Each year, more than 3,000 international students arrive from over 60 countries to study at UCLA Extension. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the International Student Office was first opened thanks to Laurel Hummel. Laurel, who brought her love of travel and appreciation for other cultures to her work at UCLA Extension, retired in 1988 and passed away in 2005. To honor her memory, her husband William established the Laurel Hummel Scholarships for International Students, designed to recognize those who demonstrate academic excellence, communication skills, and exceptional promise through their coursework in a certificate program.
Now, for the first time since the recent debut of the Writers’ Program’s Screenwriting: Film & TV Comprehensive Certificate, international students are eligible to study screenwriting at UCLA Extension full-time via scholarship. This fall marks the first quarter that not only one but two (out of four) Hummel recipients opted to pursue screenwriting. Read on to see what Dillon Bowman and Kerry Kolbe had to say about this fantastic opportunity!
Writers’ Program: What initially made you want to study screenwriting and TV writing at UCLA Extension?
Dillon Bowman: Coming from a diverse Film and Television community in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I was raised in a film family. My mother is an Emmy Award Winning Hairdresser, and my father is a Transportation Coordinator. After trying my hand in various aspects of the industry including working in a Production Office as a P.A., on set as a Grip/Electric Technician, taking a Camera Trainee Program, as well as working at a variety of rental houses, I felt I belonged on the development side of things. With a B.A. in English, and a desire to write, I felt that UCLA Extension had the best program to get me to where I wanted to be. When I bounced the idea off producers and writers I had worked with, they all said that the Writers’ Program was the way to go.
Kerry Kolbe: I am a filmmaker from an isolated rural area in the north of England, where my schoolfriend and I set up a film company ten yeas ago when we graduated from university. It is now a successful charity that uses film and media as a tool to improve the lives of people in disadvantaged communities, with support from many philanthropic and national bodies such as the BFI and the National Lottery. I realized through this work and through producing and directing shorts, some of which did extremely well at festivals, that the script is the key to a successful film. I wanted to learn how to be the originator of material because to me that is the most important and powerful role. I found the Writers’ Program when researching online and was surprised that it was so affordable in comparison to Masters Programs, and that it had an open-enrollment policy, so you didn’t have to apply with a portfolio of work. I wanted to explore screenwriting before deciding to make a full commitment to pursue it single-mindedly.
Wp’: What would you say has been your favorite or most influential course so far, and why?
DB: That’s a hard question considering I have enjoyed them all. “Story Development Workshop: Crafting Your Original Story” with Beverly J. Graf was very fun. I was able to get a good grasp on what is needed to get your own idea off the ground. With that being said, the two Half-Hour Spec Comedy classes I took with Phil Kellard were also phenomenal — not only because of the content we got to create, but the way Phil taught mimicked the industry standard of being in a writers’ room.
KK: Joel Thompson‘s One-Hour Spec Drama writing classes were a great inspiration, because Joel was incredibly thoughtful in the way he broke down the process for us, addressed our anxieties and preconceptions about writing and provided eclectic and wide-ranging stimulus to get us thinking like artists as well as crafts people.
Wp’: What do you aim to do when you graduate the program?
DB: Ideally I want to secure an Optional Practical Training (OPT) position at a television network that has a sound production base in Toronto – such as NBC or Netflix. That way, I can train in the USA and enjoy the sun, but it gives me the opportunity to develop relationships with the executives that I will also work with when I go back to Toronto. In a perfect world, said network would hire me after my internship period, and send me to Toronto to work on one of their productions there.
KK: Studying at UCLA Extension is providing a strong foundation that I will build upon after I graduate. I’ve learned that screenwriting isn’t something you can master in a year, or in two years, or even five. It is a constant process of learning and assimilating new understanding, a journey that I am still in the early stages of. I plan to spend my time beyond the courses continuing to build my portfolio for TV to a point where I can confidently submit material to contests, fellowships and contacts, developing screenplay ideas that speak to the human condition in a truthful and worthwhile way, whilst working to deliver creative, engaging, innovative and impactful projects at my charity back home.
Wp’: Thank you both! Good luck going forward and congratulations on your scholarships!
Jeff Bonnett is the Program Assistant for Screenwriting (Onsite & Online). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 206-1542.