The 2017 Writers Conference will take place May 17-20. Organized by Tom and Courtney Russell, students and alumni will join Media Arts faculty and special guests at the Timpanogos Lodge at Sundance for screenings, presentations, and discussions on writing for film, TV, and media.
The conference does require a fee. Because the conference is sponsored by the Theatre and Media Arts Department, TMA students will receive a subsidized fee. There is also an optional class students may register for (TMA 315R) which will include some of the registration fees as well. The fees are:
- TMA Students registered for TMA 315 Class: $75
- TMA Students Not registered for TMA 315 class: $175
- TMA Alumni: $250
- Non-TMA students/Alumni: $300
The conference is open to all BYU students and alumni, with current Media Arts students receiving priority. Second priority is given to animation and theater students; third priority is given to TMA alumni; final priority is given to BYU students and BYU alumni.
Due to the size of the lodge, we can only accept up to 60 students for overnight lodging (only current BYU students may lodge overnight) and a total of about 65 students for each day. The price for registration is the same whether or not the registrant opts for overnight lodging. Each day’s activities run from 9am to 9pm and all meals and snacks are provided.
Details and registration (open March 4th) are available at film.byu.edu/writersconference.
The weekend’s special guests include:
Michael Herbert “Mike” Schur (born October 29, 1975) is an American television producer and writer, best known for his work on the NBC comedy series The Office and Parks and Recreation, the latter of which he co-created along with Greg Daniels. He also co-created the FOX comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and created the NBC comedy series The Good Place. Schur is also known for his small role on The Office as Mose Schrute, the cousin of Dwight Schrute. He has been married to J.J. Philbin since October 9, 2005. They have two children. Courtesy of http://www.imdb.com and Wikipedia.org.
Jonathan Krisel is an American director, producer, writer, editor, and occasional actor. He is best known for his work with the comedy duo Tim & Eric, having directed episodes of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule. Krisel has also directed and co-wrote every episode of Portlandia, as well as several SNL Digital Shorts. Courtesy of Wikipedia.org.
Director Rebecca Thomas’ first short film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. She went on to debut her first feature, Electrick Children, at SXSW and earned a spot on Variety’s “Top Ten New Directors to Watch in Hollywood” as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination. A graduate of Columbia University’s renowned School of the Arts Film Masters Program, Thomas is now attached to direct Looking for Alaska and the live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. She is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, and the youngest of 5 children. Courtesy of deadline.com.
Jared Hess was born on July 18, 1979 in Glendale, Arizona. He is a writer and director, known for Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Nacho Libre (2006) and Gentlemen Broncos (2009). He is married to Jerusha Hess. Jerusha Hess was born on July 12, 1980 in Olathe, Kansas. She is a writer and producer, known for Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Nacho Libre (2006) and Austenland (2013). They have one child. Courtesy of http://www.imdb.com.
BYU Media Arts alum, Drew Duncan, has written for Studio C and co-written with Jared and Jerusha Hess.
Last Tuesday afternoon, media arts students were invited to attend a preview of the new Fox show, Making History, in the Nelke. Guests at the screening included the creator and show runner Julius (Goldy) Sharp, and executive producer Jared Hess (media arts alum and director of Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre, etc.). The show premiered Sunday night at 8:30 pm on Fox with a respectable 2.19 million viewers, aimed at the 18-49 demographic. Jared directed the first two episodes of the series, the ones previewed last Tuesday. Over 100 media arts students attended, laughed a ton, and raved about what they saw. In the Q&A after the screening, Julius and Jared fielded some thoughtful questions from the students about getting into the industry as a writer, overcoming fears of going from job to job, or managing a writers’ room. Julius shared some of his background writing for Craig Kilborn, Craig Ferguson, The Cleveland show, Family Guy, and Dads. Interestingly, Julius mentioned that one of his motivations for creating Making History was to write something that he could watch with his children and not be embarrassed by the content.
Last Thursday, new faculty member Adam Houghton presented the final Faith and Works lecture sponsored by the College of Fine Arts and Communications. Adam’s presentation was titled, “Genuine Experience Will Prove the Truth.” Adam spoke about how he searches for truth as an actor and collaborator. He doesn’t think colleagues need to have similar beliefs in order to work well together, but he is constantly working to stay open to the truth and looks for the same quality in those he collaborates with as well. Adam shared some of the masks he has made and gave a short performance of an elderly man in one of the masks he created. He has felt that paradoxically, rather than concealing the truth, masks have become a way of revealing the truth for him. Adam’s transformation into the older gentleman was impressive! For more background on Adam, go to http://cfac.byu.edu/college_10018/faith-and-works/
The 16th annual LDS Film Festival took place this past weekend at the Scera Theatre in Orem. Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson’s award winning Peace Officer was screened, with “Dub” fielding questions after the screening. The documentary film about the Animation program, Modifying Reality, directed by Jared Jakins also screened at the festival. Jared observed, “The screening went quite well. It was nice to finally share our film with a general audience. It was particularly rewarding to see one of the subjects of our film (Danny Russon, Director of “Papa”) interact with the audience and share his experience of the animation program. It’s a small festival but the questions are lively and you never quite know what you might get asked.” For a list of all winners, go to http://www.ldsfilmfestival.org/index.php?page=17_winners.
- Feature Film Audience Choice 3rdplace: Waffle Street by filmmaker Autumn McAlpin, with Steven A. Lee as Executive Producer
- Short Film Competition, 3rdplace and Audience Choice Award: The High Road by filmmaker John Lyde, with TMA faculty member Stephanie Breinholt in the cast
- Short Film Competition, Audience Choice Award: Believe: The Michael Ethington Story by filmmaker Jake Featherstone,with media arts alum Sam Featherstone as the DP.
- Short Film Competition, Honorable Mention: Honorably Released by filmmaker Jessica Bowles, produced by Comms faculty member Quint Randle with media arts student Casey Treu in the cast
- Short Film Competition, Honorable Mention: Red Lopez by filmmakers Stephen Frandsen and Hadleigh Arnst, with BFA alumna Carli Hall in the cast.
Media Arts Alumni News
Wearing a “Vote for Pedro” T-shirt from Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Heder recently urged the Utah legislature to offer tax incentives for films. For more information, go here: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/jon-heder-urges-utah-legislature-offer-tax-credits-films-article-1.2987615
Rebecca Thomas, media arts alum and guest presenter at this year’s Writer’s Conference, has been chosen as one of Sundance’s 2017 FilmTwo Fellows. The Sundance Institute helps guide “eleven filmmakers through the often-tricky process of making their second feature.” She is slated to direct Looking for Alaska and the live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. For more information go visit: http://deadline.com/2017/03/sundance-institute-2017-filmtwo-fellow-universal-straight-outta-compton-1202033084/