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On Monday, April 17, 2023, Jeff Ingold and Bill Lawrence conducted an open session at Rackham to talk about their careers in the industry. Jeff Ingold is the President of Bill Lawrence’s Doozer Productions at Warner Bros. Television. He recently wrapped production on the third season of the two-time Emmy award winning series TED LASSO, as well as SHRINKING (starring Jason Segel and Harrison Ford) and BAD MONKEY (starring Vince Vaughn), both for Apple TV+. Bill Lawrence is an award-winning television writer, producer and director. His current projects include the Apple TV + series TED LASSO, for which he recently won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series; BAD MONKEY for Apple TV +; SHRINKING for Apple TV +; and a CLONE HIGH reboot for HBO Max.
On Thursday, February 23, 2023, Julia Zak, Head of Development at Cinetic Media's Film and Television Division, braved the ice storm to visit FTVM. In the morning, she met with Professor Burnstein's advanced screenwriters, FTVM 427; in the afternoon, she spoke with students in Oliver Thornton's FTVM 311 spec class. Preceding her open talk at Rackham Amphitheater in the evening, wherein she discussed her career path in Hollywood and advised students how to chart their own courses, Zak conducted one-on-one meetings with several FTVM screenwriters: Zora Kwasnik, Nicole Winthrop, Macy Goller, and Alyssa Rae Thomas. Before leaving on Friday, Zak met with Professor Burnstein's FTVM 423, hearing readings of the final drafts of the films that will be produced this year, DEADBEAT by Zora Kwasnik and BOYS & HUSBANDS by Nicole Winthrop. Joined by Professor Burnstein, Zak concluded her visit by engaging in an informative seminar with FTVM's Mitchell Scholars and FTVM screenwriter Morgan Kisner (pictured above).
On Friday, February 10, 2023, FTVM alum Nick Hall visited FTVM as the second visitor in the Department's "Media Makers" series. At a standing room only session in NQ Studio A, Nick talked about his career path, from the mailroom at United Talent Agency, to an assistant to the head of comedy development at Warner Brothers Television, to junior level executive, to a decade at HBO, then as a development executive at Amazon. Hall currently runs his own company Hallogram, where he works to develop material with television content creators, among them Mike White (White Lotus), Lena Dunham (Girls), and Luca Guadagnino (We Are Who We Are). Hallogram garnered 20 Emmy nominations at the 2022 primetime Emmy Awards and was awarded 10.
FTVM students signed up to pitch their series and story ideas to Nick who posed questions and offered incisive feedback (pictured below).
During his visit, Nick also visited Oliver Thornton's FTVM 311 and 411 TV writing classes.
Thanks to Nick for sharing his time and expertise!
On Thursday, January 26, 2023, FTVM welcomed Screenwriter Hillary Seitz (Insomnia, The Unforgivable) to campus. Engaging students in an open session at Rackham's Amphitheatre, Seitz talked about how she discovered her unexpected path as a Hollywood screenwriter and shared lessons she has learned along the way about working in the entertainment industry.On Friday, Seitz visited both FTVM 427 and FTVM 423, giving invaluable feedback on students' screenplays and scripts. She concluded her visit with a special evening conversation with FTVM's Mitchell Scholars.
On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Writer, Director, and Producer Joe Nussbaum. visited Oliver Thornton's FTVM 411 and Dan Shere's FTVM 427 to share his experiences in the industry. In 411, Nussbaum talked to students about breaking into the industry and contributed to a few table reads. Nussbaum later spoke to FTVM 427 about his path in forging a successful career as a writer/director in Hollywood and gave personalized feedback to help students hone their screenplays in preparation for launching their own careers.
FTVM Alum Payton Halbeisen ('14) recently Zoomed from L.A. with Terri Sarris' FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy class, giving tips on editing comedy and offering feedback on students' sketch rough cuts. Payton currently works as an editor on A Black Lady Sketch Show.
FTVM alums Brendan Dewley (at bottom left) and Matthew Huston ('22) also visited FTVM 403 from New York City to talk about the sketch comedy scene in New York. Brendan shared information about his current internship position at Late Night with Seth Meyers.
On Friday, October 28, 2022, UM Alum Mark Cendrowski, director of 244 episodes of The Big Bang Theory and countless other multi-cam television shows, visited Terri Sarris' FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy class.
Mark gave script notes on seven in-progress scripts written by students and answered questions about comedy directing. He then workshopped three additional sketches on sets in Studio B, a "master class" in multi-camera directing and working with actors.
While Mark was in town, he also visited Oliver Thornton's Writing for Television classes on Thursday, October 27. In 411, he heard pitches for the students' original series and gave "network notes," and then in the 311 class he helped run the class' first week of table reads for their specs.
FTVM screenwriting faculty Dan Shere gathers with Daniel Pipski and FTVM 427 students Rex Rubinstein and Ben Servetah in the North Quad conference room after an intense, 3-hour script workshopping session on Friday, October 21, 2022.
"Daniel told us that when he receives notes on his own work, he likes to 'assume that people are not evil, but that they actually want to see your script become better.'
This funny, collaborative attitude that Daniel brings to screenwriting — both as an executive and a writer himself — made for such a special day of workshop."
-- Ben Servetah
On September 30, 2022, FTVM alum Writer/Director Phonz Williams Zoomed from LA
with Terri Sarris' FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy class.
A member of the WGA. Phonz Williams was one of eight writers selected for the prestigious ABC/Disney TV writing program, becoming a television staff writer on the NAACP Image award nominated series, Detroit 1-8-7 on ABC. Williams created digital content for superstar athletes and social media influencers before leading to a stint as a Project Manager for Nas’s Queensbridge Venture Fund, where he was responsible for identifying feature films for financing consideration.
In 2021, Williams joined the writing staff of BET’s hit drama Games People Play, season two. Additionally, he partnered with MACRO on original scripted podcast "America Vs Kwame Kilpatrick," In 2022, Barstool Sports offered a production deal for an original AV Podcast starring Carlos HaHa Davis entitled THE F3LLAS. Williams also recently wrote and directed the hit digital skit “D-BOY” starring HaHa Davis for Comedy Central.
On Friday, September 30, 2022, Film Producer, Director, and Writer Peter Jaysen met with the FTVM Mitchell Scholars, sharing personal stories and fielding questions about how to navigate the industry. Jaysen also provided advice on maintaining a work/life balance and offered guidance to the scholars on maximizing their appeal to recruiters.
On Thursday, September 29, 2022, Jaysen visited three FTVM classes, hearing pilot pitches
from Oliver Thornton's 411 class, talking with the 311 class about careers in the industry,
and giving notes to Robert Rayher's 421 pilot production class after a table read of the latest draft of their script.