ELA Faculty Newsletter
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April, 2017 -- Welcome to the second issue of the ELA Faculty newsletter where you’ll find news, updates, and profiles of our faculty members.  ELAF-AAUP is the union representing the adjunct faculty of Emerson College Los Angeles which comprises 95% of ELA's resident faculty.

It was a busy semester for our chapter. We held our first round of elections as a new union: I will be continuing as president, Dan Viafore will continue as our treasurer/secretary and Rob Cavanagh will be joining the executive board as vice president. Julian Higgins will be departing as vice president due to his very busy schedule producing and directing the web series, Guidance (see below). Thank you Julian for your time on the executive board!

The ELAF chapter was profiled in AAUP's Academe Magazine. Julian and I were interviewed about our organizing efforts, our new contract as well as the road ahead for our union. You can read the profile here.  We also now have our own website up and running where you can find our history, contract, contract overview, FAQs and media links.  You can visit the website at  You can also find and follow us online on Twitter & Facebook.

We were delighted to learn ELA was recognized as the "Internship Program of the Year" for four-year colleges by the California Internship and Work Experience Association (CIWEA). Congratulations to the faculty, staff and administrative support for this achievement.

In faculty news, Micah Wright is leaving ELA for a full-time position heading up FNX, First Nations Experience, America’s only television channel dedicated to indigenous tribal cultures. The channel's goal is to ramp up production of original programming and provide an outlet for Native American writers, directors, and actors to tell their own stories. Micah was instrumental in creating a virtual reality filmmaking course at ELA, one of the first of its kind in the nation.  We all wish him the best of luck with this new venture.  Many thanks for your contributions to the program and your students, Micah.

Finally, I hope you'll take a moment to read about some of the faculty's recent accomplishments, current projects and also get to know two of our faculty better in our FACULTY SPOTLIGHT.  In this issue we talk with longtime faculty Scott Cooper and a returning member, Roxanne Captor. 

Best wishes for the rest of the semester and the summer ahead.

Jennifer Vandever
ELAF-AAUP President



The Business of Acting Showcase
See Brad Lemack's Business of Acting class on April 13th at 7pm or 9:30pm.
Space is LIMITED so please reserve your seats by sending an email to for your desired time.

Upright Citizens Brigade Class Showcases
Please join Brad Lemack and Tracy Hazas, who each teach a section of our two Upright Citizens Brigade classes, for their performances at UCB Inner Sanctum stage (5419 Sunset Blvd).

Brad Lemack: Wednesday, April 19 at 8:00PM
Tracy Hazas: Thursday, April 20 at 7:00pm


Roxanne Captor is currently working on a documentary on Women Veterans: "Homecoming Veterans, Wives and Mothers."  The project is for women's history month honoring hall of fame women heroines who work in fields once reserved for men.  The trailer is currently password protected.  Contact Roxanne at for a password to view.  (Roxanne teaches the Internship Course)

Kay Cole released Souvenir, a CD that is a personal journey through songs that resonate with Kay and that she loves singing.  There are songs from shows she's done (Bye, Bye Birdie, Best Foot Forward and, of course, A Chorus Line, in which she was an original cast member) along with an eclectic selection of other great songs by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Al Dubin and Harry Warner and more.  You can read more about Kay's involvement in A Chorus Line here and purchase her new CD here. Also available on Amazon and iTunes. (Kay teaches Acting for Film & Television)

Julian Higgins is currently serving as executive producer and director on the third season of the AwesomenessTV series Guidance. This is his second season on the show in the producing-director role. The show is a socially and politically engaged dramatic thriller with a high school guidance counselor as the protagonist. Each season tells a new story with a new cast and visual style. Season 3 will be released on Go90 and on television around the world starting in June. Season 2, which Julian also produced and directed, is currently available on Go90 and will be released on Hulu later this year. (Julian teaches The Business of Directing and the Internship Course)

Stephen Jay Schwartz will be moderating the panel “Crime Fiction:  A Question of Character” at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC on Saturday, April 22nd. The panel features four of the L.A. Times Book Prize finalists in the Mystery-Thriller category.  This was Stephen’s second year as a judge for the Book Prize, and he’s been on a panel at the Festival of Books every year for the past seven years. He is currently working on his third novel as well as editing a collection of short non-fiction stories for Rare Bird Books called “Hollywood versus the Author,” about the author’s experience dealing with the chaos of “development hell.”  Links to his other work including the Los Angeles Times bestselling novels “Boulevard” and “Beat” (published by Forge Books) and his short work in “The Los Angeles Fiction Anthology,” published by Red Hen Press can be found on his website.  Stephen would love to see you and your students at the Festival of Books – tickets for the panels are free, but the events fill up fast.  You can go to the following link to reserve your seats today. (Stephen teaches the Internship Course)

Jennifer Vandever's script recently advanced to the second round of the Sundance Institute's StoryLab. She's currently working on a third novel and a new feature screenplay.  You can find links to previous work at her website. (Jennifer teaches Screenwriting Workshop, Women in Film, Screwball & Romantic Comedy, and the Internship Course)

Dan Viafore is currently engineering vocals for season 12 of NBC's hit show The Voice, as well as mixing score for television and feature films. Dan mixed the score for The Relationtrip, a comedy that premiered at SXSW last month. (Dan teaches Music for Writers, Directors, & Producers and the Internship Course) 

Faculty Spotlight: Scott Cooper

What's your background?
My path to Media Studies was certainly a circuitous one.  I was born in Brooklyn, New York.  My first love was undoubtedly music.  As a trombonist in my youth, I performed for the Teenage Performing Arts Workshop, The Brooklyn All-Borough and New York All-City Orchestras in the late 1960s-early 70s.  I then went to M.I.T. in the 1970s to study Architecture, Art & Design as an undergraduate, followed by graduate studies at U.C. Berkeley in City Planning.  It was while a graduate student there that I started branching out to various other interests in the social sciences, philosophy and the arts.  I finally moved to Los Angeles to study Film and Television at U.C.L.A. in the 1980s.  While there, I received an M.F.A. in Film and Television Production, and advanced to candidacy for a Ph.D. in Film and Television Studies.  Unfortunately, my dissertation work was interrupted in 1994 by the Northridge Earthquake, when I was displaced from where I had been living, coincidentally just blocks from the ELA Center here in Hollywood.  While I didn’t return to U.C.L.A. to complete my dissertation, the earthquake triggered a decade-long exploration into more esoteric interests, inspired in part by Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.”  Following her lead, I am still an avid keeper of daily “morning pages,” as well as a journal book.  I also became interested in concepts she promoted regarding universal energy and human energy flow, also featured in the psychological work of C.G. Jung and, more recently, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as well as the practice of kundalini yoga and chakra theory.
How long have you been teaching at ELA?  What courses do you teach? 
I’ve been teaching at Emerson Los Angeles since 2001, when we were at the old Toluca Lake location in Burbank.  I currently teach courses in Film and Television in the Age of Anxiety, focusing on media post-9/11, and Media of Consumption: From Totally Cool to Totally Wired, focusing on trends in popular culture and digital technology over the past two decades, with an eye towards matters of advertising and consumer culture.
Do you teach anywhere else? 
In addition to my classes at Emerson, I also teach at the Ithaca College Program in Los Angeles, where I’ve been teaching since 1998.  Along with my teaching, I also moonlight on weekends as a Front Desk Clerk at a quaint small hotel in Westwood, following the lead of literati Nathanael West in that endeavor.  My various jobs certainly keep me busy!
What’s one of your most memorable experiences teaching at Emerson?
No doubt, one of my most challenging experiences was in the very first semester we were at the new building here in Hollywood in the Spring of 2014.  I had a wheelchair-bound student who suffered from M.S. in my “Age of Anxiety” class.  He turned out to be among the most active in his participation and interest in the class material.  I was struck by how supportive of and patient with him the other students in class were, and as I say, he became one of the most active and interested students in the class.
Do you have a teaching philosophy? If so, what is it? 
In all my classes, my philosophy of teaching is one of recognizing that I am as much a student as a teacher, and that there is much to be learning from the students themselves.  In keeping with that, I have the students focus their final projects on issues of personal interest to themselves, relevant to the subject of the class.  In fact, various of the readings and films I screen in class were inspired by students’ suggestions over the years.
How would you describe the Emerson student?
I have found the Emerson student to be both expressive and savvy about the cultural and political issues we discuss.  One gets the impression that, as members of an urban campus, they are quite sophisticated and “street smart” in that regard.
Is there a piece of advice you find yourself giving to students frequently?If there’s any common thread to the advice I give to the students, it’s that the class is really about what they have to say about the material, not what I think or feel about it.  I tell them that I’m just there to facilitate discussion, and that really, what learning is to be done is as much from each other as from myself.
Faculty Spotlight: Roxanne Captor

What's your background? 
The short version is: Child performer, Professional Ballet Dancer by age of 12, Broadway musical Performer: Fosse shows, Juilliard Theatre School, Francis Coppola and Gene Kelly protégé. Emmy nominated Producer/Director, One of the founding original programming executives for Turner Network Television. Executive Director of the San Francisco International Film Festival and Film Society. Director/Producer of numerous TV movies and independent features. Created and wrote first ever series on a Latin Family, “The Trujillos” for ABC. Numerous Off-Broadway and Regional plays, Shakespeare, musicals  and operas as director/choreographer.

What are you currently working on?
I just finished a short documentary “Deployment” which was awarded OutstandingNarrative, for the Hall of Fame, Women’s History Month. The project follows a young US Air Force First Lieutenant as she says goodbye to her wife and brother. Other  projects: “Pearl”,  feature film Co-Production with China Film Group. Written and Directed by RMC.  Follows a piece of Nobel Prize winning author Pearl Buck’s life. “Homecoming: Veterans, Wives and Mothers”. Follows our women warriors as they return to roles of wives and mothers on the new battlefield the home front. “Gypsy Robe” series following the lives of young people trying to make it on the Great White Way…Broadway. ‘The Business of the Business for Performers and Behind the Scenes Talent'

How long have you been teaching at ELA?  What course(s) do you teach?
I started in the 1990’s.  I left for SF and this is my first semester back. 
Currently teaching a section of the Internship class.  In the past the Business of the Business for Producers, Docudrama, Internship mentor, Acting for Camera, Cold Reading. 

Do you teach anywhere else?
Santa Monica College.  Head of Documentary Production. 28 short documentaries in conjunction with the History department.  All are on LA history.  Introduction to Media Production, Acting 1 and 2.  Have also taught the Audition Class, Musical Theatre Workshop, Cold Reading and the Business of the Business for Performers and Behind the Scenes Master Class.  

What's one of your most memorable teaching experiences?
The program in LA was and is ground breaking.  The internships are at established top-notch companies.  When the students put in the time and work they have opportunities for jobs and networking that is beyond anywhere else. The alumni are very supportive to the graduates as well.  Both as mentors and employers.  “We would always say when you get that fabulous job remember who taught and mentored you when I am looking to pitch a project”  One of my students is still at Warner’s in PR.  Every time I speak to him, which is not often, he says,” I keep your notes at my desk.  If I get stuck I look at them for advice.”  Very cool.  I feel like a proud Mama. 

How would you describe the Emerson student?
The Emerson student is well trained and socially conscious.  Very necessary in these times.  They not only can do the work and pride themselves on a job well done but they know it is important to be a part of the community and give back.  It is what we are all doing…isn’t it?! 

Is there any advice you often give your students?
Performance, Persistence and Perseverance.  Then Discipline.  If you work hard, apply what you learned and keep learning you will succeed. 

Do you have a teaching philosophy?
Teaching is a process of instilling the concepts and necessary skills for life-long learning, in addition to team participation, with an individual. The student will ultimately leave the protective environment of the ‘educational system’ to enter society as, hopefully, a contributing entity.  At this point using the skills learned in the educational system will provide students with a better way to communicate and work in the job market.  I want to prepare students for the competitive job market.  They must have the work ethic and skills necessary to succeed. 

As a teacher, my goal is to share the professional process, focusing on subject matter in my area of expertise, using current teaching tools available. I strive to personally model this using my professional experience in the real world, often incorporating current projects as they are presented to me, and continuously seek new methods of processing and presentation.  I believe in flexibility for spontaneous discovery as well as giving directives toward specific goals. I present students the fundamentals of the subject, real world examples, and a collaborative forum for discussing options working in a group atmosphere and dealing with issues.  Management skills as well as collaborative skills are emphasized.  From this, the student will experience a ‘hands-on’ practical application of the learning process, and, as a teacher and professional in my field, I have the opportunity to gain new insight based on individual student needs and collaboration with colleagues.

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