* Director's Notes
* Message from Allison
* Pencil Me In:
- Harvardwood Actors Program NYC: Workshop on AUDITIONING with Karen Kohlhaas, Fri., Mar. 9
- Harvardwood JAZZ Series: The HARRY ALLEN Quartet, Wed., Mar. 14
- Harvardwood Heads To...The World Palindrome Championship, Fri., Mar. 16
- Harvardwood Heads To...LOSING CONTROL screening at Quad Cinema, Sun., Mar. 25
- Harvardwood Heads To...FREE screening of CAST ME IF YOU CAN, Thurs., Mar. 1
- Harvardwood Presents: An "Office" Party at PaleyFest, Tues., Mar. 6
- Harvardwood Heads To...HKS Forum on the Road - Campaign 2012: The Candidates and their Strategies, Thurs., Mar. 8
- Harvardwood Presents: A Night in Argentina, Sat., Mar. 10 (Long Beach)
- CLA invites Harvardwood to Risky Business: Financing and Distributing Independent Films, Sat., Mar. 31
- Harvardwood Heads To...Noam - Release Party for "CLOCKED", Sat., Mar. 3
- Harvardwood Heads To...comedy film screening and discussion of CAST ME IF YOU CAN, Sat. & Sun., Mar. 3 & Mar. 4
- Harvardwood Heads To...Noam - Release Party for "CLOCKED", Wed., Mar. 7 - PA
- Harvardwood Heads To...Noam - Release Party for "CLOCKED", Fri., Mar. 9 - VA/DC area
- Harvardwood Heads To...Steve Seabrook: Better Than You, Fri., Mar. 16 - MN
* Announcing the 2012 Harvard ROCKS winner!
* Seeking Opportunities for the 2012 Harvardwood Summer Internship Program
* Special discount for dues-current Full Members and Friends of Harvardwood!
* Join us on Facebook and Twitter
* LAST CHANCE to submit to the Harvardwood Resource Directory for FREE (deadline - Tues., March 6)
* Join the Harvardwood Baby Group! (LA)
* Industry Successes
* Harvardwood Artist Showcase
* Featured Member Posting: Senior Research Analyst/Manager in TV at top talent agency - LA
* Member Profile: Galt Niederhoffer '97
A HUGE shout out to those that participated in this year's Harvard ROCKS contest - from judges, to volunteers, to fans, and of course the performers. Everyone did an amazing job and we are grateful to all that made it happen. A special thank you to our alumni judges, including: Robert Kraft, Anne Preven, Tom Morello, Ben Weeden, DA Wallach, Rachel Brown, Russell Graham, & Brenda Walker. Read on to find out more about this year's winner, Madison Greer '13! And March is shaping up to be quite a busy month for Harvardwood members - dare I say there's something happening every week (in fact, almost every other day) in March nationwide! Check out the calendar and make sure to support your fellow Harvardians in the arts in a city near you! Lastly, but not least, please join me in honoring Harvardwood's co-founder, Adam Fratto, as a true "unsung" hero for the organization. His continued dedication and commitment to all things Harvardwood are inspiring. Thanks Adam for all of your hard work throughout the years!
Message from Allison
As spring is just about here, I am looking forward to dedicating more time to my new role as Co-President. As part of that process, I am thrilled to welcome Warren Leonard as the new Director of the Writers' Program for TV.
For the past two years, Warren has brought a wealth of great ideas and enthusiasm to his leadership of two TV writing modules. Warren is also an outstanding writer himself he's been selected for one of our TV pilot showcases, written for Creative Screenwriting and Scr(i)pt magazines, developed and co-produced a sports-related reality show with Backlot Productions, and is currently a member of Scriptwrights, an LA-based workshop. For his day job, currently serves in house as one of the attorneys for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Please join me in welcoming Warren to the Harvardwood Board!
And look out later this month for the release of our second ever "Harvardwood's Most Staffable TV Writers" list.
Pencil Me In...
NY - Harvardwood Actors Program NYC: Workshop on AUDITIONING with Karen Kohlhaas, Fri., Mar. 9
Those few minutes you spend in the audition are crucial for your career. How do you effectively communicate your talent? During this special workshop, renowned director Karen Kohlhaas will: 1) Show you tips for entering the audition room and introducing yourself; 2) Teach the first two points of her 10-point cold reading technique--you will see a dramatic difference in actors’ readings just from applying these two points! 3) Coach 2-3 monologues…and more…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=214966
NY - Harvardwood JAZZ Series: The HARRY ALLEN Quartet, Wed., Mar. 14
There is just nothing better than the music of Harry Allen. "Harry Allen's playing is nothing less than perfect!" said John Pizzarelli. Gene Lees called him "Sheer Excellence!" Steve Allen described him as "Fantastic!", and C. Michael Bailey called him "the Frank Sinatra of the tenor saxophone!" Harry Allen's gorgeous, soulful, and romantic playing has been featured on more than 30 recordings, with such stars as Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Warren Vache, Hank Jones, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Dave McKenna, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Scott Hamilton, and on and on…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=214968
NY - Harvardwood Heads To...The World Palindrome Championship, Fri., Mar. 16
Join us for the first-ever World Palindrome Championship, hosted by Will Shortz. Five eminent palindromists will be joined by one member of the audience, chosen based on a palindrome they write after entering; these 6 will have 75 minutes to write an original, new palindrome based on a prompt. The audience will vote for a winner…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=214622
NY - Harvardwood Heads To...LOSING CONTROL screening at Quad Cinema, Sun., Mar. 25
Join us in seeing LOSING CONTROL to support Harvard alumni Valerie Weiss (Filmmaker), Jeffrey Loeb (Exec Producer), Robert Johnson (Producer, Cast member) and Bitsie Tulloch (Trudy)… "This romantic comedy from writer/director Valerie Weiss features a well-assembled cast of comically gifted actors. Playful and original, the film tells the story of a brilliant woman learning to relinquish control of the future as she witnesses things go far from ‘according to plan’…Philadelphia Film Festival…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=215521
LA - Harvardwood Heads To...FREE screening of CAST ME IF YOU CAN, Thurs., Mar. 1
CAST ME IF YOU CAN (97min, 2010) is a charming romantic comedy set in Tokyo, written and directed by Harvardwood member Atsushi Ogata (hosted by USC, Japan Film Society, and CAIFF). CAST ME IF YOU CAN tells the story of Hiroshi, a perpetual supporting actor, living in the shadow of his famous playwright father. However fate smiles on Hiroshi when he gets cast in a Woody Allen remake, meets his muse, falls in love and learns to play the lead in his own life. CAST ME IF YOU CAN has screened at numerous film festivals in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Mill Valley, Boston, China, India, and Germany, and has received many awards…Screening will be followed by Q&A with Atsushi Ogata (director) and Eriko Miyagawa (producer)…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=214613
LA - Harvardwood Presents: An "Office" Party at PaleyFest, Tues., Mar. 6
It is time for PaleyFest at the Saban Theater again! Harvardwood is inviting members to join us for the March 6 screening of THE OFFICE…We will be gathering afterwards at a nearby "Restaurant Row" hostelry to continue the fun! …To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=217027
LA - Harvardwood Heads To...HKS Forum on the Road - Campaign 2012: The Candidates and their Strategies, Thurs., Mar. 8
Join us for HKS Forum on the Road (LA) - Campaign 2012: The Candidates and Their Strategies. Featuring a special welcome and introduction by Maria Shriver. Don’t miss our insightful look at this year’s presidential campaign. A distinguished panel of experts will explore key issues affecting the election, including the role of women, the influence of the debates and super PACs, the Millennial voting bloc, race, and religion. Panelists include David Axelrod, Alex Castellanos, Matthew Dowd, Lois Romano, and Trey Grayson…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=219677
LA - Harvardwood Presents: A Night in Argentina, Sat., Mar. 10 (Long Beach)
Experience exotic music, dances and cuisine from Argentina at the Museum of Latin American Art. The "Night in Argentina” will start at 7 p.m. on March 10. Savor hearty Argentine cuisine including Queso Fresco, Wild Garlic Mushroomd, Alfajores, and a Gaucho style grill of Argentine steak. Discover how Buenos Aires has earned renown as one of the most cosmopolitan and invigorating cultural centers of the world while viewing the latest exhibition of Argentine art at the Museum of Latin American Art during this special evening event…Please register by March 1 to ensure inclusion at the Harvardwood / Harvard Club table…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=216115
LA - CLA invites Harvardwood to Risky Business: Financing and Distributing Independent Films, Sat., Mar. 31
This comprehensive seminar—for new attorneys, attorneys transitioning to entertainment law, and filmmakers—explores how independent films are financed and distributed. Topics include financing via pre-sales, debt and equity investors, negotiating tactics, typical contract terms, cross-collateralization, and creative accounting. Particular attention will be paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect themselves by: investigating distributors; watering down warranties; adding contract provisions covering performance, termination, and alternative dispute resolution…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=219688
BOSTON - Harvardwood Heads To...Noam - Release Party for "CLOCKED", Sat., Mar. 3
Join us as Harvardwood Heads To…the Boston release party for a new album, CLOCKED, which you can learn more about at http://eNoam.com by Noam Weinstein…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=218149
SF - Harvardwood Heads To...comedy film screening and discussion of CAST ME IF YOU CAN, Sat. & Sun., Mar. 3 & Mar. 4
CAST ME IF YOU CAN (97min, 2010) is a charming romantic comedy set in Tokyo, written and directed by Harvardwood member Atsushi Ogata (hosted by USC, Japan Film Society, & CAIFF). CAST ME IF YOU CAN tells the story of Hiroshi, a perpetual supporting actor, living in the shadow of his famous playwright father. However fate smiles on Hiroshi when he gets cast in a Woody Allen remake, meets his muse, falls in love and learns to play the lead in his own life. CAST ME IF YOU CAN has screened at numerous film festivals in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Mill Valley, Boston, China, India, and Germany, and has received many awards…. Reception and panel discussion with Atsushi Ogata (director) and other speakers (TBA) will be followed by a screening of the film on both days.…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=215522
PA - Harvardwood Heads To...Noam - Release Party for "CLOCKED", Wed., Mar. 7
Join us as Harvardwood Heads To…the Philly release party for a new album, CLOCKED, which you can learn more about at http://eNoam.com by Noam Weinstein…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=218155
VA/DC area - Harvardwood Heads To...Noam - Release Party for "CLOCKED", Fri., Mar. 9
Join us as Harvardwood Heads To…the DC release party for a new album, CLOCKED, which you can learn more about at http://eNoam.com by Noam Weinstein…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=218157
MN - Harvardwood Heads To...Steve Seabrook: Better Than You, Fri., Mar. 16
Join us for comedian Kurt Bodden’s Minneapolis solo show "Steve Seabrook: Better Than You.” Think of it as three days of self-help in under 90 minutes. Master motivator "Steve Seabrook" takes the audience to a safe, nurturing place of empowerment where they can look inside their hearts to examine why they're vaguely disappointing…The show recently won a "Best of" at the SF Fringe Festival, where audience members wrote: "Funny, witty, and engaging." . . . "He totally nails the character, the presentation, the mind set, and the wee bit of creepiness needed to make the perfect combination" …Come Friday and join Kurt and Harvard Club of Minnesota members for a meet & greet nearby after the show…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=219012
Announcing the 2012 Harvard ROCKS winner!
Harvardwood is proud to announce the winner of Harvard ROCKS 2012....Ms. Madison Greer '13!!! After months of initial review by our panel of industry judges, performance preparation and promotion, and an awesome delivery on Feb. 28th in LA, Madison has certainly earned the coveted ROCKS title! Her prize package includes soundtrack consideration at Fox Music (courtesy of judge Robert Kraft); performance consideration at Live Nation (courtesy of judge Ben Weeden); a vocal recording session with hit songwriter Anne Preven ("Listen" from DREAMGIRLS) and acclaimed vocal producer David "DQ" Quiones of the Writing Camp (Beyonce, Pussycat Dolls), recording the song chosen as the winner's most promising hit; and a brand new track from producers C-Aye Purcell of PrazimProductions (Jodeci, Nate Dogg) and Skye Lewin (CSI: MIAMI. THE KARATE KID).
In her own words...
"The entire process of Harvard ROCKS 2012 was absolutely wonderful. When I was first named a finalist for the competition, I was completely shocked and felt exceedingly humbled. At Harvard I am constantly surrounded by peers who are excellent in every area, and to be chosen as the representative of the current student population at Harvard in this competition was a great honor! The showcase at the Palms Bar was absolutely incredible! The venue was beautiful, the audience was receptive and fun, and I was in the company of other brilliant artists. The other two competitors were ridiculously amazing, and I felt so honored to be counted as a musician among them. I will definitely be checking out their albums! To be a performing artist has been my dream since the age of two, and to receive these amazing opportunities to work with such esteemed industry professionals is beyond what I have ever imagined! I am so thankful to be named the winner, and I look forward to beginning the next step in my career! However, I want to primarily thank everyone who voted for me from the bottom of my heart. Seriously, I could not have made it this far without the support, love, and encouragement of the wonderful people who have surrounded me during my lifetime! I thank you all, and I hope to make you all very proud! Lastly I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for being my Saving Grace, my Rock, and my Guide. He is the author and inspiration for my music, and without Him, I can do nothing."
Listen to one of Madison's original songs, "Don't Let the Feeling End," here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As97DhUD56Q (and check out the Harvardwood Music page for more video and photos from Harvard ROCKS 2012, coming soon!)
Please join us in congratulating Madison!!
Seeking Opportunities for the 2012 Harvardwood Summer Internship Program
Harvardwood is pleased to announce the 2012 Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP), and is now seeking internship opportunities worldwide! HSIP provides a list of internship opportunities in the arts, media and entertainment to Harvard undergraduates and also coordinates career-related events over the summer for program participants in LA, NYC and other cities. If your company is interested in listing an internship via HSIP, please fill out our brief participant form. While your company can list your internship at any time, we recommend submitting by March 8th in order to be included in the first round of HSIP offerings and reach the largest number of potential candidates…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/82366/Seeking-Opportunities-for-the-2012-Harvardwood-Summer-Internship-Program-.htm
Special discount for dues-current Full Members and Friends of Harvardwood!
Our dear friends at the Hotel Shangri-la have offered a special "thank you" to the Harvardwood community. All dues-current Full Members and Friends of Harvardwood will be offered 10% off the full bill of their next event at the Hotel! (Offer expires Sept. 1, 2012.) To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/85175/Special-discount-for-dues-current-Full-Members-and-Friends-of-Harvardwood.htm
Join us on Facebook and Twitter
Integrate Harvardwood into your social media atmosphere! Be sure to follow Harvardwood on Twitter (@harvardwood) and join our Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/harvardwood
LAST CHANCE to submit to the Harvardwood Resource Directory for FREE
(deadline - Tues., March 6th)
The final deadline for submitting to the Harvardwood Resource Directory for FREE is Tues., March 6th at 11:59pm PT. The Harvardwood Resource Directory will be a listing of relevant businesses and services associated with our community, giving our members and visitors a quick and easy reference guide for their upcoming projects and industry needs. ***PLEASE NOTE: This directory is being offered as a service from our website provider. If we do not reach a certain number of submissions we will not be able to offer this resource.***…To view more information and to sign up, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/?page=resourcedirectory
Join the Harvardwood Baby Group! (LA)
Los Angeles parents of children aged 0 months - 2 years - let’s start getting together for a monthly gathering full of support, friendship, information sharing, and fun! Open to all daddies and mommies, and you’re welcome to come with or without your child(ren). First meeting will be hosted at the home of Nancy Redd (College ’03), mom to 7-month-old August. Exact day and time to be finalized upon everyone’s availability and nap schedules. Even if you can't make the first gathering, please email if you're interested in coming in the future…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/83389/Join-the-Harvardwood-Baby-Group---LA.htm
Mark Saltveit '83 will compete in the first-ever World Palindrome Championship, organized by Will Shortz, on March 16th in Brooklyn. Five competitors will have 75 minutes to create one or more palindromes from a prompt; the audience will vote in a winner. Saltveit, a writer and comedian, edits The Palindromist Magazine. Details at http://www.palindromist.org/champ
Submitted by Ray Duer - My ambient music group, STILL BLUE STILL TURNING, just released our latest album, HURRICANES, a 119-minute record richened by subtle vocals from Aimee Bhatia and the memory of Troy Davis. The album has been described as "absolutely flawless," "beautiful," "cinematic," and so on. It's free. Visit http://www.stillbluestillturning.com We believe our music to be especially well suited for use in film, and if you are involved in film/television/other media, we'd love to get involved in your projects. Thank you kindly for your consideration, and I hope you enjoy the music!
Valerie Weiss, a Harvard alum class of 2001 from GSAS, announces the theatrical release of her feature film LOSING CONTROL, a quirky romantic comedy about a female scientist who wants proof that her boyfriend is "the one." LOSING CONTROL is loosely based on Valerie's time getting her Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard Medical School. LOSING CONTROL will be released in NYC on March 23rd at the Quad Cinema (http://www.quadcinema.com/coming-soon/) and will expand to more cities on March 30th. Please visit www.losingcontrolmovie.com to see a trailer and for more details about the upcoming release.
Noam Weinstein enthusiastically invites friends old and new to learn about a recent project, CLOCKED, at http://eNoam.com (shows include February 29th in New York, March 3rd -- with classmate & frequent collaborator Jess Tardy -- in Boston, March 7th in Philadelphia, and March 9th in D.C.).
Lizzie Rose '08 and Allison Keeley '09 just released their first music video for Brooklyn-based band CULTFEVER (Tamara Jafar '09 and Joe Durniak). Sam Ellison '08, who recently wrapped as 1st AC on James Franco's upcoming film CHILD OF GOD, was Director of Photography. The video premiered on Bowlegs Music Review on February 20, 2012. You can check it out here: http://www.bowlegsmusic.com/2012/02/cultfever-collector-bowleg-premiere/
The Friedman Benda Gallery (515 W. 26th St. in NYC) is showing a 10-minute loop of short films made by Billy Shebar '78 in collaboration with the visionary architect Lebbeus Woods, as part of an exhibition of Woods' early drawings. Runs 2/25 - 4/6, with opening reception on 3/7 from 6 - 8 pm -- drop in if you're in town! http://www.friedmanbenda.com/
Harvardwood Artist Showcase
Each month the Highlights is proud to feature one or two artists from some of our various programs in the Harvardwood Artist Showcase. Click each artist's name to learn more about what they do.
Salma Shaw began her professional acting career in Washington, DC, where she trained at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. Over the past few years, she has had the privilege to work extensively on stage and on camera, building a strong reputation in plays, physical theater, musicals, vocal performance, industrials, commercials, film and TV. She has garnered multiple Helen Hayes Awards and Nominations for her work with the acclaimed Synetic Theater (DC’s Premier Physical Theater), and she has just wrapped filming on an independent, SAG thriller titled CLOSED CIRCUIT. Now, she is making the jump to New York to focus on film and TV while continuing to pursue theater.
Learn more about Salma at http://www.salmashaw.com.
Featured Member Posting: Senior Research Analyst/Manager in TV for top talent agency - LA
The world's leading full service entertainment, media, and sports agency is seeking a highly motivated individual for the position of Research Analyst. Reporting to the Head of the Television Research department, this Manager will produce meaningful analysis and presentations for syndicated properties, as well as broadcast and cable programs. This is a key position within the Television Research Department and must to be able to clearly and articulately convey research findings to all levels of the company including very senior management. Responsibilities: Support the Research team in their efforts to provide internal and external clients meaningful analysis and presentations on program performance using various Nielsen systems; Track programs and identify trends in the marketplace creating and implementing the most effective means of illustrating results; Fill ad hoc request drawing upon all data resources available (National/Local) for syndication, broadcast network and cable shows…To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/networking/opening.asp?id=119454
Member Profile: Galt Niederhoffer '97
by D. Dona Le
"I’m always a writer first,” Galt Niederhoffer ’97 declares. "Producing is what I do during the day and writing is what I do at night.”
As a producer, director, and novelist, Niederhoffer achieved success at a young age—before she even graduated from Harvard College. She has produced over 20 films, 8 of them Sundance Film Festival selections & award winners. Niederhoffer wrote two original novels: A TAXONOMY OF BARNACLES (2005) and THE ROMANTICS (2008), which was later adapted into a 2010 movie. Her third novel will be published in Spring of 2013.
Her most recent film, ROBOT AND FRANK greatly impressed audiences at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Niederhoffer is no stranger to success at Sundance. The first film she ever produced was HURRICANE STREETS, a project completed while she was on a leave of absence from Harvard. In 1997, HURRICANE STREETS won the Sundance awards for Audience, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.
Recounting why she left Harvard during her junior year, Niederhoffer explains, "I was your basic sophomore girl who had worked very hard in high school to get to Harvard, and by the time I got there, I was a little burnt out and I wasn’t applying myself.”
Like her father, hedge fund manager and famed squash player Victor Niederhoffer ‘64, she was on Harvard’s varsity squash team.
"It was a really demanding schedule. I got that all of these amazing lectures were being lost on me. I lacked focus, and I knew that I needed to recharge. Then my heart got broken for the first time. It all compounded and someone told me to take a break.”
So Niederhoffer returned to her parents’ home in New York, where she took a writing course at Columbia University with author Ben Marcus, and attended a workshop held in Astoria by Sam Lipsyte, another writer.
At the same time, Niederhoffer was meeting filmmakers and capitalized on a crucial era of independent filmmaking.
"Lots of talented people were coming out of New York University and Columbia, and there were a lot of great scripts around. The business of [independent films] was starting to boom. You could make a movie for a couple thousand dollars, and it might sell for a couple million.”
Niederhoffer started an internship at the French Film Office under Norwegian-American producer Gill Holland. Together, she and Holland founded a production company with the financial support of various investors, including her father. At this point, Niederhoffer was only 19 years old.
"I was interested in business, start-ups, and being entrepreneurial. It wasn’t so much about film for me as much as it was about business—a business for reading stories and telling stories.”
By the age of 23, Niederhoffer had produced seven films.
"I had a career on my hands. That first film [HURRICANE STREETS] had been a great case of beginner’s luck. I ran with the momentum, started learning on the job: how to raise money, how to cast the film, who the finance players were. I produced another movie or even two a year for the next four or five years.”
Such an intense level of success eventually led Niederhoffer back to Harvard. "I think I burnt out at that too. I was 25 and it was a very quick education in business and in this particular business, which was quite intense for a young woman. And to be in a position of authority at that young age as a woman was challenging. So I just have a policy—something I’ve learned from my parents—I like to finish what I start.”
Niederhoffer returned to Harvard in 2001, at 26, to complete the final three semesters of her undergraduate studies. Here, her novel writing took off while simultaneously taking The Victorian Novel and the last course Stephen J. Gould taught before his death.
"I had always liked books and stories as a kid, and when I was first at Harvard, I had tried my hand at a couple of really maudlin short stories. It was during that time I started writing a novel of my own: 300 pages of drivel that ended up in my desk drawer.”
But during her final semesters at Harvard, Niederhoffer reveals, "Something about studying Victorian science and the novel simultaneously sparked something in my mind, and that was when I wrote my first book.”
After graduating from Harvard, she founded a production company, Plum Pictures, with Celine Rattray and Daniela Taplin Lundberg. Plum Pictures focused on producing independent films.
Niederhoffer’s current production company is called Park Pictures, and its most recent success is ROBOT & FRANK, slated for release later this year after an excellent debut at Sundance.
Some people might wonder what exactly a producer’s responsibilities are. Niederhoffer’s short answer? "A producer does everything.”
She clarifies, "A producer is like an omniscient narrator. A producer starts with the script, which she finds and develops; this means cultivating the script and overseeing the writer, as the script improves—what a book editor does. Then, she casts the movie, approaching the agents and those people in the industry who control the actors. You have to do all this often before your financing is in place, gauging the budget that you have to spend on the cast by the value that the marketplace is on.
"And then you raise the money, which is a lot of fun, which is incredibly taxing and chaotic and worthy of an epic narrative of its own. You amass a budget, you create a budget, and you solicit funds to pay for the film. And then, you produce the film!”
"So then you make the film. You hire the crew, you hire the director, you’ve already worked with the writer, you’ve hired the cast. Then you engage the crew, and that’s a group of 50 people including everyone from the grips, cameramen, the cinematographers, line producers, production assistants, makeup/costume designers, truck drivers, etc. You pay these people, you design the schedule. They work for 5 days a week for 8 weeks on your shoot. You work 16-hour days. You manage the schedule so your days are met and you don’t exceed union rules. Then you wrap. Edit the movie. Things get a lot calmer. You have your editor and director in the room. Bring in the sound team and the colorist. And now these days, you don’t have to transfer your digital material to film, you submit to a festival. You hope you get in, and you try to create a bidding environment at the festival, which is very exciting.”
Given that Niederhoffer does the above for numerous projects, how does she find time to write?
"I approach writing the same way that I approach running and the way I approach sports, as a high school athlete and a college athlete. I just write three or four hours a day, every day. When I first started writing, I would do it in the morning after a cup of coffee and a walnut and raisin roll from Hi Rise. Now that I have two kids, I do it when they go to sleep, 9 to 1 in the morning.”
Niederhoffer currently lives in Brooklyn with her two children, Magnolia and Grover.
In addition to setting out time to write, Niederhoffer describes the scheduling challenges of having a successful career and being a mother.
"It’s a constant struggle. You have to be pretty regimented and at the same time totally flexible to changing times, changing demands. When you’re in production, you’re very busy with 12- to 14-hour days. When you’re not, things are calmer, and I can pick up my kids from school a couple days a week, take them to their cello lessons.”
Niederhoffer also relates her experience as a mother and a businesswoman to her work. Her second novel, THE ROMANTICS, is about a group of friends facing adulthood and its related challenges. Her third novel looks at the next phase of life - the challenges of marriage, motherhood, and divorce.
The book will be released in the summer or fall of 2012. Of course, she has numerous film productions in the works too, including adaptations of Sylvia Plath’s THE BELL JAR; Sam Lipsyte’s THE ASK; and David Foster Wallace’s short story, "Little Expressionless Animals.” Another film in development is THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorcese.
Niederhoffer is one of those fortunate individuals who enjoys a rich, multi-faceted career, each aspect of which is both challenging and satisfying.
"Directing and producing are two really wonderful vocations because they use so many different parts of your brain. As a director, one minute you’re a communicator, then manager, then an intricate detail-obsessed aesthetician. As a producer, the same is true. Businesswoman, the next minute you are a mediator, the next you are a lawyer. You have to work so many parts of your brain and every movie is its own business, its own political campaign.”
However, Niederhoffer does not describe the film industry as a red-carpet, exclusive business that only a few lucky people can access.
"Anyone can do it and there’s room for all types of people in this business. People who are smart and ambitious quickly rise to the top; it happens all the time. You need talented people around you to do your job well. People who are higher up are always looking for talented people.”
The proof is in Niederhoffer’s own career.
D. Dona Le is a freelance editor and writer currently residing in Chicago, IL.
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