Wednesday, December 18, 2013

UNO Graduate Student Receives Second Annual Joseph Patrick Uddo Scholarship in Screenwriting

The memory of a New Orleans native and his love of films and film making continues at the University of New Orleans, where a scholarship in his honor was recently awarded to a new member of the New Orleans film industry.

Katheryn Warzak, a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Screenwriting in UNO's College of Liberal Arts, recently received the Joseph Patrick Uddo Scholarship in Screenwriting established in December, 2011. The scholarship, which provides a total of $1,500 in tuition and fees for a full academic year, honors the memory of Uddo, a filmmaker and New Orleans native who died in 2008.

Warzak, who comes to UNO from the esteemed New York University Tisch School of the Arts, is the second UNO graduate student to receive the generous award. Mark Twain Williams, who expects to receive a Master's degree in film from the University in May and previously received a Bachelor's degree in film from UNO, received the inaugural scholarship in December, 2012.

Though she is a first-year graduate student in screenwriting, Warzak is already a film professional, said UNO Artist-in-Residence and screenwriting instructor Henry Griffin. Before arriving at UNO, she served as associate producer on a feature documentary called Bible Quiz, which showed at the 24th Annual New Orleans Film Festival in October.

"Kathryn Warzak choosing to attend the Creative Writing Workshop and come to UNO for her graduate studies is a feather in our cap," said Griffin. "So it is a pleasure to put a feather in her cap by recognizing her as the best of her class."

The Joseph Patrick Uddo Scholarship covers $1,500 of Warzak's tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 academic year, provided she remains in good standing with the University. Warzak formally received the award last month in the UNO Performing Arts Center, where her name was added to an engraved memorial plaque at a reception attended by Uddo's parents.

Joseph Patrick Uddo died at the age of 33 on December 7, 2008. The Jesuit High School graduate attended the New York Film Academy, where he taught for three years after graduation and ran the Academy's summer program at Princeton University, during which time he indulged his passion for filmmaking and teaching young filmmakers the skills of the craft. He was a screenwriter and camera operator who worked on several feature length films including Monster's Ball, Stranger than Fiction and Alabama Moon.

Uddo was not a UNO alumnus. His family established the scholarship in the premier urban research university in his hometown to honor his memory in a way that reflected his love of filmmaking, according to Basile Uddo, an attorney and co-founder of The Joseph Patrick Uddo Foundation, a Louisiana nonprofit corporation that established the film scholarship with a gift of $40,000. The annual award will be made to an entering graduate student who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in screenwriting.

The Joseph Patrick Uddo Screenwriting award is the only award that UNO has for the MFA Creative Writing track in screenwriting, said Griffin. One of the University's aims is to prevent a so-called "brain drain" of top students leaving New Orleans to go to New York, Los Angeles and other major cities. The University's film program is trying to do the same, he said, and the Joseph Patrick Uddo Scholarship in Screenwriting helps to further that aim.

"It was nice to be back for a second time to commemorate the engraving of the plaque because at first we were celebrating the initiation of the scholarship but now we're celebrating the tradition of it," said Griffin. "In many ways what UNO is trying to do is to keep [high-ability students] in the South, not only to educate them in the South but to keep them here in the film industry. With the Joseph Patrick Uddo Scholarship, we not only keep someone but attract someone...who wants to invest her future in ours."

Mark Twain Williams represented the old tradition: a member of the UNO community staying at the University and in the city for a second degree, Griffin said. Warzak, who had never lived in New Orleans before coming to UNO from NYU's Tisch Film School of the Arts, one of the top three film schools in the nation, represents the new.

A selection committee of UNO faculty, including Griffin and screenwriting professor Eric Hansen, winnowed applications for the competitive award, said Griffin. They presented the top three finalists to the Uddo family, who made a recommendation. The committee made the final selection of Warzak, Griffin said.

The Uddos are a generous family invested in film production and the Hollywood South film industry, said Griffin. Joseph Patrick Uddo was a screenwriter. His brother Paul Uddo is a successful assistant director in the film industry.


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UNO Awards Screenwriting Scholarship Established to Honor Local Film Professional
UNO Creative Writing Workshop
UNO Department of Film and Theatre
The Joseph Patrick Uddo Foundation
University Advancement