Rachel Avery is an award-winning actor/writer/director who recently won the Producers Encore Award at the Hollywood Fringe Festival for her work developing and directing the one woman show The Pleasure Project, which just completed a run in Adelaide, Australia.
She recently directed, wrote, and starred in the TV comedy Wake Up America! which is now available on Amazon Prime. Rachel’s short film Jet Lag, premiered at the California Women’s Film Festival. She was nominated for Best Director of a Musical by the Calgary Theatre Critics’ Awards for Blanche, which premiered at the New York Musical Festival and Huffington Post put it on the list of top 20 shows for 2011. Rachel has been actively shadowing TV Directors on Criminal Minds and the upcoming Roseanne reboot.
As an actress, she performed Off-Broadway and around the world in Re-Animator the Musical, (Original Cast Recording) directed by Stuart Gordon and co-starring George Wendt. Film/TV appearances include Tropic Thunder, The Giant Mechanical Man, Big Love, Reno 911, State of Georgia, Movie of the Week for the Hallmark Channel, and the horror flick Big Game. She is a proud member of Rogue Machine Theater and Pacific Resident Theater in Los Angeles winning Ovation, LADCC and LA Weekly Awards. Rachel graduated from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.
"I write with a director's mind... And I think that's why I get hung up on action, because I think that is the place where I ask, "How do you succinctly express in the written word what is ultimately going to be a visual experience for the audience."
• Rachel Avery on Twitter
• Rachel's pilot, Wake Up America!
Kara Lee Burk began writing while working with The Second City-Detroit and various sketch comedy troupes in New York City. An alumni of the Warner Bros Television Writers Workshop, she has been staffed as a writer on Romantically Challenged (ABC), Melissa & Joey (ABC Family) and The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show (Dreamworks / Netflix). She has developed multiple series, wrote on Hanazuki, a bunch digital shorts for The Littlest Pet Shop (both on YouTube) and is currently a writer for the upcoming Costume Quest (Amazon).
"[For writer's block], I switch gears and work on something else for a day. It's like a game of Jenga. You gotta poke at different blocks and work on the ones that move. And if something is stuck, you don't know how moving to another project, something may shift and you'll see the answer."
• Kara Lee Burk on Twitter
Nadia Madden is a former 911 dispatcher turned screenwriter. She’s found success as a Humanitas: New Voices Finalist and Sundance Episodic Storylab Semifinalist. Her law enforcement background finds its way into every script. Nadia often writes about underdog characters, particularly women, who persevere despite their circumstances. And although her San Francisco, Chinatown one-hour pilot is intentionally not laden with martial arts, Nadia happens to hold a first degree black belt in Kenpo Karate.
"They say, 'Write what you know.' I think it's writing what you know emotionally, whether you want to or not that's gonna come out."
• Nadia Madden on Twitter
Marc Warzecha is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Writers Guild of America Associate Member, and was a writer for Season 2 of Comedy Central's Detroiters. Marc recently wrote for Disney Digital's Babble brand and was a recent finalist in NBC Writers on the Verge and Final Draft Big Break. With The Second City comedy theatre, he is multiple-time Jeff Award nominated head writer/director. His work as a satirist has been featured on ABC's "Nightline," Newsweek magazine, and the Washington Post, he has guested on CNN's "Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" and NPR's "All Things Considered."
"Sometimes when I first sit down to write, I'll take out a spiral notebook and write anything that might be churning in my mind, especially if I'm in the middle of a really busy day. Writing out my emotions, writing out how I'm feeling right now, getting that on the page to kind of release it."
• Marc Warzecha on Twitter
• Marc's website
• Marc's pilot The Trumpmaid's Tale
• Lee Jessup, career coach
• The TV Writer's Workbook by Ellen Sandler
Jimmy Mosqueda is a comedy writer born and raised in the deserts of Southern California, more specifically the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. Yup, he was at Coachella before it was cool. Growing up the youngest son of a large and eccentric Mexican-American family, Jimmy often finds humor in the awkward and embarrassing experiences of adolescence. He pulls from his own life to create characters and situations that are heightened and satirical but remain grounded in real emotion. In 2016, Jimmy was a participant in the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive, where he workshopped his high school dark comedy, Valedictorian. He was a 2016-17 Film Independent Writing Fellow and a 2017 TV Writing Fellow with the National Hispanic Media Coalition. He has developed, optioned and written projects for several production companies, and his short film, The Station, premiered at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival.
"I think [being flexible with your story] is an important asset to have as a writer. Things can change and if you're closed off to it, and if you're not open to that change, your story might not go to that next level."
• Jimmy Mosqueda on Twitter
Polina Diaz is a comedy writer from Russia and Florida. Yeah. She graduated with a BFA in Writing for Screen and Television from USC and went through the Warner Bros. Writers' Workshop. She was a staff writer on Fuller House and recently sold a sitcom to the digital studio Astronauts Wanted. She’s currently writing for People of Earth. She’s also a member of UNICEF's Next Generation, a group of young professionals that raise money for UNICEF’s lifesaving work.
"When I focused more on myself, my writing got better. The writing I'm doing now is so much better than the writing I did before when I thought I had to be a sad, broken person."
Growing up, Thomas Reyes' Filipino immigrant parents moved a lot. He attended seven different schools, and lived in Las Vegas for seven years, all by the time he was in middle school. As an only child, he could make friends easily, but sitcoms became his surrogate siblings. He attended UCLA and after graduating, instead of going to law school, he studied sitcom writing at UCLA Extension. He has held a variety of positions in both scripted and unscripted television and has written for ISAtv as well the BuzzFeed series Ask an Asian. He has also written for the Disney ABC Talent Showcase and the CBS Diversity Sketch Workshop. He was a semifinalist at the Austin Film Festival and New York Television Festival. He recently completed the Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop and is currently Staff Writer on the upcoming half-hour dramedy American Woman which will premiere in early 2018 on the newly launched Paramount Network.
"[The professor] tore my script apart. It was brutal but it was a great lesson in not being precious... It's fine. I can go back to the drawing board and I'll still have more ideas, I'll still have more pages to write."
Geeta Malik received her Master of Fine Arts from UCLA’s graduate film program in directing. She wrote and directed the viral narrative short, Aunty Gs, which earned a College Television Award (a “student Emmy”) in comedy production from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Her short film, Beast, played at Method Fest and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Geeta is a recipient of the Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Production Award, the Coppel Screenwriting Award and the Jack Nicholson Distinguished Director Award.
Geeta’s first feature film, Troublemaker, premiered at the 2011 Cinequest Film Festival, and was distributed by Asian Crush. In 2012, Geeta was a finalist for the ABC/Disney Directing Fellowship. She was a Film Independent Project Involve Fellow for 2013 – 2014. Her most recent short film, Shameless, has played at over 15 festivals, including the Sedona Film Festival, and won the jury award for best comedy at the Long Beach QFilm Festival.
Geeta is a winner of the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for her latest feature script, Dinner With Friends. She is also the winner of the 2016 Austin Film Festival Feature Comedy Screenplay award, also for Dinner With Friends.
"I'll have a lot of times where I'll sit for hours in front of the keyboard and not be able to write anything and be like, "God, this sucks! I'm horrible, I'm never going to get through this," and I'll get up and I'll walk away and literally a minute later I'll be like, "Oh!" and I'll come back in and have an idea. It's just a matter of just leaving that space for a second."
• Geeta Malik on Twitter
Matt Demblowski is a comedy writer and TV producer who got his start in entertainment as a development executive for Stick Figure Productions, in New York, NY. He conceived, developed and produced such reality series as National Geographic's Repossessed! and American Gypsies, among other pilots and documentary films.
Matt's screenwriting has received honors in a number of national competitions including the Austin Film Festival (Finalist, Digital Series), Final Draft Big Break (Semi-Finalist, Comedy Pilot) and the Creative World Awards (1st Place, Comedy Spec).
In September 2017, he released his original web series, Halftime, a show he created, wrote, directed and produced in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, he works as a Script Coordinator on Superstition at Syfy. In his spare time, he enjoys reading detective novels, binge-watching Game of Thrones and eating pizza.
"I don't give up on projects. One of the things I'm working on now is literally the first screenplay I wrote ten years ago. I'm working on it for my own gratification. I want this script to be something that I'm proud of. And hopefully I've learned something over the years and I'll go back and fix things I didn't know how to fix then... I think there's something instructive about going back to something you once loved and digging into it and figuring out how to make it work."
• Matt Demblowski on Twitter
• Halftime, the web series
Stephanie Coggins spent much of her early life writing stories. As an undergrad at the University of Michigan, Stephanie kept her creative juices flowing by contributing pop culture articles to several campus newspapers, and it wasn’t long before she was accepted into USC’s graduate film program at the School of Cinematic Arts. Since then, Stephanie has participated in NBC’s Writers on the Verge program, has had her work featured in NBC’s annual Scene Showcase in Los Angeles and New York, and had a half-hour pilot place in 2016 Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest. Additionally, Stephanie has been selected as a Finalist for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Disney|ABC Writing Program. She is currently the Showrunner’s assistant on BET’s Being Mary Jane. In her free time, Stephanie watches old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
"With drama, I feel like I do a lot of the same things that I did with comedy, I just leave out the jokes... The objective isn't to make you laugh. The objective is to make you feel something."
• Stephanie Coggins on Twitter
• Stephanie's podcast Cinemacraptaculus