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Guest Artists - Current Academic Year

Creator and Showrunner Jim Kouf & Producer Lynn Kouf

Creator and showrunner of Grimm, Jim Kouf (pictured at right) and producer of Grimm, Lynn Kouf (pictured at left) visited Director of Screenwriting Jim Burnstein's SAC 427 and 423 classes last Friday, February 17, 2017, to critique student work and offer their professional advice. In the morning, the Koufs met with SAC 427, wherein they read the first five pages of student scripts as a group, and then offered their critiques. In the afternoon, they met with SAC 423 and participated in a table reading of the two 423 productions Malignant Humor (written by Kelsey Fox and directed by Nick Sheehan) and Chasing the Goat (written by George Gardner and directed by Celeste Holden). 

New Media Alumni Panel

Zach Evans, Debashis Mazumder, Kellyn Parker, and Phil Ranta

Four SAC alumni gathered with current SAC undergraduates on Friday, February 3, 2017, in the MLB to discuss careers in new media. The panel, moderated by Victor Fanucchi, included (pictured, top left to right) Debashis Mazumder (SAC '07), Founder and Producer of Royalty Media; Zach Evans (SAC '05), Producer at Sony PlayStation; Phil Ranta (SAC '05), Chief Operating Officer of Studio 71; and Kellyn Parker (SAC '09), Vice President, Original Programming and Development, Comedy Central. On February 4, the alums conducted 40 individual meetings with SAC majors and then met with members of FVSA at Espresso Royale. 

Animator David Knott


Animator David Knott visited UM from November 15-17, 2016 to share his experiences and knowledge of the field of television animation with several SAC classes: SAC 236, SAC 306, and SAC 311. In Cohen's SAC 236, The Art of Film, Knott gave a mini-lecture on storyboarding and animation. While in McNamara's SAC 306, New Media Practices, Knott discussed his own career trajectory and described the current field of animation. In Thornton's SAC 311, Writing for Television: The Spec Script, Knott discussed the process of working his way up through animation after graduating from Michigan. He also participated in three "table reads" of specs currently in development in the class, including one of the two animated shows the class is covering, "Bob's Burgers."



Finally, Knott led a master class in story conceptualization and visual development for students from SAC and Stamps School of Art & Design, who then worked individually to create thumbnails and rough boards for a short script that Knott wrote. Once completed, Knott conducted individual critiques with each student.

Producer Peter Jaysen

Producer Peter Jaysen visited several SAC classes in early November.  On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, he visited SAC 427, Screenwriting III (Burnstein/Benedek); during his visit, he read the first ten pages of students' screenplays and provided constructive feedback. He then visited SAC 311, Writing for Television: The Spec Script (Thornton) on Thursday, November 10, wherein he read portions of students' spec scripts and shared his comments. Jaysen followed his visit to 311 with a visit to SAC 404, TV Pilots (Rayher/Thornton) on Thursday night, again offering his professional commentary. 


Finally, on Friday, November 11, Jaysen listened to SAC 411, Writing for Television II, Pilots (Thornton) students Katrina Anderson, Alexandria Schunot, and Antonio Whitfield pitch their ideas, offering advice on "how to strengthen a pitch" in front of an audience composed of a potpourri of students he had met during the week. 

See picture gallery below

Producer Sara Colleton

Television and film producer Sara Colleton conducted a special session with Oliver Thornton's SAC 411: Writing for Television II Pilots class on Friday, November 4, 2016. On Thursday, November 3, Colleton conducted an open discussion on the film industry in the Chemistry Building. 

Colleton is best known for her work on the hit series Dexter. The series has been nominated for a remarkable 77 awards, while Colleton has received three PGA and Emmy nominations as the Executive Producer of the series. 

Disney Artist Amy Sneed


On Monday, October 24, 2016, students filled Angell Hall's Auditorium B to hear Disney Artist Amy Sneed's one-hour animation presentation on Disney's new movie, Moana. This event was sponsored by FVSA, the Screen Arts & Cultures Film and Video Student Association; members of WOLV TV were also in attendance. 

Producer Gary Gilbert

Gary Gilbert visited UM on October 21, 2016, wherein he conducted an open discussion on the film and TV industry in MLB, Auditorium 2.  Gilbert is an Academy Award nominated producer and the founder and president of Gilbert Films, a feature film and television production company based in Los Angeles. Over the past twelve years, he has produced over a dozen feature films, including the 2004 critically acclaimed Garden State, starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. In 2005, Gilbert, along with Braff, won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature Film. 

In 2010, Gilbert produced The Kids Are All Right, which, after premièring at the Sundance Film Festival, was immediately acquired by Focus Features (Universal Studios).The film was critically acclaimed, won two Golden Globes in 2011, and received four Academy Award nominations.

Producer Jonathan Glickman

As a part of the Jonathan Glickman Prodcucers Series, Kent Alterman, President of Comedy Central, visited UM on September 30, 2016. Initially, he visited Jim Burnstein and Tom Benedek's SAC 427 (Screenwriting III) class and conducted a workshop, offering analysis of the opening pages of each student's script.  Later in the afternoon, Alterman interviewed with WOLV TV and conducted an open discussion in Angell Hall, Auditorium B. 

Alterman is responsible for the leadership, strategy and management of the #1 brand in comedy and oversees the development and production of all original content produced by Comedy Central.  Alterman rejoined Comedy Central in 2010 as head of original programming and production after a previous stint at the network as head of east coast development from 1996-2000. He was promoted to president, original programming in 2013 and rose to his current position of president in 2016.

Director Mark Cendrowski

Mark Cendrowski, UM Alumnus & Director of The Big Bang Theory, marked his seventh year as visiting guest artist in television writing and directing for SAC undergraduates. This fall, he has conducted three workshops for the following classes:  Thornton's SAC 311 - Writing for Television: The Spec Script; Rayher and Thornton's SAC 404 - TV Pilots; and Sarris's SAC 403 - Sketch Comedy (pictured below).     

During his recent visit to Sarris's SAC 403, Sketch Comedy class on Friday, September 23, Cendrowski gave tips on writing and directing comedy and the class then table-read students' scripts.  Two sketches, "Devil's Advocate" and "Names Names Names", written by Kelsey Fox and Aline Mayagoitia respectively, were then workshopped in the studio, with Cendrowski offering suggestions for both blocking and performance.