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Westphal on the West Coast

September 15, 2011

This summer, the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design launched its first academic foray to the West Coast with the “Westphal in LA” program. Drexel, which has sent hundreds of students to Los Angeles over the years through the co-op program, will now put students at the center of the entertainment business for an intensive summer program that teaches filmmaking and storytelling.

“What better way to provide students the experience and networking opportunities to gain meaningful employment in filmmaking, TV and screenwriting than to put them at the epicenter of the industry,” said Westphal Dean Allen Sabinson, who spent 30 years in Hollywood and New York City in senior positions at A&E, TNT, ABC, ICM, NBC Miramax and Showtime before coming to Drexel.

The 10-week program began on June 20: 25 undergraduate and graduate students from Drexel’s film and video, television, screenwriting and playwriting and television management programs were enrolled.  “Westphal in LA” was developed by the college’s Karin Kelly, director of the film and video program, who worked for many years in Los Angeles with Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. before coming to Drexel. Kelly was a writer’s assistant and freelance writer on numerous television shows, and co-authored Film School Confidential, The Insider’s Guide to Film Schools.

Of the program’s four classes, two were taught by L.A.-based film professionals. Camelia Adibi, who has an MFA in producing from UCLA and has worked for New Line Cinema, will teach “The Business of Filmmaking.” And Peter Egan, a writer and Harvard graduate who has written for prime-time dramas (Medium) and children's programming (Sweet Valley High), taught a course on creating television and serve as the program’s internship coordinator.  Internships are a highlight of the program, and Egan has already developed opportunities at places like The SyFy Channel, reality TV producer Painless Productions and The Collective, a full-service entertainment management, media and content production company.

Ian Abrams, screenwriting and playwriting program director, lives on site and filled the role of faculty mentor while teaching a film studies special topic course, “Hollywood on Hollywood,” about the industry’s depiction of its own history and culture in movies over the past 100 years.

The final course for each student included an independent project and the creation of a documentary film about their experience.