A conversation on creativity and individuality in scriptwriting with Professor Laura Skokan

Jaelyn Decena, Arts & Entertainment Editor

One thing that makes CSUSM so special is the faculty; professors are always open to helping students to the best of their ability.

Professor Skokan of CSUSM’s LTWR and AMD departments on set for short film “Sweet Potato Man” (Photo from IMDb, property of Laura Skokan and photographed by Will Reyna)

A professor who always goes above and beyond for students is Professor Laura Skokan of literature and writing studies and art, media, and design. Professor Skokan instructs both creative writing and writing for digital media courses.

Professor Skokan had a passion for writing that began from an early age.

“The first play I did was in middle school, I wrote somewhat of a Saturday Night Live parody. I was a part of the International Thespian Society and we performed it. Somehow people didn’t know that I wrote it, so the end was sort of a reveal. But I felt pretty proud of myself that people thought it was someone who wrote it but really it was just me,” Skokan said.

Professor Skokan also mentioned that “I also teach in the literature and writing studies department, but I’ve never really been good at reading. I’ve gotten better, but the one thing I’ve been good at since I was younger is dialogue. I can pick up dialogue fairly quickly, so I think that’s where my interest in script writing comes from.”

Like many, Skokan had received inspiration from different people in the writing industry.

“There are a lot of people I look to. Matt Weiner, who does Mad Men, just thinks about writing in such a beautiful and complicated way. I think it’s really lovely that he shares his whole process and really walks people through it. Dan Harmon is another one who also loves talking about the process, which is why I kind of started falling into his little web,” Professor Skokan said.

Professor Skokan went on to talk about the structure of film and writing that she admired.

“Inside Out does such a wonderful job of where we’re following along with Joy and we don’t see the bait-and-switch happen with Sadness until the end. It’s such a nice way to end up teaching us something about how humans work and how sadness is a good thing.” said Skokan

Adding,“that’s always what I’m striving for: not trying to go into ‘oh this arc pays off nicely’ or even ‘this is a very satisfying ending.’ I’m always looking for ‘is this saying something new? Is this saying something that will help people reimagine how they think about things?’”

While the entertainment industry can be intimidating, knowing one’s self as a writer is what keeps audiences interested. It quickly becomes clear that one of the most important things when pursuing script-writing as a career is to keep in mind the why behind one’s writing.

Professor Skokan is more than willing to help out students, especially those planning to pursue an industry that can seem overwhelming and daunting. With her wit, charm, and wide-ranged knowledge about the film industry as a whole, Skokan creates work that makes even those who feel invisible feel recognized.