FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Renowned Writer/Producer Sara B Cooper joins VFS's Writing department

By VFS, on March 20, 2024

Vancouver Film School is beyond excited/thrilled/ecstatic to announce that Sara B Cooper has joined VFS’s Writing for Film, Television, & Games program as an Instructor. Sara is a versatile Writer and Producer for film & television, with a strong background in taking scripts from development through filming and into post-production.

With a body of work spanning more than three decades, Sara got her start writing for iconic series like Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X Files, and Chicago Hope. Sara was also one of five writers on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – the debut film of the hit franchise. Since then, Sara’s focus has been largely on developing, writing, & showrunning for television, with credits including Emmy-winner House M.D., Sanctuary, Combat Hospital, and Continuum – a double Saturn Award-winner and a 14-time Leo Award-winner!

Sara has taken writer's rooms by storm throughout her career, from The X-Files to Continuum, House M.D., and more.

At VFS, Sara has already taught the following classes: 'Action-Adventure Genre', 'Feature Script' and 'Story & Character'. Currently, she's teaching classes on 'Feature Development', 'Producing for Writers' and 'Final Feature 1'. We're also lucky to have Sara join us for an Industry Talk at our upcoming All Access Pass event on April 3 (more on that at the bottom of this article!).

In advance of the event, we caught up with Sara to discuss her industry career and joining VFS:

How did you get your start in the industry? How did your career journey lead you to showrunning & writing for award-winning television series?

I was an acupuncturist when I had an idea for an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So, I looked up Star Trek scripts, studied them, and then wrote one on my own. My boyfriend at the time was a character actor and had an agent who forwarded it on to the production company. They couldn't use the idea but invited me in to pitch other ideas and ended up buying three story ideas. At the time I was writing with my boyfriend, but I wrote a short film on my own and it got into the hands of the producers for The X-Files. They brought me in to pitch and hired me. Later on, during my time on House M.D., I sold an idea to what was then ABC Family and was hired to write and produce a show. And although that show didn't get picked up, I had enough experience under my belt to be hired as second-in-command to assist with showrunning.

Is there a favourite project you've worked on? Any extra special memories in the writer's room or on set that stand out?

It's more who I've loved working with. Although it was a tough first gig, I loved working on The X-Files with Glen Morgan, James Wong, and Darin Morgan. Working on NBC's Homicide with Tom Fontana was again difficult, but very rewarding. There are always moments in a writer's room that are juicy and fun. On Chicago Hope, we used to keep a whiteboard just for funny things that were said in the room. One of the sayings was "the gorilla is a much maligned animal." That still cracks me up. I guess you had to be there.

Writing a TV spec is a common practice for screenwriters trying to break into the industry. It was a success for Sara, who wrote her first spec for Star Trek: The Next Generation.

We're very fortunate to have you join the VFS family. What do you look forward to most in teaching current and future Writing students?

I love teaching. I love being able to facilitate a person's creativity and help them find their voice.

What advice do you have for aspiring/emerging writers as they navigate their industry careers? Do you have a “golden rule”?

Diversify. Always have a job or a skill you can fall back on during strikes or down time. Don't have writing be your only creative outlet and don't let it determine your sense of self-worth. AND, most importantly, learn nonviolent conflict resolution techniques. Learn how to deal with differences in a calm, clear, and generous way. Be authentic, have integrity, and be kind.

Welcome to the VFS family, Sara! We are so fortunate to have you as part of our team, training current & future generations of VFS writing students and helping launch their careers.

VFS All Access Pass if your exclusive backstage pass to VFS's industry-leading programs.

Looking to train as a writer and learn from incredible industry talent like Sara B Cooper? If you have an interest in writing, VFS is hosting All Access Pass on April 3 in Vancouver. This event is your exclusive backstage access to VFS's Writing for Film, Television & Games program.

You'll meet Program Head Kat Montagu to learn about the program and its specializations, join Sara for an Industry Talk on Writing and Showrunning for Television, and learn how you can join a Writing alumni that's worked on Stranger Things, 3-time Game Award-winner Alan Wake 2, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, and so many more. If you live in Vancouver or are going to be in town on April 3, register here for FREE.


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