Issue 50 | March 2009

* Message from Membership Directors Kibi & Angela
* Message from Mia
* Need Interns? Harvardwood Summer Internship Program Seeks Companies
* 2009 Harvardwood Screenplay Competition - Call for Entries!
* Brave New WGA: Thoughts from Patric Verrone '81
* HBS Entertainment and Media Conference: "Live the Dream"
* Pencil Me In...

  • Harvardwood Bellwether Showcase for TV Pilots - LA
  • Harvardwood 101 NYC Mixer - NYC

* Personal Successes
* Featured Member Posting

Message from the Membership Directors

March isn't just about college basketball (ok, well maybe it is for some of you) - March Madness means another busy month of Harvardwood happenings on both coasts! From the Harvardwood Undergrad Student Organization (HUSO) Harvardwood 101 NYC trek to the Bellwether Showcase for TV Pilots in LA to the HBS Entertainment and Media Conference in Boston, there's sure to be something for everyone.

March Madness also means a membership drive! Our membership has grown dramatically since our early days of being a weekly email sent from Mia's inbox. Now with Chapters all over the world, we are fast approaching 3000 members and affiliates. So, help us reach our 3000th member! During this month, sign up your friends, family, fellow students, alums, and co-workers - have them include your name as the referral when they sign up for membership. If they sign up as a Full Member and happen to be #3000, we'll give both of you a free year of Full Membership! Remember, the stronger our membership, the more resources, ideas, and talent we share with our community. Help us build a better Harvardwood!

Cheers,
Angela and Kibi

Message from Mia

Hey, all you Harvardwood Full Members - be sure to check out the Harvardwood Channel for video footage of our events over the past few months, including the Harvardwood Visual Arts panel and Harvardwood Magazine panel in NYC, courtesy of NYC Correspondent David Kowarsky, and the Harvardwood New Media panel, courtesy of LA Correspondent Marc Strassman... Thanks to the wonders of technology (and our awesome volunteers), Harvardwood can now bring our fantastic smorgasbord of global events to your computer screen, wherever you may be!

-Mia

Need Interns? Harvardwood Summer Internship Program Seeks Companies

Harvardwood is pleased to announce the 2009 Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP). HSIP provides a list of internship opportunities in the arts, media and entertainment to interested Harvard students. Harvardwood also coordinates career-related events over the summer for program participants in LA and NYC. If your company is interested in listing an internship via HSIP, please send the following info to us at [email protected]: Company (or production) name:

Type and/or description of company, Department(s) if applicable, Contact person, Contact info, Location of internship, Number of interns desired, Time requirements (start/end dates, part/full-time, hours per week, etc.), Description of intern responsibilities, Other requirements (proof of college credit, etc.)... For more info on HSIP, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/?HSIP

2009 Harvardwood Screenplay Competition - Call for Entries!

Started in 2006, the Harvardwood Screenplay Competition (HSC) takes place every spring and is sponsored by top management and production company Circle of Confusion. The purpose of the contest is to give emerging Harvard writers the opportunity to share their material with industry professionals. We will be accepting script submissions via email and post from now through April 30, 2009. The winning script and runners up will be read by various industry professionals, and the first place winner will receive a free year of Full Membership to Harvardwood as well as a cash prize of an amount to be determined. For more information and submission guidelines, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/23593/2009-Harvardwood-Screenplay-Competition---Call-for-Entries.htm

Brave New WGA: Thoughts from Patric Verrone '81

by Anthony Cistaro '97

As a follow up to Harvardwood’s “Brave New Media” Panel discussion, Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone (Harvard ’81) recently shared additional thoughts with us on how WGA writers are shaping the future of internet content.

Once upon a time, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his fellow novelists were lured out to Hollywood to write for the studios. They largely fell to drink and despair upon discovering they had traded in their artistic autonomy for the role of the well-paid but underestimated lackey.

Not so in the world of new media, according to Patric Verrone, President of the Writers Guild of America West. In the aftermath of the WGA’s 100-day strike last year against the studio conglomerates, Verrone has continued to deliver on his promise that “every piece of media with a moving image on a screen or a recorded voice must have a writer, and every writer must have a WGA contract.”

Out of necessity, the writers forged into the wilderness of the internet. During the walkout, the writers launched STRIKE TV. They successfully countered the studios’ traditional media propaganda juggernaut by creating and distributing their own online content.

And while the studios are still trying to figure out how to turn a profit from clips of the kid jumping on a trampoline or Mentos/Coke bottle explosions, the writers are setting up shop online with some promising successes. Joss Whedon’s DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG and Seth MacFarlane’s CAVALCADE OF CARTOON COMEDY celebrate the writer as the brand.

“New media seems to be shaping itself into a TV-like production system,” says Verrone, “in television, the writer is the auteur – it is the writer who produces and shapes the direction of the material – as opposed to films where the director tends to be the auteur.”

An interesting example is a recent contract agreement forged between the WGA and Machinima, a gaming site. Union writers will deliver fifteen comedies using videogame assets: computer graphics, animation, puppetry, motion capture. Unlike traditional animation which can take months, the Machinima platform – with animated characters interacting in the environment as the content is being captured – allows for near real-time delivery.

The writers will each draft 22 minutes of content broken into 5 webisodes, which then can be reassembled and sold as television pilots.

Advertisers are also migrating away from traditional media and towards the internet. “Even YouTube now has click-through advertising,” said Verrone, “and in a down economy, the efficiency of click-through is the advertiser’s choice.”

For Verrone, these developments show great promise.

“First, the direction of successful content on new platforms – what it looks like, and how the payment structures are going to be – is being determined by the writers themselves.”

Verrone also notes a change in how writers expect to be compensated in new media, “Historically, the writer enjoyed the bulk of his salary up front with some residual revenue further downstream. Now creators are willing to take less up front if they can enjoy more creative control and participate in profits on the back end.”

“Additionally, we’re seeing an upstream incubation period, where product developed for the internet will migrate backwards to cable and network programming. Why are we sure of this? The studios simply are not developing as many pilot scripts. They still have to fill the same number of slots. So either the studios have to be very lucky with what they select, or they will have to look to the internet as a proving ground of sorts.”

In the interim, the studios are seeking what’s beneficial to them in both ways – compress the up front profits and withhold the back end profits by suggesting that the future is too complicated to predict.

“But for the studios,” said Verrone, “there’s ultimately no route into the revenue stream without talent.”

When asked about recent studio efforts to sidestep the WGA and directly attract talented unknowns, Verrone recalled his own beginnings, “I know when I started out as a writer that there were many things I didn’t think about. Like someday I’d probably have to support a wife and children and adequately prepare for my future. That means you will need health benefits, you’ll need a pension, and ultimately you’ll need an entity to police the contracts you work under to protect what you’ve negotiated.”

“Going forward, the opportunities for writers to create and distribute independent productions in new media are leading us down limitless pathways,” said Verrone, “but it is also important to have the protection from exploitation that a union provides.”

Veritas.

HBS Entertainment and Media Club Conference

The HBS Entertainment and Media Club proudly presents…“LIVE THE DREAM”
2009 Entertainment and Media Conference
March 19, 2009 @HBS

Featuring keynote speaker BOB IGER, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company

Conference Tickets: $50
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=3028411

Conference Panels Include:
New Media and the Future of Television: What’s next?
Film Internationalization and Hollywood Movie Making
Film Financing
New Business Models for a New Era in the Music Industry

Panelists Include Representatives From: The Film Department, Google TV, Fox Television Networks, The Walt Disney Company, Roserock Films, The Boston Globe, Variety Magazine…and more!

EMC Conference Contacts: Co-Presidents, Maureen Fan ([email protected]) & Jack Sallay ([email protected])

Press Policy: Press will not be allowed to attend the keynote per Disney's request, but is welcome to attend all panels. Press should contact Gabrielle Bill at [email protected]

Pencil Me In...

Harvardwood Bellwether Showcase for TV Pilots - LA

When: Tues., March 10 @7:30 PM
Where: Odyssey Theater, 2055 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90025
For more info: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=53388

Harvardwood 101 NYC Mixer - NYC

When: Fri., March 13th, 7:30 - 10:30 PM
Where: Taj Lounge, 48 W. 21st St., New York City, New York
What: Harvardwood Undergrad Student Organization (HUSO) invites alums in the NYC area to join them for a mixer event on Friday, March 13th at 7:30 pm. As part of the Harvardwood 101 NYC program, current undergrads and alums will meet for appetizers and drinks at Taj Lounge (http://www.tajlounge.com/) and chat about what got them interested in the arts and entertainment or offer any advice for the post-Harvard world. The undergrads are eager to meet the NYC Harvardwood members, especially those who won't be participating as part of the panels. Business casual attire.

Personal Successes

Robert Davenport earned his Commercial Pilots License in December, and his Instrument Rating in January. He has been flying since 1973, when he finished flight training, and became a Naval Flight Officer, but has basically just been flying as a Private Pilot. Now he can fly for pay! Anyone who needs a pilot, be sure to contact Robert.

Featured Member Posting

Robert Davenport earned his Commercial Pilots License in December, and his Instrument Rating in January. He has been flying since 1973, when he finished flight training, and became a Naval Flight Officer, but has basically just been flying as a Private Pilot. Now he can fly for pay! Anyone who needs a pilot, be sure to contact Robert.


 

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