" /> Bio - David E. Tolchinsky

David E. Tolchinsky is a longtime screenwriter, producer, curator, and academic.  Lately, he has started writing and directing plays.  Some of his work centers on teen subcultures such as heavy-metal fans, Florida surfer teens, teen groupies, and female football players, particularly in relation to social decay. He is also interested in mental illness and the figure of the psychiatrist. Increasingly, he’s been writing about health and illness in the modern world, especially illnesses that are not easily explainable. Finally, he is interested in screenplays and plays as objects:  how does their structure devolve, how do they comment on themselves as objects, how do they foreground what might be fictional versus true.

He is the Founder/Co-Director of Northwestern University's MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage, and was the Chairman of Northwestern's Department of Radio-TV-Film from 2007-2018. He is a graduate of Yale (BA, magna cum laude) and USC School of Cinematic Arts (MFA). 

As a screenwriter, his feature film Girl (starring Selma Blair, from Sony) is distributed on iTunes and Amazon Instant, and has been seen internationally. He has been commissioned by such studios as Touchstone/Disney, MGM, Ivan Reitman's Montecito Pictures, USA Networks, Edward R. Pressman Film Corp, and Addis-Wechsler & Assoc./Industry Entertainment to write feature screenplays. His short films have shown at the Sundance Film Festival.

As a sound designer, he has designed the sound for interactive computer environments and video installations which have been exhibited internationally. In 2003, he was nominated for a Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild Golden Reel Award for his sound design for Dolly.

As a curator, in 2009, he cocurated The Horror Show at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in New York City which explored horror in film, video, installation, photography, sculpture and painting and which was featured as a The Village Voice "Voice Choice for Art" and on their blog, and which was accompanied by a 32-page catalog. More recently, he cocurated The Presence of Absence sponsored by the Contemporary Arts Council at Hairpin Arts Center, chosen by Chicago Magazine as one of the "16 best art gallery shows to see now in Chicago" and described in The Huffington Post as "The space is gorgeous, the art solid, challenging, yet accessible. This is a wonderfully odd, powerful, thoughtful show" and in The Chicago Tribune as "a remarkable group exhibition" and  "a rich viewing experience and also a rare one." Recently, he co-curated Sick by Seven (seven plays/films about mental health in the modern world) at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago as part of its Incubator Series. 

As a producer, besides associate producing the feature film Girl (see above), in 2011, he co-produced Debra Tolchinsky's feature documentary, Fast Talk which investigates the accelerated speed of argumentation in college debate, is available on iTunes and Amazon instant, was named best documentary at the LA Femme International Film Festival, best documentary feature at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, was the subject of a symposium at the Supreme Court Institute and has been discussed in such publications as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader, the National Law Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Onion A.V. Club. In 2015, he co-produced (and wrote) the film, The Coming of Age, winner of a Silver medal at the LA Independent Film Review. More recently, he co-produced Creature Companion, directed by Melika Bass, which received a Special Mention of the International Jury at the 2018 Oberhausen Film Festival Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of BAMCinemaFest, and at the Chicago International Film Festival.

As a playwright, he published "Where's the Rest of Me?" a reflective humor piece about Spalding Gray in Paraphilia Magazine, which he adapted into a play by the same name. He was voted Best Director for the New York production of that play (which was nominated for Best Play and chosen to be included in the anthology, The Best Plays from the Strawberry One-Act Festival Vol. 8). That play was included in the Incubator series, Sick by Seven (see above)at a Red Orchard Theatre and was selected for The Road Theatre's Summer Playwrights Festival 9 in Los Angeles. In addition, his play Clear was published in Issue 3 of Proscenium Journal.  In October of 2018, he directed his full length play, An Attempt to Heal in the Contemporary World, about the rogue scientist Wilhelm Reich, at the HB Studios Playwrights Theatre as part of the NY International Fringe Festival; the production received positive reviews or notices in Theatre is Easy, the Daily NorthwesternBroadway WorldBroadway World (an earlier article), and Splash Magazine.

He was ranked #14 on New City's Film 50 2013: Chicago’s Screen Gems, was the recipient of a 2014 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship in Literature (Poetry, Prose, Scriptworks), was No. 8 on New City's Film 50 2015: Chicago’s Screen Gems, and was no. 7 on New City's Film 50 2017: Chicago Screen Gems.

He has also been appointed as a Northwestern Univerrsity McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, the university's highest honor for teaching. His students (just to name a few) have included Dave Holstein (staff writer, the Brink among others), Jen Spyra (staff writer, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), Eoghan O'Donnell  (creator of The CWs The Messengers among others),Marisha Mukerjee (staff writer, Heroes Reborn among others), Sarah Gubbins (playwright, The Kid Thing and Cocked and TV writer/showrunner, Amazon Prime's I Love Dick), Erik Gernand (playwright, The Beautiful Dark), Andy Miara (former head writer, The Onion News Network)), J. Ryan Stradal (author of the New York Times best selling novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest), Ethan Kass (staff writer, TNT's Murder in the First), Jenny Hagel (staff writer, Late Night with Seth Meyers); Chris Bruss (head of digital content, Funny or Die); and Jordan Horowitz (producer, La La Land).

Currently, he is in post production on his psychological thriller, Cassandra about the memory recovery psychiatric movement of the 90s and is associate producing Debra Tolchinsky's documentary, True Memories and Other Falsehoods, about memory contamination in relation to the criminal justice system.