Filmmaker’s Master’s Degree Widened Her Network
Jenniffer Gomez, M.F.A. ’11, wanted to tell stories that could expand perspectives and impact social change. She knew she also needed to make connections to the film industry. At Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television, Gomez found both. The work she did to earn her master’s degree in screenwriting, and the networks she built along the journey, led to a successful career in television.
Gomez, a writer and producer for the Latinx series “Vida,” on STARZ, used her thesis screenplay, “Undocumented,” as a springboard to her career. “Undocumented” opened many doors for her, and won her a seat in Film Independent’s Screenwriting Lab. Through the lab, she first received representation.
Her thesis also drove her to produce her first feature-length project. While doing research, she read a story about a group of undocumented youth who were walking across the country for immigrant rights. Gomez decided to film their nine-month and 3,000-mile journey. That led to her first documentary film, “American Dreamers,” which she produced, wrote and co-directed after graduation. Gomez is developing a scripted television series with Blumhouse TV that’s inspired by some of the same activists she met on the road. “Talk about a full circle — it’s because of my thesis that I did my documentary, and it’s because of my documentary that I now have the chance to develop my first-ever television series,” Gomez said.
While she is devoted to documentaries, Gomez is also deeply invested in the series “Vida.” There, she is part of an all-Latinx writers room, believed to be a first, and a very diverse crew, featuring many women directors.
Among the factors that brought her to LMU was the Jesuit education and the emphasis on social values, and the film school’s reputation for connections to the industry. During her studies, she said she benefited from the encouragement of her professors and the industry connections she made.
SFTV has many programs and opportunities to connect students with alumni. Mentorships are important, too, for helping students meet and learn from industry professionals. Gomez was part of the first Incubator Lab, which invited film and TV experts to campus to talk to students. “Networking is super important, but it can be daunting,” Gomez said. “Without support, networking can be scary.” She is now a mentor for LMU students, in a way giving back.
But, she added, “Every door that’s opened for me has been because of a relationship.”
Click here to learn more about LMU’s Screenwriting Program.