Semester in LA


Your Semester in LA instructors are active industry professionals who know the business from the inside.
  • Dan Asma


    Dan Asma is one of the co-owners of the advertising agency, Buddha Jones, that specializes in visual trailers and motion graphics. Dan graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in film and moved to Los Angeles to develop his editorial skills. Starting as a PA at a theatrical marketing post-production house he found himself shifting from film to digital. After bouncing around from different agencies, he worked his way up to a founding partner of Buddha Jones. Buddha Jones has recently worked on marketing campaigns for IT, Ready Player One, Netflix’s G.L.O.W., Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Bird Box, Aquaman, Shazam, and The Conjuring films, just to name a few.

  • Dirk Blackman
  • Robert Atwood


    Robert Atwood is currently Executive Vice President, Current Series & Digital Media at Legendary TV Studios – working on TV adaptations of Godzilla and Dune as well as overseeing Animation for the studio. He has also produced Carnival Row, Paper Girls, and Night Sky for the studio. Previously he was Head of Development & Production for Fazekas & Butters – a production company for ABC Studios. He started his career in television at Brillstein Entertainment Partners before working at Viacom. He is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Film program – completing his studies at the Semester in LA Program in 2004. He has been teaching at Semester in LA since 2022.

  • Rona Edwards


    Rona Edwards was Vice President of Creative Affairs for John Larroquette, Academy Award-winner Michael Phillips, and Emmy-winning Producer Fern Field before becoming an independent producer. Her producing credits include: Killer Hair, Hostile Makeover, Blind Trust (Lifetime), One Special Victory (NBC), The Companion (USA/SyFi), I Know What You Did (ABC), Out Of Sync (VH1), and Der Morder Meiner Mutter (Sat.1). Documentaries include: Selling Sex in Heaven (CBC), Selling Sex (Ralston Ltd) and Unforgettable (PBS). She has had projects made or in development with CBS, ABC, NBC, HBO, Phoenix, Edward R. Pressman, USA Network, SyFi Channel, Warner Bros., and David Wolper. When she isn’t developing projects in television, feature film, and transmedia, Rona writes for various publications/newspapers including Produced By and Script magazine, and co-wrote the bestselling books, I Liked It, Didn’t Love It: Screenplay Development From The Inside Out!, and The Complete Filmmakers Guide to Film Festivals.

  • Trischa Gamus


    Trischa is a creative marketer, storyteller, and vision-driven leader with 15 years of professional experience spanning Streaming, Film, Television, and Music. Trischa currently works in Social Media Marketing at Spotify and previously held positions at Universal, Amazon 20th Century Studios, Fox Broadcasting, Live Nation, and The Walt Disney Company. She served as a lead change-maker in entertainment leading the development and execution of digital campaigns for award-winning television and film titles including Sing 2, Bohemian Rhapsody, Love Simon, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bones, The Wilds and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

  • Cooper Justus

    Cooper Justus is the Manager of Post Production Services & Restoration at HBO where he works with a bi-coastal team of production and post professionals that help create record-setting television shows like Succession, Game of Thrones and Euphoria. In addition to current shows, he’s had a major role in remastering some of HBO’s classics such as From the Earth to the Moon and Sex and the City. Cooper started his career as an intern for CBS and Electric City Entertainment before interning with HBO where he successfully transitioned to an executive assistant role. Outside of the corporate environment, Cooper has served as a competition judge at various screenplay competitions including Cinequest and enjoys writing his own scripts. His short script “In Shadows” garnered three wins and was recognized by several other screenplay competitions including ScreenCraft, the Nashville Film Festival, and Creative World Awards. Cooper received his MFA in Cinema Directing at Columbia College Chicago and a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from The University of Missouri. In his free time, Cooper can be found writing, working out and learning new languages.

  • Claudia Puig


    Claudia Puig is president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a nationally recognized entertainment journalist. Currently a critic for NPR’s Film Week and contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, she was USA Today’s film critic for 18 years and host of The Screening Room video series. Prior to that she was a Los Angeles Times staff writer for 11 years. Claudia was a speechwriter for AMPAS and is currently program director for the Mendocino Film Festival and Film Fest 919 in North Carolina. Much in demand as a moderator for entertainment industry Q&As, she has a consulting business specializing in cultural and diversity consulting. A native Spanish speaker, Claudia studied at Universidad Ibero-Americana in Mexico City. She has a B.A. in Communications Studies from UCLA and an M.A. in Communications from USC’s Annenberg School. She was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times as one of 14 film critics making media more inclusive and is the winner of the Roger Ebert Award for Excellence in Film Criticism from the African-American Critics Association.

  • Dino-Ray Ramos


    Dino-Ray Ramos is an award-winning journalist and podcast host. He served as an editor at Deadline where he reported on inclusion, diversity and representation in film and TV. In 2021, he launched the alternative media platform DIASPORA, spotlighting underrepresented voices in entertainment and media. He created, produced, and hosted the GLAAD Media Award-winning New Hollywood Podcast and his work has been seen in Vogue, Entertainment Tonight, The, Paste Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle,  and Oakland Tribune . In addition to writing, Ramos has also done DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) consulting work for GLAAD, Amazon Studios, United Artists, the Center For Asian American Media (CAAM), the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), Visual Communications, among other companies. He is a member of The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, the Critics Choice Association and was part of Gold House’s A100 List which recognizes the most impactful Asians in the country.

  • Troy Takaki

    Takaki moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to pursue his filmmaking career after graduating with a degree in cinema from San Francisco State University. Starting in television, he worked on such hit series as “Desperate Housewives,” “Ally McBeal,” and “Tales from the Crypt” Troy Takaki has cut such box office hits as “Sweet Home Alabama,” “The Bounty Hunter,” “Fool’s Gold,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and “Hitch.” Takaki is one of the few picture editors that splits his time between features and television. He recently edited shows such as “YOU” and “Mr. Mercedes”, and the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen.” He is currently working on the series “Dead Boy Detectives” for HBO MAX. In addition to editing, Takaki has also been active in the ACE internship program since 2003. He founded the ACE Diversity Mentorship Program in 2015, its mission statement being, “To help mentor young editors with the goal of them being ACE members one day and to create a more diverse editing community that includes members of traditionally underrepresented groups.” Takaki is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia College Chicago where he teaches the class “Career Planning Post-Production”

  • Vance Van Petten


    Vance Van Petten is the National Executive Director/COO of the Producers Guild of America, representing producers of motion pictures and programming for television and new media. Prior to leading the PGA, Van Petten was Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at Universal TV, Twentieth Century Fox Television, and Paramount TV. Van Petten started his career as an associate in the entertainment law firm of Irwin & Rowan representing producers, actors, comics, and comedy groups such as The Groundlings. Van Petten simultaneously earned Juris Doctorate and Master of Public Administration degrees from the University of Southern California. He received his B.A. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles with Phi Beta Kappa distinction. Van Petten has written and lectured extensively for various educational institutions and professional organizations, and has led workshops on negotiating for producers. Van Petten’s book, Ten Minutes to the Speech, was published in 2007.

  • Jon Vandergriff


    JON VANDERGRIFF received his MFA in Screenwriting at the University of Southern California and immediately segued into professional sitcom writing with his debut freelance script for the ABC hit show, Coach. That was followed by a six-year stint on the even bigger ABC hit, Home Improvement, where he rose from Staff Writer to Supervising Producer. He attained the title of Co-Executive Producer on the popular WB show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Along the way, Jon wrote sitcom pilots for NBC and The WB and has also had two screenplays optioned by Hollywood-based production companies. A life-long lover of board games, Jon is also a board game inventor who has had three games published, including Anger Management, and A Way With Words.
  • Rosanne Welch

    Rosanne Welch, Phd, is Executive Director of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting. Her writing/producing credits include Beverly Hills 90210Picket FencesABCNEWS: Nightline and Touched by an Angel. In 2018 Welch edited When Women Wrote Hollywood, a collection of essays of famous female screenwriters, which was named runner up for the Susan Koppelman Award for the best anthology, multi-authored, or edited book in feminist studies by the Popular Culture Association. That same year she co-edited Women in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia (named to both the 2018 Outstanding References Sources List and to the list of Best Historical Materials, by the American Library Association.) She has written several popular culture books including: Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Popular Culture; The Civil War on Film; American Women’s History of Film and contributed chapters to Doctor Who: New Dawn:  Essays on the Jodie Whittaker Era; and Handbook of Screenwriting Studies.  Her talk “The Importance of Having a Female Voice in the Room” at the 2016 TEDxCPP which can be viewed at