Growing up, Thomas Reyes' Filipino immigrant parents moved a lot. He attended seven different schools, and lived in Las Vegas for seven years, all by the time he was in middle school. As an only child, he could make friends easily, but sitcoms became his surrogate siblings. He attended UCLA and after graduating, instead of going to law school, he studied sitcom writing at UCLA Extension. He has held a variety of positions in both scripted and unscripted television and has written for ISAtv as well the BuzzFeed series Ask an Asian. He has also written for the Disney ABC Talent Showcase and the CBS Diversity Sketch Workshop. He was a semifinalist at the Austin Film Festival and New York Television Festival. He recently completed the Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop and is currently Staff Writer on the upcoming half hour dramedy AMERICAN WOMAN which will premiere in early 2018 on the newly launched Paramount Network.
"[The professor] tore my script apart. It was brutal but it was a great lesson in not being precious... It's fine. I can go back to the drawing board and I'll still have more ideas, I'll still have more pages to write."
Geeta Malik received her Master of Fine Arts from UCLA’s graduate film program in directing. She wrote and directed the viral narrative short, AUNTY Gs, which earned a College Television Award (a “student Emmy”) in comedy production from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Her short film, BEAST, played at Method Fest and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Geeta is a recipient of the Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Production Award, the Coppel Screenwriting Award and the Jack Nicholson Distinguished Director Award.
Geeta’s first feature film, TROUBLEMAKER, premiered at the 2011 Cinequest Film Festival, and was distributed by Asian Crush. In 2012, Geeta was a finalist for the ABC/Disney Directing Fellowship. She was a Film Independent Project Involve Fellow for 2013 – 2014. Her most recent short film, SHAMELESS, has played at over 15 festivals, including the Sedona Film Festival, and won the jury award for best comedy at the Long Beach QFilm Festival.
Geeta is a winner of the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for her latest feature script, DINNER WITH FRIENDS. She is also the winner of the 2016 Austin Film Festival Feature Comedy Screenplay award, also for DINNER WITH FRIENDS.
"I'll have a lot of times where I'll sit for hours in front of the keyboard and not be able to write anything and be like, "God, this sucks! I'm horrible, I'm never going to get through this," and I'll get up and I'll walk away and literally a minute later I'll be like, "Oh!" and I'll come back in and have an idea. It's just a matter of just leaving that space for a second."
• Geeta Malik on Twitter
Matt Demblowski is a comedy writer and TV producer who got his start in entertainment as a development executive for Stick Figure Productions, in New York, NY. He conceived, developed and produced such reality series as National Geographic's "Repossessed!" and "American Gypsies," among other pilots and documentary films.
Matt's screenwriting has received honors in a number of national competitions including the Austin Film Festival (Finalist, Digital Series), Final Draft Big Break (Semi-Finalist, Comedy Pilot) and the Creative World Awards (1st Place, Comedy Spec).
In September 2017, he released his original webseries, "Halftime," a show he created, wrote, directed and produced in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, he works as a Script Coordinator on "Superstition" at Syfy. In his spare time, he enjoys reading detective novels, binge-watching "Game of Thrones" and eating pizza.
"I don't give up on projects. One of the things I'm working on now is literally the first screenplay I wrote ten years ago. I'm working on it for my own gratification. I want this script to be something that I'm proud of. And hopefully I've learned something over the years and I'll go back and fix things I didn't know how to fix then... I think there's something instructive about going back to something you once loved and digging into it and figuring out how to make it work."
• Matt Demblowski on Twitter
• Halftime, the web series
Stephanie Coggins spent much of her early life writing stories. As an undergrad at the University of Michigan, Stephanie kept her creative juices flowing by contributing pop culture articles to several campus newspapers, and it wasn’t long before she was accepted into USC’s graduate film program at the School of Cinematic Arts. Since then, Stephanie has participated in NBC’s Writers on the Verge program, has had her work featured in NBC’s annual Scene Showcase in Los Angeles and New York, and had a half-hour pilot place in 2016 Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest. Additionally, Stephanie has been selected as a Finalist for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Disney|ABC Writing Program. She is currently the Showrunner’s assistant on BET’s Being Mary Jane. In her free time, Stephanie watches old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
"With drama, I feel like I do a lot of the same things that I did with comedy, I just leave out the jokes... The objective isn't to make you laugh. The objective is to make you feel something."
• Stephanie Coggins on Twitter
• Stephanie's podcast Cinemacraptaculus
Ross Zimmerman is a TV writer who recently completed writing his second episode of the Disney XD live-action/animation-hybrid kids show ‘Kirby Buckets.’ He also wrote and produced the pilot for the online series ‘Geex’ and has pitched an animated series to multiple networks. He has worked on over 28 different film and television productions during the course of his career, including the final season of 'How I Met Your Mother,' as he worked his way up through the ranks from intern to PA to Script Coordinator to earning his first writing credits.
"Writers just go and they write and they do it. You can't not write."
• Ross Zimmerman on Twitter
• Kirby Buckets on Disney XD
Mike Roe is a writer based in Los Angeles. His sitcom pilot “Student Government” made it to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Austin Film Festival screenplay competition. It also received a staged reading at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and a fully staged production at the Pack Theater. Mike writes and performs with Pack Theater house team Dandy and writes for topical sketch comedy show Top Story Weekly. He was also a finalist for NBC’s Late Night Writers Workshop. By day, he works as a journalist for NPR affiliate KPCC, covering news and pop culture. His pop culture coverage earned him a nomination for a National Entertainment Journalism award.
"We locked ourselves in the hotel and just wrote for a weekend, to just go write somewhere else and not be distracted."
• Mike Roe on Twitter
• The sketch team Dandy
Paul Ditty is a TV writer. His first writing “break” came in the form of a book when his satire of Nancy Drew books, “The Straight Shooter: A Nate Dainty Manhunt” was published in 2010. Most recently, Paul’s dramatic comedy “Thoroughly Mormon Millie” was a second rounder at Austin Film Festival and his “Mindy Project” spec was a top-three finalist in Final Draft’s Big Break Competition. Currently, Paul lives in Long Beach with his husband Eddie along with their cat, dog and drought tolerant yard.
"Four years ago I couldn't have [written an hour-long script]. I needed the practice of writing. But writing this half-hour about the weight loss left me really dissastisfied. It made me realize, "You know what, I want to tell longer stores." Not because I don't want to edit, but because I just feel like sometimes when I write something there's a lot more to tell about it. So the good thing about that script is that it did bring me to the decision to write "Millie" as an hour."
• Paul Ditty on Twitter
April Shih is a comedy writer in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Southern California, April attended film school at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She wrote, directed, and produced the indie feature “You, Only Better,” and has produced several plays including the Ovation Award-winning revival of "Kiss of the Spiderwoman: The Musical." April spent two years playing professional poker in Las Vegas before completing her degree in English Creative Writing (Playwriting) at Cal State Northridge. April was a Top 3-finalist of the Final Draft Big Break contest, winner of the TV Academy Foundation comedy writing internship, and most recently was a fellow in the 2017 CAPE New Writers Fellowship.
"I ask my friends all the time, "What do you think my weaknesses are, what do you think my strengths are?" And it is interesting to me when I check in every six months or every year and it starts changing. That's when it's interesting to me, because it's like, "Oh, I can get better at something.""
• April Shih on Twitter
• The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Kiyong Kim was born in Korea and grew up in Los Angeles before going to art school in Boston. He studied Illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art, and took creative writing classes at Emerson College where he first discovered what a script was. After graduating, he moved back to Los Angeles and focused on writing and directing. His first script, “Brobot”, placed 4th in the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. Since then, he’s written and directed short films that have won contests, played at festivals, and have been licensed for distribution. Kiyong decided to focus on television writing, and was chosen for the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship, the NBC Writers on the Verge program, and the CAAM Fellowship, where Kourtney Kang was his mentor.
He works full time as a Graphic Designer pushing pixels around by day, and works on scripts and an animated web series on nights and weekends.
“I need to see the small wins for me. And make it an achievable thing to aim for. Otherwise it's so overwhelming, this thing that we're trying to do.”
Melynda Bissmeyer is a grad of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has developed and managed projects and productions in film, theater and new media for MTV Networks, Blue Man Group and Fox and worked as a freelance journalist for Premiere, Spin, Rolling Stone, Conde Nast Travel and The Village Voice. Her television scripts have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Scriptapalooza, the Page Screenwriting Awards and Final Draft’s Big Break. She currently has a feature in development with producer Emily Ting of Unbound Feet Productions.
"The biggest thing for me is I will be very open to notes about plot and structure and characters. But the one thing I do know is I know my voice as a writer and I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not as good at."
• Melynda Bissmeyer on Twitter