On December 3rd, the top 3 winners of each category of the 2016 UCLA Extension Screenwriting competitions in Feature Film Writing, Television Spec Writing, and Television Pilot Writing met with Elisa Oliveras, VP of Television at Furthur Films (actor/producer Michael Douglas’ production shingle based at Universal Studios). Boasting an extensive background as a creative executive, Elisa was one of three final round judges in our television writing competitions this year, and generously offered to coach our contest winners in a seminar entitled “The Art of the Meeting.” Available to competition winners for the first time, this valuable seminar offers competition winners advice on how to conduct themselves and pitch their projects in general meetings with industry executives. Each winner then schedules a 1-on-1 session with Elisa to be held at her office on the Universal lot.
After the first phase concluded, we reached out to Elisa and the students to hear their thoughts on the inaugural summit. Read on to hear what they had to say!
Feature Film Winners
Johan Ingler: The producer seminar was great. Very in depth and informative on how to give the best impression during a meeting and how to make the most of it. Elisa was very generous with her time and really made an effort to give us everything we need to move forward from here. She also generously offered one on one meetings with us and squeezed me in only two days later as I was heading out of the country.
Kevin Mcgue: There are so many people out there who claim to be “Hollywood insiders” who can teach you how to get your writing into the right hands. It was immediately obvious that Elisa was the real deal. But she was also very modest and down to earth. I traveled a long way to be at the seminar, as did others in the room, but it was worth every mile.
Charmaine Colina: One of the main things I will take away is part of the title of Elisa’s presentation, “projects that are pitched articulately and passionately are the ones that sell.” I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but hearing it from a producer puts a different light on it. No matter how much I thought I had prepped, it doesn’t compare to the insights Elisa gave us – she sits on the other side of the table, so to speak, and it was so incredibly insightful to hear what a producer in the industry is looking to get out of a “general meeting” with a writer. There were several big “aha!” moments for me. This was an opportunity like no other.
Television Spec Winners
Chris Shaffer: Elisa is intelligent, knowledgeable, and savvy. During our seminar, she provided us with tremendous and invaluable insights into the entertainment industry. I look forward to incorporating them in my future meetings with executives, writers and producers.
Alex Cooper: I found the meeting last week to be incredibly valuable. We were privy to insights that we wouldn’t have otherwise had available to us. Elisa was supportive and totally real, answered all of our questions thoroughly and continues to do so via email, and is acting as a sort of mentor in this process. She shared with us the ins & outs of meetings, whether it be a pitch meeting or a general meeting, as well as how to set the odds in our favor to land a meeting. Really, I could go on and on about all the notes I took and how much brand new information I learned. I look forward to my 1-on-1 with her in the new year, and definitely feel that I’m armed with some really great resources to help me succeed as I move forward!
Megan Metzger: Elisa was warm, honest, and an inspiration. It was amazing to be able to get great feedback not only from such a successful person in Hollywood, but a successful woman in Hollywood. And after her class I feel a more comfortable than ever taking meetings. Thank you once again UCLA Extension!
Television Pilot Winners
Eugene Navakas: Elisa’s seminar was one of the highlights of my experience at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. The opportunity to discuss meeting strategy and preparation with an experienced development executive was invaluable, and Elisa herself has continued to be a generous and enthusiastic professional resource, even beyond the bounds of the seminar itself.
David Dancyger: Elisa’s seminar and the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program have been invaluable in developing my skills as a screenwriter. Elisa covered the business end of screenwriting and how to sell yourself as a professional. Given Elisa’s background and firsthand knowledge of the business, she gave us some very helpful tools.
Javona Williams: I was very impressed by Elisa’s resume. She’s been on both the network and production company sides of things. She definitely knows how to get a project sold and what we should do in a meeting. I’ve been apprehensive about going to meetings with industry people so having a class on how to get through them has been very helpful. I feel more at ease and feel like I know what to expect from each type of meeting.
And from the expert herself, Elisa Oliveras, “I had a wonderful experience teaching the class. I was very impressed with the writers and their level of talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of the industry. UCLA Extension has prepared them very well for a strong start to their careers.”
Thanks Elisa! And good luck to all our winners going forward into 2017! We’ll keep our readers posted on their success!
The UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Screenwriting and Television Writing competitions are exclusive to our students and graduates. The deadline to apply to the 2017 competition is April 1st. For official rules, eligibility requirements, and applications procedures, visit our competition webpage here.
If you’re an entertainment industry professional interested in reaching any of the above winners, please contact the Writers’ Program at email@example.com or (310) 825-9415.
Jeff Bonnett is the Program Assistant for Screenwriting (Onsite & Online). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 206-1542.