Welcome new Writers’ Program instructors Rolla Selbak and Jennifer Lee Loy! Rolla and Jennifer are both teaching sections of Feature Film I this Fall. Both are teaching in our Remote Instruction format, with live Zoom class meetings. Rolla is teaching Mondays, 7-10pm PT (Reg# 387925) and Jennifer is teaching Tuesdays, 7-10pm PT (Reg# 387922).
They sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and their upcoming course.
WP: What sparks your creativity?
Jennifer: Like many writers I think my creativity is roused by curiosity. My stories are an attempt at answering a question, typically something that bothers me. I love asking “what if…” and allowing my subconscious to have at it. The magical madness that my mind spits out contorts the simplicity of those questions and I wind up with new worlds and new characters that I get to introduce to others in the form of story.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Jennifer: As a writer, I kind of see myself as Frodo Baggins. If a muse graces me with an idea, I see myself as the caretaker of that thought. It is my duty to give that thought life, to see it through from beginning to end. It is my job to get the ring to the mountain. So I carve out the time, sit down and do it. I wish I could tell you that I light incense and hum to myself in a cave and come out with the inspiration to write. That would be so much cooler. Unfortunately for me it’s simply putting in the work. I do outline quite a bit. This way, when I sit down I have an idea of where I’m going prior. Now, if I get stuck or nothing comes in the time I’ve carved out, I’ve learned to walk away. Let it breathe for a bit and the answer will come, normally when you don’t expect it.
Rolla: Writing is what I do to escape, and to explore ideas about the world, kind of a way to process. Even though writing is an individual endeavor, I feel the least lonely when I do.
What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
Jennifer: So hard to pick a favorite book but the first thing that came to mind was The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. I love Chinese historical fiction. My favorite movie is Aliens. Give me a butt-kicking female with a sci-fi backdrop and I’m in.
Rolla: It’s so hard to choose, honestly! I gravitate to different movies at different phases of my life. Right now, I find myself referencing Gattaca, Into The Spiderverse, Parasite, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and most recently, Marcel The Shell.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
Jennifer: So many good quotes. What is creativity? “The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.”
Rolla: “Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.” P.D. James
Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
Jennifer: I do like Amy Tan. I saw a documentary on her and I admire her focus and commitment when it comes to getting in front of that blinking cursor and putting in the work. I love the ease and fluidity of her writing.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
Jennifer: I always knew that at some point I wanted to teach collegiately. I have a few educators in my family and I’m excited to join them. UCLA Extension is a great program and I love the support and freedom I’ve been given to teach screenwriting but I am most excited to see my students grow into confident writers. What a great environment to blossom new talent!
Rolla: Being a part of the students’ writing journey from all walks of life! It’s so special that the Writers’ Program is open to students from all over the world. So whether in L.A, California, or nowhere near, my favorite part is helping writers find their voice.
What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
Jennifer: By the end of this course I not only hope my students will feel confident with the maps they’ve created for their screenplays (the treatment) but I hope to give them a better sense of their writing process. I want them to understand they’ve embarked on a journey, just like the protagonists they’ve created. They are their own heroes and I want to see them victorious.
Rolla: I hope to help aspiring and working screenwriters bring their fresh voices to the screen and to be the mentor I was looking for while I was learning the hard way. I’m so passionate about sharing that knowledge with those who are looking to learn. Telling stories is the way we share our view of the world, and the only proof that we existed.
Thank you to Rolla and Jennifer for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!