Issue 120 | January 2015



In This Issue:

+ Director's Notes
+ Message from Allison


+ Featured Member Posting: Development Assistant, Harpo Film Productions - LA
+ Congratulations to our 2014 Harvardwood Heroes grant recipients!
+ Interested in joining the Harvardwood Board of Directors? Apply by Jan. 9
+ Apply now for the Spring 2015 Harvardwood Writers Program—TV Modules in NY & LA
+ Let us know if your film will be featured at Sundance or Slamdance this month
+ Help us recognize Harvard-affiliated 72nd Golden Globes® nominees
+ Harvardwood at the Harvard Alumni Association's Global Networking Night - Jan. 13


+ Winners of the 2014 Harvardwood Writers Competition & the Most Staffable TV Writers List
+ Industry Successes
+ New Members' Welcome
+ Member Profile: David Kwong '02 (Magician & Puzzler, The Imitation Game, Now You See Me)


+ Calendar
+ Ring in the new year with Harvardwood—Renew your membership

Director's Notes

WELCOME TO 2015, Harvardwood! We're super excited for the upcoming year's events and programs, starting with next week's thirteenth annual Harvardwood 101 program, during which 26 current Harvard undergrads will be spending their J-term in Los Angeles to learn about the ins and outs of the entertainment industry. We have a packed bootcamp week scheduled for the students, plus a number of fun events that will be open to EVERYBODY, including a Golden Globes watch party with NUEA and the HAA's Global Networking Night on Jan. 13th.

We're also happy to announce that last month, we selected the 2014 Harvardwood Heroes grant recipients. Please join me in congratulating these very dedicated community service volunteers and read on to learn about our Heroes and their inspiring nonprofits! And if YOU want to get involved, sign up to join Harvardwood Helps at our MLK Blood Drive in Los Angeles.

Happy New Year!

— Dona

Message from Allison

We're ringing in 2015 with a very exciting announcement: the winners of the 2014 Harvardwood Writers Competition and the Most Staffable TV Writers list. Congratulations to these talented writers, who were selected from a record number of submissions to last summer's Competition! Read on for the winners in each category and their script titles.

Speaking of Harvardwood writers, it's time to apply for the Harvardwood Writers Program—TV Modules in Los Angeles and New York! The TV Modules will be starting up next month, so make sure to send in your application by Friday, January 23rd.

Finally, we have a number of awesome Board positions opening up this year. If you're interested in joining the Harvardwood Board of Directors, get in touch with us by January 9th to tell us a little bit more about yourself and which Harvardwood program you'd like to help lead.

Here's to making 2015 even better than the last year!

— Allison

Featured Member Posting: Development Assistant, Harpo Film Productions - LA

Television / Feature Production Company seeks full-time Development Assistant. Applicants should be motivated self-starters with good instincts for story, a passion for scripted development, literary inclinations, and very strong writing skills. This is a job with room for growth. Responsibilities include: Script & book coverage; Admin support to CE, including phones and calendar; Notes on current projects and potential material; Tracking incoming material, competitive projects, and up-and-coming talent; Office management… To view full posting, please visit:

Congratulations to our 2014 Harvardwood Heroes grant recipients!mcgaw.jpg

The Harvardwood Heroes (HH) grant program spotlights and supports those members of the Harvard community who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to community service projects/organizations of their choice, specifically at the intersection of arts and service. These Heroes exemplify the mission of Harvardwood, demonstrating the power and purpose of the arts, media, and entertainment.

After reviewing numerous outstanding community service proposals, we are delighted to present to you our 2014 Harvardwood Heroes, each of whom will receive $500 to use at his/her discretion.

Osh Ghanimah A.R.T. '13 | Broadway For All
Kaitlin McGaw '00 (pictured) | Alphabet Rockers
Mike Philson '08 | Newark Yoga Movement
Suvai Gunasekaran '13, Yacoub Kureh '13, and Danni Xie '13 | Ceramics United

Learn more about these accomplished individuals and their organizations here.

Interested in joining the Harvardwood Board of Directors? Apply by January 9th

The Harvardwood Board of Directors (BOD) is coming up on elections for its next term, and we are looking for some energetic individuals to fill a few great positions! The Harvardwood BOD is the managing body that oversees the volunteer efforts of Harvardwood members worldwide and has worked to create an impressive array of events, programs, and online resources over the past fifteen years. As a member of this dynamic team, you will play a large role in determining the priorities and setting the course for the entire organization.

This year's Harvardwood Board openings are:

  • Co-Director, Harvardwood Film Festival
  • Associate Director, Harvardwood Summer Internship Program
  • Associate Director, Membership Experience
  • Associate Director, Harvardwood Music
  • Associate Director, Harvardwood Helps
  • Associate Director, Harvardwood Publishing
  • Associate Director, Harvardwood Writers Program - TV

Apply for the Spring 2015 Harvardwood Writers Program—TV Modules in NY & LA

Harvardwood is pleased to announce the Spring 2015 Harvardwood TV Writing Modules! The modules will use peer review, guest speakers and workshops to foster a motivating and supportive environment for participating television writers. In Los Angeles, we anticipate having modules for Original Drama Pilot, Original Comedy Pilot, Spec TV Episodes, and Original Pilot Rewrites. Fees for original and rewrite modules are $100, and the spec module fee is $150. In New York, we will have one TV Module (as we did in Fall 2014), and the fee will be $120. The deadline for applying to ALL modules in Los Angeles or New York is 11:59PM on Friday, January 23, 2015. You must be a Full Member of Harvardwood to participate. The program will run from February through mid-May 2015. For additional details and application instructions, click here.

sundance.jpgLet us know if your film will be featured at Sundance or Slamdance this month

Calling all Harvard-affiliated films and filmmakers heading to Park City this month! Will one of your films be presented at Sundance or Slamdance? If so, please let us know so that the Harvardwood community can support you and your work! Just email [email protected] with information about your film and screening times.

Help us recognize Harvard-affiliated Golden Globes® nominees

Now that awards season is upon us, we want to make sure we recognize all Harvard-affiliated nominees (and winners), starting with this month's 72nd Annual Golden Globe® Awards, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler! If you or someone you know from the Harvard community is up for a Golden Globe, please let us know by emailing [email protected].

Harvardwood at the Harvard Alumni Association's Global Networking Night - Jan. 13GNN-web.jpg

Each January and June, Harvard Clubs & SIGs around the world host networking receptions under the Global Networking Night banner. Last June, over 5,500 alumni participated in 76 cities! This month, on January 13th, Harvardwood will be co-hosting Global Networking Night events in Los Angeles, DC, and Toronto. We look forward to seeing you there!

Winners of the 2014 Harvardwood Writers Competition & Most Staffable TV Writers List

After receiving a record number of submissions last summer, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2014 Harvardwood Writers Competition, as well as the 2014 Most Staffable TV Writers list of top participants in the ongoing Harvardwood Writers Program. The winning writers will be mentored by A-list TV, film and theater professionals, recruited by Hollywood's hottest productions, and considered for representation at the most prestigious talent agencies and management companies.

The winners of the 2014 Harvardwood Writers Competition in each category are:

  • Features: *Ryan P. Shrime - Please Don't Die, Roger Berman (Coming-of-Age Dramedy)

Runner Up: *Peter Limm - Werewolves of New London (Horror-Comedy)

  • TV Pilots: Nick Baker - Lullaby (Crime Thriller)

Runner Up: Joy Goodwin - The Underground (One-Hour Drama)

  • Shorts: *Mustapha Khan - Blanchin’ Jimmies (Coming-of-Age Dramedy)

Additionally, writers of outstanding TV pilots incubated in the ongoing Harvardwood Writers Program are selected for Harvardwood's Most Staffable TV Writers list each year. The writers on the Most Staffable TV Writers of 2014 list are:

  • Nick Baker - Lullaby (Pilot / Crime Thriller)
  • Adam Prince - Ark (Pilot / One-Hour Drama)
  • Drew Housman - Think Tank (Pilot / Half-Hour Comedy)

* indicates a writer eligible for network diversity programs

All of these talented writers were selected by a panel of industry professionals. Each Competition winner and Most Staffable list writer will receive a one-on-one mentorship, and Competition winners will also receive a cash prize. This year's mentors include: Andy Cadiff - Director, Hot In Cleveland, Home Improvement; Carolyn Cassidy - SVP, Comedy Development, Fox; Jonathan Collier - Executive Producer, Bones; Nancy Cotton - SVP, Programming, Fox Television Studios; Adam Fratto - Exec. VP, Pukeko Pictures / Weta Workshop; Couper Samuelson - President of Features for Blumhouse; Craig Turk - Executive Producer, The Good Wife; and Nicky Weinstock - President, Invention Studios, and Creative Head, Lionsgate’s Direct-to-Series Comedies.

Industry Successes

Jeff Baron, author of the HarperCollins inside-Hollywood Sean Rosen book series, was a featured speaker at the National English Teachers convention in Washington in November. The videos for this transmedia series are at Jeff's play Mischpoke had its world premiere in Munich in December. His play Visiting MR. Green is currently playing in Paris, Prague, Munich and Bucharest, and will open in 2015 in Sao Paulo and The Hague, all in the local languages.

Busy fall for Rob Rader! First, Rob was re-appointed to Board of Directors of Downtown Santa Monica Inc., then re-elected as Secretary/Treasurer of DTSM. In December, Rob was elected Chair of the Board of Trustees of Santa Monica College. In September, he was a Finalist for LA Business Journal's Corporate Counsel of the Year. Then, in December, he won the Association of Media & Entertainment Counsel's Counsel of the Year for Alternative and Non-Traditional Media and received the award at AMEC's annual dinner at the House of Blues.

results.jpgWriter/director Andrew Bujalski's '98 latest film, Results, will debut at Sundance this month in the U.S. Competition field. The 2015 Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 22nd to February 1st, and screening times for Results can be found here.

New Members' Welcome

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

+ Emily Bentley, College, NYC
+ Jacki Chou, College, LA
+ Kip Christianson, College, LA
+ Ron Corcillo, College, LA
+ Jonathan Fortescue, GSAS, Boston
+ Paul E. Konney, College, LA
+ Robert Marks, HBS, LA
+ Marika Semerdzhian, KSG, Seattle
+ Ilana E. Strauss, FOH, NYC
+ Edward K. Ussery, HMS, LA

*FOH = Friend of Harvardwood

Questions about your Harvardwood membership? Contact Lano Williams ([email protected]), our Director of Membership Experience, and he'll be happy to assist you!

Member Profile: David Kwong '02 (Magician & Puzzler, The Imitation Game, Now You See Me)
by Terence O'Toole Murnin

DKGoogle-Plus-Photo.jpgNot a Cruise Ship Magician—Puzzles and prestidigitation can't really begin to describe the genius of David Kwong

Photo to the left by Aaron Epstein

Calling David Kwong a magician is kind of like calling John Harvard a collector of books. It describes one of his many passions, but it only hints at what the man is becoming – and what he will ultimately become. Although not a household name (yet), Kwong has indeed “arrived,” tapping into the Zeitgeist on an enchanted path where highbrow Intelligentsia meets Hollywood spectacle in a tantalizing mix of performance art that both entertains and informs.

And by arrived, consider the following:

  • THE IMITATION GAME, the recent Alan Turing biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch, features David’s 1940’s puzzles
  • David was a featured performer on the Fox TV New Year’s Eve special
  • Kwong’s TED talk has inspired people like pop icon Katy Perry to solve his puzzles. Watch it here

“I’m definitely not a cruise ship magician,” laughs Kwong as he zips in and out of traffic in his Prius, on the way to LAX to catch a flight to San Francisco where he’ll be speaking to a prestigious venture capital firm. Perhaps best known in town for his work on NOW YOU SEE ME, it’s also an apt description for his current lifestyle (“Now, you don’t”), having just performed at John Deere’s annual offsite meeting in Miami, FL, with plans to return to Los Angeles in just days to perform on a Saturday night at a prominent director’s private party.

Kwong readily admits that his presentation for TED2014, the 30th-anniversary of the renowned conference (David was part of the “Reshape” segment of the lecture series where he was billed as a cruciverbalist) changed his life (yet again), spurring his current role as a very much in demand speaker, where he is carving out his own distinctive alternative scene where magic and puzzles are cool – the antithesis of academia – in a place that he envisions as a new breed of illusion and enigmas. In simplistic terms, Kwong has synthesized live performance with lecture, acting as an entertainer and performer in a show where interactive is perhaps the ultimate understatement.

“My number one philosophy is that I want the audience or problem solver to feel smart,” Kwong imparts. “There’s a moment when you unlock the puzzle – the ‘A-Ha Moment’ – and I want my spectators to feel like they are learning and solving something extraordinary, that’s where I really get my juice.”

Raised as a prodigy by parents who both taught at the University of Rochester, Kwong has hilariously noted that “magicians are often viewed just one step above clowns,” but he has been seduced by the genre since he was a small child after witnessing a trick that even his erudite father could not explain. At Harvard, Kwong studied the history of magic and the rich history of illusion that informs his current practice, but instead of becoming a Vegas side-show performer, he instead accepted a marketing job at HBO in New York, which eventually led to him becoming a member of the DreamWorks Animation story department.

“As you can probably imagine, I’m a big proponent of a liberal arts education, because it lets you go wherever you want,” smiles Kwong. “You can be anything you want to be, and in my case, looking back until this point on my journey, it’s been a quest to bring intellectualism into the arts – a form of smart, sophisticated fun.”

While working as a Hollywood executive, Kwong founded the Misdirectors Guild, an elite band of experts in all areas of subterfuge such as stage illusion, sleight of hand, puzzles and heists who regularly consult on TV and film projects requiring an insider’s knowledge of illusion and deception. Along with the aforementioned NOW YOU SEE ME, Kwong has also worked on a variety of projects including THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE. HOUDINI and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.

“Movies and big live shows need practical effects,” explains Kwong. “Perhaps a pop star needs to disappear from the stage, or maybe on a heist movie, the director is looking for a never before seen way to sneak into an air-tight facility. Whenever deception or trickery is involved, we’re the go-to-guys.”

Kwong retains his boyhood amazement for all things magic and is still blown away by performers who can dress up old tricks in a different way, and while he may not be fooled anymore, he appreciates novel takes on ancient ruses, including giving people a small peek behind the curtain.

“I think people can appreciate magic more when they see just how hard we work to perfect an illusion,” muses Kwong. “With NOW YOU SEE ME, no one left the theater prepared to surgically dissect a magic show. I think we gave them just enough to engage intellectually, and trade secrets are still paramount to me and the guild.”

While some aspects of Kwong’s future may also be secret, as his life has played out, he’s comfortable with the uncertainty of not always knowing the next step. He’s currently writing a book, and also building his own one-man show, a full theatrical experience where elements of his signature routine, The Lexicon, a 15’ x ’15 crossroad puzzle that materializes out of audience suggestions will almost certainly play a part.

As a master puzzle creator, having constructed crossword puzzles for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, Kwong emulates the career of Will Shortz, a collaborator, and currently the crossword puzzle editor for the New York Times.

We share a mantra, notes Kwong: “Let’s get the most people we can out there, solving problems and playing games that stimulate the imagination.”

What’s for certain is that Kwong will continue to amaze and enlighten us, even if he doesn’t know what’s next.

“I believe strongly that everything is relevant,” sounds a confident and passionate Kwong. “All the jobs that I have had along the way have led to this, a place where I can synthesize magic and puzzles and cross-pollinate the results into new areas of expertise.”

If you’re interested in adding a little more magic and meaning to your life, visit this link.

Terence_J._Murnin_Photo.jpgTerence O'Toole Murnin is a raconteur and provocateur currently pitching his latest feature-film screenplay, LOVE YOU. MISS YOU. KISS YOU., as well as a TV Pilot, CLUB CASUALTIES.


***Featured Event*** NYC - Harvardwood Presents: BELLA2 (Mimi Lee & Jeremy Preston) Play Works by BEETHOVEN for Violin & Piano, Fri., Jan. 16

bella2.jpgFrom the start, Beethoven challenged, stretched, and expanded the Classical concept of a sonata for violin and piano. In this concert, the superb duo BELLA2, pianist Mimi Lee and violinist Jeremy Preston, will perform Beethoven's Second and Third Violin Sonatas (both, interestingly, dedicated to Antonio Salieri) of 1798 and the Fourth Sonata of 1801. BELLA2 is on a journey to explore and re-interpret the great works for violin and piano. This San Francisco-based duo is passionately committed to sharing an energetic, intense, and connected experience through their interpretations of modern, romantic, and classical works... Advance registration is required:

in Los Angeles:

C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Understanding the New Healthcare Law for the Creative Arts Community, Tues., Jan. 6

Are you confused about healthcare reform? This FREE workshop will demystify your Covered California options and requirements and provide important info for freelancers and the self-employed... For more details, please visit:

Harvardwood Co-Hosts the GOLDEN GLOBES® Watch Party, Sun., Jan. 11

Join Harvardwood members and folks from the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance West to watch The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards and see whether your predictions for the winning nominees are correct!... For more details, please visit:

Harvardwood Heads To... DIRT: A Semi-Improvised Stand-Up Comedy Show, Mon., Jan. 12dirt.jpg

The NSA is watching everything you do. Fight the power: share everything. DIRT is a semi-improvised standup show where comics share some of their most damning secrets with the audience. And the audience can share their most damning dick pics by texting inspirational fodder to a burner phone onstage. All whistleblowers will be protected. Probably. Maybe. No guarantees. Hosted by Harvardwood Full Member Kiran Deol and Emily Maya Mills. Tickets are $5.... For more details, please visit:

Harvardwood Co-Hosts Global Networking Night, Tues., Jan. 13

The evening is a unique opportunity to network with fellow alumni and current students from across the University. Build new connections, reconnect with classmates, share your experiences with students, and welcome recent graduates to our city. Tap into the power of our Harvard network! For more details, please visit:

Harvardwood Helps BLOOD DRIVE at Cedars-Sinai for MLK National Day of Service, Mon., Jan. 19

Harvardwood Helps is organizing a blood drive at Cedars-Sinai on MLK Day (January 19th) in Los Angeles! Blood is traditionally in short supply during winter months due to holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather and colds/flu, which is why January has been designated National Blood Donor Month. Each donor will receive one Laugh Factory ticket good for two admissions, one movie ticket (AMC or Pacific Theatres), and one raffle entry to win a three-month membership to Boulevard Health Club... Registration is a must, so please click here:

CLA.jpgC.L.A. Invites Harvardwood to Financial Management for Creatives, Wed., Jan. 21

Join CLA and Darius Gagne of Abacus Wealth Partners for a workshop covering investment and saving strategies for artists. Topics to be covered include reducing debt, deciding which type of savings account is best for you, and budgeting and saving. The workshop will also provide investment secrets and money tips that are used in practice by successful artists. This program is a great way to begin 2015 on the right foot and help attain the financial peace of mind necessary to move forward with your artistic projects and entertainment career no matter how much or how little money you have... For more details, please visit:

at Sundance:

Harvardwood Heads To... RESULTS by Writer/Director Andrew Bujalski '98 - Multiple Screenings

Recently divorced, newly rich, and utterly miserable, Danny (Kevin Corrigan) would seem to be the perfect test subject for a definitive look at the relationship between money and happiness. Danny's well-funded ennui is interrupted by a momentous trip to the local gym, where he meets self-styled guru/owner Trevor (Guy Pearce) and irresistibly acerbic trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders). Soon, their three lives are inextricably knotted, both professionally and personally... For more details, please visit:

in Washington, DC:

Harvardwood Heads To ... Global Networking Night, Tues., Jan. 13

GNN is Global Networking Night, your opportunity to network and mingle with 400 fellow alumni while enjoying the beautiful space and delicious food and drinks provided by our sponsor, Il Canale Ristorante. Because space is limited and GNN has always sold out, please submit your registration soon (required). While attending GNN is free for all Harvard alumni, food and drinks are available for purchase, with net proceeds benefiting the Harvard Club of Washington, DC. For your convenience — and to save $1 per drink — you will be able to pre-purchase your tickets for food and drinks in advance online... For more details, please visit:

in Toronto:

Harvardwood Co-Hosts Global Networking Night, Tues., Jan. 13

The evening is a unique opportunity to network with fellow alumni and current students from across the University. Build new connections, reconnect with classmates, share your experiences with students, and welcome recent graduates to our city. Each January and June Harvard Clubs around the world host networking receptions under the Global Networking Night banner. Last June over 5,500 alumni participated in 76 cities! This event will be for individuals who are 19+ years of age.... For more details, please visit:

​in SF / the Bay Area:

C.L.A. Invites Harvardwood to Rights of Publicity for Creative Artists, Wed., Jan. 14

This workshop will discuss the challenges creative professionals face due to the current state of the right of publicity law. This will include a brief over view of the law, how it differs for commercial works versus creative works, and its relationship with the First Amendment right to freedom of expression... For more details, please visit:

Harvardwood Heads To ... The de Young Museum: Celebrating the Spectrum, Sun., Jan. 18

A brilliant display of colorful prints is on display at the de Young. Opening in conjunction with the inauguration of the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, the de Young’s exhibition illuminates how artists of the past 60 years — including such greats as Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Ad Reinhardt, and Frank Stella — have used color as a principal element in their printmaking. This will be an artist-led talk with Binta Ayofemi, an artist who lectures on art and design at SFMOMA, Stanford University, and California College of the Arts... For more details, please visit:

in San Diego:

Harvardwood Heads To... The World According to Mari Hamill, Fri., Jan. 9

Every week, we invite a San Diego notable personality, business owner or someone that just makes us laugh to tell their stories. Instead of just acting out what is heard, this FCI house team uses these stories as inspiration to go crazy hilarious places. It's getting to know you, mixed with "I never should have asked!" This week we welcome Mari Hamill, author of the novel Werewolf Nights! Mari Hamill has an English degree from Harvard, a comparative literature degree from the Sorbonne Nouvelle and a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Michigan..... For more details, please visit:

Ring in the new year with Harvardwood—Renew your membership!

Kick off 2015 right by joining Harvardwood or upgrading/renewing your membership, so you can take advantage of our educational and professional development programs. THIS is the year you'll finally finish that spec pilot or feature... the year you'll finally release your first album... the year you'll make meaningful connections with other Harvard alums to advance your career in the arts, media, and entertainment.


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.

Calendar Programs Jobs & Career Development