Issue 64 | May 2010

* Director's Notes
* Message from Mia
* Pencil Me In:

LA EVENTS

  • Harvardwood Presents: Screening of MOTHER AND CHILD and Q&A w/ Director Rodrigo Garcia and Actress Tatyana Ali, TODAY! Sat., May 1
  • Harvardwood Heads To...the Third Annual Artistic License Awards, Sun., May 2
  • Harvardwood Mixer, Wed., May 12
  • LA Harvardwood Music Group meeting and jam session, Thurs., May 20
  • Harvardwood Heads To...The Art of Taqaseem Workshop, Sat., May 22
  • Harvardwood Heads To...Musical Moments with pianist Gerry Bryant, Sat., May 22
  • Harvardwood Seminar Series: Screenwriting Lecture w/ Paul Gulino, Author of THE SEQUENCE APPROACH, Thurs., May 27

BOSTON EVENTS

  • Harvardwood Reunion Mixer, Sat., May 29

NY EVENTS

  • Harvardwood Heads To...SHAWN SNYDER @ The Bitter End * SOLO and ACOUSTIC, Mon., May 3
  • Harvardwood Presents: The Pleasures of High-End Artisanal "Hard" (Alcoholic) Ciders, Wed., May 12
  • Harvardwood Presents: An Interview with JANE ALEXANDER, Tony-Winning Actress and Former NEA Chair, Wed., May 26

TORONTO EVENTS

  • Toronto HotDocs Screening and Mixer Event, TODAY! Sat., May 1

SF EVENTS

  • Harvardwood Heads To...the Third Annual Artistic License Awards, Fri., May 14

* Announcing the launch of Harvardwood Music!
* Positions Available - TV Pilot Showcase - LA
* Harvardwood Books announces new opportunity for mobile publishing (for text and graphic arts!)
* Announcing the launch of the Harvardwood Visual Arts Gallery!
* Seeking hosts for the 2010 HSIP in LA and NY
* Industry Successes
* Harvardwood Helps success!
* Featured Member Posting: Seeking Director, NBCU Digital Entertainment Strategy & Operations - LA
* Member Profile: Rodrigo Garcia '82

Director's Notes

Opportunities to make and share art abound this May from coast to coast! This weekend is ARTS FIRST at Harvard and Harvardwood is right in step with our on-campus brethren. For those of you in the Boston area, enjoy the beauty that ARTS FIRST brings to campus each year. Meanwhile, in a Harvardwood Chapter near you, there's a TON to enjoy this May. The calendar is over-flowing with amazing events in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston, and San Francisco so don't miss out! And I'm really excited to announce the launch of two programs this Spring, the Harvardwood Visual Arts Gallery and Harvardwood Music! Harvardwood continues to expand its exposure and professional development opportunities for Harvard artists of all kinds, so be sure to click around the website to find out all that's available to you. Happy Spring!

-- Kelley

Message from Mia

A huge thank-you to everyone who contributed to making our first-ever Harvardwood Writers Program Screenplay Showcase a success! Staged readings of excerpts from four of the HWP scripts were presented to a packed house of industry-ites at the WGA in LA last Tuesday. Special gratitude goes to our generous host and sponsor Ed Zwick, our intrepid producer / HWP features director Lane Shadgett, showcase director Andrew Burlinson, and all of the Harvardwood Actors Program cast members. This month's newsletter is chock full of other delectable info...so read on and enjoy!

-- Mia

Pencil Me In...

LA - Harvardwood Presents: Screening of MOTHER AND CHILD and Q&A w/ director Rodrigo Garcia and actress Tatyana Ali, TODAY! Sat., May 1

From writer-director Rodrigo Garcia '82 (NINE LIVES, BIG LOVE, IN TREATMENT, THE SOPRANOS) and executive producer Alejandro González Iñárritu (BABEL) comes the moving story of three women and the power of the unbreakable bond between mother and child. MOTHER AND CHILD features a stellar cast, including Annette Bening, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits, and Naomi Watts, as well as alum actors Amy Brenneman '86 and Tatyana Ali '02…A sophisticated storyteller and master of the multi-character narrative, Mr. Garcia will be available to answer questions following the screening of the film. Joining him will be actress Tatyana Ali…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=104908

LA - Harvardwood Heads To...the Third Annual Artistic License Awards, Sun., May 2

California Lawyers for the Arts, a statewide nonprofit headed by Harvard alum Gerry Bryant, Co-President of its Board of Directors, is presenting its Third Annual Artistic License Awards honoring outstanding leaders who serve and support arts education and the arts of all disciplines (music, film, theatre, visual arts, etc.). The gala fundraising event will take place May 2nd at the William Turner Gallery in Santa Monica. This year’s honorees in Los Angeles include Maria Shriver, US Representative Diane Watson, and The Geffen Playhouse, among many others….To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=101520

LA - Harvardwood Mixer, Wed., May 12

It's back....Join us for another fun-filled, festive Harvardwood Mixer! On Wednesday, May 12th we will gather for food, drinks, great music (provided by Harvardwood Music member DJ Lady Dee), and general merriment at the Harvardwood Mixer, don't miss it! To view full posting and to register, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=107123

LA - LA Harvardwood Music Group meeting and jam session, Thurs., May 20

Join the LA Harvardwood Music Group for our monthly meeting and jam session! We will be working towards a Winter Showcase and cooking up a few other events for the balance of the year. Come mix, mingle, plot, and plan and stick around for some more serious "harmonizing"...To view full posting and to register, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=107071

LA - Harvardwood Heads To...The Art of Taqaseem Workshop, Sat., May 22

Taqaseem is the celebrated and cherished musical form of improvisation performed in the Middle East and North Africa. Composer and violinist (and Harvardwood Music member!) Riad Abdel-Gawad is a disciple of Abdo Dagher, the legendary accompanist of Oum Kalsoum. Open to intermediate and advanced instrumentalists and singers of all ages...To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=105828

LA - Harvardwood Heads To...Musical Moments with pianist Gerry Bryant, Sat., May 22

Join us to hear Harvardwood Board of Directors member, Gerry Bryant, perform uniquely romantic arrangements of classical music, jazz standards and pop compositions by Chopin, Ellington, Gershwin, Nat King Cole, the Beatles, and more. A free event...To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=107112

LA - Harvardwood Seminar Series: Screenwriting Lecture with Paul Gulino, Author of THE SEQUENCE APPROACH, Thurs., May 27

The great challenge in writing a feature-length screenplay is sustaining audience involvement from page one through 120. Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach expounds on an often-overlooked tool that can be key in solving this problem. Paul Gulino, author of THE SEQUENCE APPROACH, will give an overview on this famous method and show it at work by breaking down the sequences in TOY STORY. We highly recommend watching Toy Story and/or picking up a copy of Paul's book before attending...To view full posting and register, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=105829

BOSTON - Harvardwood Reunion Mixer, Sat., May 29

It's back again, our fourth annual Harvardwood Reunion Mixer! Join Boston-based Harvardwood members, folks in town for reunion week, and current students for food, drink, and general merriment! RSVP recommended...To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=102492

NY - Harvardwood Heads To...SHAWN SNYDER @ The Bitter End * SOLO and ACOUSTIC, Mon., May 3

Join us as Harvardwood Heads To...SHAWN SNYDER @ THE BITTER END * SOLO and ACOUSTIC...It's been over two years since I've played NYC, but I'll finally be back and at THE BITTER END for a swing-through solo-acoustic performance. Would love to see old and new friends...To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=106749

NY - Harvardwood Presents: The Pleasures of High-End Artisanal "Hard" (Alcoholic) Ciders, Wed., May 12

This dinner will be a landmark in the revival of great cider, the first event of its type in New York, and the DTA's gifted chef, Anthony LoCastro, has devised a mouthwatering menu to mark the occasion. Come taste and discuss half a dozen of the greatest new "hard" artisanal ciders, produced by some of the world's greatest cidermakers...To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=91448

NY - Harvardwood Presents: An Interview with JANE ALEXANDER, Tony-Winning Actress and Former NEA Chair, Wed., May 26

Jane Alexander is one of our great actresses but her greatest role may have been in real life - in 1993, President Clinton appointed her Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Ms. Alexander will be interviewed about her career and her years as head of the NEA by Foster Hirsch, Professor of Film at Brooklyn College...To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=106143

Toronto - Toronto HotDocs Screening and Mixer Event, TODAY! Sat., May 1

Join the Toronto Chapter of Harvardwood for the world premiere of BHUTTO at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto! Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's (Radcliffe '73) remarkable life and last days are exquisitely unraveled in this epic biographic documentary. Bhutto carved out a complex path, from her early days studying at Berkeley in the late '60s, where she honed her social activism, to witnessing the controversial downfall and assassination of her father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto, to her house arrest and political imprisonment…We will plan to meet up for drinks and/or food following the screening…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=105681

SF - Harvardwood Heads To...the Third Annual Artistic License Awards, Fri., May 14

California Lawyers for the Arts, a statewide nonprofit headed by Harvard alum Gerry Bryant, Co-President of its Board of Directors, is presenting its Third Annual Artistic License Awards honoring outstanding leaders who serve and support arts education and the arts of all disciplines (music, film, theatre, visual arts, etc.). The gala fundraising event will take place May 14th at the Presidio Officer’s Club in San Francisco. This year’s honorees in San Francisco include Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Symphony, and more….To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=101521

Announcing the launch of Harvardwood Music!

We are excited to announce the launch of Harvardwood Music! Harvardwood Music will be home to all of Harvardwood's musical talent. This program fosters networking, professional development, creative collaboration, and exposure for all musicians affiliated with Harvard. Visit the Harvardwood Music page to find out the latest news regarding this program, upcoming events, and a Directory of all members associated with Harvardwood Music.

Positions Available - TV Pilots Showcase - LA

Positions are now available for the third Harvardwood TV Pilots Showcase in LA this June! The producers of this showcase are looking for an energetic Assistant Producer and an experienced Stage Manager to join their team…This is a great way to gain industry contacts and experience in the realm of TV…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/40004/Positions-available---TV-Pilot-Showcase---LA.htm

Harvardwood Books announces new opportunity for mobile publishing (for text and graphic arts!)

Harvardwood Books announces "SmartiBooks”: mobile publishing for the iPad, iPhone, iTouch, and other - An exciting new opportunity for delivery of text and images directly to Smartphones is now available from AppsPublisher.com, through Harvardwood Books’ partnership with Unlimited Publishing LLC…Conceived as a fast and easy alternative to conventional book publishing, this program allows authors and artists to publish material that might not otherwise appear in print. The program is designed for books but is also useful for short stories, poetry, photography, drawings, graphic art, even recipes, family photos, or other material that isn't suitable (or marketable) in book-length form. It is intended to give Harvardwood's members a platform for sharing their creativity at no expense, while retaining all rights and creative control…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/40000/Harvardwood-Books-announces-new-opportunity-for-mobile-publishing.htm

Announcing the launch of the Harvardwood Visual Arts Gallery!

Harvardwood is proud to announce the launch of our Visual Arts Gallery! The Visual Arts Gallery will be a great place for Harvardwood members to showcase their original artwork, including paintings, photography, and more! The Harvardwood Visual Arts Gallery was conceived by Harvardwood Full Member Antje Clasen. Read more about Antje, check out her work, and find out how to post to the Gallery…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/39557/Announcing-the-launch-of-the-Harvardwood-Visual-Arts-Gallery.htm

Seeking Hosts for the 2010 HSIP in LA and NY

Harvardwood seeks accommodations hosts for the 2010 Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP)…Because several of these internships are unpaid, many HSIP participants are in need of accommodations to help defray the costs of accepting these opportunities. If you have a spare couch, futon, sleeping bag, or room(s) you can provide to a student or students for any period of time this summer please let us know! In addition to our undying gratitude, you will receive a free year of Full Membership to Harvardwood and you will be invited to attend special HSIP activities including a thank-you event at the end of the summer. Hosts are NOT expected to provide transportation, meals, entertainment, etc. If interested, please email us at [email protected]…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/38821/Seeking-hosts-for-the-2010-HSIP-in-LA-and-NY.htm

Industry Successes...

Kitty Beer’s new novel, HUMAN SCALE, evokes the climate-deranged future that awaits us. Sea-coast cities are under water, seasons have gone haywire, and regional enclaves compete for essential resources. How will love survive? A futuristic thriller with visceral punch. Plain View Press 2010.

On Saturday, April 10th, Harvard Alumni vocal jazz quintet West Side Five swept the Mid-Atlantic Regional Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Music Festival competition, winning in three of four categories: Best Original Arrangment (Pure Imagination, arr. by Eric Hughes '02), Audience Favorite, and Judge's 1st place. They will proceed to the National finals round, competing against the 7 other regional winners at the Marin Center, San Rafael, California on Saturday, May 15th at 8pm. Since we will once again be competing for both Judge's Pick and Audience Favorite, we'd love to have some Crimson in the crowd to help us out! Tickets on sale at Marin Center Box Office - 415-499-6800 or from Ticketmaster. For more information on the group and sample tracks, please visit www.myspace.com/westsidefive. Group Members: Lara Hirner '04-'05, Sara Wajnberg '04, John Shumway (Extension School), Eric Hughes '02, and Will Fithian '06.

THE INFIDEL is now available across the US On Demand via Tribeca Film. It is also playing in selected cinemas in New York. Produced by Uzma Hasan GSAS ‘03, THE INFIDEL is a comedy about Muslim cabbie Mahmud Nasir (Omid Djalili) who discovers that he is adopted and actually Jewish! The only person he can turn to is Lenny (Richard Schiff, The West Wing), a drunken Jewish cabbie that lives across the street who starts to haphazardly teach him how to be ‘Jewish’. Contending with suspicion from his long suffering wife Saamiya (Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife), Mahmud tumbles into a full-scale identity crisis in this comedy of religious errors. THE INFIDEL was released to critical acclaim in the UK with the Sunday Times giving it four stars, claiming "David Baddiel’s screenplay has some great gags …worthy of Woody Allen at his best.” Screen averages in the UK have been phenomenal beating much bigger players including CLASH OF THE TITANS and KICK ASS in several screens so don’t miss the gem of a British comedy. Find out more about THE INFIDEL film here, and watch the trailer here. For more information, contact Uzma Hasan at [email protected]

Andrew Wesman's VES thesis film, SHELLEY, has been selected to play in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this May as part of the Cinefondation screenings. This is the first time a Harvard student film has played in the festival! To find out more read the Cannes press release and visit the website, www.shelleyfilm.com.

Karen-Eileen Gordon (Harvard College) filmed a yummy role in the ABC pilot "NO ORDINARY FAMILY," and recorded a tasty series regular role in the animated children's series pilot, "THE FISHIES (as Chuckie ...a snarky British stingray)."

Mia Riverton guest starred opposite Simon Baker and Robin Tunney on the April 22 episode of THE MENTALIST. She will be guest starring on the new Bruckheimer series MIAMI MEDICAL on Fri. May 14 at 10 pm on CBS. She plays a supporting role in director Andrew Paquin's ('00) feature film OPEN HOUSE with Anna Paquin, which is currently playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also shot a lead role in upcoming comedy feature KNOTS and can currently be seen online in award-winning webseries EASY TO ASSEMBLE, created by Illeana Douglas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYbBxEvnDqY

Harvardwood Helps success!

Many thanks to all of the volunteers that came out for the Harvardwood Helps Earth Day event on Saturday, April 17th! Thanks to your efforts North East Trees accomplished their goal of planting 150 native trees to aid in the restoration of the LA State Historic Park. Look out for more opportunities to serve the community through Harvardwood Helps!

Featured Member Posting: Seeking Director, NBCU Digital Entertainment Strategy & Operations - LA

NBC Universal’s Digital Entertainment Strategy & Operations group is seeking a Director. The small team, focused on a breadth of initiatives surrounding Digital Entertainment within NBC Universal’s portfolio of entertainment brands, acts as a liaison between the traditional businesses of NBC Universal and digital growth opportunities. The Director will report to the VP of the group and provide both strategic, business development and operational support to TV Entertainment digital businesses. This touches on a broad array of strategic and tactical, cross-functional, and cross-divisional initiatives. The Director will work with creative, marketing, technology, sales and financial stakeholders to support key strategic partnerships, new business development / ancillary growth opportunities, digital content licensing, programming & distribution, digital product management, process development, and operations…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/networking/opening.asp?id=78642

Member Profile: Rodrigo Garcia '82

by D. Dona Le

Garcia.jpgRodrigo Garcia’s successful, unique career is stamped by both his driven independence and his ceaseless pursuit of themes, projects, and characters that he finds personally compelling.

The son of renowned writer Gabriel García Márquez, Garcia has carved a wholly distinct name for himself in the film and television industry. He has written and directed a number of films, including THINGS YOU CAN TELL JUST BY LOOKING AT HER (2000), TEN TINY LOVE STORIES (2001), NINE LIVES (2005), and more recently, the much-anticipated MOTHER AND CHILD, due for release in the United States in May 2010. Furthermore, Garcia has directed episodes for such television series as IN TREATMENT, SIX FEET UNDER, and THE SOPRANOS, among others.

Ultimately, Garcia’s interests lie in projects that he has developed himself from inception.

"I enjoy both film and television, but most of the movies I’ve done are movies that I’ve written myself. Although I enjoy working in television and series that are well written, like THE SOPRANOS and SIX FEET UNDER, the movies are more personal. I’ve directed stuff that others have written, especially pilots and television episodes, and it’s fun, but the themes are never as personal or dramatized in a way that’s close to me. I’d rather just write for myself.”

His passion for writing and directing, however, was derived from an early interest in still photography throughout his childhood. Then, at Harvard College, Garcia chose to concentrate in Medieval History, but he enrolled in many photography classes through the Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) Department. Garcia was a resident of Lowell House, and during his senior year at Harvard, he began considering a transition from photography into camera work.

"A lot of cameramen flirt with directing. I didn’t want to be another cameraman who was looking for something to direct. So I decided, ‘If I can think of some story that really interested me, and if I can write it, then I’ll try to direct it.’ I set that bar for myself.”

Garcia began writing his first script in his 30s, and he still considers this the most challenging aspect of movie-making.

"If you have a good script, you have cleared the single hardest hurdle. Production is physically demanding and frustrating and full of things you can’t control, but I think creatively, going from zero to screenplay is the hardest.”

In fact, Garcia reveals that writing screenplays was even more difficult than he had anticipated. As his oeuvre demonstrates, Garcia has clearly surmounted the challenges of writing, although he does consider the screenwriting process to be complex and haphazard.

"Ideas come easily, but an idea is not a story; it is not a script and it’s not a movie. So I’m constantly taking down ideas that I have: situations, characters, problems, some quest. I have hundreds of those. Some I store for later, and some I’ll start working on right away. Then, I may hit a roadblock, and I’ll have to put it to one side. Usually the ones that you finish are the ideas that won’t go away—despite the passage of time, you keep thinking about them.”

Such ideas are "inspired by my own daily life, feelings, events, and relationships. The more personal connections I have to a story, the more a story will stick to me. And by personal, I don’t mean it’s based on anything that actually happened, but themes that interest me and that are close to me.”

Despite Garcia’s clear preference for creating and developing his own movies from scratch, he acknowledges the unpredictable evolution and flux that any film project may undergo.

"The end product never comes out as expected, but what it ultimately communicates is what you set out to do. There are many aspects of MOTHER AND CHILD that did not come out as I expected them to, but Karen’s journey does reflect essentially what I wanted to talk about.”

MOTHER AND CHILD—starring Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson—centers around three women: Karen, who is haunted by her decision as a young adolescent to give up her daughter for adoption over 35 years ago; Elizabeth, the adopted daughter who has become an ambitious attorney; and Lucy, a young woman who hopes to adopt a child with her husband.

According to Garcia, "MOTHER AND CHILD is told in three strands, but they are part of the same story, and those three come together.”

This latest film is a slight departure from Garcia’s previous films, which often featured short vignettes or a number of peripherally interlocking storylines.

"For a long time, I liked the short form; I liked the miniature that’s significantly representative of the whole. But now I’m not that interested in the multi-linking strand. I feel I’ve done it enough, and I do like telling a story from two, three, four points of view, but in MOTHER AND CHILD, I bring them together.”

The subject matter of MOTHER AND CHILD, however, is not new to Garcia or to those familiar with his earlier movies, as he continues to take on the subject of women, particularly in the context of motherhood, family, and relationships.

In his films, Garcia dexterously reveals the complexities of femininity and of womanhood with subtle insight and realistic clarity. Asked why his films tend to focus on women, Garcia simply responds: "Female characters are more interesting to me than male characters.”

Given the explosive attention surrounding Kathryn Bigelow’s recent success with THE HURT LOCKER and the fact that many reviewers have explicitly made note of Garcia’s apparent focus on female characters, Garcia acknowledges that Hollywood remains under the grip of the largely male-driven box office and traditional gender expectations.

"The box office rules, and the box office is very much dominated by younger male filmgoers. In that sense, if you’re interested in making movies about women, aged 30 to 35, 40 and above, that’s always going to be difficult. The curious thing is, when most men make movies only about men, that’s never a topic of discussion. If you’re making movies about women, that’s always something that needs to be discussed—the representation of women is always worthy of discussion. I suppose it’ll change, hopefully.”

Regardless, Garcia will certainly continue to explore the topics and characters that capture his attention and imagination. His professional success can also be attributed to Garcia’s willingness—not only that, his desire and demand—to assume agency over all aspects of his endeavors, from creating the initial idea and writing the screenplay to directing the film. Garcia’s advice for others pursuing creative careers in the film industry is similar.

"Try to do your own thing independently as much as you can. You can’t always think that it’s the other person who’s going to open the door—‘If I had an agent, if I had a manager, if I had access to this director, if I had access to this actor.’ You simply have to make your way and decide, ‘I’m going to write this and film it, even if it’s on my little video camera for a thousand dollars.’ Of course, access is a part of success, but while you find access, find your own way.”

Although Garcia has continually challenged himself to find his own away at all levels throughout his career as a screenwriter and director, he also balances his ambition with the acknowledgement of his previous accomplishments. Garcia’s admirable self-drive and independent creativity have resulted in a career that he humbly recognizes as rewarding and fulfilling.

"On the one hand, you feel like you’re never doing as many movies as you want, or making them with as many resources as you want, or that not enough people are seeing them. That’s the ambitious part of you complaining. On the other hand, that I’m a director at all is an incredible privilege. I’m aware of how unique that is, making movies for a living.”

Harvardwood is hosting a pre-release screening of MOTHER AND CHILD today, Saturday, May 1st, with Q&A featuring Rodrigo Garcia and actress Tatyana Ali. For more information, click here.

D. Dona Le is a freelance editor and writer currently residing in Chicago, IL.


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