Three from TFT Win DGA Student Film Awards

King, Onah and Ramos Triumph in African-American, Latino Categories

Two current TFT students, 
Dallas King and Anthony Onah, and a recent graduate, Julio O. Ramos
 MFA ’12 will be in the spotlight on Thursday, November 8, when the DGA Student Film Awards for 2012 are presented at the Directors Guild of America Theater in Hollywood.

King was the winner in the African American Category for his film “Most Wanted,” while Onah took the Jury Prize for “Dara Ju,” which was nominated for the Golden Egg Award at the 2012 Reykjavik International Film Festival. Ramos won the Jury Prize in the Latino Category with his Showcase and Palm Springs Shortfest winner “Detrás del Espejo” (“Behind the Mirrors”)

The DGA Student Film Awards are presented annually to encourage and bring attention to outstanding minority and women film students in California and select universities across the nation. The Directors Guild will present $2,500 to each Award Winner and $1,000 to each Jury Award (runner-up).

Students are invited to attend the award ceremony on Thursday, November 8, at 7:30 P.M., at the Directors Guild of America Theater, 2
7920 Sunset Boulevard.

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McDonald wins SMPTE’s Kodak Educational Award for 2012

FTVDM Chair honored at Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers conference October 23-25

William McDonald Wins SMPTE/Kodak Award

The 2012 Kodak Educational Award will be presented to TFT Professor and FTVDM Chair William McDonald at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineer’s (SMPTE) Honors and Awards Ceremony during the SMPTE 2012 Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Hollywood. McDonald, a cinematographer and filmmaker himself, is being recognized for his dedication to educate the next generation of filmmakers in the art and craft of cinematography throughout his professional career. The presentation takes place on October 25 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.

“I take pride in the art and craft of what I do and teach,” says McDonald. “It is tremendously important to the field of cinematography that new filmmakers are fully aware of the artists who came before them, and the attention they gave to the craft of cinematography when shooting with film. New filmmakers must be taught, and must adhere completely, to all the principles of cinematography regardless of the tools being used. To do so ultimately strengthens the very foundation of what we do as filmmakers.”

As Chair of the of the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media at TFT, McDonald has advocated for the best production and post-production resources for the college’s film students. He tirelessly negotiates services and alliances with companies and organizations in the industry to assist the next generation of storytellers as they learn how to create and succeed in the entertainment business. Additionally, McDonald has fostered the UCLA Cinematographer in Residence Program, also sponsored by Kodak, where an award-winning professional cinematographer teaches a spring course and hosts movie screenings followed by discussions.

“McDonald’s accomplishments are truly admirable and his efforts deserve to be recognized,” says Kim Snyder, president of Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division. “The next generation of filmmakers are benefitting greatly from his ongoing dedication to both the aesthetic and technical principles of cinematography.

SMPTE 2012 is the premier annual event for motion-imaging professionals in the media, entertainment, communications, and technology industries. As an accredited industry standards-setting body, The Society is also the industry’s leading nonprofit association providing technology education and information to the motion imaging industry.

Kodak introduced its worldwide film school program in 1991. Through the years, the program has grown to include a wide range of initiatives to help both students and educators enrich the development of their skills in the art and craft of filmmaking.

For more information, visit

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Theater alumna Judy Kaye ’73 takes home her second Tony™ Award

“Featured Role in a Musical” nod for “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

Classically trained opera and Broadway singer Judy Kaye ’73 has won a 2012 Tony® award for her performance in the Featured Role of Estonia Dulworth in the hit musical “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” Starring Matthew Broderick, the show is an original production built around the classic songs of George and Ira Gershwin.

The award is Kaye’s second turn in the Tony® spotlight. She won in the same category in 1988 for her performance as Carlotta in “The Phantom of the Opera.” She was also Tony®-nominated in 2002 for “Mamma Mia!” and in 2006 for “Souvenir.”

In her televised acceptance speech, Kaye dedicated the award to the memory of her father, who had passed away a week earlier.

Kaye got her start when she was cast out of UCLA in 1968 to play Lucy in the Los Angeles company of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She was the first Rizzo in the national tour of “Grease,” originated the role of Emma Goldman in “Ragtime” and played the maid, Agnes, in “On the Twentieth Century.” Kaye has appeared with the Santa Fe Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony, singing Musetta in “La Boheme,” Lucy in “The Beggar’s Opera” and Eurydice in “Orpheus in the Underworld.” She returned to the New York City Opera for its 2005 production of “Candide.”

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INTERVIEW: Sue-Ellen Case on her A.T.H.E. Career Achievement Award

Prolific author and mentor cited for both scholarship and activism

Posted on April 25th, 2012 in Accolade

Distinguished Professor Sue-Ellen Case, TFT Area Head for Theater and Performance Studies and Director of UCLA’s Center for Performance Studies, will receive the Career Achievement Award for 2012 from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the field’s highest honor. The award will be conferred at the Association’s annual conference in August, in Washington, D.C.

The citation in the conference catalog celebrates both the scholarship and the activism of the author the books “Feminism and Theatre” and “The Domain-Matrix: Performing Lesbian at the End of Print Culture.”

In her long career of extreme productivity, Sue-Ellen has contributed to the thinking of a generation of outstanding scholars in the U.S. and around the world where she has been invited to teach and give seminars. Her generous and generative mentorship is marked by her stylish prose, campy wit, incisive engagement with issues of representation and visibility. Sue-Ellen has worked at the intersections of several major debates, from lesbian feminism and queer theory, German women¹s theatre and digital technology, to global and transnational studies. Her interdisciplinary approach shows how different disciplines, discourses, and practices have long participated (overtly and covertly) in producing what scholars have come to accept as knowledge.

… Since the early 1980s, she has stood head and shoulders above everyone in her academic activism on behalf of lesbian and gay rights and of women of color. No one working in these and related fields has been untouched by her energy and vision and charisma. What Sue-Ellen models for all young scholars, what they discover when they meet her or read her is that intellect and activism, theory and practice, are united in the best feminist and queer scholarship. They admire Sue-Ellen¹s toughness; they relish her wit and wisdom; through her they are inspired to achieve. There is no one working in our field today whose scholarship, integrity, and collegiality we admire and respect more than Sue-Ellen Case¹s. She is not just an academic star; she is a legend. She richly deserves this important recognition.”

When Vivian Sobchack was talking recently about an achievement award that she had won, she suggested that it wasn’t just for the quality of her work but for its influence: that it had changed the field that she still works in.

My first book was “Feminism in Theater,” and it was the first book on that subject. So, yes, it changed the field. They called the first edition, “The little red book” because it had an orange cover with a woman on it. And then, of course I kept writing on the subject, as did many others.

I actually wrote my dissertation on a German playwright. Contemporary German theater was considered my expertise. I just began to feel inspired to put the book together. And when I was in graduate school at Berkley, there had been the feminist movement in the streets, but it hadn’t yet come into the academy. I was always confronting everybody with, “We never do a woman playwright, there aren’t any roles for women in this play.” I became more and more agitated. I started looking at classical theater, and the two most famous classical traditions in the Euro-American canon are the Greeks and Shakespeare — and they are both all-male stages. The playwrights knew they were writing for men. The book starts there. I raised the rhetorical question: “Should we even do these plays? Or should women identify with these charters at all, or are they just in the male homo-social tradition. “ Some people were quite angry.

They were right to feel threatened, perhaps.

What feminism did was dispute the supposed neutrality of the history of theater. It said that what seemingly was a neutral history had built-in exclusions, and a set of values that aimed at a particular gender, a particular understanding of what was heroic or what might be good writing. All of those values were contested once feminism got its feet on the ground. I don’t think neutrality ever existed. It was a pose that was effective for a number of centuries to keep a certain kind of power and authority in place. I wrote that so-called realism isn’t good for women, because these stories very often sacrifice women. Even “Hedda Gabbler,” a play that stands for the emergence of independent women, is not a happy story. A lot of that family drama wasn’t good for women, necessarily. The story was embedding in people a certain kind of fear and expectation that they didn’t need to have.

After I wrote about feminism I began writing about lesbian and gay issues. What I would say is that the heterosexual family has been the center of every one of those theatrical traditions, and that’s what makes much of realism unavailable for some of us to identify with, particularly since marriage is illegal for us. There are many various kinds of aesthetics, and that’s just one of them.

When I see discussions of what’s considered under the aegis of “Performance Studies,” it certainly cover a lot more ground than what we traditionally think of a formal, structured theatrical experience.

Performance Studies has to do with the performance of social codes. That’d be the simplest way to say it. We’re interested in performativity. One of my students is working on Mayan women who do performances in villages in southern Mexico, but they aren’t plays. They do some plays, but they also go out and do all sorts of things in these little parking lots. It’s opened up performance to people who don’t have access to theater, or who don’t go.

Is it true, do you think, as Dean Schwartz would say, that in the end it’s all about different forms of storytelling, about the human drive to make sense of our world by telling stories?

The dean and I have a friendly running argument going on about this very subject. I’ve said to her, “I’m not against stories, but I think they’re not speaking to a lot of people who are looking at fragments, at images on devices of various sizes, and finding new ways of putting things together.” I don’t know if the traditional notion of storytelling really works with new media. So I really don’t think storytelling has a great future. Already students are so ironic about stories because they’ve heard them all before. How many stories are there, 10? They get married at the end, somebody dies, etc. So they’re sarcastic and ironic about them. I think it’s an exciting and a terrifying future.I don’t care, frankly, that we’re losing “the story.” In fact I hope we do. I’m really worried about losing the public university. I dedicated my career to it. I refused any job at a private school because I come from the working class, the bottom of the working class probably. Free education is really the only way you have class mobility. It was only because of free, cheap, and available education in the state of California was I able to develop my own intellectual interests, and I find it really tragic what has happened to it.

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Global diversity

ON STAGE: In 2012, M.F.A. Department of Theater acting candidates Adrienne Hertler and Jeremiah O’Brian performed in Antwone Fisher: A Play

Theater Lab

The Theater Lab, an experimental performance space, was launched in 2011 when distinguished playwright Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues), used the lab to workshop her newest play, O.P.C.: Obsessive Political Correctness, collaborating with student actors and assistants. The workshop production, directed by Ensler, was presented as a staged reading with installation elements in the Theater Lab. Past productions in the Theater Lab include:

JUNE 2017
Directed by Lainie Kazan, this event was a studio presentation of songs by undergraduate students in the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program.

This class presentation explored movement and its impact in theatrical work. Directed by UCLA TFT’S Tom O’Connor and Dacun Jung.

December 2016
UCLA TFT’s Jeremy Mann directed the Tony Award-winning Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical about a painter working on his masterpiece.

March 2016
Original work by M.F.A. playwriting students included Layla Levy Layla, written by Kit Lascher and directed by Shichang Charles Jin; Solicit This, written by Joe Samaniego and directed by Evelina Stampa; The Queen of Tent City, written by Anna Fox and directed by Jayongela Wilder; and The Gift, written by Scott Barnhardt, Sachandra Grandoit, Patrick Hurley, Josh Segal and Paula Vesala; directed by Brendan Hartnett

May 2015
Undergraduate actors from the Department of Theater and from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art will perform new work in real time in London and Los Angeles via broadband Internet connection. Two distinguished playwrights traveling from London to Los Angeles and vice versa will provide the focus for this exciting acting and playwriting experiment.

February 2015
The plays in Project III were directed by M.F.A. directors Darcie Crager and Brendan Hartnett, and featured undergraduate actors from the Department of Theater.

January 2014

Undergraduate actors from the Department of Theater were featured in this wildly decadent 18th century play by Lewis Theobald, based on a play by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher in which an act of outrage against a young woman plagues a family. The piece was reportedly based on a last collaboration between Shakespeare and Fletcher. Directed by Adjunct Assistant Professor Paul Wagar.

November 2013

King Lear stormed into the modern world with a visceral exploration of the great Shakespearean tragedy in this workshop performance starring Olivier-Award-winning actor Kathryn Hunter and directed by Helena Kaut-Howson. A long-time artistic team, Hunter and Kaut-Howson have led groundbreaking work at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe and the Young Vic. The production also featured undergraduate actors from the Department of Theater and was made possible by the generous support of the Los Angeles Philanthropic Committee for the Arts.

May 2013

Directed and designed by MFA designer Emily MacDonald, this song cycle for voice and piano featured undergraduate actors from the Department of Theater. Music by Franz Schubert, Libretto by Wilhelm Müller.

February 2012

In William Wycherley’s play, Margery seems like a naïve country girl, but she’s about to show everyone how fast she can master big city life. The production featured graduate actors from the Department of Theater. Directed by Adjunct Professor Paul Wagar.

January 2012

Writer-director Antwone Fisher’s autobiographical play became the second workshop production to inhabit the Theater Lab space. The piece was a verbal and emotional parry between Fisher and Commander Williams, the Navy psychologist he was ordered to see after he was involved in a fight with a fellow sailor. Fisher was a visiting professor at TFT in Winter Quarter 2012.


Vivian Sobchack wins Distinguished Career Achievement Award

Presented by the Society for Cinema & Media Studies

Posted on February 13th 2012 in Accolade

"What's wonderful about this award," says Vivian Sobchack MA ’76, "is that it's not just for being a good scholar, it's for having had a significant impact on the field.”

The TFT Professor Emerita is reacting to the 2012 Distinguished Career Achievement Award that has been conferred upon her by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), the highest professional honor in her field. She will receive it in March at the SCMS Annual Conference in Boston.

The Award was established to recognize veteran media scholars whose work has transformed the discipline. Sobchack joins a roster of transformational thinkers that includes Peter Wollen, Laura Mulvey, Richard Dyer, Christian Metz,, Erwin Panofsky, Robin Wood, Dudley Andrew, Rudolf Arnheim and Kevin Brownlow.

Sobchack earned early recognition for her pioneering work on science fiction and horror films, in books such as "the Limits of Infinity: American Science Fiction Film 1950- 1975" (1980) and "Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film" (1987). Her groundbreaking "The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience (1992) challenged then-current orthodoxies in film theory that, she says, “reduced film to an object of vision and the spectator to the manipulated victim of a deterministic cinematic apparatus.”

"I thought that our experience of film is much more active and skeptical, more interactive, in a sense, than a lot of my colleagues did," Sobchack explains, "and in that sense that film was a much less of a sinister or oppressive force of cultural hegemony then the big names in the field were arguing.

"When I first wrote about science fiction in, 'The Limits of Infinity' (1980), people looked up and down and said 'Why that?' But genres like the gangster film and the Western seemed much more circumscribed. They were rooted in short historical periods and you could catalog all the elements. Science fiction is much more plastic How do you talk about a genre when, okay, there are elements that can be found in more than one film, but they don't have to be there to make it science fiction.

"What's new issues am I writing about? For one, the ways in which our lives are changing because of new modes of communication. I did something for a conference called 'Rendering the Visible,’ at Georgia State.' My piece was called 'Rendering Time.' It had to do with the fact that the more space you have, the less time you have. Because there are just too many places to visit and it becomes a mode of skimming. The fragmented compartmentalization of the spaces themselves, even as they're networked, leads to the collapse of a sense of duration.

“It ties in with the notion of ADD, but also with things like food trucks that never stay in the same place, or raves. And I point out that today's Molly Bloom at the end of ‘Ulysses’ would be tweeting her every thought.”


Donor Awards Ceremony 2011

Generous donors meet grateful students at this annual celebration


This year’s TFT Awards Ceremony continued the School’s long-standing tradition of bringing together our many generous friends with the students who directly benefit from their support — encounters that are always emotional, for donors and recipients alike.

During the event, scholarship and fellowship recipients are able to meet face to face with their benefactor to express gratitude, talk about their current projects and career goals. This academic year, a total of 269 awards were distributed for a grand total of about $800,000.

Many individuals, corporations and foundations generously donate to the School each year through scholarships and fellowships awarded on the basis of merit and financial need. The entire TFT community is extremely grateful to the donors of the awards listed on our development web page.


Disney’s Schumacher and Dean Schwartz honor donor Elizabeth Whitney

Alumna created full-ride Jeanne Michiko Kubota Scholarship at the School of Theater, Film and Television


On April 7, 2011, co-hosts Thomas Schumacher ’80, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Group, and Dean Teri Schwartz honored donor and alumna Elizabeth Kubota Whitney ’80 at New York’s historic New Amsterdam Theater.

The private reception acknowledged Whitney’s generous gift to the Department of Theater’s new Jeanne Michiko Kubota Scholarship, first established at the UCLA Alumni Association, which will fund the school’s first four-year, full-ride scholarship for an undergraduate theater student.

Kubota, who passed away from colon cancer in 1992, was Whitney’s sister and the woman who made it possible for Whitney to pursue her theatrical dreams at TFT. In honor of her sister, Whitney set out to create a scholarship that could make a significant difference in students’ lives, especially those putting their dreams on hold due to financial constraints.

Whitney pursued her love of theater at UCLA and had success as an actress and singer in the 1980s. It was at UCLA where she met and became friends with Schumacher. Their friendship continues to this day, as does their commitment to theater.

UCLA’s continued support has helped propel the success and longevity of this scholarship, allowing hundreds of students to attend UCLA with a solid foundation to achieve their goals and reach for their dreams.

Also in attendance were Disney’s Steven Fickinger, Ken and Alison Whitney, Tamara Keough, Stuart Marland, Peter Heller, Connie Hawkins, Gary and Carrie Fujino, Florence Kubota, Sara Beth Grossman, Marcia DeBonis, Alan Muraoka, Ashley Whitney, Mike Murphy, David and Nancy Schmidt, Ada Maris, Richard, Nancy and Lucy Whitney.

Posted: April 12, 2011


Cinematography candidate Weaver-Madsen wins ASC’s “Student Heritage Award”

American Society of Cinematographers honors the profession’s best


MFA Cinematographer Dagmar Weaver-Madsen received an ASC William A. Fraker Student Heritage Award at the 25th annual American Society of Cinematographers celebration on Sunday. Weaver-Madsen shared the stage at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom with acclaimed cinematographers Wally Pfister (“Inception”), Jonathan Freeman (“Boardwalk Empire”) and Stephen Windon (“The Pacific”).

“No one at UCLA is surprised by the ASC’s recognition of Dagmar’s work,” says Tom Denove, Vice Chair and Head of Production in the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media. “She has been a superstar from day one. This is just another step in her journey to becoming a very successful Hollywood cinematographer. I am so proud of her as an artist and as a woman working in a very male-dominated industry.”

Professor William McDonald, Head of the Cinematography program, agrees: “Dagmar is a unique talent: an innovative, visual storyteller with camera and light who understands narrative structure. She is a passionate filmmaker who has demonstrated a one-of-a-kind mastery of her craft. Recognition by the ASC with this award is to be acknowledged by the best image-makers working in the industry today.

Weaver-Madsen was also the recipient of the Panavision Award in Cinematography at the UCLA Festival of New Creative Work 2010. Both awards were conferred for her work on the TFT thesis film “The Absence,” written and directed by Alex De Mille MFA ’10.

“Dagmar is an incredibly creative collaborator,” De Mille says. “She has a keen eye for beautiful and evocative images, and an instinctual understanding of how the cinematographer functions as storyteller in tandem with the director and actors. The film would not be what it is without her considerable talent.”


Gibney’s “Client 9” is a DGA documentary nominee

Alum’s chronicle of the sand-bagging of Elliot Spitzer joins “Inside Job” & “Restrepo” on Director’s Guild shortlist


TFT alumnus Alex Gibney has been nominated for a Directors Guild of America award for his feature-length documentary “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.”

Gibney was nominated for the DGA award in 2007 for “Taxi to the Dark Side,” which went on to win the documentary Oscar.

“Client 9” looks behind the notorious sex scandel that brought down the popular Governor of New York to consider the possibility that Spitzer’s political enemies may have engineered his demise.

Known as “The Sheriff of Wall Street” when he was NY’s Attorney General, Spitzer had prosecuted some of America’s largest financial institutions and their executives. Elected Governor by one of largest margins in New York history, Spitzer seemed poised to become the nation’s first Jewish President. So when reports emerged that her had been caught seeing prostitutes, his powerful enemies gloated.

With unique access to the escort world as well as to the friends, colleagues and enemies of the ex-Governor, Gibney explores the hidden agendas behind this classic tale of sex, power and human weakness.