Richie Jackson Alumni Fellowship

Are you a NY-based alum who graduated within the last three years? Are you struggling to balance your student loans with your life as an artist?

Richie Jackson, Executive Producer of the hit Showtime series Nurse Jackie, has established a fellowship program to assist the transition from the classroom to a life-long career in the arts. Up to four Fellows will be chosen to receive a $5000 stipend and be mentored by Richie Jackson in monthly meetings over the duration of the program.

Applicants must be recent New York-based graduates of NYU Tisch School of Arts’s departments of Film & Television, Drama/Grad Acting, Dramatic Writing, Graduate Musical Theatre Writing, or Cinema Studies, and have demonstrated financial need while attending Tisch by taking out a student loan. The term of the fellowship is six months, beginning March 2017. Current students are not eligible to apply.

The submission period for the Fellowship begins on Tuesday, November 1 and only the first 100 complete applications will be considered, so start prepping now! For more info about the Fellowship, visit

Submit Now! UGFTV Scripts

UGFTV SCRIPTS offers a great opportunity to get your scripts out there, have them read, make contact with managers, agents, producers, etc.  

How does UGFTV SCRIPTS work? Each semester current students and alums who have graduated within the past year are eligible to submit feature-length, one hour and half-hour scripts. Feature scripts must be a minimum of 90 pages and no longer than 120 pages. One hour pilot scripts must be 45 to 60 pages in length.  Half-hour pilot scripts are limited to 20-30 pages.

What happens next? Scripts are read and vetted by NYU writing faculty members and industry professionals. 

Purpose? UGFTV SCRIPTS introduces emerging screenwriters to top-level members of the film industry. Two students from last year’s Top Picks have landed managers. 

When? The deadline for submissions for Spring 2017 is December 9, 2016.

What else? The title, author’s name, logline and genre-type are required for each submission. All scripts must be copyrighted or registered with the WGA prior to submission.  

Where?  Scripts should be submitted to John Warren at  Subject line must read ‘UGFTV SCRIPTS submission.’

Q&A with Sam Esmail, Creator of Mr. Robot

Good filmmakers show us the world from a different angle. Great filmmakers change the way we see the world. Alum Sam Esmail (UGFTV, 1998) belongs to the latter. His new television show Mr. Robot is so unique it redefines a medium. Written and directed by Esmail, the story cuts deep into the experience of alienation, greed, and morality through the eyes of computer hacker Elliot. The show has earned several awards and nominations, including the Emmy noms for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

Esmail’s visit to Tisch is a homecoming more than an info session. His admiration for the Film & TV program lies in its encouragement of “experimentation.” Being handed a 16mm camera and told to create stories was incredibly liberating for Esmail. In the Sight & Sound Filmmaking class, through its practice to create five films over the course of the semester, he decided he wanted to tell a larger story. The result was an “interconnected story”: four films that seemed to be independent of each other until the fifth film that revealed they all worked together.

As well as a filmmaker at NYU, Esmail saw himself as a hacker and a geek. He was experienced in computer coding and was very disappointed in the portrayal of technology in film and television.

As most creative careers, life after graduation was full of twists and turns. He found day jobs editing pornography and reality television (“Basically the same thing,” he explained), but wanted to work as a director on feature films. After trying to find like-minded writers and collaborators to no avail, Esmail decided to write his own work. He never focused on writing at NYU, so he enrolled in the AFI graduate program to hone his craft.

Mr. Robot started as a script for a feature. With everything outlined, he knew everything that had to happen in this story, but grew a little concerned when he had written 130 pages and still hadn’t gotten through the first act of the film. That’s when he started getting inspired by the series True Detective and the concept of cinematic episodic storytelling. Esmail turned his film into an episodic series, though had never read a television pilot, let alone written one.

Though he received many offers, USA Network gave Esmail the best opportunity to present his vision of the story. His creative control of the piece is apparent, from the dynamic compositions to the unique use of voice over. This freedom also comes with the stress of responsibility. He never knows if he’s making a “good” decision. Instead, Esmail says, “make it important.” Scenes are interesting because they’re critical to the story.

His advice to film students is important to finding your own voice: “Do not chase what they want.” Write because you’re passionate about the content, not because it’s marketable. Then, “write a lot. Shoot a lot. Get mistakes out of the way.” Passion should be complemented with an understanding of craft. Craft only comes with practice. It’s comforting to know when you have something important to share with the world, the world will want to see it. Today is the time to find your voice and share it.