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Braff Grant Encourages Student Filmmakers

After Hollywood success as an actor and director with big-screen hits such as Garden State and the TV series Scrubs, Zach Braff (C97) is giving back to the film department that gave him his start.

The School of Communication's Department of Radio, Television and Film handed out five $5,000 grants, sponsored by Braff, to film students to create their own short films. More important than the funding, Braff plans to spend one-on-one time with each of the winners to work on their films.

The five students, including three graduate students, one senior and one junior, have until the end of spring quarter to put together their five- to eight-minute movies.

A panel of Northwestern professors read through more than 40 screenplays submitted by student filmmakers for the grant. Braff helped make the final cuts.

As a student, Braff won Studio 22's $7,500 Bindley Grant for Lionel on a Sunday, a 20-minute short film that he wrote and directed. Braff, who also studied acting in the theater department, wanted to give back to the University, but he also wanted to make sure students learn what is necessary for the fast pace of Hollywood. He specified that the projects be shot on film, a luxury many students can't normally afford, and that they be five to seven minutes long because studios often don't have time for longer movies.

Laura Kipnis, a Northwestern professor of radio/television/film, is teaching a directing workshop for the selected students this spring. "This is a great opportunity for the students," said Kipnis. "Hopefully we get a great set of films, Zach Braff loves them and decides to continue the grants."

Trisha Faulkner (J11)

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Zach Braff
Television and film actor and director Zach Braff sponsored five $5,000 grants for aspiring filmmakers.Photo by Tommy Giglio (J09)/Daily Northwestern