Jessica Sharzer made her feature writing and directing debut with SPEAK, based on the acclaimed Young Adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. SPEAK stars Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Perkins, Steve Zahn and D.B. Sweeney. It premiered at Sundance in 2004 and was later simulcast on Lifetime and Showtime in an unprecedented network event. SPEAK won the audience award at the Woodstock Film Festival and was nominated for both a Writers Guild Award and a Directors Guild Award.
Ms. Sharzer holds an M.A. in Russian Literature from UC Berkeley and an M.F.A. in Film & Television from NYU. Her thesis script THE WORMHOLE received grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Dennis Riese Foundation. THE WORMHOLE garnered the NYU First Prize, the New York Magazine Award and the Student Academy Award Gold Medal in narrative. During film school, Ms. Sharzer was a teaching assistant and taught for New York Film Academy in New York, Princeton and Paris.
After film school, Ms. Sharzer signed a three-picture deal with Universal Studios. She has developed two scripts at Universal, including an adaptation of Turgenev’s novella First Love and the Dusty Springfield story for Tony-award winner Kristin Chenoweth. She has also adapted Lizzie Simon’s memoir Detour: My Bipolar Road Trip Through 4-D for HBO Films. For director Michael Apted, Ms. Sharzer adapted the compelling true story of Judi Bari – an environmentalist who was targeted by big timber and the FBI.
In theater, Ms. Sharzer expanded “Peter & The Wolf” into a full-length multimedia production with the L.A. Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall.
In television, Ms. Sharzer has directed “The L Word” for Showtime and shadowed on “Friday Night Lights” in the NBC/DGA Fellowship Program. She has written three dance movies for MTV Networks including “Turn the Beat Around” which premiered on MTV in early 2010. Ms. Sharzer has developed various pilots including “Music City” for CBS and “New Canaan” for FOX with Ashton Kutcher producing. She is currently developing legal procedural drama “Bronx D.A.” for CBS.
Ms. Sharzer is a member of the Writers Guild and the Directors Guild of America and is represented by The Gersh Agency and Anonymous Content.