UCSC Film Department inaugurates new screenplay event

The UCSC Film and Digital Media Department will present its first-ever public reading of scenes from feature-length film scripts written by graduating seniors on Friday, June 15, at 3:30 p.m. in Baskin Engineering, Room 101.

Short scenes from 14 scripts written by students in Film 196B, The Senior Seminar in Screenwriting, will be interpreted by professional actors.

"They will be mostly San Francisco actors who work in theater and film," said UCSC film and digital media lecturer Natasha V, who has taught the class for the past four years. "Some of the actors work with the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, and some you may have seen in TV commercials or films from local filmmakers. These are all actors who are willing to devote their time and talents to help students learn."

V said that her goal in casting professional (rather than student) actors is to give the writers the best possible reading of their work. "It's an opportunity for students to discover things about their writing they may not have previously recognized," said V. "They'll also have the chance to learn just how much an actor can bring to the words on the page."

UCSC's Film and Digital Media Department is inaugurating the senior screenplay reading this year as a parallel graduation event to its annual film screening event which takes place later that evening on June 15-from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.--at the Media Theater. That event features a screening of short films created by students in Professor Eli Hollander's Senior Project in Film and Video class, and is also free and open to the public.

"In the past, there was no way for the public to learn about student film scripts, and the students had no opportunity to test their writing on an audience," V noted. "Since screenwriting is clearly about writing for an audience, I wanted to include the audience as part of the learning process. This new event affords a give-and-take learning experience."

Each writer in V's class completed a two-hour movie script--from initial concept and outline to final "Fade Out"--in just 10 weeks. V said the goal is for these students to graduate with a finished creative project that they can show people and use to help market themselves. The public reading will include selections from a variety of genres including comedy, drama, horror, Sci-Fi, and thrillers.

Earlier this year, two UCSC alumni received honors in the fourth annual American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest for work they completed in V's screenwriting class last year. American Zoetrope is Francis Ford Coppola's motion picture production company, and the contest's aim is "to seek out and encourage compelling film narratives, and to introduce the next generation of great screenwriters to today's leading production companies and agencies."

Nate Edelman, a 2006 UCSC graduate with a B.A. in cinema and theater studies, was a semifinalist for his script "Scavengers of County Hell," and film and digital media major Matt Golad was a quarterfinalist with "The Sutterman Bill." These first-time screenwriters were competing in a pool of 2,500 entries.

"For the majority of students, the script they complete in Film 196B is the first feature-length script they've ever written," said V. "It's the very beginning of a long career path--professional screenwriters normally write at least a dozen scripts before they sell one. The screenwriting contests are a terrific way for developing writers to work on their skills and gauge their achievement level."

The new screenplay reading event is made possible by a grant from the UCSC Instructional Improvement Program through the Center for Teaching Excellence in the Chancellor's Office. For more information, contact the UCSC Film and Digital Media Department at (831) 459-3204.


This press release is available electronically at the following web site: http://press.ucsc.edu.