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Seaver College Professor Laci Dent Gains Financial Backing for First Feature Film

Laci Dent

Laci Dent, an assistant professor of screen arts at Seaver College, was recently awarded $30,000 by the Westridge Foundation in support of her first feature film project. A successful writer and director of short films, Dent has invested the past two years in developing a genre-bending horror script centered around faith, the American dream, and trauma. 

“This grant is the first financial attachment to the project, says Dent. ”It signifies that we've moved out of the screenwriting phase and into development. It will help us attach talent, generate more funding, and bolster the overall budget of the film.”

The Westridge Foundation awards two grants on an annual basis for the development of US-based, independent feature film projects. It elevates innovative voices that address the “social issues and pressing questions of our time.” While the premise of Dent’s latest project is currently confidential, the Seaver professor explained that the script's thematic focus delves into topics like religion and mental health in the course of the narrative.

Prior to drafting this feature screenplay, Dent wrote and directed numerous short films. These initial efforts supplied her with the thematic foundation needed to delve into full-length scripts. While still a fan of the short-film medium, she felt now was the time to begin developing the themes of her narratives within a longer format. 

“Feature films allow writers and directors to truly show off their skills as a filmmaker,” says Dent. “To be able to tell a story over a long period of time allows one to slow down and solidify themes that a short format can only introduce. To that end, I decided that it was the next thing that I wanted to do.”

The $30,000 supplied by the Westridge Foundation has taken Dent’s latest goal one step closer to fruition. Although the project is still in development, the burgeoning filmmaker hopes to begin shooting the project in the summer or fall of 2024, with the goal of screening the film at one of the premier film festivals in North America. 

Dent earned an MFA in directing and production from the University of California, Los Angeles, before joining the Seaver College faculty. Her various writing projects have been supported by leading screenwriting outlets such as the Gotham, the Blacklist, and Disney/ABC.