Issue 41 | June 2008

  • Message from the Membership Directors, Kibi & Angela
  • Message from Mia
  • 2008 Harvardwood Screenplay Competition Winners
  • Member Profile: Vanessa Parise
  • Industry Successes
  • Pencil Me In - Reunion Mixer, June 7 (Cambridge), NYC Summer Party, June 12 (NYC)
  • Featured Member Posting: New Production Company Hiring Development Execs and Assistants

Message from the Membership Directors

As always, hope this email finds you doing well. As far as we're concerned, summer has officially begun, so whether you're enjoying Commencement and the Class Reunions or putting the final touches on a script, please take note - lots of Harvardwood happenings this month! In particular, if you're in Seattle, NYC or Boston, be sure to check out our local chapter events to meet new members and reunite with the old. Feel free to bring friends and introduce them to the Harvardwood family!

In the meantime, please enjoy our member profile on Vanessa Parise. Thanks to all the new volunteer profile writers, and to all of you who have shared your stories below. Till next time...

Angela and Kibi

Message from Mia

After last month's Harvardwood European extravaganza, we are kicking off the summer with a bevy of US events from coast to coast -- the fun started earlier this week with the Harvardwood Screenplay Competition Awards Party and the Harvardwood Seattle launch event and will continue with our Harvardwood reunion mixer in Cambridge on Sat., June 7th and a Harvardwood NYC party on Thurs. June 12th. Come join in the fun!

It is my pleasure to welcome two new Chapter Heads to the Harvardwood family, Brenda Walker (Seattle) and Mark R. Carter, Ph.D (Washington, DC) -- you can read more about them and our other Chapter Heads on the Harvardwood website.

Major kudos to the winners of our third annual Harvardwood Screenplay Competition, sponsored by Circle of Confusion...and last but not least, we are thrilled to announce the launch of our new HARVARDWOOD CHANNEL -- details below...


2008 Harvardwood Screenplay Competition Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2008 Harvardwood Screenplay Competition, sponsored by Circle of Confusion! It was a very competitive pool of scripts, and we thank all of the writers who participated. To read the winning screenplays, please email a request including your name and company info to: [email protected] (you must be a Full Member of Harvardwood).

1st place (cash prize of $500): PICTURE MAN by Broderick Fox
April, 1942. Adam Silver, a young "by-the-books" FBI agent is sent up to an Alaska cannery town to investigate espionage charges levied against a Japanese fisherman. Silver arrives thinking this is a routine grunt assignment but quickly finds himself in way over his head, with now way to back out now.

2nd place: SUPER VILLAIN ACADEMY by Rob Cain
"Super Villain Academy” is the story of a recently divorced dad who—despite a lifetime of
mediocrity—has always dreamed of becoming a superhero. At the urging of his 12-year old son he
tries out at the superhero open auditions; when rejected, he must decide whether to accept a fateful
invitation to enroll in the Super Villain Academy.

3rd place: MR. CHRISTMAS by Paula Brancato
After the recent death of their father, a new step mom tries to forge a closer bond with her reluctant step daughters (ages 12 and 16) to make a happy first Christmas. Just when she is ready to give up, an unlikely angel uses his kindness and magic to pull the family closer together.


The Board is pleased to announce what we believe will be a useful and innovative way for the Harvardwood community to bring our creative work to the attention of fellow members and the general public -- and to explore new ideas by watching archived (and, eventually, live) interviews of people in the arts, media and entertainment worlds.

To learn more about The Harvardwood Channel -- and how you can use it to share your work, and explore others' -- click on The Harvardwood Channel item on the main menu of our home page,

This will bring you to an inside page, which has the copy listed below. It's all self-explanatory (we hope!). We urge those with those with trailers, recordings of any kind, just about anything, to upload and post under the SHOWCASE option. Also, check out our first archived interview under the EXPLORE feature. More coming soon...

We will be monitoring activity on the pages over the next several days -- and we welcome input as we fine-tune The Harvardwood Channel. Later this month, when the bugs have been ironed out, we will publicize The Harvardwood Channel in the mainstream media. And we have long-range plans...

But for now, please take a test drive and let us know what you think.

Comments please to:

Wayne Miller
Media Director
[email protected]

What you will find at

Welcome to The Harvardwood Channel, where members can explore new ideas -- and share their creative work with other members and the general public. We are on a beta run of this new feature, so expect some fine-tuning as we move forward. But we are excited to be offering this new opportunity to the Harvardwood community!

You have two options here:

Click on through to Member Videos, where full members (only) can post links to their own creative work -- trailers, clips, sound recordings, whatever, we leave it up to you. The first step is to upload your creative work to an established video-sharing site, such as YouTube. Please be sure to observe copyright considerations. And if you're using YouTube, please consider annotating, which will give you a number of cool options. Once you've uploaded, visit Member Videos to post the link, along with a brief description of your work. Affiliate members and friends, along with the general public, can also access the Member Videos site to see what the Harvardwood community is up to, although they cannot post to the site.

Click on through to Interviews, where you will find video recordings of interviews with Harvardwood members and others of interest to out community. Down the line, this will also be the place for live Internet broadcasts (of conferences, for example) and the repository of recordings of the same. Only full members will be allowed access to this link.

Now enjoy!

Member Profile: Vanessa Parise

by Amit Samuel

After two years at the highly-competitive Circle in the Square Theater School in New York, Vanessa Parise had a choice: medicine or theater. To help her decide, Vanessa turned to her mentor at the American Repertory Theater, Robert Brustein. He helped Vanessa choose the career that she had secretly desired since elementary school.

Although a biology concentrator at Harvard College, Vanessa was also immersed in the arts, singing with the Opportunes and performing in many student plays. She excelled in biology, earning admission to Harvard Medical School. Before committing to medicine, though, Vanessa felt compelled to explore her passion for the theater.

Her parents cautiously supported Vanessa’s decision to defer. Though they themselves had pursued traditional careers (her father is a lawyer and mother a professor), they understood their daughter’s need to explore her artistic interests. As a sort of vocational rumspringa, Vanessa spent the summer after graduation attending theater school in New York City. She fell madly in love – in love with theater and in love with New York.

After spending several years starring in off-Broadway plays like TOP GIRLS and Edward Albee’s SEASCAPE, Vanessa was ready for a new challenge. On a visit to Los Angeles, she met with friend and Harvard alum, Marty Bowen ’91, then a junior talent agent at UTA. Marty described some of the advantages of living and working in sunny Los Angeles: the possibilities of booking TV and film gigs, jogging at El Matador Beach in Malibu, hiking in Griffith Park, and practicing yoga at Rising Lotus in Sherman Oaks. Convinced, Vanessa left New York.

Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, Vanessa watched her then-boyfriend make a short film. Inspired, she decided to make her own. Her first was LO AND JO, which she wrote, directed, and starred in. The short was accepted at film festivals around the country and won numerous awards. Buoyed by the success, she embarked on producing her first feature film.

Vanessa set off to learn everything she could about filmmaking. She read screenwriting books by Syd Field, took a cinematography class, and took more acting classes, this time with Eric Morris. She watched super-producer Robert Evans’ biopic KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, which details his rise, fall, and rise again. She studied the styles of her favorite directors – Sydney Pollack, Steven Soderbergh, Edward Zwick, and Woody Allen – by listening to the scene commentary on their DVDs.

The third of five children in an extended Italian-American family, Vanessa wrote a film about what she knew best – the love and struggles shared by a colorful Italian-American family set on the coast of Rhode Island. As Vanessa drove onto set the first day of production, the unit production manager announced over the loudspeaker "the director has arrived on set.” After a moment, Vanessa realized they were talking about her -- pretty cool for a girl from R.I.

KISS THE BRIDE starred Talia Shire, Burt Young, Alyssa Milano, and Vanessa. The film was acquired by MGM after garnering a long list of awards on the festival circuit, including The Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film at the Hamptons Film Festival; Best Film at Sarasota; and Best Actress (Vanessa Parise) at Cinequest. Vanessa’s motion picture directorial debut was a success and especially impressive considering the paucity of female directors in Hollywood.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Vanessa recently completed her second feature, JACK AND JILL VS THE WORLD, starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Taryn Manning, Robert Forster, and Vanessa. It enjoyed a limited theatrical release and will premiere on television and then video next month.

To handle the demands of independent filmmaking, Vanessa has learned to be flexible and tenacious. Though the challenges are substantial, the rewards are special and immensely satisfying. Earlier this year during a visit to Massachusetts, Vanessa walked by the multiplex and there, among the big studio films, was her movie listed on the marquee.

Now after ten years in Hollywood and producing two successful feature films, Vanessa is taking the good reviews and returning to her first love: acting. Perhaps as a nod to her biology background, she should consider the role of a brilliant and beautiful scientist who follows her heart, bucks convention, overcomes the odds, and lives happily every after – in other words, pure method acting.

Industry Successes...

Reid Carolin '04 was an associate producer on the film STOP-LOSS which opened in March and is still in theaters. The DVD will be released later this summer and the film is opening worldwide this month. Reid was a story writer and creator of the project, and shot and directed the Iraq-video portions of the film.

Anthony Cistaro FAS/ART '97 guest-starred on the "season-reopener" of UGLY BETTY and just shot an episode of NIP/TUCK as Liz's love interest.

Liz Ryan is the 2008 recipient of the prestigious Frank Capra Award of the Directors Guild of America, the Guild's highest honor afforded to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the DGA. Liz's award was presented at the annual DGA Awards Dinner, where MC Carl Reiner and DGA President Michael Apted presided, and the crowd of 1400 included fellow DGA award winners Joel and Ethan Coen, National Executive Director of the DGA, Jay D. Roth, and nominees Paul Thomas Anderson, Tony Gilroy, and Julian Schnabel.

Andrew Sodroski '04 received Faculty Honors in the Columbia University Film Festival for his feature screenplay "The Squid & the Robot", co-written with James Strzelinski. The screenplay is an animated family adventure about a pre-teen giant squid who falls in love with a deep-sea exploratory robot. More at:

DARK MATTER, written by Billy Shebar '79, was shown as part of the "Sundance Institute at BAM" series on Tuesday June 3 at 9:40 PM. There was a Q & A afterwards with Shebar and director Chen Shi-Zheng. Starring Liu Ye, Meryl Streep and Aidan Quinn, DARK MATTER won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at Sundance in 2007. For more info, visit For more on the film or to view the trailer, visit:

Robert Davenport has been selected for the 2008 Institute of American Indian Arts' Summer Film and Television Workshop, sponsored by Disney/ ABC. This is his 45th screenwriting honor, which includes being the only two time winner of the Screenwriting Showcase in the Master of Fine Arts Screenwriting Program at UCLA.

Aside from being a part time vocalist, Elliott Small is the founder and primary investor in a company that has an advanced all-electric car ready to be ordered as a custom build deliverable in about 3 months for wealthy early adopters of green technology, especially in the entertainment industry. As far as they know, their demonstration car is the only running all-electric 5 passenger luxury sedan powered by lithium ion phosphate batteries. They intend to build a small scale assembly facility to deliver this car as well as an economy version within the next couple years. We expect to be ready to take pre-production orders in a few months. The demonstration car is based on a brand new 2007 Acura TL. See it being driven in a 10 second video at and get other information there or contact [email protected]

A painting by Max R. Scharf '86 entitled "Let the Games Begin” is now in the permanent collection of the Saint Louis University Museum of Art. In 1992 he was selected as one of 24 artists to create a painting for the United States Olympic Friendship Games held in St. Louis. The painting was auctioned to benefit the games. It now has passed from private collector to the SLU Museum of Art. More images available at:

Pencil Me In...

June 7: Second Annual Harvardwood Reunion Mixer (Boston)

Come one, come all to the second annual Harvardwood Reunion Mixer! Current students, Boston-based alums, folks in town for reunion week -- all are welcome to join us for some food, drink, and good ol' chit-chat. Saturday June 7th, 2-5 pm, Tommy Doyle's, 96 Winthrop St, Cambridge.

June 12: Harvardwood NYC Summer Kickoff party (NYC)

Come kick off the summer with Harvardwood at the beautiful National Arts Club! Mix and mingle with Harvardwood folks, including alums, summer interns, and guests. Thurs., June 12th, 6:30 - 8:30 pm, 15 Gramercy Park South (20th Street off Park Ave South), Cash bar drinks $4-7. Persons under the age of 21 will not be served alcohol. Dress code: no jeans and t-shirts, jackets required. RSVP required -- space is limited, and Full Members of Harvardwood will be given preference.

Featured Member Posting: New Production Company Hiring Development Execs and Assistants

New Beverly Hills-based production company with major film fund and studio deal seeks hard-working, dedicated Executive Assistants and Development Team... To view full posting, please visit:



Harvardwood does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any of the information, content or advertisements (collectively "Materials") contained on, distributed through, or linked, downloaded or accessed from any of the services contained in this e-mail. You hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any Materials shall be at your sole risk. The materials are provided by Harvardwood on an "AS IS" basis, and Harvardwood expressly disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied.

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