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Guest Artists: 2019-2020

U-M Alum and Top Hollywood Television Director Mark Cendrowski

Mark Cendrowski in Terri Sarris's FTVM 302

photo credit, Rob Gingerich-Jones 

U-M Alumnus and top Hollywood television director Mark Cendrowski visited several FTVM classes and conducted an open session on Monday, October 28, Tuesday, October 29, 2019. On Monday afternoon, Cendrowski visited Terri Sarris' FTVM 302 (multi-camera studio production) class. Sarris coordinated with the Department of Theater and Drama Professor Janet Maylie to cast acting students in two scenes from episodes of 'The Big Bang Theory." With students from 302 serving as camera and crew, Cendrowski demonstrated how to block and direct the scenes using a quad-split monitor in the studio. Later that afternoon, Cendrowski conducted an open session with FTVM majors and students from WOLV TV before heading to Jim Burnstein's FTVM 410 (Screenwriting II: The Rewrite).

Mark Cendrowski and FTVM 302 students in action

While in FTVM 410, Cendrowski workshopped the first five pages of seven students' second drafts of their feature-length screenplays. Mr. Cendrowski showed the class what a director looks for when reading a script and what grabs their attention enough to keep them reading. After the three-hour class ended, Mr. Cendrowski said he could not believe how quickly the time had passed in rewrite and all the classes he has the opportunity to visit on his annual return to campus.  FTVM is fortunate that so many students have the chance to benefit from Mr. Cendrowski’s expertise.

On Tuesday, October 29, Cendrowski visited Swapnil Rai's FTVM 355 (Television History) class and Robert Rayher's FTVM 290 (Intro to Media Production). 

Mark Cendrowski poses with Professor Rai and FTVM 355

Having directed 250 episodes of The Big Bang Theory, as well as over 70 other shows and TV movies, Mark Cendrwoski is a long way from FTVM 290.  Yet when Mr. Cendrowski visited Robert Rayher's FTVM 290 class, he engaged students immediately with his natural storytelling abilty. Shortly after Mark explained what a week of production for a TV sit- com entails, the students had a million questions for him about working with actors, directing tips, how to move up the ladder, and how to get started in the sprawl that is LA.  Cendrowski made everyone feel as if he/she was a part of the conversation.  In fact, Rayher had to close questions in order not to run over the end of class time - and students lingered to thank Cendrowski personally.

Above text contributed by Terri Sarris, Jim Burnstein, and Robert Rayher

Founding Partner of United Talent Agency Peter Benedek & Screenwriter Bill Collage

At left, Peter Benedek gathers with FTVM 427 students under the Benedek Media Gateway arch in North Quad; at right (top), Benedek meets with FTVM 421 students, and at right (bottom), Bill Collage engages in a workshop with FTVM 427. 

Founding partner of United Talent Agency Peter Benedek and UM Alum and screenwriter Bill Collage visited FTVM 427 (Advanced Screenwriting Seminar) and FTVM 421 (TV Pilots) on Friday, October 25, 2019. In 427, Bill Collage reviewed the first five pages of the students’ new screenplays, gave them valuable advice about the best ways to grab a reader’s attention, and then answered their questions about the life of a working screenwriter. Mr. Collage described the screenwriting students’ work and the resources available to them in the Donald Hall Collection as "amazing and eye opening."


Peter Benedek had lunch with four students headed for Los Angeles after graduation and answered their questions about the various career paths they wanted to pursue. Mr. Benedek was especially interested in what television shows these students were watching and on what platforms they were accessing them. It was a rare opportunity to discuss the entertainment industry with one of Hollywood's most important leaders. In 421, Mr. Benedek sat in on a cast table read of the pilot being produced this semester and viewed rough cuts of some recently filmed scenes, giving insightful feedback to creator Mia Flint (FTVM '19) along with the rest of the writers, producers, directors, and cast. He also answered questions about the industry, including the shift towards streaming platforms when it comes to pitching and producing both series and films. 


 Above text contributed by Jim Burnstein and Oliver Thornton 

Producer Todd Garner

Producer Todd Garner spoke to FTVM students on October 3, 2019, about the fear and optimism that drives everyone who aspires to a place in the entertainment industry -- and that still drives him today as one of Hollywood’s leading producers. On Friday morning, October 4,  Garner visited FTVM 427, reviewed the first five pages of the six members of the advanced screenwriting seminar’s screenplays, and participated in a working lunch wherein he answered student questions about working in Hollywood and work/life balance.

Editor Waldemar Centano

Editor Waldemar Centano (FTVM '06) conducted a special presentation entitled, "How an Editor Organizes a Feature Film, What an Assistant Editor Does Before Moving Up to Editor, and Much More!" on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, in the MLB MAC classroom. Centano is a professional film and television editor who has cut on many noteworthy projects that include The Goldbergs and Mr. Student Body President.

All photos on this page courtesy of Mary Lou Chlipala, unless otherwise noted