Harvardwood

  • published Issue 214 | November 2022 in HIGHLIGHTS Magazine 2022-11-01 12:02:06 -0700

  • published October 2022 | Susan Walter AB '91 in Alumni Profiles 2022-11-01 07:37:54 -0700

    October 2022 | Susan Walter AB '91

    amanda_micheli_cropped.jpgby Laura Frustaci

    “You have to walk toward the industry that’s opening its arms,” author and creative Susan Walter AB ‘91 says. That’s how she ended up as a bestselling author with a new book just out and two more in the works to come.
    Over Her Dead Body is available for purchase as of today (!), and the story about how this book came to life is a bit… surprising. 

    Just before the pandemic, Susan wrote a book on spec called Good as Dead. She tells us, “I wrote it because I was frustrated with the movie business after a good solid decade and a half of doing rewrites and selling specs that never got made. I hit a brick wall and just needed a break. So, I wrote this book for me.” Throughout the writing process, she secured a literary agent who shopped the book around until they got an offer. However, the publishing company’s offer was contingent on also getting a second book from Susan. “They said, ‘So, what’s your next book? We need a proposal by tomorrow,’” Susan recalls. “It took me nine months to write the first book, and I had to plot book two in 24 hours.” She had roughly one day to come up with the concept, plot, and characters of what would soon become Over Her Dead Body– easy, right? 

    Armed with this challenge, Susan did what anyone would do: take her dog for a walk. “I was walking my dog by this one house that just excited my imagination,” says Susan. “Across from what was rumored to be Gwen Stefani’s house, enshrouded in barbed wire, there’s a ‘Keep Out: No Trespassing’ sign, and I always wondered who lived there. What if my dog wandered down that driveway, and I got to meet the person who lived there?” That initial train of thought was the jumping off point for Susan’s protagonist. “What if that person walking their dog was an actress, and the dog disappears, and she meets the owner of the house who turns out to be a casting director,” Susan explains, “The casting director offers to help her, and then of course dies, because it wouldn’t be a thriller without a dead body. Then what if the actress gets all the money left to her, and then the family descends on her?” This intriguing plot captured the publishing company, and Susan suddenly had a two-book deal. 

    As someone who’s worn several different hats in her career, including director, screenwriter, and producer, how did Susan come to wear the author hat? “The kind of stuff I was writing, I don’t know if the [film] market got saturated, but I wasn’t writing what was selling at that moment,” Susan reflects. But she chose to view that not as a closed door, but a sign “that it was time to turn around and see what’s out there.” And she found that novel writing suited her. “It was fun writing a novel because it’s complete,” Susan says. “When you write a script it’s a blueprint for someone else to take it and mangle it. I got to see what I can do, without any other input. If screenwriters want the opportunity to write, to tell their story without anyone mucking it up, they should write novels. You’ll find out quickly if you really know how to write,” Susan laughs.Bros.jpg 

    This wasn’t the only difference Susan noticed between screen and page. “The
    easiest part [of the publishing industry] is the people,” Susan reflects. “Everybody that I encountered was crazy smart. They read for a living! Every note that I got was good. I never had to question a note under a note, like with screenwriting. At the end of the process, you have in your hands a book that you wrote, and nobody can take that from you.” When asked what the hardest part of writing a novel was, Susan tells us, “The movie business is so hard, there is no hardest part of the book industry. It’s very straightforward. It’s more of a linear process. Once you find a buyer, there are no surprises. When you write a screenplay and find a buyer, there are nothing but surprises.” Clearly, there’s quite a different energy from industry to industry. 

    Susan began her career on the directorial track. “Directing is the best job in the world. It’s just really hard to get into the director’s chair. I’d love to do it again, but I want to be productive. There aren't that many movies getting made anymore. Plus movies aren’t story driven, they’re team driven. Nowadays, you need attachments. It’s not enough to have a good story. Even if you’re adapting a book, it needs to be a best-seller, internationally. You have to have a strong fanbase and history, or a star, or a proven showrunner. Books are story driven, and movies are package driven.” Her early directing days started at the DGA Assistant Director’s Program. “I wanted to be a news broadcaster, and I tried that at WBZ-TV, and they gave me a screen test and I was supremely terrible. They asked me to write, but it paid $5 a day. When I was a senior at Harvard, my dad said I couldn't move back home, so I applied for the DGA Assistant Director’s Program, and they train you to run movie sets.” 

    Susan emphasizes that she “walked toward the profession that walked toward [her].” And this program was an incredible experience. “I worked on movie sets at a time when I couldn't have sat at a desk all day, for ten years. I was able to travel, and work with different people, and be creative,” Susan recalls. Eventually, the training from that very program led her to create what she says she’s most proud of in her career: writing, directing, and producing All I Wish, a romcom starring Sharon Stone. “I had to be a lot of different things, I had to be a writer, I had to direct the film, I took an acting class, I educated myself in a really rigorous way. It was gratifying because it put all the pieces of my career together - the set, writing and managerial experience, and taught me a new skill with the acting classes, and I also had to raise money for it, so I had to put on a financial hat.” 

    When asked what advice she had for young creatives, Susan had these wise words to say: “Make sure your work is creatively fulfilling to you. People will tell you to have a brand and do it for the marketplace, but you make yourself really vulnerable to criticism if you’re only making it for other people. Creating for the joy of creating has to be enough.” Basically, if you’re doing something creative and you love it, “it’s a win-win. If you’re doing it to please somebody and they’re not pleased, then why did you do it?” 

    Susan is already in production for her third book, Lie By the Pool, to be released fall of 2023. And she’s working on her proposal for book number four. When asked how she writes with such speed but with such masterful knowledge of a topic, Susan explained her secret weapon: “The Harvard Class of 1991 Facebook page. I scroll through all the members and find an expert in the subject, and everyone’s been really generous with sharing their knowledge. Harvard is an incredible resource.”  

    Susan Walter AB '91 is an author and director known for her first novel Good as Dead and her film All I Wish starring Sharon Stone. Her most recent novel, Over Her Dead Body, is available for purchase now.


    -----

    Dayna_Wilkinson_headshot.jpgLaura Frustaci ('21) is an NYC-based actor and writer. She recently completed a yearlong writing fellowship funded by Harvard in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she finished her first full-length play. Laura graduated from Harvard with a concentration in English, where she wrote a magna cum laude thesis about children’s literature. While at Harvard, Laura was the President of On Thin Ice, a member of one of the first female cohorts of performers in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and she acted in many American Repertory Theater and Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club productions. She is currently a writer for numerous publications, including Buzzfeed.


  • 2022-23 Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship Info Session 2

    Virtual event!
    12pm PT / 3pm ET

    Join Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship Founder Mia Alpert for an information session on applying to the second year or the fellowship. 

    Read more information about the fellowship here

    Please RSVP below! Info session link is here

    WHEN
    November 30, 2022 at 3:00pm
    rsvp

  • published Issue 213 | October 2022 in HIGHLIGHTS Magazine 2022-10-01 12:05:30 -0700

  • “THE CREATIVE PATH” career course is launching online! Harvardwood members get $250 off!

    Capes Coaching's signature “THE CREATIVE PATH” career course is launching online and Harvardwood Full members get $250 off!

    The Creative Path course guides you through 12-weeks of deep exploration as you unlock your personalized system for turning big life and career goals into small, consistent, actionable steps, culminating in a one-year career plan you can count on. You walk away with the tools you need to stay focused, strategies for overcoming obstacles, and support from a community of motivated creative professionals and trained coaches... empowering you to manage your career with clarity and purpose.

    Fall enrollment ends on 9/30.

    Exclusive discount code for Full Harvardwood members. 
    Use Code MYPATH for $250 off 


  • published Issue 212 | September 2022 in HIGHLIGHTS Magazine 2022-09-01 14:07:18 -0700

  • published September 2022 | Andy Borowitz AB '80 in Alumni Profiles 2022-08-23 23:51:42 -0700

    September 2022 | Andy Borowitz AB '80

    amanda_micheli_cropped.jpgby Laura Frustaci

    In 2018, Andy Borowitz swept the nation with his comedy tour called “Make America Not Embarrassing Again,” a 90-minute stand-up show about how we ended up with Donald Trump as President. “Sarah Palin,” says Andy, “was the gateway idiot who led to Trump.” So, in 2021, mid-pandemic isolation, Andy decided to further analyze the historical significance of our ignorant politicians. “I ordered a lot of history books and started steeping myself in the political history of the last 50 years,” Andy recalls. And that’s where the idea for Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber was born. 

    It quickly became apparent to Andy that everything began with Ronald Reagan’s victory in the 1966 California gubernatorial election. Essentially, Andy explains, “What the ‘60s started teaching political parties was they had to have candidates who were good on TV. Reagan’s campaign managers hired UCLA psychologists to pour facts into him so that it would seem like he knew enough.” It was a slippery slope from there. 

    This experiment was such a success that Reagan beat the incumbent Governor Pat Brown by one million votes. We descended from Reagan to Dan Quayle to George W. Bush to Palin to Trump. “In the 1960s it was important for a politician to appear to know things,” Andy argues. “But now it’s the opposite, because we’re scared of knowledge in this country.”

    Profiles in Ignorance is “very, very different from anything I’ve ever written before because The Borowitz Report is completely made-up, and Profiles is 100% true, nothing is made up, unfortunately,” Andy states. In writing this book, Andy hopes that “it motivates people to get to work and help elect well-informed candidates.”

    Even though it's all true, it's hard not to think of Profiles in Ignorance as the next phase of Andy's career as a political satirist. Andy created The Borowitz Report in 2001, and the satirical news column now has millions of readers around the world. His two most recent books were both best-sellers: The 50 Funniest American Writers and An Unexpected Twist, which Amazon named the Best Kindle Single of 2012.

    Profiles in Ignorance is divided into “The Three Stages of Ignorance”: Ridicule, Acceptance, and Celebration.


    “When I wrote this, I had a general sense, as a sentient human, that our politicians now were of a very low caliber,” Andy explains. “In the course of my investigation, those three stages emerged. First, the Ridicule stage, when it was still important for politicians to seem knowledgeable.” This was the era of Reagan, but also of Dan Quayle, who, like Reagan, knew very little but lacked Reagan’s ability to hide it. Then came the second stage: Acceptance. “George W. Bush started out like Quayle, knowing virtually nothing about foreign affairs,” Andy states. “But he turned his ignorance into an advantage: He’s just like an average American! Who would you rather have a beer with?” That brings us into the third stage: Celebration. In this era of politics, Andy says, the prevailing view is, “Knowledgeable people are elitist, and they are scheming against you, and they don’t understand you. Consequently, politicians with Ivy League degrees are now pretending to be idiots, saying things they clearly know better than to say because ignorance has become the coin of the realm.” 

    What was the biggest challenge for Andy in writing this historical book? “I had to come up with a topic that would hold my interest for a year,” Andy laughs. The Borowitz Report is much more ephemeral. “It’s like writing a haiku, you don’t have to focus on it for very long,” confesses Andy. “Of course, everything we do is ultimately disposable, every book, every play, everything, but this [book] was going to be in my life for a lot longer than a column. There was time to ruminate on it and refine things.” Overall, though, Andy says that “the creative process was tremendously enjoyable. There’s an advantage to breaking the mold of what you do a little bit.” 

    Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, Andy hopes that his platform “can be useful to advance the common good. I never want to take myself seriously -- I’m a jokester, I’m always going to be a clown -- but I can leverage my platform to advance causes I believe in.” This book combines satire with political activism. “That’s the power of comedy,” Andy explains. “You develop an intimate relationship with your audience … and that’s helped me raise money for organizations I’m passionate about like Planned Parenthood and the International Rescue Committee.” Andy’s advice for people looking to be politically active? “Start locally. What are the problems with your community, what are the problems with your town?” 

    Over the past few years, the news cycle has gotten more and more outrageous. “Governmental malfeasance is a really good target for satire,” Andy confirms. “As our government was screwing up, that created more things to write about and more worthy targets. For me, writing jokes about the stuff is in and of itself really cathartic.” However, Andy specifies that for him, it’s important to be aware of who he’s targeting with his jokes. “I never make fun of victims. I try to identify who is the villain in the story, and go after them,” he explains. “It’s a way of channeling those negative emotions into something positive and maybe even entertaining.”

    After such a long and tremendously successful career, Andy certainly gained wisdom along the way. And he shares his best nugget: “Say yes. Don’t be afraid to say yes to things that are out of your immediate wheelhouse.” Additionally, he states, “One of the most important things anyone can possess is the acknowledgement of what we don’t know. Creatively, that’s important. Really try to embrace your intellectual humility, and that’s how you’re going to learn things. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do and mine their knowledge.” 

    Andy’s book Profiles in Ignorance will be released on September 13. He is appearing in conversation with Congressman Adam Schiff in Santa Monica, CA, on Friday, Sept 16. Click here for more information.

    Photo by Howard Schatz

    -----

    Dayna_Wilkinson_headshot.jpgLaura Frustaci ('21) is an NYC-based actor and writer. She recently completed a yearlong writing fellowship funded by Harvard in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she finished her first full-length play. Laura graduated from Harvard with a concentration in English, where she wrote a magna cum laude thesis about children’s literature. While at Harvard, Laura was the President of On Thin Ice, a member of one of the first female cohorts of performers in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and she acted in many American Repertory Theater and Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club productions. She is currently a writer for numerous publications, including Buzzfeed.


  • published Issue 211 | August 2022 in HIGHLIGHTS Magazine 2022-08-02 14:29:08 -0700

  • 2022 Winners of Harvardwood Writers Competition & Most Staffable TV Writers

    Harvardwood has announced its latest set of Writers Competition winners, also naming its Most Staffable TV Writers for 2022.

    The official arts, media and entertainment alumni organization for Harvard University, Harvardwood looks to spotlight talented up-and-coming writers from diverse backgrounds and to connect them with mentors, as well as producers, agencies and management companies.

    Writer-producers participating in this year’s program as mentors include Carlton Cuse (Lost), Mark Goffman (The Umbrella Academy), Teresa Hsiao (Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens), Colleen McGuinness (Life & Beth) and Jeff Melvoin (Killing Eve).

    Read more

  • published Harvardwood is Hiring in Job Listings 2022-07-03 18:17:07 -0700

    Harvardwood is Hiring

    Looking for a part-time hustle with growth potential? A day job with exciting ties to entertainment and the arts? A way to give back to Harvardwood? We need you!

    Harvardwood is growing and expanding its activities, and we are looking for a handful of part-time associates to help administer programs and manage the daily activities of the organization. We are putting out the word to our community for creative, entrepreneurial individuals to join us.

    Associates will engage in a range of activities, possibly including programs/events; administrative; tech (websites, databases, etc); membership, communications, and marketing; and financials and budgeting. Specific responsibilities will be mutually determined based on area(s) of interest and expertise. Associates will work closely with current staff, leadership team, Board of Directors, members and external stakeholders. Location is remote, with occasional in-person work possible. Pay is hourly and varies based on role, responsibilities and experience. 

    If this may be right for you, please send resume and indication of your areas of interest to [email protected]!


  • Exclusive Q&A with Marshall Lewy AB ’99

    Marshall Lewy AB '99 is the current Chief Content Officer at Wondery, the largest independent podcast publisher and home to Dr. Death, Business Wars, The Shrink Next Door, American History Tellers, Dirty John and many more. Before his time at Wondery, Marshall wrote and directed the feature films Blue State and California Solo and was nominated for an Emmy for producing HBO’s TV series Project Greenlight featuring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.


    Q: Your show WeCrashed, similarly to that of Hulu’s The Dropout and Showtime’s Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, focuses on a story of failed tech startup founders. Audiences seem ravenous for more of these true-life miniseries dramas. What do you think it is about these types of narratives that are so gripping to watchers? How much artistic liberty do you feel can be taken when adapting these stories to the screen? 

    A: We've told a lot of these sorts of true stories about bad actors in business across our various Wondery podcasts, from many seasons of Business Wars to our investigative miniseries like WeCrashed and The Vaping Fix, which was a series about the rise and fall of JUUL. They always have such fascinating characters, with stories of hubris and usually the perversion of the "American Dream." I think people respond because they tap into some deep vein that we all relate to, and they also are very of-the-moment for some of the challenges we're all going through collectively right now. I think we’re living through a period in time where lots of us are having trouble comprehending the larger realities happening all around us (e.g. pandemic, land war in Europe, domestic political upheaval, etc.), so we looking for an anchor of “truth” even in our fiction. And when it comes time to take these true podcasts and turn them into TV series, we recognize that the TV show is now a fictionalized drama, not an investigative series –  we want to support the vision of the writers, showrunners, actors, and directors who are working to bring the series to life. We share as much of our research and reporting as we can, but we also want them to make it their own, and hit the themes and truths they want to explore. 

    Q: Both WeCrashed and Joe vs. Carole are miniseries which originally played out as podcasts. How do you bring a podcast to life onscreen? How do you decide which podcasts could make compelling visual retellings in TV format?

    A: We never make a podcast for the sole reason of turning it into a TV series – we are attracted to these stories because they’re fascinating stories and we think podcast listeners will respond. But I think we've found success in bringing them to TV because the narrative, character-driven way we create our podcasts attracts visual storytellers. And in many cases, we’ve had actors want to play certain roles just from listening to our podcast, which was the case with Kate McKinnon signing on to play Carole Baskin (which was six months before the Tiger King documentary ever aired on Netflix!), as well as Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell for our podcast The Shrink Next Door.

    Q: You said in an article for The Hollywood Reporter that “listeners are growing more accustomed to podcasts that push the limits of how stories are told” in light of Wondery’s groundbreaking decision to release several podcast series in Dolby Atmos. This makes Wondery the first podcast streaming service in the US to deliver podcasts in the immersive sound format. What do you find unique about the further possibilities of the podcast format?

    A: I started as an avid listener of podcasts before I got into making them. I loved the purity of the writing and the production – compared with television and film, there are a lot fewer moving parts, production-wise. I also loved the intimacy and authenticity of them. Even though podcasts have been around in some form for almost twenty years now (and radio long before that), it’s still so early in the evolution of on-demand spoken-word audio and audio storytelling. Spatial audio, smart speakers, interactivity ... there’s still a lot more to explore.

    Q: Early on in your career, you accrued credits both as a writer and director, but for years your primary focus has been producing, especially podcasts. What led you to where you are now? What influenced you to pivot into producing, or was that always the goal? 

    A: My dream from the time I was a kid was always to be a film director. I went to film school at Columbia after Harvard and got an MFA in Film Directing. When I started film school, there wasn’t Youtube, podcasts, video streaming, etc. So my dream was to make thoughtful films that played in movie theaters on the big screen! But in the years after film school, I kept finding myself attracted to all the other ways that were proliferating around visual storytelling. So about a year after I wrote and directed a film that premiered at Sundance called California Solo, I started working more on the producing side, working with creators across all different types of media: film and TV, but also digital short-form, audio, book publishing, etc. I found it moved so much faster and allowed me to exercise so many different muscles than working on just one or two projects at a time. After that, it would be hard to go back to making just one movie at a time. At Wondery, I directed our first scripted audio drama Blood Ties, which just launched its third season, and that's been a great way to get back to directing scripted content.

    Q: In what ways did your time at Harvard influence the path you have taken since graduating?

    A: Well, I spent many, many nights during college watching old and obscure movies at the Harvard Film Archive and the Brattle Theater, and I took a bunch of film courses. I also created a “sitcom” at HRTV, the Harvard television station that had its headquarters in the basement of Pforzheimer House in the Quad. They had all kinds of video cameras and rudimentary digital editing systems back when you could only hold about 30 minutes of video footage on a single hard drive. We never got any audience because none of the houses at Harvard actually were wired for cable, but it was still a good way to practice making things.

    Q: In a 2020 interview, you mentioned that you hadn’t noticed an increase in podcast listeners due to the pandemic at that time. Now, over two years later, do you find that statement remains accurate, or has there been a tangible COVID impact on the podcast industry in the wake of months-long quarantines? How about in terms of the creation, rather than the consumption, of podcasts? 

    A: It's hard to delineate what growth over the past few years came from the podcast boom that had already begun pre-pandemic, with what got accelerated by the pandemic. We did see a pretty steep dropoff in podcast listening during the first few months of the pandemic, but listening bounced back quickly as people found new times of day and activities to do while listening to podcasts. For example, maybe they started listening to podcasts while walking the dog instead of driving to work. So the pandemic has been a time of listener growth, and I think of podcast creation, too. One of the best examples of a very successful podcast that was born out of the pandemic is Smartless, which we now distribute and have a major partnership with at Wondery and Amazon Music. We launched a show in March 2020 called Even the Rich which seemed very ill-timed when it first launched and got off to an extremely slow start, but it has since become one of our most successful ongoing shows. 

    Q: What do you think is most essential to crafting a successful podcast? 

    A: A passionate connection to the subject matter, access to something or someone (or a point of view) that no one else in the world has, and a good microphone.

    Q: Do you have a favorite podcast (or podcasts) you’d always recommend? What about TV shows, movies, or other go-to favorite pieces of media?

    A: I’ll stick with podcasts only so the answer doesn’t go too long, but you can’t go wrong starting with some of the greatest episodes and stories from This American Life.

    Q: How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?

    A: I used to love running and cooking, but now I have 4 kids ages 10 and under, so it’s mostly work and family these days.

    -----

    Wondery's extensive catalog of podcasts can be found on their website at wondery.com. The TV show WeCrashed is available to watch on Apple TV+, and Joe vs. Carole is available to watch on Peacock.

     


  • published Issue 209 | June 2022 in HIGHLIGHTS Magazine 2022-06-01 12:00:12 -0700

  • Seeking Director / DP for Alumni Testimonials - Cambridge, MA

    Seeking Director / DP for Alumni Testimonials
    Cambridge, MA
    June 3-5

    Earlier this month, the Supreme Court received the opening brief from SFFA in their lawsuit against Harvard’s race conscious admissions policies, challenging forty years of legal precedent giving higher education institutions the ability to create diverse communities that enrich those institutions and society. As alumni, we all contributed to the broad diversity that is Harvard and were able to learn so much more during our time at Harvard because of the rich, vibrant communities Harvard's admissions policies helped facilitate. Now, we want to help Harvard by creating a viral social media campaign about the importance of diversity.

    Volunteer leaders from Harvardwood and the HAA are seeking a director, cinematographer or other film/video-savvy alum who will be in Cambridge between June 3-5 during reunions to record a series of 10-minute alumni testimonials supporting diversity in college admissions. The estimated time commitment for filming is 3 hours on one of those days, and an interior space on campus will be provided along with administrative support. Minimal tech requirements (an iPhone 11+ or similar should suffice). This is a pro bono project.

    If interested, please contact: [email protected]

    Read more

  • 2022-23 Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship Winners

    Harvardwood congratulates writer Youmna Chamieh ‘22 and musical theater composer/lyricist Julia Riew ‘22, who are the recipients of the inaugural Mia and David Alpert Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship.

    In addition to receiving a $24,000 grant to support her work, each Fellow will be paired with an alumni mentor to offer professional guidance and support during the term of the Fellowship (June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023).

    Youmna Chamieh is a senior in Adams House studying Government and English. Originally from Lebanon, she grew up in Paris with her two sisters. During the fellowship year, she will work on original pieces, including a collection of short stories. Though these stories all gravitate towards Lebanon, at their core is the belief that, as Salman Rushdie puts it, “the past is a country from which we have all emigrated, whose loss is part of our common humanity.”


    Youmna’s mentor will be Jennifer Joel ’98, who is a literary agent, partner, co-head of the Publications department and member of the board at ICM Partners, where she represents a diverse group of writers of both fiction and nonfiction: literary and commercial novelists for adults and young readers, historians, biographers, memoirists, journalists, strategists, adventurers and entertainers. Her clients include Senator Cory Booker, Chris Cleave, Nelson DeMille, AJ Finn, Stuart Gibbs, Graham Moore, Evan Osnos, Shonda Rhimes, Adam Rubin, Jennifer E. Smith, Lisa Taddeo and Leif Babin & Jocko Willink.


    Julia Riew is a senior in Lowell House studying Theater, Dance, Media (TDM) and Music. In 2018, Julia co-founded the Asian Student Arts Project (ASAP) and co-wrote their first production, The East Side. Her   recent works include Alice’s Wonderland; Jack and the Beanstalk: A Musical Adventure which was commissioned for the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)’s 2020 Family Musical; and Thumbelina: A Little Musical (The A.R.T. 2019 Family Musical).

    Julia will spend her Fellowship year creating new musical theater projects for stage and screen and further developing her senior thesis, an original musical called Shimcheong: A Folktale. Her mentor will be award-winning composer/lyricist/writer Laurence O’Keefe ‘91 (Legally Blonde: The Musical, Bat Boy: The Musical).


    Due to the strong display of talent in the inaugural Fellowship applicant pool, Harvardwood and the sponsors doubled their initial commitment to support two Fellowship winners, and they also named five finalists who will each receive a $1000 grant to support their work. Those finalists are writer Juan Arenas ‘22, visual artist Kelsey Chen ‘22, writer-director Jasiel Lampkin ‘20, musician-composer Ria Modak ‘22, and comedian Freddie Shanel ‘21.

    The Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship is open to graduating seniors or recent Harvard alumni working or seeking to work in the arts, media, and entertainment fields. It will be awarded annually to at least one artist, with the inaugural term running from June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023, and subsequent terms also planned for a June-to-May cycle with applications open in October and due by early January.

    Click here for more information about the Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship.


    Photo credit / Youmna Chamieh: Emilia Cabrera
    Photo credit / Julia Riew: Ramona Park


  • published Issue 208 | May 2022 in HIGHLIGHTS Magazine 2022-05-01 01:17:10 -0700

  • Executive/Personal Assistant (Lake George Entertainment) - NY

    Company: Nicholas Britell - Lake George Entertainment LLC
    Location: NYC
    Start Date: June 1st, 2022
    Type of Position: Executive/Personal Assistant - Full-Time Salary Position - Hybrid
    Minimum Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
    Minimum Years of Experience: 1-2yrs

    Job Description:

    Open Position working with Composer Nicholas Britell / Lake George Entertainment LLC

    Read more

  • published May 2022 | Romolo Del Deo ‘82 in Alumni Profiles 2022-04-25 09:24:06 -0700

    May 2022 | Romolo Del Deo ‘82

    by Rachel Levy

    “I think if you give things time, that they will help you. You’re only in trouble when you rush things and, nowadays, a lot of pressure is exerted on short-duration projects and on immediate resolutions, and it’s not good for creative people that need time to sort stuff out.” 

    This is the philosophy of ROMOLO DEL DEO, a master sculptor and enthusiast for the more thoughtful, less-wasteful Long Art Movement.

    If you were to run into Del Deo on an average day in his native Cape Cod, you’d likely find him walking down the coast enjoying one of his favorite past-times: beachcombing, a process that both puts him in touch with nature and offers new inspiration for his work. 

    “I grew up in Provincetown,” Del Deo shares, “which is an interesting place, but also a place where the environment was very present in a way that forces you to think about environmental factors.” His specific stretch of New England coast, however, goes beyond its scenery. Equally as important as its iconic seaboard is P-town’s history as an artist’s colony. In fact, it’s the oldest continuous artist’s colony in America, making it out to be quite an eclectic place to be raised.

    “It was a wonderful place to grow up,” Del Deo shares, “and it was an unusual, distorting place to grow up because, essentially, when I was a child here, everyone was either a fisherman or they were an artist.” This upbringing led to a perspective that views art and environment as inextricably linked together. The son of acclaimed artist Salvatore Del Deo and conservationist-minded mother Josephine Couch Del Deo, the young Del Deo was introduced to the intersection of aesthetics and environment at a very early age. 

    He reminisces on his youth as a special time in his life that had a great influence on the work he creates now. “A lot of my education [growing up] was very unorthodox,” he says, referencing a period when he had to be pulled out of school for medical complications. “We had all this clay hanging around,” because of a project his father was commissioned for, “and I wasn’t in school, [...] so I just started sculpting. You know, we were artists, so we were very poor, and I didn’t have a lot of toys so my approach to sculpting at that point was to make everything I wished I had.” 

    From trucks to trains, he spent his time learning how to construct objects he was seeing all around him with the only tools he had: his two hands and a chunk of clay. “This became really like my first language,” he says. “Instead of learning to read and write, when most of my peers were doing so, I was learning how to look at an animal, or a picture of a boat, or whatever, and sculpt it. I got a very early start on that and it just sort of became my thing.”

    Perhaps you’ll sense his humility in that last statement upon understanding how this thing of his has earned him exhibitions around the world and awards from major institutions like the New York Foundation for the Arts and The Henry Moore Foundation. 

    Part of his success can be attributed to his commitment to challenging himself. He says he doesn't want his art to become too easy, or “fácil” as he puts it. In Del Deo’s eyes, his training has provided him the skills needed to professionally sculpt whatever he sees in front of him. However, he’s looking to do more than simple recreations with his work. He describes wasted talent in an artist like a poet who just writes Hallmark Cards. “It would be like if you had a good vocabulary, a good way of stringing words together and you just wrote lots of flowery poetry about stuff without actually using that ability to say anything.”

    The most recent achievement of Del Deo’s is the installation of his sculpture entitled “The Tree Of Life Which Is Ours” in the Marinaressa Gardens of Venice, Italy, for exhibition in the Venice Art Biennial 22. The inspiration behind this piece brings us back to his hometown coast, a stretch of land that is now feeling the ever-encroaching impacts of climate change.

    Del Deo, an observer of the natural world, began to notice the prevalence of ghost forests along his stretch of Provincetown coastline. Ghost forests are stretches of formerly lush coastal estuary where saltwater encroached, killed the trees, and left behind a mass of slowly dying and dead trees. 

    During his beachcombing excursions, Del Deo began collecting and studying different pieces of driftwood from these ghost forests. “I have a way of working and it’s kind of like I’m a squirrel and I’m hoarding things for the winter,” he says of the process.

    image descriptionEventually, he began making molds from these shapes to see what his work might reveal to him. “What really excites me is to take it through a process of transformation,” Del Deo says. “I want it to be a springboard and I really want it to take me somewhere else.”

    After making molds and then twisting, cutting, shaping, recombining and eventually making new molds, he eventually came upon part of “The Tree Of Life Which Is Ours.” He compares the process to writing a script or a novel. “You get to a certain point in which you don't have the ending.” This is where he found himself after completing this initial design based on those pieces of driftwood he collected.

    The ending for this sculpture finally took shape as a woman’s head that draws inspiration from the myth of Daphne. 

    “Daphne, you see, she turned into a tree,” Del Deo explains. “And I’ve been working with this idea about how I wanted to say something about how climate change is something we are all involved with, and how these ghost forests are a very obvious precursor, which is a global phenomenon.”

    For Del Deo, Daphne closed the loop between the ghost forests and their connection with humanity. “[Daphne] became a tree. So her existence and the tree’s existence were united and in that sense, we are all Daphne.”

    For Del Deo, now as always, art is indistinguishable from the environment.

    Photo credit all photos: Tatiana Del Deo ©2022

    The models and studies for the Biennale sculpture as well as Tatiana’s photography documenting the making of "The Tree Of Life Which Is Ours" will be on exhibit at the Berta Walker Gallery in Provincetown, MA from July 1-23, 2022.


    -----

    Rachel Levy ('22) is a published journalist, photographer, and filmmaker studying within the Environmental Science and Public Policy department. She creates work at the intersection of art, culture, and environment and produced her first film “Starving in Paradise” this year about food insecurity in Hawaii. In September of this year she’ll travel to Tanzania on a postgraduate fellowship to produce a documentary about the relationship between female empowerment, eco-tourism, and international development; find Rachel at rach-levy.com.


  • Two by Two with Megan Goldstein, AB '05, and Robert Kraft, AB '76

    Harvardwood is pleased to launch Two by Two, an occasional Q&A from two alumni who interview each other. Our participants are longtime Harvardwood volunteer Megan Goldstein (Vice President, Film & Television Music at BMG) and Harvardwood Advisory Board member Robert Kraft (musician, producer and former President of Fox Music) who discuss music, creativity, and the gift of no and the curse of yes.

    These are highlights from that interview.

    Megan Goldstein: The first thing I want to bring up is that I remember you speaking in one of my classes at Harvard.  The class was Broadway-focused on writing and creative and the music industry through Broadway. I don't know if this is ringing any bells for you.

    Robert Kraft: Totally ringing bells! I also remember telling the story at the beginning of class, which is kind of appropriate for us to kick off this conversation. It was ironic for me to be the guest speaker at a class at the Harvard music department. As a Harvard freshman, I had wanted to be a music major because I was a musician, full stop. I had thought about going to different schools but got into Harvard. My brothers said, “If you get into Harvard, you go,” but it didn't change what I wanted to do. I wanted to be in music and in the music department. And to get into the music department, you had to audition for Elliot Forbes, who was the chairman at the time, may he rest in peace.

    I went to my audition, and though I had written songs and been in a band since I was in fifth grade, I was asked to read a Bach Prelude. I was a terrible sight reader. I started to read and fumble through, and Mr. Forbes said, “You know, let's just stop.” I told him that I was there to focus on my interests, which are Black American artists. I loved Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Muddy Waters, and I loved the Rolling Stones who played Willie Dixon songs. When I started to tell him how much I wanted to study that, he said, “You're in the wrong place. The music department's not for you.”

    Thankfully, I was taking a freshman seminar in visual and environmental studies, and I was really happy to be admitted to that department. Fortunately, things have changed. White Eurocentric teaching is dead and buried, and now there's a Quincy Jones Chair of African-American Music at Harvard.

    MG: That’s a pretty upsetting story. I do think it has changed, or at least started to change. That said I also found it was a bit of a struggle to find the right place to study what I was hoping to study. I was a double concentrator, anthropology and music, not because I had any interest in anthro, but because I was very interested in film. I went to film school afterwards for grad school at USC, but at Harvard, all the film-related classes were in anthropology. So I ended up in this concentration, which I had no interest in, because all the classes that I wanted to take were housed there. But to speak to diversity of perspectives in the music department, I definitely think I had a better experience than you did. One of my favorite classes in the music department was on Middle Eastern instruments like the actual technical writing and playing of these instruments. It was one of the best classes I took while I was there. We had to learn to play them a little bit. It was awesome. Looking back, I feel there was a lot of interesting classes that were pretty great.

    RK: That’s really the exact opposite of my experience. In this way, you were exposed to non-European music. There's a recent academic debate – of which I couldn't possibly quote all the pros and cons – that music theory is racist. It's kind of been flaming online for a couple years that there's a professor who is very much in favor of the idea that if you're going to be in a music department, you need to understand Eurocentric music. Then there's this kind of counterpoint to that, which is exactly what you did, which includes micro tones and Middle Eastern music and whole other traditions.

    I really loved my time at Harvard. I played exactly the music I wanted to play. And hearing what you did, you solved the problem. In my junior year in visual and environmental studies, I wrote a paper on Leonard Bernstein’s score for On the Waterfront – that's about as close as I came to film music – and how it was kind of the antecedent to West Side Story, which Bernstein wrote it in 1956. But I didn't have any clue that film music is where I'd end up. I thought it was just a cool thing to write about. I then went on to start a band in New York and just do what I wanted to do, which was trying to be Led Zeppelin. Which didn't work out.

    MG: Well, in your defense. it worked out okay!

    RK: You went from music and anthropology; you could have ended up following in the steps of Margaret Mead.

    MG: I didn't want to at all. In fact, I remember as I went through the anthropology department really hating anthropology! Like you and I think so many people, when I got into Harvard, I didn't expect it to happen. I, too, was going to go to NYU, to New York, and do music and film. That's where I wanted to be. And then this thing happened to me. So I thought, I’m going to go there, because I guess that's what you do when this happens to you. When I got there, I thought I needed to be a history major and “get serious.” Everybody does that when they arrive, they forget about what they want to do and who they are because they're in this place that's scary and serious and smart or something. I had always been a musician. I always played in bands. I also studied classically, but jazz was what I really liked in high school.

    After I arrived at Harvard, I thought, “My extra credits will be music and theater and dance and film. but I will study straight.” I was unhappy, and I hated it. I also came from a high school where I had to take some remedial classes, like writing, because I didn't come to Harvard ready the way I should have, and I was miserable. I thought, “What am I doing?” And I just switched to music. And I just loved old film, the history of film. It was just my whole thing. And Harvard had nothing. Now they have a film major ...

    RK: Sort of, I think it’s part of the visual environmental studies.

    MG: Yes, but I think they have something more focused that they didn't have when I was there, more film centered, because they didn't have anything at all, really. Once I decided what I was going to do, it was like no one could stop me. I just found the classes and made the major be what it was going to be. I took the classes that I loved in anthropology, the film classes, I took this Brazilian documentary film related to literature class, just incredible classes that were really small. They were the best part of my whole academic experience.

    I appreciated the music theory classes and all the piano, too, because I had always been a musician. But my theory background was somewhat limited. The piano was really good for me. I came out being able to conduct, write and arrange music in a much more sophisticated way.  It allowed me to have church gigs, write music and be a band member in a more supportive and integral way than I had been going in. So it all kind of worked out. But it was a long process of figuring out that you just kind of have to do what you want to do. Which is, for some reason, really hard. Sometimes.

    Read more


  • published Vancouver/Seattle in Chapters 2022-03-01 11:20:26 -0800

    Vancouver/Seattle

    Welcome! Launched in 2022, Seattle - Vancouver is Harvardwood’s first joint Canadian-American chapter.


    OUR MISSION:

    To provide support, mentorship, friendship, fun, solidarity, networking opportunities for creative exchange and professional growth for Harvardwood’s members in both Seattle and Vancouver.

    Membership to Harvardwood Seattle - Vancouver is open to anyone with an interest in the arts and entertainment. Both emerging and established professionals in the arts are encouraged to participate in our programs.

    BECOME A MEMBER: HERE

    EVENTS:
    • Meet & Greets (in both Seattle & Vancouver)
    • Workshops (Online & In-Person)
    • Literary & Creative Salons (Scrawl-Crawls in B.C. & Washington, Writing Exchanges, Photography & Themed Outings, Video & Animation Tours, etc.)

     

    YOUR CHAPTER HEADS: 

    From Laguna Beach (Orange County), California, Jennifer Bao Yu "Precious Jade" Jue-Steuck is an author, screenwriter, children's novelist, researcher, and columnist. Adopted from Taipei (by an American family from Los Angeles), Jennifer is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and Harvard University, where she was a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Scholar.

     

    Mario Pochat is CEO and founder of FAME (www.myfame.org), an educational platform for digital entertainment teaching the art and science behind movies and video games. Mario received a national award for opening VANAS, the first “cloud school” in Canada (www.vanas.ca). A recipient of the “10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians,” he is a member of Passages Canada and Historica Canada.


Supporting Harvard Alumni, Students, Faculty and Staff in the Arts, Media and Entertainment
Calendar Programs Jobs & Career Development