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Guest Artists: 2019-2020

Despite the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, our FTVM faculty and students have been continually rising to the challenge of teaching and learning in a number of unique and alternative ways. Please note that the guest artists starting in April 2020 were virtual visits/meetings while those listed beforehand were in-person.

FTVM Alum ('09) and Producer Eddie Rubin

On Monday, April 20, 2020, FTVM Alum and Producer Eddie Rubin talked to FTVM screenwriters as he described his path from the the Department of FTVM to winning the Independent Spirit Award for The Farewell. Rubin answered questions from students seeking careers across the spectrum of the entertainment industry.


On Friday, April 17, 2020, Rubin also met with the six members of the advanced screenwriting seminar, 427, and gave them notes on the first 5 pages of their new feature-length screenplays.

Actor, Director, Producer, and Writer Bryan Cranston

Thanks to senior Alison Jaksen ('20), her father Curt, and FTVM faculty Dan Shere, Bryan Cranston held a special 90-minute Zoom session on April 13, 2020, for all FTVM screenwriting classes and FTVM 423. Mr. Cranston answered a wide array of questions dealing with craft, process, preparation, and professionalism in relation to students' career aspirations in film and television. 

Screenwriter Suhani Kanwar and VARIETY Editor Manori Ravindran


To help with the Global Media class’ final project about Netflix and its localization in International markets, Assistant Professor Swapnil Rai was able to utilize a CRLT teaching grant to invite guest speakers from India and the UK to video conference with her students on April 9, 2020.


The speakers Suhani Kanwar and Manori Ravindran provided their perspectives on Netflix and its localization in various global markets as well as the future of media industries after Covid-19. Suhani Kanwar is the writer for Netflix India Originals like Leila and Betaal. She has also written the screenplay for a critically acclaimed, controversial Bollywood film Lipstick Under My Burka that was initially rejected by the Indian censor board for being too "lady-oriented." Manori Ravindran is an international editor for Variety magazine. Manori is based in London and manages Variety’s overseas team and coverage of all entertainment and media sectors across Europe and Asia. 

Showrunner Michelle Paradise

Mark Kligerman's FTVM 375 Television Theory and Criticism students met with Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Michelle Paradise on April 7, 2020,  to discuss the process of episode production -- from story concept through post-production effects supervision -- and to better understand the showrunner's role in managing this process across each distinct phase of construction. 

Actor Julie Dawn Cole

On April 3, 2020, students in FTVM 435 videoconferenced with Julie Dawn Cole, who played the role of Veruca Salt in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and with Rob Newman, whose father Robert V. Newman produced the film.

Image credit (Veruca Salt at left), Warner Bros. Enterainment Wiki

Students began the semester by exploring the contents of an archival box that documents the production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. During this videoconference, they got to ask questions about what is contained in the archive and hear first-person accounts of the making of this iconic film from two people who were on the set as children.

In FTVM 435, undergraduate and graduate students learn the methods of archival research and use these methods to explore the Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers Collection in the Special Collections Research Center. The Willy Wonka archival research teaching collection was acquired by Film Studies Field Librarian (and curator of the Mavericks & Makers Collection) Phil Hallman.

Director/Screenwriter Spike Jonze


On April 2, 2020, at 8:00 p.m., filmmaker Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are, Her) Zoomed in for two hours with all FTVM 300 and 400 screenwriting and television writing classes.

Pictured at left. Spike Jonze and Amanda Adelson

Jonze told his story, detailing the unique path he took from being a skateboarder kid making amateur videos to creating iconic music videos for MTV to becoming the amazing writer, director, and producer he is today. After his talk, Jonze answered questions for a full 90 minutes. It was a very special night bringing all FTVM writing students and screenwriting faculty together in these crazy days of social distancing and sheltering in place.

This special event was made possible by screenwriter Amanda Adelson, former FTVM Screenwriting sub-major and Hopwood winner, who is currently working with Jonze on a new screenplay. 

TV Writer Scott Rosenbaum

TV Writer Scott Rosenbaum visited FTVM the last week of February and met with students in Oliver Thornton's FTVM 311 and 411 as well as with students in Jim Burnstein's FTVM 427.  Rosenbaum discussed his career as a television and showrunner, gave students advice on how break into the industry, and met with the 400-level classes to offer feedback on their concepts, pitches, and screenplays. 

Producer Peter Jaysen and Acting Coach Pamela Guest



Jim Burnstein and Robert Rayher's FTVM 423 students spent February 14, 2020, meeting with professional guests and gaining insight into their original scripts.


Producer Peter Jaysen (at top) poses with a group of 423 students after conducting a workshop in MLB 2 with the producers of  Brandon Troeller's script, Only Children Hear the Silence; Acting Coach Pamela Guest (at bottom left) conducts an acting workshop for Veronica Slaven's script,The Cul De Sac Mob; and Media Consultant Al Young (at bottom right) conducts a sound workshop in Studio A. 

U-M Alum and Top Hollywood Television Director Mark Cendrowski

Mark Cendrowski in Terri Sarris's FTVM 302

photo credit, Rob Gingerich-Jones 

U-M Alumnus and top Hollywood television director Mark Cendrowski visited several FTVM classes and conducted an open session on Monday, October 28, Tuesday, October 29, 2019. On Monday afternoon, Cendrowski visited Terri Sarris' FTVM 302 (multi-camera studio production) class. Sarris coordinated with the Department of Theater and Drama Professor Janet Maylie to cast acting students in two scenes from episodes of 'The Big Bang Theory." With students from 302 serving as camera and crew, Cendrowski demonstrated how to block and direct the scenes using a quad-split monitor in the studio. Later that afternoon, Cendrowski conducted an open session with FTVM majors and students from WOLV TV before heading to Jim Burnstein's FTVM 410 (Screenwriting II: The Rewrite).

Mark Cendrowski and FTVM 302 students in action

While in FTVM 410, Cendrowski workshopped the first five pages of seven students' second drafts of their feature-length screenplays. Mr. Cendrowski showed the class what a director looks for when reading a script and what grabs their attention enough to keep them reading. After the three-hour class ended, Mr. Cendrowski said he could not believe how quickly the time had passed in rewrite and all the classes he has the opportunity to visit on his annual return to campus.  FTVM is fortunate that so many students have the chance to benefit from Mr. Cendrowski’s expertise.

On Tuesday, October 29, Cendrowski visited Swapnil Rai's FTVM 355 (Television History) class and Robert Rayher's FTVM 290 (Intro to Media Production). 

Mark Cendrowski poses with Professor Rai and FTVM 355

Having directed 250 episodes of The Big Bang Theory, as well as over 70 other shows and TV movies, Mark Cendrwoski is a long way from FTVM 290.  Yet when Mr. Cendrowski visited Robert Rayher's FTVM 290 class, he engaged students immediately with his natural storytelling abilty. Shortly after Mark explained what a week of production for a TV sit- com entails, the students had a million questions for him about working with actors, directing tips, how to move up the ladder, and how to get started in the sprawl that is LA.  Cendrowski made everyone feel as if he/she was a part of the conversation.  In fact, Rayher had to close questions in order not to run over the end of class time - and students lingered to thank Cendrowski personally.

Above text contributed by Terri Sarris, Jim Burnstein, and Robert Rayher

Founding Partner of United Talent Agency Peter Benedek & Screenwriter Bill Collage

At left, Peter Benedek gathers with FTVM 427 students under the Benedek Media Gateway arch in North Quad; at right (top), Benedek meets with FTVM 421 students, and at right (bottom), Bill Collage engages in a workshop with FTVM 427. 

Founding partner of United Talent Agency Peter Benedek and UM Alum and screenwriter Bill Collage visited FTVM 427 (Advanced Screenwriting Seminar) and FTVM 421 (TV Pilots) on Friday, October 25, 2019. In 427, Bill Collage reviewed the first five pages of the students’ new screenplays, gave them valuable advice about the best ways to grab a reader’s attention, and then answered their questions about the life of a working screenwriter. Mr. Collage described the screenwriting students’ work and the resources available to them in the Donald Hall Collection as "amazing and eye opening."

Peter Benedek had lunch with four students headed for Los Angeles after graduation and answered their questions about the various career paths they wanted to pursue. Mr. Benedek was especially interested in what television shows these students were watching and on what platforms they were accessing them. It was a rare opportunity to discuss the entertainment industry with one of Hollywood's most important leaders. In 421, Mr. Benedek sat in on a cast table read of the pilot being produced this semester and viewed rough cuts of some recently filmed scenes, giving insightful feedback to creator Mia Flint (FTVM '19) along with the rest of the writers, producers, directors, and cast. He also answered questions about the industry, including the shift towards streaming platforms when it comes to pitching and producing both series and films. 

 Above text contributed by Jim Burnstein and Oliver Thornton 

Producer Todd Garner

Producer Todd Garner spoke to FTVM students on October 3, 2019, about the fear and optimism that drives everyone who aspires to a place in the entertainment industry -- and that still drives him today as one of Hollywood’s leading producers. On Friday morning, October 4,  Garner visited FTVM 427, reviewed the first five pages of the six members of the advanced screenwriting seminar’s screenplays, and participated in a working lunch wherein he answered student questions about working in Hollywood and work/life balance.

Editor Waldemar Centeno

Editor Waldemar Centeno (FTVM '06) conducted a special presentation entitled, "How an Editor Organizes a Feature Film, What an Assistant Editor Does Before Moving Up to Editor, and Much More!" on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, in the MLB MAC classroom. Centeno is a professional film and television editor who has cut on many noteworthy projects that include The Goldbergs and Mr. Student Body President.

All photos from in-person events on this page courtesy of Mary Lou Chlipala,
unless otherwise noted