Issue 14 | March 2006

  • Message from Membership Director
  • Mia's Monthly Message
  • Industry Successes
  • Members in the News
  • And the Award Goes To...
  • Member Profile: Nick Weiss '00
  • Six Degrees of Harvardwood
  • Featured Member Posting: THE ATLANTIC Monthly seeks Assistant to the Editor - DC

Message from the Membership Director

I hope everyone is enjoying playing around with the new Harvardwood website. It's been fun for me to see the new members names scroll across the website home page, especially our new members from cities outside of Los Angeles and New York. With new features like the member profile section, Harvardwood Heads To, a searchable database and more, the website will hopefully become a bastion of connection and community for us Harvard people in the arts. I invite you again to experience the new and improved on-line Harvardwood world. It's well worth it. And for those of you who complained about missing the weekly email notification, we've reinstated that again, so enjoy. We are also looking for people in cities outside of Los Angeles and New York to perhaps organize a social or event in your city. We are here to support you, so if you are interested definitely give us a shout at [email protected]

Cheers,
Kibi

Mia's Monthly Message

We are currently accepting submissions for the first-ever Harvardwood Screenplay Competition (deadline March 30th) and the 2006 NYC Mini Film Fest (deadline April 5th) – be sure to check out the website for guidelines and submission details on both…On-line registration is now available for the Harvard in Hollywood event on April 22nd in LA. This year’s theme is “Trends in Television”, and confirmed alumni speakers include Paris Barclay (director and co-executive producer of Cold Case), Rich Battista (CEO of Gemstar/TV Guide), Carlton Cuse (executive producer of Lost), Susanne Daniels (President of Lifetime), Reggie Hudlin (President of BET), and Mike Reiss (writer and executive producer of The Simpsons)…We are also gearing up for the fourth annual Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP), generously cosponsored by Harvard’s Office of Career Services and Office for the Arts. If your company needs interns, or if you need an internship, please visit the website for more details: www.harvardwood.org

Industry Successes

Bitsie Tulloch is excited to invite everyone to her new play QUARTERLIFE, which she stars in. It opened March 16th and runs for 5 weeks, 3 nights (Thurs/Fri/Sat) so, she hopes everyone will come. She writes "It's an awesome play" that was featured in Backstage West last week as well so check out the article." For more information and to by tickets visit www.sightunseentheatre.com

Anthony Cistaro is guest-starring in the role of "Dumain" on two of the final three episodes of the CHARMED series. Also, recently autographed 1,000 collectible cards that featured his character on ALIAS("Michel Guinot"). Said cards will be randomly included in the ALIAS/Season Four trading card packs produced by Inkworks (www.inkworks.com).

Artist Janai-Ami's oil on canvas masterwork, Shain's Way, has been selected by the United States State Department to represent contemporary American artists today in an exhibit on Africa's Ivory Coast. The painting will be on exhibit at the United States Embassy in Maputo, Africa through December 2006. Shain's Way made its debut at the Don O'Melveny Gallery on LA's chic Melrose Avenue and was exhibited in an international art show in New York City where it was purchased by a New York City Collector before travelling overseas on loan to the US State Department. Janai-Ami is an expert colorist, a primitive, and the leader of a new movement in contemporary art called sculptural expressionism. Her work sells for five to six figures. Her earliest work may be viewed at: www.janai-ami.net or you may contact her through [email protected] Please use subject header: harvardwood/art inquiry.

Samuel Johnson screened his experimental short film, "Food for Thought"that he wrote and directed Friday March 10th in the Adams House Art Space (where the movie was filmed.) It was followed by a Q&A session with Samuel and the film's lead actor Andrei Nechita, also an undergrad at Harvard.

After a ten-year hiatus from the arts, when she worked as a freelance journalist in India and a video producer in Europe and the U.S., Cornelia Ravenal has two new projects. First is the New York concert reading this month of OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN (book, music and lyrics). Originally produced at Harvard and then in theaters around the country, the show is about five women friends over ten years. Evan Ensign (associate director for RENT, AVENUE Q and LES MIZ) will direct. Next is a narrative short called THE OTHER WOMAN (www.TheOtherWoman2006.com). Helmed by her husband, Swedish director Mikael Sodersten '84, it was shot in New York this month. Cornelia wrote the script and co-produced. Last year, the newly-married couple made FIVE FEELINGS ABOUT FOOD (www.FiveFeelings.com), an offbeat documentary that's on the film festival circuit and has won several "best" awards.

Mary Kate Burke '06 and Ashley Zalta '07 roasted Richard Gere for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals' Man of the Year ceremony. The Hasty Pudding Show (HPT 158: "Some Like it Yacht") will ended it's run in Cambridge on March 19th and there were two additional shows in New York on March 24th and March 25th at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.

Gabrielle and Jennifer Burton (H/R '92 and '86) along with their sisters Ursula and Maria (Yale '89 and '85) and Charity (Denison '94) are pleased to announce that MGM/Sony is promoting their latest film, the comedy MANNA FROM HEAVEN, for the Easter DVD release season! MANNA FROM HEAVEN, the third feature from FIVE SISTERS PRODUCTIONS, is an ensemble comedy with a fantastic cast of Academy and Emmy award winners. After an independent theatrical release nationally, MANNA was picked by the Toronto Film Festival Group for their Circuit Series, and then drew the attention of MGM/Sony picked it up for DVD release. Get a copy and support this indie film! More info http://www.fivesisters.com and http://www.mannathemovie.com.

Gary Negbaur '89 will be performing in Paris with a jazz quartet at a wonderful,historic jazz club called Le Bilboquet. If any Harvard-ites (or their friends) are in the vicinity, swing on by. For info/Reservations: 01-45-48-81-84 For more info on Le Bilboquet: www.lebilboquet.com For more info on Gary Negbaur: www.garynegbaur.com

The Evidence, a new TV series created and produced by Samuel Baum '98 and Dustin Thomason '98 premiered Wednesday March 22nd at 10PM on ABC, following Lost. The series is a detective mystery revolving around two Homicide Inspectors, Sean Cole and Cayman Bishop, best friends and partners in the San Francisco Police Department. The show's twist is that the evidence is presented at the beginning of each episode, before the detectives even get the case: a locket with a photograph scratched out, a cell phone, a flower basket, a severed finger, a dead body...The question is -- how does it all fit together? A write up on the show was featured in the Wall Street Journal on March 17, 2006.

Valerie Weiss Ph.D. GSAS/HMS '01 recently directed a sci-fi short called "Transgressions" for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. Past alumni include Lesli Linka Glatter (West Wing, Num3ers), Randa Haines (Children of A Lesser God) and Maya Angelou (Down in the Delta). Her film screened on February 2 at AFI to a packed house and it stars Robert Johnson HLS '99 as Carl Philips, who, in a Utopian society of celebrity assassins, dreams of giving his young son a "better life" by sending him to assassin training camp. His wife doesn't share his dream and does the unthinkable to save her son from a life of murder. DVD screeners are available. For information about this and other projects please contact [email protected] Her next project, a feature called "Losing Control", is a comedy about an Ivy League scientist who learns to accept the unpredictability of love. She is currently raising financing and attaching cast. To read a synopsis and press from the "NY Times", please visit the production company's website at www.phdproductions.com.

Karen Gordon filmed a lovely supporting role in "American Dreamz," in theatres April 21. The project, directed by Paul Weitz and starring Hugh Grant, Mandy Moore, Marcia Gay Harden, Dennis Quaid, Willem Dafoe and Jennifer Coolidge, comically illuminates our obsession with reality television.

Associate Producer Winnie Li's British short CASHBACK (2004, written and directed by Sean Ellis) was nominated for the 2006 Academy Award® in the Best Live Action Short Film category. While it did not win, the producers were excited to see it go that far since they shot it on a shoestring budget in Spring 2003. Completed last year off the overwhelming success of the short, CASHBACK the feature has been picked up by Gaumont as worldwide sales agents. It will be distributed in France in 2006. The short continues its blaze of popularity, enjoying a simultaneous US theatrical release with Magnolia Distribution and Apollo Cinema. In an unprecedented move, iTunes launched the Oscar-nominated® shorts on its US iTunes website the week before the Oscars®, and CASHBACK reached No. 2 among all available video downloads. You can download CASHBACK from iTunes for $1.99 or catch it at a number of festivals, including the upcoming Malibu Film Festival.

Another short produced by Winnie Li called VAGABOND SHOES (2005, written and directed by Jackie Oudney) won the Grand Jury Prize at the Lille Short Film Festival on March 10. The film was awarded the festival’s highest honor by a unanimous vote of the jury, and the President of the Jury, Cesar-nominated writer/director Michel Alexandre, even called the film “perfect.” A musical drama starring Iain Glen (LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, GABRIEL & ME), VAGABOND SHOES was nominated for Best Short Film by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Scotland last year and recently played at the Santa Barbara and Cleveland International Film Festivals. In the US, it will soon screen at the Garden State and Santa Cruz Film
Festivals, and it will continue its European festival run at Berlin’s Britspotting Festival, the Istanbul International Short Film Festival, and London’s East End Film Festival.

Members in the News

Providence, Rhode Island's Point Magazine will feature the first ever interview with the artist Janai-Ami in their April 2006 issue. She was also recently mentioned by AccessArts, when the sale of Sherwood Forest for six figures to a New York City Collector also broke sales records again.

And the Award Goes To...

HARVARD '81 Artist Janai-Ami's painting Once Upon A Time wins Award at Nationally Juried show at the Palm Springs Desert Museum and is mentioned in The Los Angeles Times. The large oil on canvas landscape floral sold for a record amount to German heiress Marianna Jewell-Thomas. Once Upon A Time was created less than two years after the artist first began to paint and its purchase broke all sales records for any American woman artist alive or deceased including those of another floral painter, Georgia O'Keefe.

Winnie Li's Oscar-nominated short CASHBACK was featured in The Hollywood Reporter and The LA Times on March 9th, 2006.

Member Profile: Nick Weiss '00

I have wanted to interview Nick Weiss forever. Not because I knew anything about him, but because his name kept popping up in different conversations all the time. And so, when I got to choose my next subject, I picked him. Fortunately, getting to know him further definitely measured up to my expectations.

Nick is articulate, interesting and totally passionate about what he does. He grew up outside of Philadelphia before making his way to Harvard. During his first semester he ended up taking an unexpected leave of absence, which in retrospect profoundly shifted or rather clarified his perspective on what he wanted to do in life. I think most people have a pivotal event or year in their lives, but most of us realize it only years later or maybe never realize it at all. For Nick it came at nineteen, living in New Jersey with an old lady and her dog, transcribing CEO interviews to make ends meet. The opportunity to live outside of structured regiment of Harvard, finally allowed Nick the freedom to explore aspects of his personality that we more creative. He was really fortunate to see the benefit in a change of environment and he returned to Harvard a new man. He changed to a special concentration of media studies that involved music, VES and computer science. He took another year off (perhaps seeking to re-achieve the Nirvana of the first leave of absence?) after his junior year and worked on his creativity.

There is a definite side to Nick that’s intrigued by the metaphysical and the seeming ability of film or rather the filmmaker to somehow control the direction of entropy. For his senior project he made “What Now?” in which two characters face each other but travel in opposite temporal directions. It won Best Student Experimental in the New England Film and Video Festival. Nick admits that he was not concerned with the narrative in this film, but rather with concepts that provoke the viewer. However, as with all fledglings these concepts proved only to be the stepping stone to imminent development. When Nick used the characters in “What Now?” to delineate these particular striking concepts, he realized that as the viewer, one cannot help but be drawn into the characters and their accompanying struggles. According to Nick, it is from this process that a narrative essentially develops and therefore cannot be ignored by the filmmaker.

Facts like this seem superfluous, but to me they add to the bigger picture; they help one see personal motivations and caveats that characterize one’s professional progression. In 2003, after an appetizing expedition to Whole Foods, Nick started working on “Free Samples” a silent film about a homeless man living off the free samples in a grocery store (hmmm, surprisingly similar to my current existence!) Nick worked really hard on the film, doing most of it by himself, finding it to be a lonely and unenviable process. I can’t get an accurate read on how Nick views “Free Samples.” For sure it’s his inaugural baby, but there is a distinct air of ambiguity. We talked a bit about affirmation, and how as Harvard grads most of us grew up with a staple diet of public affirmation and positive reinforcement. It only makes sense then when we are out on our own to crave that affirmation, not because its necessary, but simply because its comfortable and familiar.

Today, Nick is thriving, living in Los Angeles, as he works on 4 short films, and collaborates with different writers from different genres with his producing partner Deidre Owen (Class of 2000) at Pigment Pictures. Check out his website at www.pigmentpics.com

-Reported by Dominique Kahlil, '00

Six Degrees of Harvardwood

I was living in Orange County after school & moved to LA a few years ago. I tapped into Harvardwood after I moved. I mostly heard about & met people through hearing what everyone was working on in newsletters & announcements (e.g., if it was someone I already knew of as directing shorts or having a similar background to me because they were a friend of a friend, once I realized they were also an alum, I got in touch). I also tapped into Harvard Film night & alumni Professional Connections. I got out of the loop when I had to travel/work on press for screenings & after the Harvardwood format changed, but I definitely hope to attend some upcoming events, especially now that I will be more aware of what is going on again. Thanks!
--Jacqui Wang

Featured Member Posting: THE ATLANTIC Monthly seeks Assistant to the Editor - DC

David Bradley, publisher of the Atlantic Monthly, recently named New York Times reporter James Bennett as the magazine's new Editor. There is an opening for an administrative assistant position reporting to Bennett. Word has it there is real potential for the right person to switch over to the editorial side. To view full posting, please visit the website: www.harvardwood.org/careers/view_listing.asp?id=1820

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