Former student Denise Cruz-Castino has had multiple successes since taking classes with the Writers’ Program. Her first produced movie, 5 Weddings premiered at Cannes in 2018, starred Rajkummar Rao who starred in the Oscar nominated film The White Tiger, with co-stars Bo Derek and Candy Clark, and played in 52 countries. Her latest animated children’s horror shorts she sold to DreamworksTV are on Peacock’s streaming series Spine Chilling Stories. She sold a live action short, The Fountain, to Disney. She’s currently developing a Latina Mexican sitcom about trying to fit in, when you don’t know where you fit in. She’s got several other projects in the works.
Of her experiences and time in the Writers’ Program, Denise says, “Screenwriter Denise Cruz-Castino became an advertising writer after she graduated from UCLA undergrad with a Psychology degree. While being a Copywriter, she stumbled upon the book many screenwriters do, The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, and it said, ‘All Copywriters are really screenwriters.’ That made her think, was she? She decided to find out. So she enrolled in her first screenwriting course at UCLA Extension. She was hooked! Some of her favorite teachers at the program were Steven Wolfson and Corey Mandell, who taught her all about structure for writing feature films. And John Vourhaus who taught her how to make them funny. She mostly writes comedies, but has started getting into dramas as of late too. She is forever grateful for them teaching her all she needed to make her scripts strong and for helping her find her passion.”
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