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Studying Los Angeles

Buy the DVD

Last year’s best movie, Lionsgate’s La La Land, debuted in certain theaters a year ago next week and, though I’ve parenthetically included the movie in my blog’s first Christmas gift guide, I have also added a link to buy the DVD. With the director, whose first film, Whiplash, garnered interest and recently announced that he’s making a new movie about the Apollo 11 landing of man on the moon, I think the musically-themed 2016 movie warrants serious consideration.

La La Land is a spirited and stimulating depiction of America’s pioneering individualism in general, and of Southern California’s productiveness, resilience and can-do youthfulness in particular, with songs by the team that composed this year’s hit musical, Dear Evan Hansen (and this month’s upcoming The Greatest Showman). Emma Stone (Aloha, Battle of the Sexes) and Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March, Blade Runner 2049) co-star as the young, ambitious artists of ability. I know others disagree whether the movie’s any good. Nevertheless, I am confident that La La Land deserves honest appraisal as a great film.

A new center for the study of Los Angeles opened this year at Occidental College in Eagle Rock. Earlier this year, I was asked by the local edition of the LA Times to report on the academy, so I went to the campus where Terry Gilliam, Ben Affleck, Jack Kemp and Barack Obama once took college classes and met and interviewed the director. I previously posted about the assignment this summer. In a wide-ranging discussion, we discussed the history of the humanities college, which was founded by Christians, the region and the ethos of Southern California. The director, a son of two college professors, told me about his own background, from a childhood in Alabama to living in downtown LA. I’ve added the article, which was published in the Los Angeles Times, to the archives here.

Next year’s Writing Boot Camp and Maximizing Social Media return to the San Fernando Valley’s Henry Mingay campus near Bob Hope Airport. Register for the course on perfecting social media here. Enroll in my writing course here.

Register for Night School

This week alone, there’s been an editorial purge at the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice announced an end to its print publication and fan favorite and self-proclaimed feminist filmmaker Joss Whedon was arguably smeared by an essay written by his ex-wife in the pages of … the San Francisco Chronicle, a trending tidbit which caused his online fan group to totally disband within hours of publication. With today’s fast-moving media developments, including the President’s Tweets, Facebook’s new video platform and LinkedIn under Microsoft, being media savvy requires study and contemplation.

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Balancing, integrating and making the best of today’s media is the focus of my fall social media course. Lessons include: fundamental features, safeguarding and managing your reputation, planning for the long term across multiple platforms, pitfalls and putting visuals into a proper context. We work through several different scenarios and, using past and current examples, role-play and practice various drills. The premise is producing media in one’s self-interest.

The 10-week course, Maximizing Social Media, runs from 6PM, Monday, September 11th through November 13th at Burbank Adult School’s San Fernando Valley campus near Bob Hope Airport. Besides basic tutorials, visual presentations, demonstrations of various sites, apps, tools and content, every student gets an opportunity to test, examine and evaluate his social media presence and production. Space is limited (and last semester’s waiting list was long), however, so it’s best to register early to reserve a seat in class.

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My writing course tends to fill up, too, and I’m planning to invite more published authors as guest lecturers this fall. Generally, Writing Boot Camp includes adult students that write for work and as screenwriters — one writer in this summer’s class came in with what he described as writer’s block and now reports on my ‘alumni’ Facebook page that he’s writing and outlining a new movie script — studio script readers, actors, comedians, studio executives, talent scouts, managers and agents as well as coaches, instructors, published authors and others.

My Writing Boot Camp begins at 6PM on Tuesday, September 12th.

The series is an immersion in the writing process as a progression in six key steps. Students read their work aloud in an analytical, encouraging and purposeful class. As the instructor, I read and examine each student’s writing, offering notes, suggestions and feedback. Additionally, each student who completes my 10-week Writing Boot Camp earns admission to my closed writing group on Facebook, a networking and productivity center for tips and leads on publishing and production and literary, entertainment industry and other opportunities, resources and related events such as the LA Times Festival of Books and TCM Classic Film Festival.

Maximizing Social Media is a relaxed, exhaustive series covering essential media brand management. Lessons include how to foster an enduring social network. Every class features visual display or demonstration, as well as opportunities for guided instruction and screenshots. Register online for Maximizing Social Media here. The 10-part Writing Boot Camp takes place this fall at the same campus.


Register for Writing Boot Camp

Register for Maximizing Social Media

Maximizing Social Media, Summer of Seventeen

Doesn’t it seem like you spend more time setting functions, turning them on and off, managing e-mail and notifications and blocking, deleting and relentlessly scrolling, sizing and filing with your finger? Taming technology to work for you, as against passively letting assets become liabilities that overwhelm, is often tedious, draining and time-consuming.

Balancing, integrating and making the best of today’s personal tech demands is the focus of my all-new summer course on social media. Among the lessons: safeguarding your reputation, managing expectations and posting pictures into their proper context. The course premise is to leverage social media to advance one’s self-interest.

Register Now

The 4-part series, Maximizing Social Media, runs from 6PM, Monday, June 5th through July 10th at Burbank Adult School’s San Fernando Valley campus near Bob Hope Airport. Though I can’t guarantee that your time spent using technology under certain conditions for certain purposes will immediately make you feel more fabulous than frustrated, I’m confident that you’ll have a better grasp of social media and, should you choose to use my lessons, look forward to your social media time and gain compounding value from it.

Maximizing Social Media is a concise, intensive course covering essential media management principles. These include how to make and cultivate an enduring, rewarding social network. Each class features visual displays or demonstrations, as well as opportunities for personal instruction and highlighted screenshots of social media sites, tools and apps. Register online for Maximizing Social Media here. I also teach a 6-part Writing Boot Camp this summer at the same campus.


Register for Writing Boot Camp

Register for Maximizing Social Media

Writing Boot Camp, Summer of Seventeen

Having recently finished teaching spring’s course on writing, the reviews are very gratifying. The class included adults who work and write as actors, lawyers and insurance agents as well as teachers, published writers, stand-up comedians, first-time novelists, studio script readers and others. The spring class gave me the best reviews yet.

I’m preparing six new summer lessons in my Writing Boot Camp, which begins at 6PM on Thursday, June 1st.

Register Now

This is an immersive and detailed study of the writing process in a progression of six steps. Students read their writing aloud in a structured, collaborative and purposeful classroom setting. I read and evaluate each student’s writing, providing thoughts, notes and feedback. Additionally, each student who completes my Writing Boot Camp gains admission to my closed writing group on Facebook, which is made for networking and sharing leads to publishing and production opportunities, resources and related events such as the LA Times Festival of Books and TCM Classic Film Festival.

The lecture-based course, with slide presentations, Q&A and writing assignments, takes place in a bright, intimate classroom at the Henry Mingay campus of Burbank Adult School in LA’s San Fernando Valley near Bob Hope Airport. Register online for Writing Boot Camp here. This summer, I also offer a new, four-part course titled Maximizing Social Media (details and registration are here).


Register for Writing Boot Camp

Register for Maximizing Social Media

Summer School

Teaching continues this summer in Southern California. My six-week, general adult education Writing Boot Camp runs in night school. A new four-part course addresses today’s social media demands, such as building and safeguarding one’s reputation and putting pictures into a proper context, and using social media to advance one’s self-interest.

Register Now

The new series, Maximizing Social Media, and Writing Boot Camp, go from June to July in LA’s San Fernando Valley at the Henry Mingay adult education campus near Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (register online for Writing Boot Camp here and Maximizing Social Media here).

Maximizing Social Media is an intensive, all-new short course covering the essential principles of media management, including creating and cultivating your social network for maximum and premium value. Classes feature demonstrations, tutorials and screenshots of various social media apps and sites.

Register Now

Writing Boot Camp is an immersive study of the writing process in a certain progression of six steps. Students read what they write aloud in a collaborative, structured and purposeful classroom setting and each student’s writing is evaluated by yours truly with detailed notes and feedback. Each student who finishes either course is invited to join my new, closed adult education alumni groups on Facebook for networking and information about creative opportunities and resources and creative events such as the LA Times Festival of Books and TCM Classic Film Festival.

Additionally, and for the first time, I’m planning to teach seniors at Burbank’s Joslyn Adult Center. The city’s parks and recreation department asked me to build a media program on Mastering Social Media to help active older adults engage family, work and life. The three-part program includes: “Introducing Social Media” on June 7; “Understanding Social Media” on June 21 and “Activating Social Media” on June 28.

Joslyn Adult Center in Burbank, California

The first 90-minute workshop provides seniors—a segment of the population which I think is widely misunderstood and underestimated—with an orientation in social media essentials. The second session examines functionality on such apps and sites as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The third and final workshop offers an opportunity for demonstration and personal instruction on social media accounts. Each session takes place at Joslyn Adult Center. To register, call (818) 238-5353. The Joslyn Adult Center, located in Burbank’s George Izay Park, is named for businessman Marcellus Joslyn, whose foundation funded its construction and capital projects.

Teaching adults, especially older adults—though young adults frequently enroll, too—is immensely rewarding. Writing is inherently introspective and solitary. The classroom is a wonderful place to instill, renew and affirm one’s lifelong contract to learn. Teaching what I know to some of LA‘s most engaged, productive and knowledgeable minds—mostly middle class working adults—is constantly enriching. Besides managing social media and various screenwriting, journalism and enterprise projects, I’ve enrolled as a student myself this summer in Turner Classic Movies’ online educational partnership with Ball State to study Alfred Hitchcock films. I also plan to attend Pittsburgh’s first Objectivist Conference.


Register for Writing Boot Camp

Register for Maximizing Social Media