Our Mission & History

Our Mission at Sherwood Oaks

The mission of our non-profit 501 (c) (3) educational organization is, and has been for almost half a century, to provide the opportunity for any person interested in working in the entertainment business to connect with and learn directly from actual working professionals, not teachers, who have achieved substantial success in the industry. We remain dedicated to the legacy of founder Gary Shusett to keep alive, for decades to come, this regular platform where hundreds of successful writers, directors, producers, actors, musicians, and others have already come to “pay-it-forward” by generously sharing their experiences, advice, and hard-earned wisdom with newcomers who share their passions.

Our History

Gary Shusett founded Sherwood Oaks Experimental College in 1971.   Since then many of his former students have become major Hollywood successes, among them Sylvester Stallone, James Cameron, Jerry Zucker, Matt Groening, Paul Haggis, Nancy Meyers, and Todd Durham.  Gary’s brother, famed screenwriter Ronald Shusett, wrote and produced Alien, Total Recall, and Minority Report.

Against great odds and with a handful of funds from his own pocket, Gary launched the non-profit school almost 50 years ago and today it is still thriving, still dedicated to jump-starting the careers of passionate filmmakers.  Gary Shusett’s altruistic philosophy was to find individuals who were highly successful in a particular field in the motion picture, television, or music industry and put them into a small, intimate setting with newcomers who were seriously dedicated to learn from them.  In a short time time Shusett and Sherwood Oaks gained international exposure, and were featured in People magazine and popular books on filmmaking. It was the place where Syd Field started teaching screenwriting, followed by Robert McKee and Michael Hauge. Shusett’s instincts about what would sell in Hollywood was renowned.  In fact, his expertise in analyzing the commercial potential of story ideas became so renowned that Universal Pictures offered him a job just to determine which of their possible remakes might make the most money.  Equally famous was his impressive track record of helping writers hone a pitch that would sell. At Sherwood Oaks, literally hundreds of guest speakers later, we still believe in what we do. We believe in our students and we will believe in you.

Our Director – Christine Owens

Christine “C.E.” Owens worked extensively with Gary Shusett for over 9 years.  For the past few years as Director of Sherwood Oaks, Owens has run a number of successful seminars at the school which proved to be highly popular and the object of requests to repeat in the future.  She is well-known for her ability to organize events that get to the core of what her students most need to know.  Her passion to see students become successful make her the ideal leader to take Sherwood Oaks to new heights.

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