Since 2010, the Veterans Writing Project has welcomed over 300 military veterans to the Writers Guild of America, West headquarters for yearlong workshops and mentorship in the craft and business of writing for the screen. Meet a few of our program alumni, some of whom have come back to become mentors in the program.
After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Brian served as both a Ranger and Special Forces Green Beret in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. After nine years in the military and spurred on by an unhealthy obsession with THE SOPRANOS, he developed a passion for screenwriting. He completed NBC’s Writers On The Verge program in 2012 and WGF’s Veterans Writing Project in 2013. He has written on ARMY WIVES, IRONSIDE, CONSTANTINE and most recently wrote on NBC’s THE NIGHT SHIFT.
In His Words: “The program provided me a community of professional mentors and like-minded peers that allowed me to pursue my passion in a supportive and inspiring environment. It also provided me countless opportunities to give back to the veteran community as a mentor and pay forward what so many wonderful writers did for me.”
Brian McLaughlin has been a film producer since 2005. He has produced four feature films, all acquired for distribution. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, and Veterans in Film and Television.
Brian spent 20 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve as an Infantry officer, most of that time assigned to Special Operations Command Europe, with call-ups for Bosnia and Operation Enduring Freedom, and other assignments as an Airborne Pathfinder commander, general’s aide, and Infantry platoon leader.
Brian has written two feature film screenplays on spec, Unfinished Business and Scylla Dilemma. Scylla Dilemma was written under the tutelage of the May 2015 Veterans’ Writing Project and was subsequently read by Warner Bros Pictures, Focus Features, and Broad Green Pictures. He also helped write the spec TV pilot Stardust & the Bandit, which won Best TV Pilot at the California Film Awards, Award of Merit in the Best Shorts Competition, and Honorable Mention at the Sunset Film Festival.
In His Words: “The Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project has been the most valuable experience in my film career. You can’t put a price on the benefit that it has brought, but if you could, it would certainly be in the thousands of dollars. But, honestly, a learning opportunity like this can’t be found anywhere else. The mentors are all working professionals with many years in the business. Their knowledge is incomparable and their generosity knows no bounds.”
Before finishing in the very first class of WGF’s Vets Writing Project in 2010, Thom spent ten years in the U.S. Army as a Communications Sargeant and ran Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations with the U.S. Special Army Operations Community. After being wounded during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was medically retired and found the best therapy in a creative life. Thom is an internationally touring standup comedian, radio anchor at CBS Radio and the creator and executive producer of The GIs of Comedy.
In His Words: “As part of inaugural class of the WGF Veterans writing program, I found the support and brotherhood in Hollywood that I was used to experiencing in the US Army. Being a young writer, transitioning from a career kicking down doors to a career writing jokes, that kind of support has been instrumental in whatever bit of success I’ve found so far. And as a former Non-Commissioned Officer, whose very job by definition was to lead and mentor younger soldiers, I’ve been honored to come back to the WGF to help mentor new veteran writers transition out of the military or to be able to tell their stories.”