In this Issue:
+ Director's Notes
+ Message from Allison
+ Featured Member Posting: Assistant to Beijing-based DMG Entertainment President - LA, Shanghai, Beijing
+ Our Gift to Grads: $10 discount off Harvardwood membership for the Class of '14 - Deadline June 20
+ The 2014 Harvardwood Writers' Competition submission period has opened - Deadline July 31
+ Make some noise: Enter the first Harvardwood Karaoke competition via YouTube this summer
+ Register for Harvardwood's LA chapter screenwriting & novel writing workshops - June 5 and June 7
+ Harvardwood participates in Harvard's Global Networking Night worldwide - June 23
+ Not too late for summer interns to participate in HSIP (and seeking a volunteer)
+ Industry Successes (a special congrats to our newly staffed writers!)
+ New Members' Welcome
+ Member Profile: Josh Brener '07 (SILICON VALLEY, THE INTERNSHIP, and more)
CALENDAR & NOTES
+ Recent grads, leverage the Harvardwood network to find work, housing, and more connections!
I hope all my reunion peeps enjoyed the festivities this past weekend! I always relish the opportunity to go back to campus and take in the memories. And once reunion time comes, I know it's officially SUMMER! Summertime for Harvardwood means we get to receive a bright young crop of summer interns to our cities. I hope those in LA will join us on Sunday, June 8th to help us welcome the students and show them all the ins and outs of tinseltown. In addition to our interns, summer also brings a slew of great events to the Harvardwood calendar. Take a moment to peruse our June schedule and find out when you can take in an educational legal seminar, a screenwriting class, a literary workshop, or enjoy the beautiful music of Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, and Alkan. Happy Summer, everyone!
Message from Allison
Happy June! And to bring summer into full swing, Harvardwood Helps is spending National Trails Day (Saturday, June 7th) in Topanga Canyon, a stunning state park, if you haven't seen it. Please join us for some outdoor fun!
A few other highlights this month: Screenwriters, join us Thursday, June 5 for DRIVE, a free rewriting workshop and a great way to get your script in shape for the summer competition! Monday, June 23 is Global Networking Night at the Viceroy, and on Tuesday, June 24, watch for the return of Executive Producer and Harvardwood Mentor Neal Baer's UNDER THE DOME on CBS!
Featured Member Posting: Assistant to Beijing-based DMG Entertainment President - LA, Shanghai, Beijing
DMG Entertainment (co-producer/financier of IRON MAN 3, TRANSCENDENCE, and LOOPER) has an immediate opening for a highyl motivated, LA-based assistant to Beijing-based President. Candidates must be fluent in Mandarin Chinese, thick-skinned, detail-oriented, able to juggle a wide array of tasks, and sensitive to confidential material. Chinese citizenship also a bonus, as assistant may be required to travel between China and LA from time to time. Job duties include maintaining LA office, rolling calls, scheduling meetings, and coordinating between LA, Beijing, and Shanghai offices. This job also includes general personal assistant duties. Company is fast-paced, exciting, and at the forefront of collaboration between China and Hollywood. Industry experience preferred, but not required if candidates are smart, self-starting, and willing to do what it takes to get the job done… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/networking/apply_now.aspx?view=2&id=200219
Our Gift to Grads: $10 discount off Harvardwood membership for the Class of '14 - Deadline June 20
To celebrate the Harvard Class of 2014, we're offering our new grads a $10 discount off one year's Full Membership to Harvardwood! Use discount code CRIMSON2014 to get $10 off your yearly membership dues, whether you're upgrading from Affiliate status, renewing your current Full Membership, or joining us for the first time... To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/173324/Gifting-the-Class-of-14-Harvard-grads-with-a-10-discount-off-Harvardwood-membership.htm
The 2014 Harvardwood Writers' Competition submission period has opened - Deadline July 31
Started in 2006, the Harvardwood Writers' Competition was created to give emerging Harvard writers the opportunity to gain industry exposure and to recognize superior work. The contest includes the following three categories: 1) Feature screenplays (90 - 120 pp., all genres); 2) Television pilots (30-min and 60-min, all genres); and 3) Shorts (30-min maximum, no minimum). This year's submission deadline will be THURSDAY, July 31st, at 11:59pm PT. Scripts will be evaluated by industry professionals, and first-place winners in each category will receive a cash award and free admission to the 2014-2015 Writers' Program... To learn more about the HWC and submit your work, please visit: http://harvardwood.org/?page=WritersCompetition
Make some noise: Enter the 1st Harvardwood Karaoke competition via YouTube this summer
Harvardwood Karaoke is a virtual, online competition that will feature Harvardwood members and affiliates singing along to a song of their choosing. Contestants will record their original Karaoke rendition and will upload it via YouTube. As of June 1st, we'll begin accepting these original YouTube submissions and will continue taking submissions throughout the month of July. The top Karaoke’ers will be featured on the Harvardwood Music page throughout the month of August, when the winner will be determined by popular vote... To learn more about the HWC and submit your Karaoke video, please visit: http://harvardwood.org/default.asp?page=karaoke
Register for Harvardwood's LA chapter screenwriting & novel writing workshops - June 5 and June 7
On Thursday, June 5th, Script Quack co-founder Craig Sabin will introduce you to DRIVE, a screenwriting toolkit that uncovers the deeper connections in your script, so that the end result will resonate with and make fans of any reader. This two-hour workshop is FREE for Full Members with advance registration. A couple days later, on Saturday, June 7th, Harvardwood Publishing presents the MYSTERY THRILLER writing seminar with former intelligence officer and best-selling author Kyle Fitzharris.
Harvardwood participates in Harvard's Global Networking Night worldwide - June 23
The Harvard Alumni Association invites you to join fellow local alumni for Global Networking Night worldwide on Monday, June 23rd! This is a great opportunity to explore and expand your Harvard Network with Harvardwood!... To view full posting on the Los Angeles GNN event, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=440408&group=
Not too late for summer interns to participate in HSIP (and seeking a volunteer)
Calling all summer interns for this year's Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP)! If you are interning and/or working in any facet of entertainment this summer, let us know by completing the HSIP participant form so we may stay in touch with you regarding HSIP events and activities. You do not have to have an internship that was listed on the HSIP list of opportunities. All summer interns affiliated with Harvard University can participate! We're also looking for a volunteer to assist with HSIP events in LA this summer (great for someone looking to join the Harvardwood Board of Directors in the future)... To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/news/123879/Calling-all-Summer-Interns.htm
Rob Rader is now General Counsel of Ovation, America's only arts cable network, distributed in over 50 million homes. At Ovation, Mr. Rader has responsibility for all business and legal matters, including production, distribution, marketing, litigation, intellectual property, real estate, corporate and human resources. In addition, Mr. Rader is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Santa Monica College and Secretary-Treasurer of Downtown Santa Monica Inc and serves on the board of the KCRW Foundation.
Harvardwood is thrilled to extend very hearty congratulations to our newly staffed writers: Sue Chung (Fox's GOTHAM), former Board member Grainne Godfree (The CW's THE FLASH), and former Board member Warren Hsu Leonard (ABC's HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER)! Also, congratulations to Cameron Porsandeh, creator and co-executive producer of the dark thriller HELIX, which SyFy has renewed for a second season to premiere winter of 2015!
New Members' Welcome
Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members that joined the organization over the past month, including:
+ Fayne Ansley, College, NY
+ Catherine Barranco (O'Gorman), College, Other U.S.
+ Siena Canales, College, NY
+ Alex Cherenfant, Jr., College, NY
+ Nicholas Culbertson, College, LA
+ Gisela Davico, KSG, DC
+ Jessica Gelman, College & HBS, Boston
+ Ginger McKnight-Chavers, HLS, NY
+ Daniel Robey, HBS Exec, London
+ Andrew Sellon, College, NY
+ Taya Weiss, College, LA
*FOH = Friend of Harvardwood
If you have ideas for a Harvardwood event you think new members would enjoy, contact Lano Williams (email@example.com), our Director of Membership Experience. Lano's in charge of organizing fun and informative New Members' Orientation events to welcome the newest additions to the Harvardwood community.
Member Profile: Josh Brener '07 (SILICON VALLEY, THE INTERNSHIP, and more)
by D. Dona Le
“It’s annoying how supportive my parents are,” actor Josh Brener ‘07 says frankly. “They are effusively, blindly, obnoxiously supportive, and they’ve encouraged me from the very beginning, even when they were sure I’d be poor and begging them for a place to stay.”
But Brener, who plays Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti on HBO’s hit series SILICON VALLEY, is unlikely to return to his hometown of Houston, Texas, looking for a place to stay.
Last year, Brener co-starred in THE INTERNSHIP alongside Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson, and he’s also appeared in MARON, THE BIG BANG THEORY, WORKAHOLICS, and GLORY DAZE. While this impressive resume might make another young actor feel confident about his future, Brener operates on a baseline state of panic.
“I hate to say that I’m a pessimist because I’m very blessed and fortunate. But I am a bit of a pessimist in that I feel like I’m starting from scratch every single time,” he says of landing the next acting gig, “which I know is not true. But every time I don’t have a job, I start to panic and I’m sure I’ll never work again.”
In the meantime, HBO has announced its renewal of SILICON VALLEY for a second season, and Brener is featured in two independent films to be released this year, RUMPERBUTTS and UNREACHABLE BY CONVENTIONAL MEANS.
RUMPERBUTTS is written by his brother, Marc Brener, and follows a married, indie band duo who are miserable in their successful but soul-crushing gig on a children’s show.
“It’s about their journey to find each other again, find music again, and come back to their roots,” explains Brener. “It’s a really sweet and funny movie, and I’m excited about it.”
Brener previously collaborated with his brother on a 2012 short that Marc wrote and directed called SAY IT AIN’T SOLO. Josh continues to work closely with people who are very near and dear to him, including his fiancée Meghan Falcone, whom he met at an improv class in Los Angeles six years ago. Together, they are working on several comedy projects, including a television pilot and a female-centric feature.
“I’m lucky that my brother is very talented and also very patient, so it’s a pleasure to work with him. The same is true of Meghan,” says Brener, before joking, “Hopefully we’ll have something to show for it before we have a failed relationship to show for it. I’ve been forewarned by so many people that it’s a terrible idea [to collaborate], but we get along great and we like spending time with each other.”
Indeed, spending time with a girl is what first inspired Brener to start acting in middle school. When a knee injury prevented him from playing Little League baseball during the season, Brener decided to join the school play to hang out with his sixth-grade girlfriend. He was immediately hooked — on theater. From then on, Brener performed in several school plays every year through the end of high school. He even aspired to attend Yale for its prestigious theater program.
“Of course, when people talk about Yale theater, they’re talking about Yale School of Drama, which is a graduate school. What did I know?”
At Harvard, Brener took advantage of all opportunities to act, write, and perform improv. In addition to being involved with On Thin Ice, Harvard’s oldest improv troupe, Brener was the ‘06-‘07 President of the Hasty Pudding.
“I had infinitely more opportunities at Harvard to do theater and be creative without anyone really telling us what we had to do. I was lucky to fall in with the Pudding.”
Asked whether he’d like to return to theater work, Brener quips, “Mostly I just want to do another Pudding show, but as many times as I audition, they refuse to have me back.”
Brener selected English as his concentration so that he could take classes at the American Repertory Theatre for credit, and he completed a creative thesis that he calls a “terrible, terrible, terrible play — but it was better than writing a real thesis that required lots of research and citations.”
After graduating from Harvard, Brener and a couple friends hopped into his 1992 Camry and drove cross-country to Los Angeles, where, like many aspiring creatives, he first lived in a shabby apartment with a his brother Marc and another roommate. In the same grand tradition, he supported himself by tutoring, bartending, and waiting tables. Through Harvardwood, Brener also landed a personal assistant job, “which helped me eat before I was able to do anything else.”
Once in Los Angeles, Brener was quickly introduced to his brother’s circle of friends, many of whom work in entertainment.
“Two [of Marc’s friends] happened to be agents, and I would ask them for advice and annoy them endlessly,” says Brener. “They would send me to acting classes, recommend acting coaches, and little by little, they’d send me to an audition here, an audition there. I’m still bothering them to this day.”
Those first auditions were especially challenging, as Brener experienced “tremendous growing pains moving from the Hasty Pudding style of performance to the subtle art that is film and TV acting.”
For his first L.A. audition, Brener read for casting director Susan Vash, who has since become a very good friend of his, and she recommended some acting classes for him.
“I went and took a bunch of acting classes where the instructors would say, ‘Josh, less, less, less,’” Brener mimics. “After I heard that for 18 months, I went back and met Susan, who said, ‘Oh, you’ve almost sort of figured out what you’re doing.’
“And every once in a while, I’ll go back and she’ll say, ‘Oh, you lost it again.’ Always a learning process.”
The first role Brener booked was originally as a guest star on the television series GLORY DAZE, before the role was transformed from guest star to series regular. Ultimately, he appeared in 10 episodes of the show during its single season.
Despite the lucky role change that put him on the map, Brener has maintained a healthy, if somewhat pessimistic, perspective of the ups and downs of acting life. Many of his experiences, successful or otherwise, highlight the unpredictability of the entertainment industry.
Before GLORY DAZE, Brener was in the running for the lead part in an exciting pilot.
“If I got it, it was going to change everything; and then I didn’t get it, and the show didn’t really go anywhere,” he reveals. “And then THE INTERNSHIP was amazing, and everybody thought, ‘This is going to be huge, it’s going to change everything!’ And it was the most incredible experience, but the paparazzi hasn’t exactly been outside of our doors as a result of it.”
Now, Brener plays one of the main characters on Mike Judge’s SILICON VALLEY, which has been very positively received by critics and the public alike.
“I feel so lucky to be a part of a show that is a success, that people are liking and responding to. It’s so exciting and I’m so grateful to have tricked them into hiring me to be a part of it,” he says.
At his SILICON VALLEY audition, Brener read for creator Mike Judge and producers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, and they discussed the series’ theme with him.
Describing Silicon Valley and the fast-paced tech industry, “Mike said, ‘Yeah, it’s that weird thing where at any moment, you can look around and all of a sudden somebody you know is rich and famous, and you’re still just nobody,’” recounts Brener. “And I said, ‘Yeah, I can imagine what that might feel like.’”
Recent college graduates struggling to “make it” — whether they live in Tinseltown or tech central, whether they’re aspiring stars or start-ups — face many of the same internal challenges.
“There are a lot of similarities in terms of pressure, inferiority complexes, looking over your shoulder, and, you know, panic.” Brener concludes, “It all comes down to panic with me.”
But unlike his SILICON VALLEY character Big Head, who tricks tech company Hooli into offering him a lucrative contract for no work, Brener has earned every credit on his acting resume through talent, practice, and, just as importantly, an infectiously positive and down-to-earth attitude.
A self-identified Harry Potter nerd, Brener describes one of his most memorable set experiences with a giddiness that is almost tangible. THE INTERNSHIP features a Quidditch match, and the cast played a scrimmage to warm up for the following day’s shoot, with Brener as seeker.
“I chased after the Golden Snitch, and I got it! The tennis ball is dangling from this guy’s [back pocket], and I pulled it and I spiked the ball and was going crazy celebrating,” he describes. “And ten minutes later, I realized that I had broken my finger. That’s what a genius I am. I got injured playing a fake sport in a fake rehearsal for a fake movie.”
In addition to sustaining glamorous on-set injuries, Brener’s genius is recognizing the importance of completely and actively engaging in one’s work at all times.
“One of the hardest things to do, especially with acting, is to always be doing something. It’s very easy to fall into waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for someone to give you an audition,” admits Brener. “It’s a very passive thing where you hope that someone’s getting you a job or working for you and you’re waiting for an opportunity.”
“The most important thing is to activate and to always be chasing it,” he says, though he may be referring to the Golden Snitch. “Whether it’s being in classes, dropping your resume at the doors of casting directors, putting on plays, doing improv, or shooting a web series — whatever it is that keeps you activated and acting, that’s the most important thing because it’s so easy to stall out if you don’t have that momentum. That’s my advice, having followed none of it ever because I do nothing. I’m so lazy and I never get off my couch.”
Likewise, we’ll be on our couches tonight to watch Brener in the season finale of SILICON VALLEY, which airs on HBO at 7pm PT / 10pm ET.
In addition to serving as Harvardwood's Coordinator, D. Dona Le '05 is a small business owner and freelance writer based out of Los Angeles.
***LA - Harvardwood Helps at Topanga State Park, Sat., June 7***
Join us for some fun in the sun on National Trails Day, an incredible project that will have a huge positive impact on everyone, not just hikers and nature-lovers! We'll be repairing the hiking trails at Topanga State Park by removing non-native invasive plants and cutting back overgrowth on the trails. Bring friends and family, as you have a blast and make a difference here in LA! Wear close-toed shoes and clothes you don't mind getting a little dirty. Bring gardening gloves if you have them, wear a hat, and apply sunscreen... To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=436368&group=
LA - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Mean Streets of Hollywood, Tues., June 3
This program will feature a discussion about the nuances of entertainment mediation. Panelists will discuss the legal issues that arise in entertainment mediations, including the most common types of conflicts, relevant case law, and practice development resources… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=442201&group=
LA - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Rights Clearance Issues in Film & TV, Wed., June 4
There are three main reasons why film and TV producers (and their attorneys) must be aware of clearance issues: avoidance of liability, eligibility for E&O insurance coverage, and ensuring that the film or show will satisfy distributors' legal delivery requirements. Join C.L.A. and attorneys from entertainment law firm Pierce Law Group LLP for a discussion about common rights and clearance issues that arise in film and TV… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=442202&group=
LA - Harvardwood Seminar Series: DRIVE - A Screenwriting Workshop, Thurs., June 5
How do you get your script to engage, excite, and enthuse readers? It's all about connections. Script Quack co-founder Craig Sabin will introduce you to DRIVE, a screenwriting toolkit that uncovers the deeper connections in your script, so that the end result will resonate with and make fans of any reader. This workshop is FREE to Full Members of Harvardwood with advance registration... To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=436438&group=
LA - Harvardwood Literary Workshop Series: THE MYSTERY THRILLER, Sat., June 7
The shadowy underworld of espionage holds a particular fascination for readers and is one of the most popular novel genres. Join former intelligence officer and author Kyle Fitzharris for this introductory seminar, where he'll introduce you to the secrets of writing compelling geopolitical suspense novels. Attendees will gain a keener understanding of the world of intelligence and espionage, as well as insight into how to find markets for their novels… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=438770&group=
LA - *Harvardwood Summer Internship Program Presents: Welcome Orientation, Sun., June 8
Harvardwood is pleased to announce the launch of our 2014 Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP) with a welcome event on Sunday, June 8th! Come meet the newest batch of Harvard undergrads exploring the entertainment industry through summer internships at production companies, studios, agencies,and more... To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=446335&group=
LA - Harvardwood Heads To... The Ivy Plus Society's Summer Sunday, Sun., June 8
Join members of The Ivy Plus Society at 41 Ocean, a private members-only club in Santa Monica, for a relaxing summer Sunday at this courtyard club and restaurant. The Ivy Plus Society produces social networking events for young alumni of a select group of schools, with the aim of creating a community of talented, dynamic individuals… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=442556&group=
LA - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to An Overview of Mural Laws in Los Angeles, Tues., June 17
The L.A. City Council recently passed a city-wide ordinance ending a decade-long "mural moratorium." Join C.L.A. and the Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) for an educational workshop presented by attorney Eric Bjorgum, Esq. and Carlos Rogel of SPARC to find out more about how the new law works, what it changes, and how it fits into the history of mural creation in the city… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=442203&group=
LA - Harvard's June 2014 Global Networking Night, Mon., June 23
The Harvard Alumni Association, together with Harvardwood, the Harvard Club of Southern California, and the HBS Association of Southern California, invites you to join fellow local alumni for Global Networking Night! This is a great opportunity to explore and expand your Harvard network; the last event drew more than 5,000 alumni in 71 cities!… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=440408&group=
NY - Harvardwood Classical Salon: BACH - BEETHOVEN - HAYDN - ALKAN, Sun., June 29
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. Yelena's living room seats just 22 people, so we strongly recommend early registration… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=443341&group=
BERKELEY - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to How to Avoid Common Legal Mistakes Made by Content Creators, Tues., June 3
Join Business & IP attorney Francine Ward for a content-rich program filled with eye-opening strategies for protecting your greatest asset -- your intellectual property. By attending this session, you'll learn 6 common legal mistakes that content creators make, and strategies for avoiding those mistakes… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=442200&group=
BERKELEY - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Protecting IP Rights in a Work-Made-for-Hire Economy, Tues., June 24
This workshop will provide a guideline for identifying situations where creators are considered "employees" or "independent contractors" under the work-made-for-hire doctrine. It will also address practical and contractual solutions to the work-made-for-hire rule, and highlight important aspects of the written agreements associated with these employer/employee scenarios in specific creative industries… To view full posting, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/events/event_details.asp?id=442204&group=
Recent grads, leverage the Harvardwood network to find work, housing, and more connections!
Did you know that Full Members of Harvardwood get full access to our invaluable Career Center (with numerous job postings updated daily) and the Bulletin Board, which lists alumni housing offers, exclusive invitations, and career news? Make sure your Harvardwood membership is current, so you can access these resources on our site! The power of our community is YOU.
Harvardwood does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any of the information, content or advertisements (collectively "Materials") contained on, distributed through, or linked, downloaded or accessed from any of the services contained in this e-mail. You hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any Materials shall be at your sole risk. The materials are provided by Harvardwood on an "AS IS" basis, and Harvardwood expressly disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied.