Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor, Dito Montiel! He is teaching a section of our Writing the First Screenplay I course on the UCLA campus, and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and his upcoming course.

What sparks your creativity?
It can be anything and if nothing else does I force it.

What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
None of those excuses are acceptable.

What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
I love the movie, Once Upon a Time in America mainly because you can start it and stop it anywhere and be moved. Cliché as it may seem, On the Road did something to me as a kid. I didn’t like reading it and don’t even remember particularly enjoying it or understanding it. It felt really corny. But it stayed with me and sparked something.

What’s your favorite quote about writing?
As a kid I was photographed by Allen Ginsberg. I knew he was a famous writer but not much more. He bragged that his rent control apartment in the east village “allowed him to be a writer.” That perspective stuck with me.

Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
I can think of some successes I’d like but I like how I do what I do. The great Frank Pearson was a mentor of mine who treated writing like any other job. You do it whether or not you’re inspired, happy, sad or tired. I liked his discipline.

What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
I loved books growing up. The look, the feel, the smell, the very idea of them. I just found them boring and tedious. But I love to write. I’m most excited to help on this side of it. It excites me when I see someone who HAS TO TELL a story. I was that person and still am.
Finding a voice, and being OK with it are two pretty tough and incredible things. I imagine, teaching is more the journey than the product and that’s what’s always interested me. A room full of people preparing for that sounds kind of incredible.

What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
Their voice and the discipline. And a love for the sometimes pain of the process.

Anything else?
Probably lots.

Dito is an award-winning screenwriter/director/author; WGA and DGA member, who wrote and directed his bestselling novel A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints starring Robert Downey Jr. Other credits include The Clapper, Man Down, Boulevard, Empire State, The Son of No One, and Fighting.

Thank you to Dito for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!

Bree is the Assistant to the Director and Social Media Coordinator. You can email her at btodish@uclaextension.edu.

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