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Top Canadian Screenwriters in the Classroom

Since its very first offering in 2005, the Universal Studios Canada Screenwriter-in-Residence Program has been a popular class among Cinema Studies students. The program offers our students a unique opportunity to develop excellent writing skills specific to film, and to learn from some of the country’s greatest screenwriters.  Originally introduced as a non-credit course, Cinema Studies students interested in developing and enhancing their writing skills for film can now earn a half-year credit towards their Cinema Studies degree. The course is limited to 15 students and as such offers an intimate learning environment.

The 2010/2011 program was co-taught by Semi Chellas and Patricia Rozema – two distinguished Canadian screenwriters with extensive experience writing, directing, and producing films and television shows.

Patricia Rozema is one of Canada’s most accomplished and internationally recognized filmmakers. Her first feature, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, won the Prix de la Jeunesse at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987.  Her film credits also include Mansfield Park,Happy Days, White Room, When Night is Falling, and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl – which earned her a Director’s Guild of Canada Award nomination for Best Director.  She has also written, directed, edited, and produced a number of short films and television shows.

Semi Chellas is well-known as a writer of both feature films and television and as a director of short independent films.  She has adapted a number of best-sellers includingThe Stone Diaries, The Year Of Fog, and American Woman. She was the Creator, Executive Producer, and Head Writer of prime-time Canadian network drama The Eleventh Hour and has worked on a number of other projects for television, including Of Murder And Memory and Dead Aviators. Her latest short, One Tomato, won the Gold Kahuna at the Hawaii Film Festival last year. She is currently working on best-seller A Reliable Wifefor Sony Pictures and co-adapting The Flying Troutmans with its author, Miriam Toewes.

Cinema Studies graduate John Marcucci (BA 2011) found the course to be incredibly valuable. “A dynamically creative and intimate environment, the 2010-11 Screenwriter-in-Residence program was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at U of T,” says Marcucci.  “Semi and Patricia were very congenial and fostered an enlightening, conversational atmosphere for the class.  Bringing in various established writers and actors, especially for read-throughs and subsequent feedback, was very valuable, encouraging us to think of our work from a different perspective.”

 

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