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Guest Artists 2020-2021

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, our FTVM faculty and students have been continually rising to the challenge of teaching and learning in a number of unique and alternative ways. Please note that the guest artists starting Fall of 2020 have been virtual visits. 

Nick Skardarasy ('09) and Hannah Pearlman (FTVM '14) Zoomed with Terri Sarris' FTVM 317 on Monday, March 22, 2021 to talk about working in comedy in L.A.

Nick Skardarasy is an actor, comedian, and writer with a BFA in Theatre & Performance from UM whose work has been featured in CollegeHumor, The A.V. Club, TimeOutLA, Funny or Die, and The Comedy Bureau.  In his debut special Thin Walls: An evening with my neighbors (available for free on YouTube), Skardarasy utilized the unique shape of his apartment building’s courtyard and the camaraderie of the bubble of his neighbors to make a sweet half-hour stand-up special that is still very much of our time, yet very uplifting.  Catch Nick next in the remake of A League of Their Own on Amazon. Nick is also one of the invited speakers at this year's TEDx UM conference on March 27, 2021.

Hannah Pearlman graduated from UM's FTVM Department in 2014.  She moved out to Los Angeles months after graduating to pursue her passion for acting, then spent her first 3 years in LA creating a sketch group, Lemonade Stand, that was featured on CollegeHumor, The AV Club and Funny or Die. In 2018, Hannah landed a starring role in a Cartoon Network miniseries pilot called 'DIY' as 'Hanna' alongside Steven Tobolowski, Charleyne Yi and Lauren Lapkus. When she's not acting, Hannah keeps herself busy by giving private tours of Walt Disney's office at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. She likes to stay close to the magic!

Television writer, showrunner and U of M alum Scott Rosenbaum (The Shield, Chuck) visited Oliver Thornton's 411 class on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, via Zoom where he heard pitches for original television series from the students in the class and gave them valuable feedback on both their creative concepts as well as pitch format.

On Thursday, March 18, 2021, writers from the Netflix original series Big Mouth made a quick visit to Thornton's 311 class in the midst of work on the latest season of the show. (Pictured above) Co-creator, executive producer and U of M alum Mark Levin (Nim’s Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth) was joined by staff writer Brandon Kyle Goodman to answer the students’ questions about comedy writing and breaking into the industry. 

FTVM Alum Sheonna Mix (2001) joined Terri Sarris' FTVM 290 class on March 18, 2021. Mix grew up in Flint, Michigan, and after graduating from UM began her career in unscripted television, first in Chicago and then in Los Angeles.  Mix serves as the executive in charge of production on some of Bravo’s buzziest series, including the hit show Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. She was instrumental in building out Bravo's home design block and took pride in launching the network’s race relations series Race in America. Prior to joining the Bravo team, Mix aided in the success of MTV's hit show Jersey Shore and its various spinoffs. Mix has served as a showrunner for series across various platforms including YouTube Red, VH1, WeTV, Logo, TV Guide, Spike TV and E!.  Mix was a co-EP on Fox’s The Real where she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy.  She was recently named VP of Current Content, Entertainment Content Group for NBC Universal, working on shows for Bravo, E! and Peacock. 

On March 4, 2021, Golden Globe winner Kemp Powers shared his amazing and uncompromising story of how he made the transition from being a journalist to becoming one of Hollywood’s most sought after writers, directors, and producers in the wake of Soul and One Night in Miami... It all began when Mr. Powers took his first screenwriting class in FTVM with Terry Lawson ... For the Zoom audience of 88, it was a master class in persistence, professionalism, and artistic integrity. 

On Thursday, February 18, at 8:00 p.m., Screenwriting Program pioneer Audra Sielaff and her writing partner Becky Mann spoke to a Zoom of over 75 students -- including all screenwriting and TV writing classes -- about their path to becoming one of the top TV comedy writing teams; they also answered questions about how to break-in to the entertainment industry and what it takes to be a professional. 

FTVM alum writer/director Andrew Laurich joined Terri Sarris' FTVM 317 class via Zoom on Monday, Feb 15, 2021.  Laurich shared insights about directing and talked about his career; then, he gave feedback on students' scripts in progress. Laurich has directed award-winning campaigns for various brands. Most recently, his political ad (Interview 2020) for the Take America Back PAC blew up Twitter days before the 2020 Presidential Election with nearly 5 million views in 48 hours. His PSA for Zero Cancer, starring Mike Rowe, was a winner at the 2019 AICP Awards.  He was ranked among the top comedy directors by Source Magazine in 2018 and his short film A Reasonable Request was nominated for a grand jury prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.  He is currently in development of a feature film with 20th Century Fox and a TV series with Vice.  

Award-winning director Harry Bradbeer  (Fleabag, Killing Eve, The Hour, Enola Holmes) joined FTVM via Zoom on Thursday, Feb 11, 2021.  Bradbeer was a student in Terri Sarris' production workshop classes when he attended UM in the early 1990s. Bradbeer talked about his career, shared his perspectives on what makes a compelling script, his tips on preparing as a director, and his experience working with writers, actors, and editors.

A huge thank-you to Harry for sharing his time and experience, and thanks to all who attended!


Producer Lianne Halfon (Juno, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Crumb) spoke to screenwriting and production students about the role of the producer, the writer-producer relationship, and the process of adaptation on Friday, November 13, at 4:00 p.m.  Ms. Halfon, who serves as the Producing Discipline Head at AFI, also talked about the producing program at AFI.

On Friday, October 30, UM Alum Mark Cendrowski visited Terri Sarris' FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy class. Cendrowski is one of the top television multi-camera comedy directors in Hollywood who directed nearly every episode of the hit TV comedy The Big Bang Theory; more recently, he has directed episodes of the TV comedies The Neighborhood and United We Fall.  Cendrowski shared general advice about writing and directing comedy and then gave specific comments on twelve student sketch scripts Terri shared with him in advance. 

FTVM 403 is incredibly grateful to Mark for sharing his time and expertise!

Department Chair Yeidy Rivero welcomed Professor Aniko Bodroghkozy of UVA to FTVM on Friday, October 30, at noon, for a special webinar presentation entitled "Iconic Images: Charlottesville 2017, Birmingham 1963, Selma, 1965." Professor Bodroghkozy discussed iconic photographs from Birmingham, Selma, and Charlottesville, analyzing the narratives of the struggle for racial justices in these frequently circulated images. Tagged as a Democracy and Debate Theme Semester Event, Bodroghkozy closed the diversity populated webinar with a Q&A, engaging in discussion with attendees from across the college.

On Thursday, October 22, FTVM Alum Sheonna Mix ('02), VP, Current Production at Bravo Media, Zoomed with Terri Sarris' FTVM 290 section to talk about careers in television. Mix serves as the executive in charge of production on some of Bravo’s buzziest series, including the hit show Vanderpump Rules and the upcoming The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. She was instrumental in building out Bravo's home design block and took pride in launching the network’s race relations series – Race in America.  


On Thursday, October 22nd, Writer and Producer Lisa McQuillan (FTVM '00) zoomed with FTVM screenwriting students and FTVM 421, sharing details about her professional journey and answering students' industry questions. McQuillan is known for her work on Black-ish, Broad City, Grown-ish, Dr. Ken, and Alex, Inc.

On Thursday, October 8, 2020, Bill Collage, Screenwriter and Michigan alum (’92,) described his journey from Ann Arbor to the top of the Hollywood mountain and the lessons he learned along the way. In the Q & A that followed, Mr. Collage handled a wide range of excellent questions from FTVM 300 and 400 screenwriting and television writing students and shared the wisdom of his experience to help guide them in their own respective journeys.

On October 6th, Veritas Entertainment Group co-founder Peter Jaysen visited Oliver Thornton's FTVM 411 over Zoom to hear the students pitch and give invaluable feedback for the seven pilots in development this semester. Then, on October 15th, Jaysen virtually stopped by FTVM 311 to share his experiences in the industry and answered questions about careers in film and television.

 

FTVM alum Supriya Kelkar, now screenwriter and children's book author, spoke with Assistant Professor Swapnil Rai's FTVM 441:Global Bollywood class at the end of September, sharing her experiences and advice on how to make it in Bollywood. Kelkar co-wrote the screenplays for Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Eklavya

 

In late September, UM Alum Writer/Producer Megan Ganz (Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Community, Modern Family, Last Man On Earth) and Writer/Director/Producer Alex Richanbach (Funny or Die and the feature films Step Brothers, We Are Young, and Ibiza) joined Terri Sarris' FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy class for a session on writing, producing, and directing comedy.   

 

Brent Forrester, Emmy winner, 7-time Emmy nominee, and comedy writing savant, shared the secrets of writing TV sit-coms and sketch in a two-hour tour de force ZOOM with FTVM students on Thursday, September 17, 2020. 

In September, Terri Sarris invited two of her former students to Zoom with her FTVM 290 class in connection with their work in and with the medium of film. 

Steve Wood discussed and demonstrated his techniques for working directly on 16mm film (hand-painting and transferring images, manipulating archival films), which he combines with footage he shoots. His films have screened nationally and internationally.  Steve studied film at The University of Michigan in the 1990s and has worked in post-production for 25 years, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, and most recently at Flavor in Chicago where he works as a compositor, colorist and voice-over artist.  

Connie Huang (FTVM, Highest Honors, 2011) talked about her work in the camera departments of large-budget feature films, including as a film loader and professional camera assistant. She is a member of the International Cinematographer Guild Local 600 and has worked with award-winning cinematographers on numerous features including West Side Story and The Post, (Directed by Steven Spielberg, with Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski),  The Goldfinch ( Cinematography by Roger Deakins), and The Greatest Showman (Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey). She is also an aspiring cinematographer who shoots and directs independent films.  Her recent short film Aibaba has screened at numerous festivals.