Brannon Braga

Arts Excellence—make it so

Brannon Braga came up with some of his best ideas about "space, the final frontier" while walking through the woods of UC Santa Cruz.

Now, Braga, a Star Trek franchise screenwriter and producer, hopes his recent $100,000 pledge to UCSC's Arts Excellence Fund helps current and future Banana Slugs find their own way to inspiration.

Braga credits his time at UCSC with teaching him how to edit and with fostering his imagination.

"I took away critical filmmaking experiences," says Braga. "It was an age when my creativity was really burgeoning."

Braga attended UCSC and in 1990 received the prestigious Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Internship, which led to his involvement with Star Trek. He has kept ties with the school, and with his film and digital media professor, Eli Hollander, for the past 22 years. He even named a character from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation after his mentor.

"I never would have gotten the internship at Paramount if I hadn't been walking down the halls to Eli's office and seen the ad on the wall," says Braga.

Braga served as executive producer on the Fox Network real time action/drama series 24 and on the Steven Spielberg project Terra Nova, and was a co-creator and executive producer of the ABC science fiction series FlashForward. He is currently relaunching a new version of Carl Sagan's 1980s show Cosmos.

Braga, who sits on the Arts Dean Leadership Board created by UCSC's Dean of the Arts, David Yager, says the idea for the pledge came to him during a fundraising event last fall in Los Angeles. Contributions to the Arts Excellence Fund support many important programs for the division, helping students in need to stay in school and enhancing student educational opportunities and faculty research.

Braga is also starting a summer internship program for UCSC students, which will cover full room and board.

More than any book experience, the friendships he formed at UCSC have stayed with him.

Says Braga, "It's the living, breathing relationships that make a difference."