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Guest Artists: 2018-19

Producer Peter Jaysen and Acting Coach Pamela Guest 

Fresh off his Award as Best Producer of an original television movie (Fahrenheit 451) at the Producers Guild Awards, Peter Jaysen came back to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, from February 6-8, 2019, to work with FTVM 427, the advanced screenwriting seminar of six students, FTVM 423 (Practicum for the Screenwriter), and FTVM 311 and 411 (Writing for Television I and II).

In FTVM 311, Jaysen took students through the story about his journey from Ann Arbor to award-winning producer in Los Angeles, answered their questions about working in the industry and gave advice about making the move to Hollywood. In FTVM 411, he taught students about the art of the pitch and worked with them to perfect concepts for their own original television series. 

In FTVM 427, Jaysen reviewed the first 5 pages of their new screenplays in depth and afterwards discussed ways to break into Hollywood. Mr. Jaysen also visited FVTM 423 (photos below) for a reading of the two scripts that will be produced this semester for their premiere at the Traverse City Film Festival this summer. He gave the writers valuable notes for their next drafts and answered questions from both production teams on how to solve problems they were facing or anticipating. Following this two hour session, Mr. Jaysen and Ms. Guest answered whatever questions the students had about working in Hollywood.

photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala 

Acting Coach and Casting Director Pamela Guest workshopped scenes from the two FTVM 423 screenplays. The actors cast from Musical Theatre and Theatre and Drama, and the Directors from FTVM, took notes and developed the scenes under Guest’s guidance.  Primarily, students worked on the actors connecting their character to their real lived life, in order to make the characters as complex and real as the actors, themselves.  This, coupled with working on the flow, dynamics and the meaning of the scenes workshopped was the central focus of the two days of work.

TV Agent (ICM Partners) Andy Stabile 

On Friday, Nov 2, 2018, FTVM alum Andy Stabile visited the Department and spoke with students about his career and the television industry.  Stabile is a TV agent in the International Television Department at ICM Partners, active across all platforms including broadcast network, streaming, cable, syndication, foreign, documentary, and branded content. He shared his insights about pitching creative projects and other tips on working in the industry. 

Nickelodeon's David Knott (Director) and Julie Kinman (Recruiter)


Producer and recruitment head Julie Kinman and Animator (and Michigan alumnus) David Knott of Nickelodeon held an open session on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, in MLB 4 at 7:00 p.m. for students interested in internships and careers at Nickelodeon.

Knott and Kinman also made presentations in Chris McNamara's FTVM 306 (New Media Practices)about the art and business of animation and digital media. On the following day, Knott conducted a storyboarding workshop wherein students all participated in creating a short visual treatment from a script. 



At far right (above), FTVM's Chris McNamara introduces the guests before the open session. 

Photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala 

Producer Jonathan Baruch

Producer Jonathan Baruch hosted an open session about the industry for FTVM majors  on Friday, October 5, 2018, in MLB 2. Baruch is the founding partner at Rain Management Group/StoryBy, a media company that manages careers of artists and produces/packages content in all areas of entertainment. Under his leadership, the company has successfully transitioned from traditional media to also creating and packaging original content for the digital space, brands, live performances and Broadway.  

Writer/Director Alex Richanbach

On Friday, October 5, 2018, Writer/Director Alex Richanbach Skyped from Los Angeles with Terri Sarris' FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy class. Richanbach gave his feedback on student sketch drafts, answered questions, and talked about the comedy industry in L.A. He and Sarris also sent students off to group-write sketches, then reconvened to table read and offer feedback on the scripts.

Formerly a writer/director with Funny or Die, Richanbach's most recent feature IBIZA was released on Netflix earlier this year. The film was written by Lauryn Kahn and produced by Gary Sanchez and Good Universe, and stars Gillian Jacobs, Vanessa Bayer, Phoebe Robinson, and Richard Madden. On the commercial front, Alex has directed commercials starring Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Demi Lovato, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, DJ Khaled and many others. He also helmed the mega-successful Undercover Lyft campaign, which regularly received a billion media impressions per episode.

Randy and Jason Sklar (The Sklar Brothers) 

UM Alums Randy and Jason Sklar (The Sklar Brothers) visited Terri Sarris' FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy class on Friday, September 21, 2018. During their visit, they shared tips on comedy writing and performing and talked about their careers in comedy.

Photo credit for group shot, John U. Bacon; thanks also to Jim Burnstein
Photo credit for photos at right and gallery below, Mary Lou Chlipala

The Sklar Brothers, are a post-modern take on a stand up comedy duo. Neil Strauss of the New York Times once wrote “Their comedy accepts the reality of being twins but does not use it as a crutch. Instead, they work their physical and mental similarities and correspondences, their status as imperfect carbon copies of each other. In their comedy the straight man is often an echo.” They have released 4 critically acclaimed comedy albums, have had two Comedy Central Half Hour Presents specials, and currently have a one hour stand up special on Netflix, titled “What Are We Talking About” Their next one hour special will appear on Seeso in 2017.

Info above extracted from The Sklar Brothers' Website