enjoyed a few historical pieces recently it made sense to do a panel of writers in that genre.
Whether the show takes place in 18th century England or the American suburbs of the 1960s, we ask TV writers and producers about their process for researching various eras, the creative decisions behind stories about real-life people and events, their experiences adapting from novels and literary works, and other lessons learned while writing in the genre.
Amberia Allen – Writer and Story Editor, The Wonder Years
Danielle Berrow – Writer and Executive Story Editor, Outlander
Robbie Macdonald – Writer and Executive Producer, Dickinson
Stay tuned for more panelist announcements!
Moderated by Dr. Rosanne Welch, Director of Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting.
Panel starts at 4:00pm Pacific time.
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During every Residency Workshop the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Executive Director, Dr. Rosanne Welch, joins with the Writers Guild Foundation to moderate a panel on a topic of interest to female writers. This year we planned one on Writing Diverse Families – but in the last day before our panel 2 panelists had to drop out due to… family duties. So we pivoted, realizing the panelists who were able to appear all had shows that involved 3 generational families lead by matriarchs.
Hence the title: It’s All Relative: Writing Matriarchs.
This gave us a chance to explore how these female TV writers have expanded depictions of the relationships between grandmothers, mothers and daughter over the years and how they’ve developed storylines that reflect the complexity and universality of these inescapable bonds. Panelists include Sheryl J. Anderson – Creator and Executive Producer, Sweet Magnolias; Lang Fisher – Co-creator and Executive Producer, Never Have I Ever; and Valerie Woods – Co-executive Producer, Queen Sugar. Everyone shared memories of their own family matriarchs and the inspiration they continue to provide each woman’s writing.
Due to Covid we recorded this panel live at the Jim Henson Studios where we host our Workshop in front of the live audience of MFA candidates.
Rosanne is speaking at the 2021 SCMS Conference on Thursday, March 18, 2021. If you are attending the conference virtually, please tune into this collection of excellent presentations on the “unreliable narrator” and more.
Our most recent panel focused on “Transitioning to Television” and included panelists who came to television from previous careers. This allowed me to talk to women who came to TV whose first careers included being a doctor, lobbyist, college professor and, of especially pride for our MFA program, a former Senior Physical Security Analyst for federal agencies, U.S. Army Reserve veteran.
All of them are now writing on major television shows and their advice and honesty was greatly appreciated. — Rosanne
For this session, we teamed up with Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting for a discussion on transitioning to TV writing from other careers. Learn how our panel of TV writers and producers made the jump to television, how their previous experiences inform their writing, and how that lens impacts their approach in the writers room.
Panelists are Zoanne Clack, M.D., MPH (Executive Producer, Grey’s Anatomy), Rashaan Dozier-Escalante (Staff Writer, SEAL Team), Akilah Green (Co-producer, Black Monday), and Calaya Michelle Stallworth, Ph.D (Executive Story Editor, Fear of the Walking Dead). Moderated by Dr. Rosanne Welch, Director of Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting.