Last weekend, the UCSB Film and Media Studies Department held its annual weekend-long screenwriting workshop: Word Farm. Each winter, professional writers in the film and television industries travel to Santa Barbara to lead individual seminars with film students and aspiring screenwriters. This year, the line-up included many UCSB faculty and alumni who are now successful writers and industry professionals.
Film and Media’s own Michael Miner, known for writing Hollywood films like “Robocop,” led a workshop on writing the first ten pages of a screenplay. Another current faculty member, Cherie Steinkellner, talked to students about “writing for laughs” in comedy films and television shows. This quarter, Steinkellner teaches a television writing class in the Film and Media Studies Department, with her past experience as a staff writer and showrunner on “Cheers.” Tara Miele, one of the most successful alums of the UCSB Film Department, also took part in the weekend. Miele is a now a screenwriter and film director in Los Angeles, and is celebrating the distribution of her first feature film, “The Lake Effect.”
The weekend was an astounding success. Many different workshops happened throughout each of the three days, giving students many options to choose from. From comedy and genre television writing, to feature screenwriting, to writing for animation, to writing and producing a web series, there was something for every kind of writer in the room.
As an aspiring television writer myself, I found the workshops very helpful and informative. Professionals not only gave insight into the writing process, but also shared tips for more practical issues like getting an agent and selling your script. The weekend was also an opportunity for students to mingle and network with connected writers — something that anyone will tell you is important when trying to “make it” in Hollywood.
Thanks to UCSB’s Film and Media Studies Department and the Screenwriter’s Co-op, aspiring writers for film and television took part in an invaluable experience last weekend. Word Farm is just one of many industry-themed seminars that the Film and Media Studies Department puts on annually. The others include Cam-Con, a hands-on cinematography workshop and Talent Trade, a seminar for aspiring actors, talent agents and managers. Events like these show just how lucky UCSB film students are to have such involved, caring and successful department leaders.
If you are interested in any aspect of the film industry — even if you’re not a film major — keep your eyes peeled for more workshops to come.