Issue 105 | October 2013

In this Issue:

+ Director's Notes
+ Message from Allison


brody.jpg+ Featured Member Posting: Seeking Associate Producer to work with award-winning documentary team
+ Submit for the 2014 Harvardwood 101 Program (Deadline Oct. 22nd)
+ Apply for the Harvardwood Features' Program in LA (Deadline Oct. 13th)
+ Join the Harvardwood SF/Bay Area Chapter's first Features Screenwriting group! (Deadline Oct. 15th)
+ Nationwide Harvardwood events for LINSANITY release (Oct. 4-6th)


+ Brody Fox '96 - On his documentary, THE SKIN I'M IN
+ Industry Successes
+ New Members' Welcome
+ Member Profile: Alec Nevala-Lee '02 - author of thriller trilogy published by Penguin Books


+ Calendar
+ Missing out on Harvardwood opportunities & events? Find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook!

Director's Notes

I hope everyone enjoys our new interview feature in the Highlights, this month featuring filmmaker Brody Fox! I don't know about y'all but I feel like the Harvardwood Highlights just keeps getting better and better—due of course to the likes of our talented Harvardwood members! And for those up-and-coming filmmakers, creative execs, actors, producers, etc., don't forget that coming up on October 22 is the deadline for Harvardwood 101. Don't miss your chance at your very own exclusive crash course in this crazy biz we call entertainment. Lastly, be sure to check out our exclusive Q&As with the creators of the LINSANITY documentary this month in LA, NY, and Chicago!

-- Kelley

Message from Allison

Happy October to all! And for our LA members, save the date for October 19th. Harvardwood and the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition will be hosting a panel discussion and award ceremony honoring this year's grand prize winner. The event posting will be up shortly! We've got a beautiful venue and some very cool panelists, so come celebrate with us and learn more about filmmaking in China and trends for the future.

-- Allison

Featured Member Posting: Seeking Associate Producer to work with award-winning documentary team

Harvardwood Full Member Eve Marson is looking to bring on an Associate Producer to work with an award-winning documentary team, which has a project in development and aims to start filming immediately. She needs someone interested in the documentary subject matter who is ready to jump in, work in the field, and help with grant-writing and fundraising. This is a great opportunity for someone looking to get into documentary work! Experience level is not that important; the team is looking for someone who is comfortable and ideally familiar with Compton, where filming will take place... To view full posting, please visit:

Submit for the 2014 Harvardwood 101 Program (Deadline Oct. 22nd)

Harvardwood is pleased to announce our 12th annual Harvardwood 101 career exploration program, co-sponsored by the Office of Career Services and Office for the Arts. The program brings a group of Harvard undergraduates to Los Angeles during the first week of the January term (Jan. 6-10, 2014) and provides various career-related activities in an attempt to demystify Hollywood and educate current students about opportunities in the arts, media, and entertainment. Past activities have included a studio lot tour, a visit to a working film set, a discussion of film development and production hosted by a major production company, a visit to a scoring stage, a panel on breaking into TV writing, an agency visit, lunches with alumni in various facets of the industry, and an info session and tour of the USC film school facilities. In addition, Harvardwood 101 provides a limited number of optional "J-termship" opportunities (Jan. 13-26, or a portion thereof) for a subset of Harvardwood 101 participants who wish to utilize the rest of the J-term to further explore their area(s) of professional interest. Please note: J-termship opportunities may be in LA or other cities and are also open to past 101 and HSIP participants... To view full posting, please visit:

Apply for the Harvardwood Features Program in Los Angeles (Deadline Oct. 13th)

Harvardwood is happy to announce that the Harvardwood Features Program is now accepting applications. The program will run from October to March and meet on alternate Thursday evenings in Los Angeles. Each member will work on one of their own feature scripts and set their own goal (turning a treatment into a draft, turning a draft into a polished script, etc.). Each meeting, several writers' work will be chosen, read in advance, and workshopped in the group. This is an intensive program for aspiring career writers. Participants should be prepared to read up to two full-length scripts per meeting and should be committed to working on their own material for a minimum of 10-15 hours a week. The deadline for applying is 11:59PM on October 13, 2013.You must be a dues-current Full Member of Harvardwood and located in Los Angeles to participate… To view full posting, please visit:

Join the Harvardwood SF/Bay Area Chapter's first Feature Screenwriting group! (Deadline Oct. 15th)

Writing a new screenplay? Want to workshop an existing screenplay? Serious about your craft and ready to take it to the next level? Sign up to join the San Francisco-East Bay feature screenwriting workshop. This group will meet in the East Bay, Alameda. Full Members will get support and feedback from a friendly group of fellow Harvard writers, as well as the chance to submit a complete work to the 2014 Harvardwood Writers' Competition and Features Showcase… To view full posting, please visit:

Nationwide Harvardwood events for LINSANITY release (Oct. 4-6th)

A state high school champion, all-Ivy at Harvard, but overlooked and undrafted by the NBA, Jeremy Lin beat the odds to become an unlikely national sensation and one of the biggest stories in sports history. LINSANITY, a documentary by Director Evan Leong, is an inspirational story about this humble athlete who has succeeded in the NBA against all odds and expectations. View opening-weekend screenings of LINSANITY in New York City, followed by a special appearance and Q&A session with Director Evan Leong; in Los Angeles, followed by a Q&A and dinner with Producer Chris Chen; and in Chicago, followed by a Q&A session with Producer Brian Yang.

brody.jpgBrody Fox '96 - On his documentary release, THE SKIN I'M IN

by Sanyee Yuan

After a festival run spanning 17 cities and 11 countries, Broderick Fox's '96 award-winning documentary THE SKIN I'M IN will be released internationally on October 1, 2013. Stream and download available on iTunes; DVD available via Amazon. The LA premiere will take place on Sunday, October 6th, at the LA Filmforum! The Filmforum premiere will also feature a live pre-screening remix performance of the film's score by composer Ronit Kirchman, followed by a Q&A session with both Fox and Kirchnan. Until then, learn more about Fox's autobiographical documentary in his own words:

Your documentary, THE SKIN I'M IN, tells the story of your personal journey as a recovering alcoholic after you were found passed out in the Berlin subway tracks with your head split open. When and why did you decide to tell this story?

I had made other autobiographical video works in the past, some short works. I came out to California after Harvard to go to grad school, where I studied production at USC. Much to the shock of many of my professors and colleagues, I then went on to get a PhD from USC as well. To a lot of those people, critical thinking is completely separate from production. I began to make short works that were on a scale of production that was manageable while writing a dissertation, and I turned to using the technology at my disposal and a subject matter that was on call 24/7: me.

The first such short I made was in 2001, called Things Girls Do, which explores the gendered tropes around eating and body disorders. This was in 2001 in a pre YouTube, pre social media, pre Facebook moment. Since that film, it’s become a daily digital ritual for many to confess and reveal ourselves and to perform online. But all of that is instantaneous, with little retrospection or craft. My hope is to restore a sense of political urgency, critical reflection, artistry and play to acts of digital autobiography, using the self to ask bigger cultural questions.

In this film, I use my own experience getting sober and literally and metaphorically transforming my body through tattooing, to ask some hopefully resonant questions about identity and connection in a globalizing, digital world.

In the credits, we see that you produced, directed, wrote, and edited the film. What was that like, functioning as a one-man band?

I’ve been taking photographs since I was 6 or 7 years old, soon followed by video. For better or for worse, I’m trained as a filmmaker, and I’m choosing to make films instead of writing novels or prose. I’m looking at the world through a lens and as an editor, making meaning out of connecting images and sound. So it was sort of instinctual to document and explore even some of my darker moments through the camera. With autobiographical works, I don’t have investors or a studio waiting for a product. I can document aspects of my life with the security of knowing I may never publicly share the material. I can use the camera as a witness and confidante, and then take time to see if anything is worth sharing with a larger audience. For The Skin I’m In, I started shooting material in 2005 and the process of making it and distributing the film has been a seven-year journey. There were 100 hours of material that I’ve edited it down to an 86 minute movie. That pace has allowed me to be sure there’s something there that I can feel proud about sharing with world.

What did you hope audiences would get from the film?

My hope is that the film encourages people to use the tools at their disposal to tell their own stories. I also hope it inspires others, particularly young people, to really actively search and explore the world, and come to a sense of self verified by personal encounter and experience. Everything I’ve gone through has made me the man, the artist, and the professor I am today; I wouldn’t change any of my past.

I’m excited for the film to get out into the world to stimulate some conversations I don’t see happening, particularly in the gay community, around materialism, addiction, and spirituality. I think there are a lot of others out there who, like me, have conflated spirituality with organized religion, and in walking away from the strictures and hypocrisies of religion have left themselves without a means to feed and develop spirit. That’s a dangerous and unsustainable place to be in as an individual or a larger community.

How can audiences engage with your film?

The film is out on iTunes internationally on Oct. 1, as well as on DVD through Amazon. After watching, I invite people to join the conversation on our newly launched Web Initiative where they can interact with Brody, Rick, Dina Brown, Dr. Fox, and Broderick, explore additional content, and share their own reactions and insights to the film. Check it out here:

For the complete interview with Brody Fox, please visit:

Industry Successes...

James P. Connolly '88 will be performing a "Blue Collar Comedy Concert" on SiriusXM radio October 11th at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. The live performance is open to SiriusXM subscribers on a first-come basis. The concert will air over an entire weekend later this year on Blue Collar Radio Comedy Channel on SiriusXM.

Congratulations to Michael Anderson '08 for his addition to Harvardwood Radio with a great track, "To The Moon"! Check out his song here—we're over the moon to have him on our station!

New Members' Welcome

Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members that joined the organization over the past month, including:

+ Aaron Aceves, LA, College
+ Chloe Altchek, On Campus, College
+ Zak Aossey, On Campus, College
+ John Bryant, LA, College
+ Christopher Caines, NY, College
+ Kathryn Caterina, LA, HLS
+ Wilmon Chipman, Boston, KSG
+ Diane Choi, Asia, College
+ Nick Davis, NY, College
+ Deborah Ghim, On Campus, College
+ Emily Hancock, NY, GSE
+ Rachel Hargreaves-Heald, Boston, GSE
+ Brandon Jarrett, Boston, College
+ Sophia Khan, LA, Div & KSG
+ Rushi Kota, LA, A.R.T.
+ Melanie Lopez, Boston, College
+ Chiqui Matthew, NY, College
+ Rachel McGregor, NY, College
+ Randa Melhem, On Campus, College
+ Brian Quinn, Boston, College
+ Sparsha Saha, On Campus, College
+ Joel Sanchez, SF/Bay Area, FAS
+ Nicole Sarvis, Boston, College
+ Eleanor Schultz, NYC, College
+ Francisca Simeto, On Campus, College
+ Shawn Wong, LA, FOH*
+ Frances Yun, Boston, College

FOH = Friend of Harvardwood

In mid-September, Lano Williams hosted our first New Members' Orientation at Hyperion Public! The turnout was great, with both new faces and current members. We received a lot of interest from members who were unable to attend, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements about the next New Members' Orientation later in the year.

Member Profile: Alec Nevala-Lee '02 - novelist of THE ICON THIEF thriller trilogy published by Penguin Books

by D. Dona Le

alec-nevala-lee-11.jpgNovelist Alec Nevala-Lee '02 knew from a very young age that he wanted to become a writer, and perhaps that influences his first piece of advice to young writers: "Start now.”

"Every life choice I’ve made since I was out of high school has been geared toward [a career in writing], even if it wasn’t obvious at the time,” Nevala-Lee says.

At Harvard, he concentrated in Classics because he believed that knowledge of Latin and Greek would give him a unique toolbox as a writer. "Before the twenty-first century, if you were going to be a writer, an artist, or any other intellectual, you learned these languages,” Nevala-Lee explains, "so I thought, ‘It worked for them, maybe it’ll work for me.’”

After graduating from Harvard, Nevala-Lee moved to New York, viewing it as an opportunity to live in a city rife with culture and writers’ resources. Interestingly, he was recruited by investment management firm D.E. Shaw, which actively engaged recent graduates with creative aspirations.

Seeking graduates with raw talent who hadn’t considered entering finance, D.E. Shaw sent letters to Ivy League graduates who had graduated summa cum laude or had otherwise distinguished themselves from their peers. Nevala-Lee was among these recruits, and he was drawn by the company’s pitch that "you’d get a good job, a good salary, but you could work on your novel, your opera, on your own time.”

In retrospect, however, Nevala-Lee acknowledges the significant challenge of balancing a demanding day job in finance with his writing projects. After three years at D.E. Shaw, Nevala-Lee began preparing for a drastic lifestyle change: quitting his job to write full-time instead.

"I downscaled, I moved to Brooklyn, I saved some money, and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll leave my job to write full-time for a few years or however long it takes to get established. That was seven years ago, and it’s only in the past couple of years that the decision really began to pay off.”

Pursuing an idea for his first novel, Nevala-Lee traveled to India to conduct research for it and spent one year writing the first draft of that novel, followed by another year with an agent revising it. He shopped that draft of the novel among potential publishers, but finding few leads, Nevala-Lee started a new project "geared toward my strengths at the time.”

That project, The Icon Thief, was the first installment of his international thriller trilogy about the underground dealings of the art world. The third and final book in the trilogy, Eternal Empire, was released last month by Penguin Books.

Nevala-Lee worked successfully with an agent to publish The Icon Thief—an agent he met through NYC roommates who had also been Harvard classmates. One roommate worked at a publishing agency and gave Nevala-Lee a referral, which was useful because the agency did not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Nevala-Lee credits that agency with the large-scale editing of each book in the trilogy.

"One thing I say, and many editors may disagree, but a lot of the editing work has been outsourced to agents who are expected to deliver finished manuscripts. Editors have a lot of other stuff going on—they have to worry about marketing, the business side of publishing—so some of them have less time than they’d like to shepherd a manuscript.”

For The Icon Thief trilogy, Nevala-Lee spent months with his agent on rewrites, whereas the notes given by his editor for each novel took only a few weeks to address. Nevala-Lee estimates that the second two novels of the trilogy each took approximately nine months to complete, from synopsis to final draft.

"Your first novel you almost always write on spec and deliver a finished manuscript to the publisher. Once you’ve established that you’re able to deliver the books on time, it becomes easier to sell an idea or proposal.”

Impressively, Nevala-Lee has never requested an extension or turned in a late draft to his publisher. That awareness of timing is also apparent in other decisions he’s made about his writing career.

As he completed the revisions on Eternal Empire, he began considering his next project and, aiming to "save time” on a project that already had a completed draft, he returned to his first novel set in India.

"My wife and I had a new baby last year, so I thought it’d be easier to go back to this old manuscript, revise it, and polish it, compared to the effort of writing a novel from scratch.”

Although the amount of time spent preparing the manuscript also spanned nine months, Nevala-Lee points out that he’s spent half the time in those months writing than he normally would. The free time has enabled him to care for his newborn daughter, Beatrix.

Now, his agent is shopping his "first” novel among publishers.

"My agent is my best reader and is a great ally to have in many ways, but one of the best things about agents is that they know editors. They have lunched with editors, they talk about their clients, and they have a good sense of what particular editors are looking for. They can tailor the submissions to editors looking for particular types of manuscripts, figuring out who would be a sympathetic reader to that kind of project.”

Shopping his first novel is a significant moment in Nevala-Lee’s writing career. For the past five years, his primary project was The Icon Thieftrilogy; he’s been working on his first novel intermittently for seven years, but only now is it being seen by publishers. That, too, is not without reason.

Nevala-Lee has whittled down the original draft—written just a couple years after he left D.E. Shaw—to half its original length.

"It’s funny because you think, you lose over half a novel, it’s got to be different. But I found the core, the heart, the best parts of the story that I wanted to tell. It’s a much more focused novel.”

Over those seven years, Nevala-Lee’s first novel has undergone what he estimates to be three to four distinct versions with new subplots, altered structure, and different endings. Although the current draft under review "looks very well conceived and planned from the start, it actually evolved very organically.”

Just as his manuscripts evolve, so do Nevala-Lee’s ideas, which are rooted in "a subject or a world that I feel like exploring. I love writing itself, and I find it very challenging—not just learning how to be a better writer. The reason I wanted to be a writer is that I wanted to learn things; I wanted an excuse to read books, travel, talk to people, and learn about an aspect of the world I didn’t know about before.”

His trip to India paid off, and as his agent handles the publishers, Nevala-Lee considers his next project. Ideally, a publisher may offer Nevala-Lee a deal for another novel similar to the manuscript being shopped. He could then tug the threads of plotlines that would naturally follow from that manuscript, entertaining the possibility of turning this novel into a new series.

If that’s not the case, Nevala-Lee hints at a few other ideas in development, all of which are "subjects and stories I want to work on eventually.”

For a writer who also writes screenplays, nonfiction, and blogs, a natural question that arises is, why the novel form?

Unsurprisingly—given Nevala-Lee’s thoughtful planning of his career and literary projects—he prefers the novel because it "affords the most control for the writer. You don’t have any limitations in terms of the narrative resources you can bring to bear on a project.”

He continues, "The books I’ve published, I might look back and wish they were different in some ways, but they all reflect my freedom of choices at that time. That kind of freedom is really nice for a writer, especially when you are the only person on whom you’re depending to generate good work.”

As for good work, Nevala-Lee offers very concrete and useful advice to aspiring writers. One important writing skill is learning how and what material to cut.

As he realized from his own revisions and extensive cuts to the first draft of his India novel, "one of the hardest things about writing is finding the core material in the first draft that deserves to be preserved and revised.”

Another important aspect of writing is actually finishing the project. "Being able to finish your work and to take a novel to completion is huge.”

Nevala-Lee wryly points out, "You can’t publish an unfinished novel, even if it’s a bad novel, even if it’s not what you want to be; just the experience of taking that novel to completion means more than a hundred really great fragments of stories.”

So, with that advice, go on—start now.

Follow Nevala-Lee’s blog here:

ddonale_page.jpgD. Dona Le is a freelance writer and small business owner residing in Los Angeles.


***LA - Harvardwood and the Beijing Screenwriting Competition present - China's Entertainment Industry: The Next Chapter - Sat., Oct 19***

On Saturday, October 19th, join Harvardwood and the Beijing Screenwriting Competition for a panel discussion and award ceremony honoring this year's winner of the Competition! The event will be held at The Beverly Hilton from 7-9:30pm and will feature panelists Michael Andreen, Darren Bagert, and Sid Ganis, among others. The panel, moderated by Rob Cain, will highlight major opportunities in China's current entertainment industry and trends for the future. Open bar and light hors d'oeuvres will be available. Stay tuned for more details and registration!

LA - Harvardwood Heads To...TE San Pedro Rep & the First Thursday Art Walk, Thurs., Oct 2

Join TE San Pedro Rep, LA's premiere teaching theatre, as it welcomes the entire South Bay to historic downtown San Pedro's First Thursday Art Walk. TESPR, founded by Aaron Ganz A.R.T. '07 and Chris Lang A.R.T. '07, is proud to be a member of such a vibrant community of art and artists. San Pedro's art walk brings thousands of people to the historic downtown and waterfront to experience art, new galleries, live music, and amazing street food and vendors. Please join us as TESPR engages with the community, spreads excitement for the upcoming production of Hamlet, and has a wicked good time… To view full posting, please visit:

LA - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to a health care law workshop for creative artists, Sat., Oct 5

Are you confused about health care reform? This free workshop will walk you through your Covered CA options & requirements, provide important information relevant to freelancers and the self-employed, and help you figure out how to get affordable health insurance with the help of tax credits and federal subsidies. The event is presented by the Actor's Fund in association with California Lawyers for the Arts... To view full posting, please visit:

LA - LINSANITY Screening plus Special Harvardwood Q&A/Dinner with Producer Chris Chen, Sat., Oct 5

Together with the Harvard Club of Southern California, Harvardwood is pleased to attend the opening-weekend screening of LINSANITY. The film will be followed by a Q&A session and dinner with Producer Chris Chen, who has been with Endgame Entertainment since its inception in 2002. He's produced documentary films such as THE YEAR OF THE YAO, ... SO GOES THE NATION, and EVERY LITTLE STEP, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Oscar award for Best Documentary Feature. LINSANITY premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival... To view full posting, please visit:

LA - Harvardwood Heads To ... LA Filmforum Premiere of THE SKIN I'M IN

LA Filmforum presents the Los Angeles premiere of THE SKIN I'M IN, an autobiographical documentary by Broderick Fox, with a live pre-screening remix performance of the film's score by composer Ronit Kirchman. Fox and Kirchman will both be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. Tickets are available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets or at the door... To view full posting, please visit:

LA - Yale in Hollywood invites Harvardwood to: In Conversation with Oliver Stone, Wed., Oct 9

Join Yale in Hollywood for a conversation with Academy Award-winning writer and director, Oliver Stone. He has been credited with writing and or directing over 20 full-length feature films, earning him a well-respected place in cinematic history for some of the most influential and iconic films of the last two decades... To view full posting, please visit:

LA - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to The Business of Independent Film, Mon., Oct 28

The Business of Independent Film: An Introduction to Business Planning for Film is hosted by California Lawyers for the Arts and features Louise Levison, author of FILMMAKERS AND FINANCING: BUSINESS PLANS FOR INDEPENDENTS. Attend this workshop that will take the mystique out of film financing for both filmmakers and investors. Levison will clarify, demystify, and streamline the business plan process of independent film. You'll understand the business of the industry, markets, distribution, how the money flows, how to develop financial projections, and pitching investors... To view full posting, please visit:

Chicago - Exclusive Harvardwood invite to LINSANITY screening plus Q&A with Producer Brian Yang, Sun., Oct 6

Brian Yang, one of the Producers of LINSANITY, will be in attendance at the Chicago screening of LINSANITY, jointly co-hosted by Harvardwood, TAP-Chicago, JAConnect, the Harvard Club of Chicago, JACL, KACC, The Ivy Plus Society, and NU-A5. Use discount code "Harvardwood" for $1 off your ticket… To view full posting, please visit:

NY - LINSANITY Screening plus Special Harvardwood Q&A with Director Evan Leong, Fri., Oct 4

Director Evan Leong of LINSANITY will attend the NYC screening of his documentary about Jeremy Lin on opening night at AMC Loews Village 7. A six-generation Chinese American and native of San Francisco, Leong participated in his third Sundance Film Festival, but LINSANITY marked his first entry as a director at the festival… To view full posting, please visit:

NY - Harvardwood Classical Salon Series - The G Sharp Duo: ROMANTIC MASTERWORKS for Violin & Piano, Wed., Oct 16

One of the greatest and rarest joys of music is the opportunity to hear a great musician in the intimacy of her own home. We are thrilled that Yelena Grinberg, one of New York's finest pianists, has agreed to welcome us into her home a very few times each year for a special series of intimate concerts, played on her own piano, just for us. At these concerts, Yelena will talk about and perform some of her very favorite works from her vast repertory. The G Sharp Duo will perform two of the great Romantic era masterworks for violin and piano, Schubert's delightfully lyrical Grand Duo in A, and Charles Valentin Alkan's passionate and dramatic Grand Duo Concertant… To view full posting, please visit:

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