Mav Viola

April 7, 2014

Mav Viola Second Year
Dramatic Writing Option

What medium do you prefer to work in? Television, preferably sitcoms.

Favorite TV show? Oh geez, of all time?! That's impossible. But I do love English comedies, so I'll go with The Vicar of Dibley.

Favorite film/documentary? I love Bringing Up Baby because it has such an absurd plot, but it’s carried out by a couple of intellectuals. I’m also very weak for neurotic female leads who drive their male counterparts insane, and eventually, in love. For documentary, anything put out by Vice Magazine (they have a series on HBO and tons of short docs online) is pretty enlightening.

Why did you choose Cal State L.A.’s MFA program in Television, Film and Theatre? I like that it incorporated theatre into the picture because I don't have much experience in that arena. It's always been a hope of mine to gain some sort of working knowledge of the field. I was also drawn to the newness of the program because that meant ambitious professors, fresh curriculum, newer equipment, and smaller classes with more direct attention.

What were you doing before you enrolled in the program? Before I enrolled at Cal State, I was getting everything out of my system in an effort to figure out what career I wanted to pursue. I was working as the outreach coordinator at Los Angeles Youth Network, a homeless shelter in Hollywood for youths age 12 to 17, performing improv at The Second City, playing music gigs around town, recording an album, and writing scripts with another comedy gal. Once I tried everything, I realized that writing was my big love, and I enrolled in the program at Cal State LA.

Do you have film/TV industry experience or are you currently working in the industry? I have some experience here and there. I've been a director's assistant on a web series, a post-production assistant on a feature film, a script supervisor on some short horror films, writer on a feature for a small production company, and danced on Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Twice!

What are you passionate about? I'm most passionate when it comes to my family, laughter (cure-all), my goddaughter, my writing career, helping youths get connected to services, and I can really get into a good vacuuming session.

What themes are important to you in your work? Differentness, depression, nostalgia, family, connectedness, how we define "home", reality.

What projects/people in the film industry inspire you? I'm always inspired by Quentin Tarantino, as well as the Coen brothers. They're writers/directors with an incredibly unique style, interesting subject matter, and a flawless ability to blend humor and drama. Then there are people like Dee Rees, who I met at Outfest when she premiered her short film, Pariah. Rees is another writer/director with a brilliant vision. I'm inspired by her commitment to that film and was thrilled when Spike Lee decided to produce the feature.

Most fascinating thing you have learned in the MFA program recently? I learned so many fascinating things during the production of our web series, and I learned the majority of it from my peers in the program. As a writer, I know very little about the technical side of things. When I wasn't busy with my own work, I tried to ask questions and listen in as they set up the equipment. I learned very quickly that I was fascinated by the director's role and wanted to learn more. The most fascinating thing, however, was how well we worked together. Everyone brought something profoundly unique to the table and it made for an incredibly hard-working and fun week.

What are your plans after graduation? Get an agent, become a staff writer on a sitcom, write for all of eternity and eventually become a showrunner, and set aside time to open a youth shelter in L.A. with some ambitious social work friends.