As an avid reader, it really makes sense that I would gravitate toward writing. Another factor could have been the fact that for much of my youth we had no television, and sometimes no electricity. Because we lived off the grid in Northern California, I enjoyed an active outdoor lifestyle, and all those adventures were creative gold.
As far back as high school, I was winning writing awards, including receiving second place for the district-wide “Real Women” essay competition. The mayor presented our awards. It really was the beginning of my interest in true life stories.
My first experience of college English was delivered by an ex-journalist. And she was hard-core. One mistake — anything — and she marked your work down by a whole letter grade. Brutal. But I went on to Humboldt state where I studied journalism and theatre.
While at CSU Humboldt, a short story of mine was produced as part of an oral interpretation production. There’s nothing like hearing your words performed on stage. Exciting.
I pursued a B.A. in Media Communications, writing television, film and radio scripts as part of the program. After undergraduate school, I joined the U.S. Army as a Broadcast Journalist/Public Affairs specialist. The advanced training program was intense. It’s a Department of Defense school called DINFOS — Defense Information School and it’s accredited by ACE/COE.
While in the Army, I provided print, radio and video news coverage of base-specific stories. These stories were provided to civilian media for local airing. I also spent time in the public affairs office working with international, and national, civilian media. This may be the best job in the entire service. When we participated in war games, I wore civilians and interviewed colonels. No pressure. Eventually, my experiences in the military would become the foundation for several of my scripts
Dawn Spinella is an award-winning filmmaker, passionate educator and optioned writer-for-hire.
She cut her writing chops on biographical features, but thoroughly enjoys action/adventure and comedy – both television and feature formats.
Her short films (directed/produced) have screened at numerous festivals and her short-form workshops have helped young writers learn the craft.
She holds an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA, and an MA in English/Creative Writing. She’s taught at UCLA and University of the Pacific, as well as workshop events. She’s thrilled to watch her students win screenwriting accolades, but more than that – she loves to inspire them and watch that transfer to the page.
She’s had the honor of working with, and learning from amazing filmmakers like Dustin Lance Black (MILK), Bobby Moresco (CRASH), Paula Wagner (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE), and Wolfgang Petersen (THE PERFECT STORM).
The only thing she is more devoted to than filmmaking & writing is her amazing teenage daughter.