Mentors | SBIFF

10-10-10 MENTORS

Screenwriting Mentors

Glenn Leopold

A three time Emmy nominee, Glenn has written hundreds of animated episodes for such shows as SWAT KATS, Disney’s Doug (Emmy nomination), The Smurfs (Emmy nomination), Scooby-Doo, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Pink Panther And Sons, Snorks, Fantastic Four and many more. His NBC prime time specials include Tis The Season To Be Smurfy, The 12 Days of Christmas, and the Emmy nominated The Town Santa Forgot starring Dick Van Dyke.

Among his feature-length animation credits are the best-selling direct-to-video Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island (3 million copies and counting! Zoinks!) Scooby-Doo And The Witch’s Ghost, Scooby-Doo And The Ghoul School, and A Flintstones Christmas Carol.

He has also written live-action sitcoms, features (The Prowler, Too Scared To Scream) and is an
accomplished singer-songwriter. His songs have appeared in Disney’s Doug, Tis The Season To Be Smurfy, and there are nine (count ’em) on the Rhino Records CD Scooby-Doo And The Witch’s Ghost.

David Starkey

David Starkey is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Barbara City College and a former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate (2009-2011). He is the author of a number of books in a variety of genres, including the bestselling textbook Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief. His plays have been performed in theaters in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle, and he was mentor for last year’s 10-10-10 college screenwriting winner, Malena McKaba.

Jeff King

Jeff has been a working television and film writer since 1991. He has written, rewritten and adapted screenplays for Fox, Sony, MGM, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, and along the way has worked with producers Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollock, and Basil Iwanyk, among others. He has worked on several TV series including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Models Inc., American Gothic, Kidnapped.

In January of 2018, his first book, Rebound: Regain Strength, Move Effortlessly, and Live Without Limits will be published by Hachette. Currently, he is writing a TV pilot, a spec feature film, and a book.

He has been a mentor for the SBIFF 10-10-10 contest since 2008.

Josh Conviser

Josh grew up in Aspen, Colorado and attended Princeton University. An avid mountaineer, he climbed in ranges around the world, including the Himalayas, before giving up the mountains for the jungles of Hollywood.

His professional life has focused on crafting stories – both writing his own and cultivating others’. He has written, re-written and adapted numerous projects for the film and television, while also working as a novelist. Highlights include:

Rome (HBO), for which Josh did historical research, then co-wrote the story bible and was Executive Consultant on the series.

Josh’s novels include, Echelon and Empyre, published by Random House. These are genre-bending works, mixing sci-fi with spy thriller. He also recently finished End Game, a modern-day thriller that deals with the crowdsourcing and gamification of spying.

Ralph Thomas

As a television producer and documentarian at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Ralph Thomas created, wrote, and produced For the Record, a documentary-drama series that ran ten years and won him a Canadian Film Award “for raising the stature of film drama on Canadian television.”

Thomas directed the television movie, Tyler, winner of “Best Canadian Film” at the Montreal Film Festival. He co-wrote and directed the feature film Ticket to Heaven, which won Best Film at the Canadian Genie awards and the Gold Prize at the Taormina Film Festival.

He also directed the HBO feature The Terry Fox Story, winner of Best Film at the Canadian Genie awards and an Ace award for best cable film. In addition, he directed “The Crowd”, an HBO episode of The Ray Bradbury Theatre, winner of the cable Ace Award, as well as the feature Apprentice to Murder for New World Films. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Paul Kurta

Paul Kurta’s career in film and television production began in New York City, where he worked as a freelance Production Manager and Producer of commercials and documentaries until 1980-81 when he produced two seasons of the series Tales Of The Unexpected for the academy award winning director/writer, Bert Salzman. Kurta’s first feature assignment, “Q” The Winged Serpent, would be one of six collaborations the legendary writer-director Larry Cohen.

Kurta also produced Miles From Home which starred Richard Gere, Kevin Anderson and John Malkovich. The film, written by Chris Gerolmo and directed by Gary Sinise, was an Official U.S. Selection to Cannes in 1988. That same year, Kurta line-produced the Ace Award winning film, Long Gone for HBO.

Kurta co-produced and was the second unit director on Empire Records, which was directed by Allan Moyle and starred relative unknowns Renee Zellwegger, Liv Tyler and Anthony LaPaglia. Before re-uniting with Producers Riche-Ludwig on the Sony comedy, Tomcats by Greg Poirier, Producers Mark Burg and Jeremy Tannenbaum asked Kurta to line-produce John Grisham’s The Gingerbread Man for the legendary director Robert Altman, starring Kenneth Branagh, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Daryl Hannah, Tom Berenger and Embeth Davidtz.
By 2004, Executive Producers Rob Thomas and Joel Silver invited Kurta to produce the pilot and critically successful first season of Veronica Mars, starring Kristin Bell and Enrico Colantoni.

In 2010 Kurta produced another CBS pilot The Odds for Exec. Producers Joel Silver. He also produced the AMC pilot “Hell On Wheels” for Exec. Producers, Tony and Joe Gayton and Jeremy Gold. In 2011, Kurta produced the pilot “Pan Am” for ABC and AMC’s new series Hell On Wheels.

Ross Brown

Ross Brown is the Program Director for the MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media at Antioch University, Santa Barbara. He began his writing career on NBC’s award-winning comedy The Cosby Show and went on to write, produce and create comedies for ABC, CBS and The WB. He is the author of the book Create Your Own TV Series for the Internet. His full-length plays Hindsight and Trapped have had staged readings at The Pasadena Playhouse and The Barter Theater in Virginia. His short plays have been performed in Los Angeles, Chicago and Minnesota. Prior to his writing career Professor Brown worked as an assistant director on feature films including National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser

Best known for their work in television, Rob & Pru have written, produced, developed or created over a dozen prime time series, from ABC’s Who’s the Boss? to CBS’s The Nanny, which they developed for and executive produced with series star Fran Drescher. Other shows include Alice, Three’s Company, Madeline Kahn’s Oh Madeline, The Charmings, Live In, Married People, Run of the House, and The Simple Life with Judith Light.

They have recently written the book and lyrics for the stage musical The Girl Who Would Be King which premiered at Riverside Theater in Vero Beach, Florida, with music by Jeff Barry. They have also written an animated feature film, Flushing Art for 20th Century Fox and are currently developing both a music oriented television series and feature film project for the Tannenbaum Co./Warner Brothers.

Anne Kenney

Anne Kenney has worked as a television writer/producer for more than 20 years. Most recently, she was a writer and executive producer for the first three seasons of Outlander on STARZ. Her other credits include “Switched at Birth,” “Greek,” and “ER”.

Directing Mentors

Perry Lang

Starting to work in film as an actor at 17, Perry Lang has acted in over thirty films and seventy hours of television. His film work includes Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One, Steven Spielberg’s 1941 and John Sayles’s Sunshine State as well as Eight Men Out where Perry played one of the indicted eight who threw the 1919 World Series.

His Television work as an actor includes MASH, the title character in the Emmy winning television special Hewitt’s Just Different, A Rumor Of War and numerous guest appearances, including many projects that he has himself either written or directed.

As a writer and director, Perry started professionally writing doing Tales From the Darkside in New York. Among a number of studio assignments, he wrote the first film he directed, Little Vegas then rewrote the second, the Action Adventurer; Men of War.

Since then Perry Lang has directed over sixty hours of television including NYPD Blue, ER, Alias, Weeds, NCIS: Los Angeles.

He is in post-production on An Interview with God, a feature Film he directed in New York City. Perry is also on the directing faculty at the AFI Conservatory and lives with his family in Santa Barbara, California.

James Read

James Read has been a professional actor and director since 1981. As an actor he is probably best known for his starring role opposite Patrick Swayze in the epochal Civil War mini-series North & South. He has had regular roles in several television series including Charmed, Wildfire, American Dreams and Persons Unknown, and has starred and guest-starred in many tv movies and series like CSI:NY, Castle, Columbo and Cheers. James has had major roles in the feature films Eight Men Out, Beaches, Legally Blonde and A Lot Like Love among others. As a member of the Directors Guild of America he has directed episodic television, commercials and documentary films. His short film documenting a family visit to the Hadzabe tribe of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania has been viewed on YouTube more than 625,000 times.

Judy Trotter

Judy Trotter is a Member of the Director’s Guild of America working as an Assistant Director. She has worked on Grammy winning Music Video’s, Clio winning Commercials and Emmy winning television shows. Some of the artists that Judy has worked with are, Stevie Wonder, Gwen Stefani, Eminem, Rod Stewart, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Bon Jovi. Commercials for AT&T, Ford, Toyota, CBS, Kodak , McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Pizza Hut, Lexus, and American Express.

Judy taught a variety of film courses over the past 16 years at Brooks Institute. She received the Educator of the Year award in Community Outreach in the Arts in 2014.

Judy is co-owner of TrotterProductions since 1990.

Tracy Trotter

Tracy Trotter is a three time Emmy winning Cinematographer who has worked on hundreds of national television commercials, music videos and industrial films. He worked as a Director of Photography on commercials for Honda, Pepsi, Minute Maid, Proctor & Gamble, Maxwell House Coffee, Rock the Vote, Showtime, Ford Trucks, the Grammy’s, and political campaigns.

Tracy received his BFA, MS, and MFA from Brooks Institute of Photography. His major was Motion Picture/Underwater Photography. He taught Cinematography at Brooks Institute from 1999 to 2016. Tracy got a grant from Kodak for the Brooks students for five years, 2005-2010, enabling them to shoot short films which were then entered into film festivals.

Tracy is co-owner of TrotterProductions since 1990

Jaron Presant

Jaron Presant started working with cinematographer Tom Richmond while in high school, and instantly became hooked on the art of film. He assisted Tom for six years, working on various commercials, music videos, and feature films.

Jaron graduated from USC’s School of Cinema-Television, and immediately dove into the indie world, shooting award-winning features on the festival circuit. He soon found a balance between feature films, music videos for the likes of Prince and Carrie Underwood, and national campaigns for name brands.
Jaron strives to make connections between the artist and the story, between technical and artistic merits, and between the viewer and the filmmaker. These are some of the reasons he especially loves working with children and animals; they expose our vulnerabilities and touch our souls. Jaron implements these concepts in every job he shoots; from Star Wars VIII, to the tender Pasadena Humane Society campaign featuring one puppy.

Lindsay Skutch

LINDSAY SKUTCH has been a producer for 30 years having had a career in Television Commercial Production. Her career has been primarily producing for feature length directors when they ventured into commercial directing. She was John Frankenheimer, Alphonso Cuaron, Doug Limon, Katheryn Bigelow and Sydney Pollocks’ producer as well as Marc Forester and Scott Hicks. Lindsay also produced for Bob Richardson, Janusz Kaminski and Tony Goldwyn.

She helped them understand the unique medium and the discipline to tell a :30 story. The learning that she received by working side by side with these great directors gave her opportunities that honed her skills as a producer that were unprecedented. It also allowed her to produce all over the world and throughout much of North America.

In addition to producing commercials Lindsay has produced three documentary feature films. One, Glass in 12 Parts, about Phillip Glass got short listed for the Academy Awards.

Lindsay continues to produce and also is a still photographer. She has lived in Santa Barbara since graduating from Brooks Institute and this is where she raised her 2 sons.

Casting Mentor

Olivia Harris

Olivia Harris studied acting at Carnegie Mellon, Boston University, Second City, Chicago, with Grotowski in Poland, and Herbert Berghof in NY. Since the late 1980’s she has been a casting director for Warner Bros television and movies, working on Warner Bros pilots and Clint Eastwood movies with Phyllis Huffman. In the 1990’s she was head of the WB network in NY. She has also cast many independent features, and other television shows and movies of the week. Some projects include “Grace” an ABC pilot, The Last New Yorker which premiered in NY, and Easy which premiered at Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals. She was also involved in casting Superstar, Space Cowboys, and Mystic River.

Sound Mentor

David Schneiderman

David has always had an interest in audio. At 19, he attended a class in production sound. From that class he was chosen to be mentored by Keith Wester, a sound mixer, and he worked for him for 8 years.This was the beginning of his lifelong path in sound recording. His work in TV resulted in an Emmy award, (“Hill Street Blues”), and 6 nominations, (“Brooklyn Bridge”, “LA Law”). His first feature film as a sound mixer was “Grand Theft Auto” directed by Ron Howard. He recently finished two local Documentaries, a 3 hour film for the Discovery Channel (“West of the West”) about the human history of the Channel Islands, and Tab Hunter’s life story (“Tab Hunter Confidential”). His career in the film industry has enabled him to work with an amazing assortment of people. A partial list includes Ron Howard, Henry and Peter Fonda, Tab Hunter, Mohammed Ali, Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow, Sean Connery, Ronald Reagan, John Huston, Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brian DePalma, Paul Williams, Alan Alda, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Sharon Stone, Bruce Springsteen, and Dick Clark.