Ron Friedman is an acclaimed screenwriter, and in 2006 when he was recommended by a student for a teaching position at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and then offered an interview, he decided it was time to try something new.
Meeting with the dean of students, the heads of the departments within Dodge, and the student who recommended him, the group went inside for the interview. Dining on the upper level of the school, the group settled in, falling into light conversation. Below, a theater full of film students were watching The Transformers: The Movie, a movie that Friedman singlehandedly wrote.
“[After the dinner] I went down to the auditorium, and got a standing ovation. I don’t get too many standing ovations,” laughed Friedman. “Yeah, since I stopped bullfighting, I don’t get too many of them.”
Unsurprisingly, he got the job.
Now an adjunct professor at Dodge, Friedman came to Chapman with a decorated past at a time when Dodge needed the help. A successful screenwriter, television writer, and former architect, Friedman’s experience in the field is almost unparalleled.
Friedman is the only writer in history to have written for five of the TV series listed on the Writers Guild’s list of the 101 best written television series of all time. Three of those notable shows are Get Smart, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Odd Couple.
On top of that, Friedman has written 56 pilots for television series of every genre. He created the G.I. Joe television series, and with his close friend and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, also developed The Marvel Action Hour.
Friedman considers meeting many famous people, such as Stan Lee, Bing Crosby and Lucille Ball, as one of the unique benefits of writing.
“I got to meet my heroes and I got to know them well, and some of them became good friends,” said Friedman.
That adage about those who can’t teach evidently doesn’t apply to Friedman. With all his success, Friedman chose to teach screenwriting because he considers it to be the most important part of the film and television industries.
“I think writing is the dog, and the tail. Because if you don’t have a script nobody shows up to the set and there is no set, and the greatest actor in the world can do nothing, and the greatest director, zip” said Friedman.
Friedman came to Chapman when Dodge was still in its infancy and had little reputation. He has since helped the film school grow into the prestigious school that it is today.
“I’ve watched with pleasure as Chapman’s status has improved greatly, and I credit that largely to Bob Basset [Dodge Dean of Students], and also to the quality of students,” said Friedman.
Students appreciate Friedman’s passion for writing and his willingness to help them with their own work. Sophomore film production major, Ariana Victor, is a student in Friedman’s screenwriting fundamentals class. Friedman assists her in class and helps with her scripts for outside projects.
“You can always tell how much he really wants us to succeed. He helped so much with the script for my Intermediate Production project and it wasn’t even for his class. I just asked him for help and he was more than happy to assist me,” said Victor.
Victor is not the only student who appreciates Friedman as a professor. Sophomore film production major and another student in Friedman’s class, Brianna Brinzo praises Friedman for his positive attitude .
“He never has anything bad to say it’s always a suggestion here or there, never a ‘this is wrong’ type of comment,” said Brinzo.
Friedman still writes today, although maybe not with as much notability as The Andy Griffith Show or as much as he did in his Emmy nomination days. He doesn’t seem to mind however.
“I love teaching. Teaching compelled me to examine what I’d been doing so successfully for so long,” said Friedman.
If there is anything that Friedman has accomplished in his career, it’s proving that teachers certainly can.