Issue 151 | August 2017


In This Issue:

  • Director's Notes
  • Message from Allison


  • Featured Member Posting: Production Coordinator (Dreamworks) - LA
  • BID NOW in the Summer 2017 Silent Auction - AUCTION CLOSES AUG. 4TH
  • Serve as a Harvardwood mentor or advisor in 2017-18
  • Gear up for the Fall 2017 Harvardwood Writers Program


  • Exclusive Q&A with Nate Dern AB '07 (Comedy Writer, Actor, & Author, Not Quite a Genius)
  • Artist Showcase: Dan Masterson AB '12 (Singer/Songwriter, When Reality Calls)
  • Industry Successes
  • New Members' Welcome
  • Alumni Profile: Yuga Cohler AB '11 (Orchestra Conductor)


  • Calendar
  • Program Spotlight: Harvardwood Writers Program - TV
  • Get exclusive HWC updates/stats via the Harvardwood Facebook group

Director's Notes

And just like that, the summer's winding down and students are returning to campus in a few weeks. Regardless of the time of year, however, Harvardwood's calendar is going at full throttle as usual. For all you glamorous New Yorkers, Chapter Head Spence Porter is putting together a big summer bash on 8/10!

Here in LA, I hope to see many of you at the 8/6 Salon with comedy maestro Daniel O'Keefe AB '90 (Seinfeld, Silicon ValleyVeep), the 8/17 Masterclass with Nickelodeon's Mandel Ilagan AB '99, VP of Live-Action Development, and finally, the 8/27 Hollywood Bowl concert with Pink Martini (China Forbes AB '92 & Thomas Lauderdale AB '92). 

— Dona

Message from Allison

We are super excited to unveil this year's Summer Silent Auction! Harvardwood is auctioning six amazing one-on-one lunches with entertainment VIPs, creatives AND execs! You can also bid to win a two-person ticket package to the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Check the online page for each item to see the current bid, and place your bids online or by text to (302) 261-8244 with the item code & bid amount. Bid by the end of this week—the auction will close at noon PT this Friday. Happy bidding, and good luck!

— Allison

Featured Member Posting: Production Coordinator (Dreamworks) - LA

  • Assists Production Supervisor in all evolving support needs (i.e. calendar booking, updating schedules and documents, timecard processing, reviews, expense reports, scheduling and planning career development and continued training for production and artists, overtime, weekend work, meals).
  • Manages day-to-day Nile inputs and extractions.
  • Assists Production Supervisor with maintaining quotas, deadlines & inventory, ensuring departmental productivity goals are consistently met.
  • Understands the department and works with Supervisor to maintain the department schedule.
  • Safeguards procedures to ensure workflow from one department to the next is as seamless as possible.
  • Manages the department calendar.
  • Knows inventory in the department (workable / non-workable).
  • Performs artist check-ins to determine status of the work in the department.

From the award-winning storytellers, artist and innovators at DreamWorks Animation and DreamWorks Animation Television come the beloved characters and stories that come alive on the big and small screens. From films like Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon and Trolls to original TV series including Trollhunters, Voltron and Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, DreamWorks Animation continues to bring home the laughter, fun and courage to dream.


BID NOW in the Summer 2017 Silent Auction - AUCTION CLOSES AUG. 4TH!

IT'S ON! Our Summer 2017 Silent Auction is LIVE now through the end of this week! Harvardwood is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and auction proceeds will go toward our events and programs in 2017-18.

The auction will end this Friday, Aug. 4th, at 12pm PT. You can bid online here OR directly from your phone by texting your auction item code + bid amount to (302) 261-8244.

Membership Perk: Harvardwood members get ONE EXTRA HOUR to bid this Friday!

In addition to a Sundance ticket package for 2 to the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, we're auctioning one-on-one lunches with (from L to R above):


Serve as a Harvardwood mentor in 2017-18

We are seeking volunteer mentors for the 2017-18 Harvardwood Mentorship Program, which aims to foster meaningful professional relationships between Full Members of Harvardwood and established alums in their fields of interest. Our volunteer mentors and advisors are what enable these Harvardwood programs to continue to thrive and support the next generation of Harvard arts, media, and entertainment professionals.

We are looking for mentors and advisors in a wide array of arts-related professional fields for 2017-18, and we hope you'll join us!

Gear up for the Fall 2017 Harvardwood Writers Program

Are you working on a spec you just can't finish? Do you have a great idea for a pilot, but just don't know where to start? Do you have a finished script in need of some polish?

Later this month, we'll begin accepting applications to the Harvardwood Writers Program in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York (tentative). The program uses peer review, guest speakers, and workshops to foster a motivating and supportive environment for each participant’s writing.

Check this page for updates, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see when the application period opens! Writers who have participated previously in a Harvardwood Writers Program do not need to re-apply, but new applicants will have to submit a writing sample and complete the application.

Exclusive Q&A with Nate Dern AB '07 (Comedy Writer, Actor, & Author, Not Quite a Genius)

by Henry Johnson AB '18

Nate Dern AB ’07 is a comedy writer, actor, and author of the book Not Quite a Genius, a collection of short fiction and essays out this month. In addition to pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Columbia University, Nate has written for The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and New York Magazine. Nate has also served as senior writer for Funny or Die, as well as artistic director for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.  Follow Nate on Twitter @natedern, and get Not Quite a Genius on Amazon!

Q. When did you realize that you wanted to work in comedy?

A. I knew that I loved comedy from a very early age, but I didn't even consider the possibility of working in comedy until fairly late. Growing up, my mom would let me stay up on Saturday nights to watch SNL with her. I think most of the humor was above my head when I started watching, but I loved the silly voices and the performances. Also, I loved the live studio audiences, and I mostly watched in admiration of these people able to get laughs. In high school I did student government rather than theatre, but my favorite part was putting on assemblies and acting out skits from SNL and comedy films with the other SGA members. I think if you'd pressed me, I would have told you that I wanted to work in comedy, but I felt the desire in the same way that I wanted to be an astronaut or win the lottery. Of course I want that, but, like, it's not something that happens in real life, right?

My first week at Harvard as a freshman, I happened to see a performance of the improv group the Immediate Gratification Players, and I loved it. They seemed like the coolest, funniest people, and (a) I wanted to be their friends and (b) to a lesser extent I wanted to learn how to do the improv comedy that they had done. Slowly over the next four years, it became my favorite extracurricular activity and I slowly started to think of myself as a comedian. By the end of college, rather than going to law school and becoming a politician, which had been the original plan, it dawned on me that maybe I should keep doing the thing that I loved doing more than anything else. So, I moved to NYC with the express purpose of finding a new improv comedy family and making that my next comedy home, which is what I found at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

Q. Your upcoming book, Not Quite a Genius, blends essays and short fiction. Is it difficult to switch between forms?

A. It's not necessarily difficult to switch between them, but they are completely different modes. When I sold the manuscript initially to Simon & Schuster (under the old title of In Case of Fire, Use Stairs) there were originally no personal essays. It was also just short fiction / comedic prose like you might find in the Daily Shouts section of the New Yorker. Then my editor at Simon & Schuster, Ben Loehnen, pushed me to add some personal essays to the mix. I loved the challenge of attempting to do this. I felt shy about it at first, because I think some of my favorite personal essay writers (David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders) have led more interesting lives than I have, so I don't really feel like I have any business writing about myself and telling people that I'm interesting. So it was a challenge to find a balance of being confessional but not in a way that felt too navel gazing. I'm still working on it, of course. In the process I've had the chance to publish a few personal essays in Outside Magazine, New York Magazine, and Vice. I've also had the chance to have a few personal essays rejected from publication by Rolling StoneThe New York Times, and some other great rags.

Q. Which topics do you most enjoy writing about?

A. I love sci-fi and absurdity. Kurt Vonnegut and George Saunders are my two favorite writers, and I have to be careful that I'm not just straight up copying them when I merely mean to be emulating or channeling their greatness. I guess that is more genre than topic. In terms of topic, I like when I am "punching up" at some figure or organization that has more power than it deserves, and it is oblivious to its incompetence or ineptitude. "Authoritative but dumb" is a very fun mode to write in.


Artist Showcase: Dan Masterson AB '12 (Singer/Songwriter, When Reality Calls)

PledgeMusic_DM_PledgeBanner.jpgEmerging from the intellectual and musical hotbed that is Boston, Massachusetts, Dan Masterson is a performing songwriter who pairs honest, carefully crafted writing with dynamic, powerful vocal performances. Masterson’s alternative blend of piano-centric pop and rock evolves with each release as he takes on issues like digital dependency, romance, and economic stress, challenging the spectre of millennial escapism. 

Masterson recently partnered with PledgeMusic and launched a campaign to support his debut full-length album, When Reality Calls, following a successful pair of EPs in 2014 and 2015. He recently won the New England Music Awards' Last Band Standing competition for emerging acts, and his new single "Don't Burn Yourself Out" is available now on SpotifyYouTube, & SoundCloud. Link to PledgeMusic Campaign & Video (will convert to a pre-order store prior to publication).

Industry Successes

We've had a great summer with our Harvardwood Summer Internship Program participants from Harvard College. Many thanks to Board member Marie Kim, Director of HSIP, for putting together a great slate of company visits and speaker events. 'Til next summer, students! (Pictured: Students at The Mission Entertainment)

The lineup for the 74th Venice Film Festival has been announced, and it includes the latest from Darren Aronofsky AB '91, a horror-thriller called Mother!, and Suburbicon, a black comedy from George Clooney starring Matt Damon AB '92.

Harvardwood 101 alum Naomi Funabashi AB '12, of Mandeville Films, was recently promoted from Creative Executive to Director of Development. Congratulations, Naomi!

Animated series Castlevania premiered last month and has already been renewed for a second seasonLarry Tanz AB '92, AM '93 is executive producer on the show, which is about Dracula falling in love with a human woman. 

The latest book by author Ben Mezrich AB '91 is out! Find Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures on Amazon.

Harvard had a great showing at #SDCC this year, AND Harvardwood organized a networking breakfast spearheaded by Amy Chu MBA '99 (Poison IvyRed SonjaWonder Woman) and Sumalee Montano AB '93 (NCIS, VEEPTransformers Prime). Thank you to Amy, Sumalee, and everyone who attended our Comic-Con event.

The highly-anticipated remake of Aladdin will be produced by Dan Lin MBA '99 through Lin Pictures, with Jonathan Eirich AB '03 as executive producer. Last month, the stars of the live-action movie were announced: Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, Mena Massoud as Aladdin, and Will Smith as the Genie!

Harvardwood extends our congratulations to all of the Harvard-affiliated 2017 Emmy nominees across a range of categories, from Best Comedy Series to Best Production Design for a Variety Nonfiction, Event or Award Special! View the list here, and if we've missed anybody, let us know.

New Members' Welcome

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

  • Rhea Bennett, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Todd Buchholz, HLS, LA
  • Mark Campisano, College, LA
  • Darien Carr, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Delise Dickard, Ext., DC
  • Jeffrey Dobereiner, GSAS, NY
  • Alice Donnellan, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Lauren Doucette, A.R.T., SF/Bay Area
  • Landy Erlick, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Elizabeth Esquivel, Ext., LA
  • Nneka Eze, College, INTL
  • James Goldfeier, College, NY
  • Matthew Vernon Hanson, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Marie Henry, GSE, LA
  • Genevieve Hunt, Ext., Boston/On-Campus
  • Brett Johnson, HLS, Boston/On-Campus
  • Michael Koenigs, College, NY
  • Marjorie Lacombe-Jelinek, College, LA
  • Micah Leslie, College, NY
  • Charles Martin, College, DC
  • Zola Mashariki, HLS, LA
  • Adia Matthews, College, LA
  • Sameer Meralli, GSAS, LA
  • Tianna Nguyen, Ext., LA
  • Gaude Paez, College, LA
  • Luke Pustejovsky, Ext., SF/Bay Area
  • Desta Reff, HLS, LA
  • Daniel Rogers, College, LA
  • Kristina Yee, College, London

Alumni Profile: Yuga Cohler AB '11 (Orchestra Conductor)

by Dayna Wilkinson

“I’m already in the hot seat as a twenty-eight year old conductor, but I feel incredible joy at the insanely high level of playing and extreme responsiveness of a professional orchestra.”

“Both my parents are professional musicians,” says Yuga Cohler AB '11. “My mother’s a violinist and my father’s a clarinetist so I took up those instruments—it didn’t go well.” Fortunately, those were minor bumps in the road for Yuga, who started studying piano and music theory at age three. By age twelve, his primary instruments were oboe and piano.

“Shortly after starting on the oboe, I went to a music camp called Greenwood,” he says.  “That’s when I first discovered people my age who took music seriously.  It became a social thing—people I liked were also playing music, which made me like doing it more. By the time I was in my teens, I realized music was really great.” 

Yuga was interested in many different musical genres. “I really got into Eminem, then the underground hip hop scene. Also J-pop, Top 40 and musical theater for a while. Plus I listened to tons of classical records from my dad’s collection.”

He first tried conducting at fifteen, and was hooked. “As an oboist, violinist or pianist, you’re one element among many and that was cool, but I was interested in how everything fit together.”

Yuga grew up twenty minutes from Harvard’s campus and was “pretty familiar with the scene” before deciding to go there. “My best memories of Harvard are of experiences like playing beer pong with blockmates. They’re still my closest friends. Signet Society inductions and the people I met there stand out too, along with various concerts I conducted, like The Rake’s Progress with the Dunster House Opera.”

Also memorable was Yuga’s last Harvard concert, where he conducted the Copland Clarinet Concerto featuring his father, Jonathan Cohler AB '80.  “That was the only time I conducted with my dad performing,” Yuga says. “It was fun, he was great to work with. My parents were my first music teachers, so many of the things they instilled in me remain to this day, like how to analyze a score and a general sense of musicianship.”

Yuga’s concentration was in computer science with a secondary field in music. It’s fair to say he made the most of his time at Harvard, serving as president of the Signet Society and Music Director and Conductor of the Bach Society Orchestra, the Dunster House Opera Society and the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players. He received the David McCord Prize for Artistic Excellence, the Detur Book Prize, and the John Harvard Scholarship, graduating summa cum laude.

Yuga spent two years after Harvard at Juilliard, his mother’s alma mater. (Before attending Juilliard, Fudeko Takahashi Cohler was the first Japanese citizen to win a top international competition without previously studying abroad.)

Yuga’s Juilliard program was intense. “I was one of only three students studying with Alan Gilbert, who was then the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. You were thrown in the deep end, but it was great training.” At twenty-five, Yuga became Juilliard’s youngest conducting graduate.

Yuga then joined Google, where he still works as a software engineer. “I work remotely if I need to be out of town for a concert. For example, as the Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Chamber Orchestra, I travel to L.A. once a month.”

Yuga_Cohler_3.jpegIn Los Angeles, Yuga and arranger Stephen Feigenbaum developed “Yeethoven”—a concert integrating six works by Beethoven and six from Kanye West’s album Yeezus. The popular concert drew wide media attention. “I’d like musicians and others involved in culture to think about the similarities between seemingly disparate artists,” Yuga says. “Maybe new art can come of that.”

To date, Yuga has also conducted such orchestras as the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dallas, Baltimore, Fort Worth, and New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestras, and the New World and Danish National Symphonies.

“I’m already in the hot seat as the twenty-eight year old conductor,” Yuga says. “That can be intimidating, but I feel incredible joy at the insanely high level of playing and extreme responsiveness of a professional orchestra.”

Yuga’s enthusiasm for diverse musical forms has opened doors. “A Juilliard classmate told me that Daimei no Nai Ongakukai (Japan’s biggest classical music TV show) was producing an episode with Detroit techno deejay Jeff Mills and an orchestra,” Yuga explains. “They wanted an American conductor, and obviously it was helpful that I could speak Japanese and was familiar with the idiom of electronic music.”

Shortly after Daimei no Nai Ongakukai, Yuga worked with Yoshiki, the Japanese rock icon. “I immediately sensed ‘Oh, this is what it’s like to work with a genius,’” Yuga says.  “Yoshiki is singular, but an American analog might be Bruce Springsteen in terms of longevity and artistic legitimacy.”

One difference is that Yoshiki moves between rock and classical music. In 2016, Yuga conducted the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in Yoshiki’s classical concerts in Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

“It was amazing, seeing your impact in front of ten thousand people at once,” Yuga says. “Not that bigger audiences are always better, but it’s definitely an experience. And for a half-Japanese guy like me, conducting Japan’s best orchestra with Japan’s number one rock star at the best concert hall in America was really awesome.”

As an artist, technologist and entrepreneur, Yuga has yet to decide how he might integrate his many interests. In the short-run, he’ll head to Italy as one of four finalists in the Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition. “I’m very excited and grateful, because a lot of circumstances beyond my control had to exist for this to happen,” he says. “I’m glad this is happening now instead of when I was twenty-three because I feel I have much more perspective.”

What else can he say about his performance schedule? “Stay tuned for a big announcement in September.”

Yuga’s Instagram account is @yugaconducts. State of Art, Yuga’s blog about “musical culture in America without preconceptions of quality or genre,” is at 

Dayna Wilkinson is a proud New Yorker currently living, working
and writing in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.


FEATURED EVENT | Our Sizzling Sexy Spectacular Harvardwood Summer Party - Thurs., Aug. 10 (NY)

New York in August may be hot—but Harvardwood is HOTTER! Yes, it's time for our sizzling spectacular summer PARTY! And this will be a great one, and a fabulous opportunity to meet more of our smart, sexy, scintillating, and, of course, exceedingly estival Harvardwood members!

Major FUN alert! Admission is free, but you must bring something to eat or drink. Wine, beer, salad, chicken, cheese, pizza, pasta, brownies—everything will be welcome. Things that are real FOOD (as opposed to chips and such) will be especially appreciated. Harvardwood members are HUNGRY people!

Washington, DC

Harvardwood Meet-up at the Black List DC Happy Hour - Wed., Aug. 2

The Black List is creating social hubs for writers around the world where they can meet other screenwriters and discuss the craft and the reality of the screenwriter's life. So join your fellow writers at the DC happy hour! Come to enjoy the drinks and the company. You never know who you might meet! This event is free and open to the public (cash bar). RSVP here.

Los Angeles, CA

Harvardwood Heads To... The Ivy Plus Society's Midsummer Nights Mixer - Tues., Aug. 1

Looking to update your Summer calendar with another fabulous event? Look no further. The Ivy Plus Society is teaming up with Skybar at the Mondrian for The Midsummer Nights Mixer. Mix and mingle with young professionals and alumni while enjoying “one of the most beautiful views of West L.A.” ( This poolside event is sure to bring out the finest and brightest in Los Angeles.

Harvardwood Heads To... LA Shorts Fest 2017 - Aug. 2 - 10

LA Shorts is accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Award winners are eligible for Academy nomination. The Festival boasts an outstanding past record of 50 Academy Award-nominated films, including 15 Oscar winners. Official qualifying event for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) short film awards. This means that award-winners at the festival are eligible to win BAFTAs.

Harvardwood Salon with Dan O'Keefe AB '90 - Sun., Aug. 6

Sit down with comedy maestro Daniel O'Keefe AB '90, a writer-producer whose credits include Silicon ValleyThe League, SeinfeldThe Drew Carey Show, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Seats for Harvardwood Salons are extremely limited (capacity = 10) in order to nurture a more intimate conversation among attendees and our Salon guest.

Dan O'Keefe has written for, among others, the Harvard Lampoon, the National Lampoon, Married...with Children, Seinfeld, the Drew Carey Show, The League, Silicon Valley, and now Veep. He lives in Los Angeles.

Harvardwood Heads To... Hollyshorts Film Festival - Aug. 10 - 18

HollyShorts Film Festival is an organization devoted to showcasing the best and brightest short films from around the globe, advancing the careers of filmmakers through screenings, networking events, and various panel and forums. The HollyShorts Film festival showcases the top short films produced 40- minutes or less. Categories include Short Animation, Short Live Action, Short Documentary, Music Video, Webisode, Commercials, Youth Film and Digital Microbudget. Click here for full list of awards.

Harvardwood Masterclass with Nickelodeon's Mandel Ilagan AB '99 - Thurs., Aug. 17

What's it like to work at Nickelodeon? Want to learn more about unscripted TV? This month, Mandel Ilagan AB '99 (Web HeadsReact to ThatParadise Run) leads our masterclass on live-action (unscripted) development. Attendance is limited to members. RSVP soon!

Harvardwood Heads To... Beyond Blockbuster: The Present & Future of Hollywood - Thurs., Aug. 17

Join the Harvard Club of Southern California for a conversation with Ben Sherwood AB ’86 (Co-chairman, Disney Media Networks) and Modi Wiczyk AB ’93, MBA ’99 (Co-CEO, Media Rights Capital), two leaders who oversee some of the biggest hits in TV and film, and who will discuss their careers, their lives, and the future of the media & entertainment industry. This event is limited to 90 people.

Harvardwood Heads To... The Ivy Plus Society's Annual White Party - Sun., Aug. 20

With over 300 guests last year, our 2nd annual White Party is sure to be a hit. Wear all white and celebrate the end of summer the only way LA knows how, at “the best kept secret in LA” (LA Times)! Join us at The Viceroy’s Cast Patio which LA Mag has called “romantic AF.” Get your tickets now, this special day-time event will only bring out the finest and brightest in the city.

Harvardwood at the Hollywood Bowl: Pink Martini - China Forbes AB '92 & Thomas Lauderdale AB '92 - Sun., Aug. 27

Pink Martini, the internationally beloved Portland band, blends genres from cool standards to hot swing with style to burn. The ravishing vocals of China Forbes AB '92 and Storm Large sail over an irresistible fusion of Brazilian samba, ’30s Cuban dance, and Parisian café music.

This is a great event for Harvardwood Members and Friends to bring their families and other guests! Advance registration is required—only 20 tickets are available, so make your plans and RSVP HERE!

Worldwide (Online)

Harvardwood Heads To... PocketWatch - A Concert Livestream - Sat., Aug. 12

Catch the livestream of the August 12th live-studio concert featuring Harvardwood Board member Gerry Bryant AB '76. Also, those watching the webcast (by visiting, which the venue does in coordination with Concert Window, are encouraged to make a donation to help pay for the cost of putting this on and making the show available for everyone. For more information, visit or

Chicago, IL

Harvardwood Heads To... EMPIRE OF GLASS Reading & Book Signing with Kaitlin Solimine - Thurs., Aug. 3

Author Susan Blumberg-Kasen will join Kaitlin in discussing her debut novel Empire of Glass, as well as her own experience writing Good Chinese Wife. More info on 57th Street Books: Website - Instagram: @57thstreetbooks - Twitter: @57thstreetbooks - Facebook: @57thStreetBooks

Harvardwood Chicago Writers' Meet-up - Tues., Aug. 22nd

Could your writing help arts thrive? Find out at our next Writers' Meetup in Chicago on August 22nd! Unleash your inner arts advocate and join our conversation with nationally published arts writer/journalist Barbara Sealock, Co-Chapter Head of #HarvardwoodChi, who will share her expertise on writing about arts and music in Boston, Chicago, and New York. Her work has appeared in PeopleThe Boston GlobeBoston Magazine, the Chicago TribuneChristian Science MonitorClavierPlaybellJuilliard Journal, various news outlets, and the book 21st Century Cellists.

Providence, RI

Harvardwood Heads To... Circle Up World Premiere at Rhode Island International Film Festival A - Fri., Aug. 11

Documentary filmmaker and Harvard alum Julie Mallozzi is premiering her new film, Circle Up, at RIIFF. It tells the story of a group of Dorchester mothers who seek true justice for their murdered sons. Circle Up is a call to action for reframing approaches to crime and punishment through the lens of restorative justice, forgiveness, and accountability. For more information, please visit

Program Spotlight: Harvardwood Writers Program - TV

From Program Directors Joey Siara EdM '14 & Todd Bartels AB '06:

The TV Writers Program places aspiring TV writers into small peer-led workshops. At the end of the ten-week program, so long as the writers keep up on the work, they should leave with a first draft of a pilot script. The Program also offers a Rewrite module, which is great for digging back into a script that's been bugging you—whether you need a page-one rewrite, a basic punch-up, or some scenes slashed.

From Joey: "In general we try to foster a collaborative creative environment. Leave the egos at the door. Focus on improving our chops. And we like to have some fun while we're at it. Opening up your writing to criticism can be rough, but in the end, a real sense of community develops. I've seen many-a-friendship blossom in the Writers Program.

"Throughout, we sprinkle in some events—mostly panels with working writers at various levels—from staff writer to showrunner. That's one of my favorite parts—working with Todd, Dona, and Allison to curate an interesting panel experience. We've done some really magical events—with ridiculously talented writers, both Harvard and non-Harvard—Jeff Schaffer (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Colleen McGuiness (30 Rock), Corinne Brinkerhoff (Jane the Virgin), Jonathan Collier (Bones), Jeff Melvoin (Designated Survivor), Camilla Blackett (Fresh Off the Boat), Sam Shaw (Manhattan), Steve Tompkins (The Ranch), Glenn Kessler (Bloodline), Jonathan Steinberg (Black Sails)—so many fantastic panelists. One of my favorite events featured Craig Turk (The Good Wife), Sam Baum (Lie to Me), and Dan O'Keefe (Silicon Valley). Those guys had such a natural rapport between them and kept the conversation going, like forty minutes longer than they needed to, but I wasn't going to stop them. And everyone left the event ready to dig back into their pilots. Charged and inspired. 

"At the end of each Program, we do a "pitching event" where writers practice pitching their series ideas and pilots to some industry pros—managers, producers, execs. Pizza is usually involved. I find that pizza has a calming effect on anxious writer-types."

More about Joey, Director of HWP-TV:

Joey Siara spent his twenties on tour with a noisy indie rock band called The Henry Clay People. The band put out four full-length records, played hundreds of shows—including sets at Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits. Joey's music is featured in several television shows including Sons of AnarchyCSI: New York, Good Morning America, and Gossip Girl. He once played a drunk musician in an episode of Parenthood

He has a Master’s in Education from Harvard, an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA, and has worked on shows for PBS, the Science Channel, and CNN. 

He currently works at UCLA in the School of Theater, Film and Television.

More about Todd, Associate Director of HWP-TV:

Todd is a graduate of Harvard University (AB) and the NYU Graduate Acting Program (MFA). At Harvard, he performed in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, most notably as a Girl Scout named Wanda Buymycookies. Todd moved to Los Angeles in 2015 to pursue a writing career; before that, he was a theater actor in New York. His TV pilot THE RUSH, set in the world of 1990s NYC restaurant kitchens, won the Harvardwood Writers Competition, and Todd was named to Harvardwood's Most Staffable list for TV writers. When he's not writing, he likes to cook. He's also learning to surf; it's not going well.

Get exclusive HWC updates/stats via the Harvardwood Facebook group

Whew, the submission period to the annual Harvardwood Writers Competition is now over, and our judges have a bunch of great scripts to work through. If you'd like to stay apprised of interesting stats and other updates on #HWC2017 through the adjudication period, make sure you've requested to join Harvardwood's group page. Members can also use the page to post their own announcements, share videos and photos, ask questions about the industry, and more. To join the Facebook group and start connecting with other members, you only need to be a dues-current Harvardwood Member or Friend, so join here


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