In This Issue:
- Message from Dona
- Featured Member Posting: Assistant (Flutie Entertainment) — LA
- Shop the Harvardwood Holiday Silent Auction for gifts this winter
- Celebrate the holidays with Harvardwood from coast to coast
- Participate in the 3rd Annual Harvardwood Founders' Challenge
- Updates from our 2018 Harvardwood Heroes
- Exclusive Q&A with Andrew Coles AB '09 (Founder, The Mission Entertainment)
- 2018 Harvardwood Volunteer of the Year: Joey Siara EDM '14
- Industry Successes
- New Members' Welcome
- Alumni Profile: Danny Chun AB '02 (TV Writer, Speechless, The Office, The Simpsons)
CALENDAR & NOTES
- Get a Harvardwood gift certificate for the artist in your life
Message from Dona
Deck the halls, y'all! Harvardwood LA's annual holiday bash is fast approaching next Friday, and we're looking for volunteers to assist with set-up, check-in, and breakdown. All volunteers will receive free admission to the party and a complimentary drink ticket. If you can volunteer to help, please email me!
Speaking of volunteering, Harvardwood Helps will pitch in with Operation Gratitude later this month! We hope that you will join forces with Harvardwood Helps to give back to the community. We had a blast at this event last year, and we're aiming to make this year's Helps event even bigger and better. RSVP to volunteer with Harvardwood Helps on Dec. 15th!
And finally, it's SILENT AUCTION time! Don't miss the announcement below about important silent auction dates, so you can bid to win some amazing TV/film memorabilia and other items we're offering this year.
Happy Holidays, everybody!
Featured Member Posting: Assistant (Flutie Entertainment) — LA
A busy boutique Talent Management company located in North Hollywood is seeking a full-time assistant interested in learning the entertainment business and growing into a management role. We represent some of the most recognizable television personalities in food, design and lifestyle, and we're looking for a great addition to grow our dynamic team. We are housed at Endemol North America, the largest production company in the world, with an energetic, bustling office environment filled with creative people and projects. We’re a small team looking for the right candidate to teach and groom into a junior manager position within our company.
Shop the Harvardwood Holiday Silent Auction for gifts this winter
Mark your calendars! The 2018 Harvardwood Holiday Silent Auction will go LIVE on Monday, December 3rd and run through the end of the week until Friday, December 7th!
This year's great items will include a leatherbound, autographed script from Eighth Grade signed by Bo Burnham; other special memorabilia from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Americans, and other hit series and films from 2018; tickets to the LA Dodgers and the LA Lakers; tickets to the Pasadena Playhouse, the Malibu Wine Safari, ICA Boston, The Huntington, and more; and last but not least, an Omaze-style raffle/auction for a one-on-one lunch with Christine Otal AB '05 of Bad Robot Productions, JJ Abrams' production company!
So keep your eyes and ears peeled for announcements about the silent auction, and prepare for a bidding war! Bids will be accepted online AND by text. When the auction page goes live in a couple of weeks, you'll get all the instructions on how to place bids on your computer or mobile device.
Celebrate the holidays with Harvardwood from coast to coast
Get festive with Harvardwood in New York and Los Angeles! This month, we're throwing back-to-back Friday parties on December 7th and December 14th, so come on over to one of our parties (or both, if your travel plans allow!) and get into the holiday spirit with your fellow art, media, & entertainment lovers from the Harvard community!
We kick things off on December 7th in Los Angeles—the first 75 folks to RSVP will get free drink tickets! It'll be a wonderful way to kick off not just your weekend, but also the season of holiday festivities! We'll be celebrating at The Parlor on Melrose, where you'll rub shoulders and make merry with Hollywood's favorite Harvard alums. As always, we will have a raffle with amazing film/TV memorabilia prizes (some items pictured here), AND we are collecting toys for the Spark of Love Toy Drive. For every toy you donate, you will receive a free raffle ticket. And finally, our holiday silent auction will end at this year's LA Candy Cane Cocktail Party, so be ready to bid!
The following week, Harvardwood NYC celebrates the holidays at the Ethan Cohen Gallery! Admission is free, but bring something to eat or drink. We're going potluck style, and wine, beer, salad, chicken, cheese, pizza, pasta, brownies—everything will be welcome! RSVP to party with your NYC friends before we reach capacity!
Participate in the 3rd Annual Harvardwood Founders' Challenge
Since its founding in 1999, Harvardwood has grown from a simple email list of Harvard alumni in Hollywood to a community of 9,500+ alumni worldwide who work in the arts, media, and entertainment. Harvardwood also has active chapters in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, DC, Chicago, Toronto, and the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the online resources we provide, Harvardwood offers educational and career-advancement programs to alumni and students, including but not limited to the following:
- Our flagship program is Harvardwood 101, which brings over two dozen students to Los Angeles every January to complete an intensive week of visits to management companies, agencies, production companies, studios, working sets, and music labels to show the students it’s possible to pursue a career in the arts and entertainment. This January, we're excited to meet the latest batch of 27 students to come to LA for the 2019 edition of Harvardwood 101!
- Through the Mentorship Program, we coordinate meaningful, year-long mentor-mentee pairings between established alumni in the industry and recent grads or mid-career transitioners looking to break in.
- Through the Harvardwood Writers Program and the annual Writers Competition, new writers have gotten representation, been staffed, sold their pilots, and had their work produced. We're especially proud that of the participating writers, 35% are diverse and 55% are women—which is far more diverse than what is reflected in the current entertainment landscape.
- The Harvardwood Heroes program has awarded over twenty grants in the amount of $500 each to alumni performing arts-related service in their local communities. In fact, we've updated what the 2018 Heroes have been up to below!
That’s just a snapshot of the scope of Harvardwood’s commitment to support students and alumni in the arts, media, and entertainment. What’s more, all of this is done on a shoestring budget, thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers and one part-time staff person.
Harvardwood receives no funding from Harvard University. Nonetheless, we strive to keep our program fees and membership dues low (just $4/month), so our resources remain accessible to all. In order to do so, we engage in fundraising activities to cover administrative and overhead expenses, program costs, website fees, and generally all the nuts and bolts required to keep a boot-strapping nonprofit organization running.
As we enter our 20th year in 2019, we need YOUR help to sustain and expand Harvardwood's programming and to reach more students on financial aid, young artists early in their careers, mid-career transitioners, community service volunteers, arts nonprofit founders, and more. So please, rise to the third annual Founders' Challenge and make a gift to Harvardwood before the end of the year!
Updates from our 2018 Harvardwood Heroes
Earlier this year, we awarded Harvardwood Heroes grants of $500 each to Harvard alums and Harvardwood members who are dedicated to using the arts to engage in meaningful service with four organizations worldwide. Now that it's been half a year since we selected our Heroes, we caught up with them recently to find out how the Harvardwood Heroes grant has impacted their amazing and diverse community service projects.
From Jeanie M. Barnett MPA '02 of The Chicago Help Initiative (Chicago, IL):
"This past Spring, CHI launched an art workshop in partnership with the Chicago Sinai Congregation. Our group often joins this workshop and engages in other media (painting, sketching and knitting).... The funding we’ve received from Harvardwood will enable us to cover the costs of quality printing and framing, and to create a photo album using picaboo or another online service. We also plan to use a portion of the grant to create printed cards and a calendar featuring ourworkshoppers’ photos."
From visual artist Farah Art Griffin EDM '08 (Los Angeles, CA):
"The incredibly kind and generous Harvardwood Heroes grant provided me the means to create a visual art piece called "The Burn of Acid is No One's Honor." While making my artwork, I would tenderly find myself in the midst of tears in between stitching the very delicate fabric pieces that shaped the body of the figure—the representation of the Indian women who have suffered these acid attacks. The power of this meaningful connection continues to move through me today, and I greatly hope that this artwork connects to the hearts of many in the same way."
From Laura Kanji AB '19 of the Mission Hill After School Program (Cambridge, MA):
"This fall, Mission Hill After School Program has been implementing clay-based art workshops with the funds provided by the Harvardwood Heroes award. These workshops have been wonderful opportunities for our students to use clay as a unique medium for their artistic creations.... They gave students the opportunity to learn about famous artist that express themselves through a clay medium, allowed them to actually use the clay to make their own personal art pieces, and also aided in socio-emotional development within our classrooms. Our program has had so much fun with clay this semester and is so grateful to you for funding this experience! The rest of our classrooms eagerly look forward to incorporating the clay workshops into their curricula in the spring."
From Priten H. Shah AB '19 of United 4 Social Change (Cambridge, MA):
"Thanks in part to the Harvardwood Heroes grant, we were able to greatly expand our workshop offerings and presented to almost 1,250 students since May 2018!... We were able to use the grant to help fund any space we had to rent and to provide students with printouts, and snacks. We also were partially able to purchase mini whiteboards that each students can use to write their answer and show it to us, which will stay with us for a long time, thanks to the Harvardwood Heroes grant."
Exclusive Q&A with Andrew Coles AB '09 (Founder, The Mission Entertainment)
Andrew Coles AB '09 is the founder of The Mission Entertainment, a management and production company representing storytellers with unique and distinct voices. He first began his career at CAA in the Motion Picture literary department, before moving to Overbrook Entertainment, where he started off as Franklin Leonard’s assistant (founder of The Black List) before becoming his junior executive. From there, Andrew moved to New York to run development for Scott Rudin, where he worked on Top Five and Ex Machina, among other film, TV, and theatre projects. (Photo credit: Dania Graibe)
Q. You originally wanted to pursue a career in law! What inspired your move to entertainment, and did Harvard play a role in that decision?
A. My original plan was to be a civil rights criminal defense attorney. I read To Kill a Mockingbird in 7th grade English class and it changed the way I look at the world. At a young age I was forced to confront, through the power of storytelling, our country’s history of systematic and institutional inequality—and was made very much aware of the privilege I was born into by virtue of the access and opportunities my parents were able to provide. It set the course for my life—I decided that I had to live a life in service to amplifying the voices and protecting the rights of those who the system was not designed to advantage. I wanted to be an advocate for those who came from traditionally underrepresented and undervalued communities.
Harvard definitely played a role in my career transition, haha!—after a semester of Gov 30, I clearly understood that law school was not in my future. It was too dry, too academic—what I loved about the law was its utility as a tool or a weapon—in the right hands, it could be used for liberation and justice, in the wrong hands, a bludgeon of oppression. I realized through my critical cultural theory studies (a lot of AfAmand VES courses), that storytelling and image making could similarly be used as a tool or a weapon, and that people who looked like me were too often staring down the barrel of weaponized imagery.
Q. During college, you interned at Madhouse Entertainment, Underground Films, and Miramax. Did you know then that you would want to found your own management company? How did those internships shape your entertainment career goals?
A. I did not know then! It’s funny, even though my first two internships (Madhouse & Underground) were at management companies, after I graduated, I gravitated towards a production/development track and wasn’t actively planning to become a representative. I’m glad I came back around full circle!
Those internships were absolutely formative in terms of shaping the path that I wanted to pursue. The internships at Madhouse and Underground, the summer after my sophomore year, gave me an amazing introduction to management and production. I gained a real understanding of the importance of creative support and career guidance in developing artists and producing projects. Miramax was a great lesson in how a studio works, from evaluating incoming material to reviewing marketing plans. In all of myinternships, I learned the importance of building relationships and putting in the work—but also in having a point of view and being able to back it up. I’m grateful to all of my mentors who encouraged me to voice my opinion and contribute creatively.
Q. You've worked in the biz in Los Angeles and New York (running development for Scott Rudin). Any big distinctions in work culture between the two cities?
A. Critical mass of people. That’s the biggest difference between working in New York and Los Angeles that I’ve noticed. I started my career in LA—I was taught early on to network and meet as many people as possible. For the first three years I was in LA, I was incredibly proactive about meeting and connecting with people. I would do lunch 3-4 times a week and drinks at least as many, if not double-booking some nights (one at 7, another at 9). There were constantly people to meet and connections to be made.
In New York, it’s a smaller game. There are fewer people working in film and television, and so it’s a tighter-knit community. Everyone knows each other, which is nice, but I found it to be a culture shock coming from the vastness of the community in LA.
When counseling friends, collaborators, and mentees, I often suggest that people start their careers in LA. That’s the blueprint that I know and can best speak to, but for me, it’s a calculation about connections. In the early years of your career, the more people that you can be exposed to and can start to build transformational relationships with, the better. All of the jobs that I have had, have come through friends and colleagues who I met over lunch, drinks, or coffee.
2018 Harvardwood Volunteer of the Year: Joey Siara EDM '14
Since 2010, Harvardwood has identified and honored a volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding service and dedication to our organization. This year, we're delighted to announce that the HARVY winner is Joey Siara EDM '14, Director of the Harvardwood Writers Program - TV Modules! Joey works tirelessly to support Harvardwood TV writers through the fall- and spring-semester modules and helps organize special events with showrunners, staff writers, reps, and more. Given that the HWP-TV is one of Harvardwood's largest and most successful programs, we know how much work it takes to keep running, and we thank you for all that you do, Joey!
More about Joey:
Joey grew up in Whittier, California. His dad was a cop and his mom a teacher. He spent his twenties in a noisy indie-rock band and has seen nearly every state in the country through the cracked window of a Ford Econoline. The band released a bunch of albums, played hundreds of shows – including sets at Austin City Limits and Coachella – and his music was featured in several TV series – from Sons of Anarchy to Gossip Girl. He once played a drunk musician on 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 Discovery, Amazon, and CNN. He was recently featured on Tracking Board's Young & Hungry List and his pilot Infinite Gary won this year's BlueCat Screenwriting Competition.
Joey is a big fan of dogs, burritos, and Bruce Springsteen.
TV Writer Megan Amram AB '10 has been nominated for a Humanitas Prize for The Good Place episode, “Jeremy Bearimy.” The Humanitas Prize is an award for film and television writing intended to promote human dignity, meaning, and freedom.
Screenwriter Peter Scott AB '98 has sold spec feature Parents Weekend to Lotus Entertainment, which will finance the comedy, and the film will be co-produced by Ben Forkner AB '01 as well!
Earlier this fall, HWP-TV program alumna Joanne Lee AB '98 was selected for NBC's ‘Writers On The Verge’ Diversity Program Class Of 2018-19! Congratulations, Joanne (photo to the right from NBC).
Nate Dern AB '07 has a comedy project in development at IFC. Entitled Annika Erotica, the series follows "Claire Radkowski, a sweet and simple Associate Junior Pastor whose life is turned upside down after her self-published erotic novel, written under the nom de plume “Annika Erotica,” suddenly goes viral" (Deadline).
Dennis McNicholas AB '94, head writer of SNL: Weekend Update, will serve as showrunner and executive produce upcoming Syfy series Alien News Desk.
John Aboud AB '95 and Michael Colton AB '97 recently sold a new project, single-cam family comedy Home Economics, to Fox! "...inspired by Colton’s family, uses sibling rivalry to explore the most taboo but also the most relatable of subjects: money. The series follows three adult siblings: one in the 1 percent, one middle-class, and one barely holding on" (Deadline).
Intelligence, a one-hour original TV pilot based on the true beginnings of the CIA and written by Maera Siddiqi ALB ’12, won Quarterfinalist in the 2018 Screencraft Pilot Launch TV Script Contest and is in consideration for the Semifinalist round.
W.A.W. Parker AB ’07 is a quarter-finalist in the 2018 Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest with his script Leo.
A lot of exciting news from Harvard alumni writers! And ICYMI, Harvardwood Co-Founder Adam Fratto AB '90, a producer & TV executive currently at Reel One, dispensed some great advice for up-and-coming screenwriters. Read it here!
Director Tiffanie Hsu AB '09 discusses her work on Netflix documentary Waterschool with the Daily Bruin. Check out Tiffanie's interview!
New Members' Welcome
Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization over the past month, including:
- Gregory Akhenaton, HDS, LA
- Jeffrey Amestoy, KSG, Boston/On-Campus
- Mirel Baysal, College, NY
- Todd Brissette, Ext., LA
- Thomas Burr, College, Boston/On-Campus
- Stefan Esposito, Staff, Boston/On-Campus
- Eike Exner, College, LA
- Thomas Gilson, College, LA
- Lawrence Golub, HBS, NY
- Maria Gutierrez, Ext., NY
- Annemette Harnes, College, NY
- Johnathan Herrera, College, Boston/On-Campus
- Eve Howe, HLS, Boston/On-Campus
- Zawar Jafri, HDS, LA
- Evan Dale Karg, HDS, NY
- Minahil Khan, College, Boston/On-Campus
- Tricia Lee, HBS, LA
- Kendra McLaughlin, College, LA
- John Nugent, College, Boston/On-Campus
- Kristin Rose, GSAS, LA
- Izabella Sabharwal, College, Boston/On-Campus
- Neil Strickland, College, NY
- Thomas Viles, College, DC
- KeeHup Yong, College, Boston/On-Campus
Alumni Profile: Danny Chun AB '02 (TV Writer, Speechless, The Office, The Simpsons)
By Adrian Horton AB '17
For some, the path to a Hollywood career is circuitous—full of left turns, doubt, and reconsiderations. Not so for Daniel Chun AB '02, a TV writer and producer who has worked for some of Hollywood’s most beloved comedies, including The Simpsons and The Office. For Chun, comedy writing has always been the game (with a degree in biological anthropology on the side).
Chun, who is Korean-American, grew up in a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania not far from The Office’s fictional home of Scranton. He first realized his interest in creative writing around seventh or eighth grade. As a teenager, he and his school friends were “pretty obsessed with comedy”—Saturday Night Live, The Kids in the Hall—"so we would write and shoot stupid little sketches late at night in my basement.”
He arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1998 with a keen interest in comedy and, naturally, a Hollywood-infused idea of a future career.
"I had sort of imagined myself as a teacher, in the Dead Poets Society vein, like a teacher who has like 5,000 of his former students show up at his funeral. I really had no idea what I wanted to do," Chun says.
But he did know that he wanted to write comedy in school; having read the Lampoon before matriculating, it was “a mini dream of mine" to get on staff.
He joined the Lampoon at the end of his freshman year and it “basically took over my life,” he recalls. “I found my friends there. Writing and being a part of that community was basically my focus at school."
That, and a side interest in biological anthropology. Chun explains the logic behind that potential curveball as, “How can I do this more and read obscure colonial literature less?”
"Once I knew that I wanted to be a writer," Chun continues, "I realized that the kind of writing I wanted to do did not require any specific type of degree or training. So I switched purely because I knew it didn't matter what I studied”—and he found the material interesting.
The switch happened around the time that Chun realized, after watching friends go through the Lampoon-to-LA pipeline, that comedy writing could be a viable career.
“I started quietly researching [moving to LA] for myself and it felt very viable at the time, especially having the privilege of coming from the Lampoon, which I knew was something I shouldn't take for granted,” he notes. By the end of his senior year, he had assembled a plan: crash on his friend’s couch, send spec scripts to that friend's manager, and find representation as soon as possible.
One of the Lampoon perks he didn’t take for granted: being able to call up Bob Saget after graduation. During his junior year of college, Chun and a friend wrote jokes for a variety show at Sanders Theatre hosted by another friend, actor B.J. Novak AB ‘01. Novak had managed to recruit Saget to perform, and Sagat was impressed by the young comedians’ work.
So when Chun graduated a year later, he “called up B.J. and Bob and said, ‘Hey, I'm moving out,’ and they put me in contact with some people, so I was really able to hit the ground running in LA.”
At first, he worked on a talk show pilot that “paid almost nothing but, to me, it meant that I was a professional writer.” Chun’s goal at the time was straightforward, but seemingly elusive: write a good spec script that he was proud of, and land an agent. By the end of 2002, half a year after graduation, he had succeeded on both counts.
"It was all incredibly quick; I'm incredibly lucky,” Chun comments, as he reflects on how swiftly he ticked through his to-do list. “It never happens as quickly as that. I mean, it felt like forever [at the time] just because I was young and unemployed and terrified, but I realize in hindsight how lucky I am that it came together quickly."
At the time, Chun was scheduling meetings based on the strength of a spec script he had written for Scrubs. But ultimately, it was a script for Will & Grace that won over the showrunner for the The Simpsons. Chun was hired as a writer in early 2003 and worked for the show for six years, eventually becoming a co-executive producer.
"I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to be learning around such talented people—that staff, top to bottom, was full of incredibly funny, smart people,” he says of those years on his first full-time writing job. “The thing that I really took away from [The Simpsons] that really helped my writing was the ability to just write jokes on demand and expand your imagination to come up with creative, surprising jokes. Really, 80% of the job at The Simpsons is writing jokes."
Chun adds that The Simpsons is unique for the stability it provides employees—people can marry and raise kids for years, all while working for the show. “But when I was 22 years old,” he admits, that stability “just wasn't important to me.”
After six years on The Simpsons, Chun was looking for a new comedy challenge. It was still pre-Twitter days, and he was posting frequent jokes on MySpace, which got the attention of writers at NBC’s The Office, who approached him about working on the show.
"I wanted to prove to myself and to other people that I wasn't just a Simpsons writer," reveals Chun. "I was capable of doing other things."
He joined The Office in 2009 for the show’s sixth season, eventually becoming head writer and a co-executive producer before departing after the eighth season, in 2012. One of the biggest challenges of moving to The Office was adapting his comedy to smaller, more quotidian situations. At The Simpsons, Chun explains, “We'd take Homer to a monster truck rally. And in The Office, the whole episode would be about the thermostat. That was one of the hardest things for me to learn when I got there: how to re-calibrate the scope of the comedy I was writing to make it feel much more grounded and less fantastical."
At first, his Simpsons-honed joke-pitching transferred well to the short “talking heads” portions of the episodes, where characters directly address mockumentary cameras. “That’s where I felt like I was earning my keep,” Chun says, “and then I learned.”
He is quick to credit the show’s success to its “once-in-a-lifetime” cast and incredible writing team, who could make dialogue about a thermostat seem so spontaneous as to be improvised.
“Just the amount of execution and craft behind what feels like almost an improvised, effortless thing was really impressive to me—that was another humbling thing when I entered the show, knowing that I had to meet that level,” Chun says.
There was still room to grow after several years writing jokes for such favorite characters as Creed, Michael Scott, and the ever-challenging Dwight Schrute.
"The one thing that I felt like I had never done was develop,” Chun notes. He had been in many discussions for overall development deals with various networks, and in February 2012, he signed with ABC for a two-year overall deal. “I don't feel like I need to prove myself as a writer to them,” Chun says of the deal. “It's really just a question of us working together to figure out a show that we're all happy with. So when I had the opportunity to do an overall deal, I felt that was very difficult to pass up."
The highly-sought individual deal came about through "a combination of people having read my stuff before and having met me before, and also my agents doing the legwork of making the calls and setting up the meetings to figure out if there was any interest in my development,” Chun says. “Just the straightforward, old-school way of making it happen."
The deal built in production credits for other ABC series; Chun has served as consulting producer on Happy Endings and Trophy Wife, a co-executive producer on Hello Ladies, and co-writer and executive producer of the Jermaine Fowler pilot Delores & Jermaine. He developed the show Grandfathered, about a bachelor who discovers he’s both a dad and a grandfather, for John Stamos.
But the TV work Chun is most proud of is what he’s working on right now as executive producer: Speechless. "I'm very proud of it on a pure writing level and a comedy level... but it's also a show that's about a family whose oldest child has cerebral palsy, is nonverbal, and uses a wheelchair.
“It's a show that just wasn't on the air, and a perspective that wasn't being explored on TV, and I'm very proud of the fact that I think we've not only told the story and we're doing it in a way that we're happy with, as comedy writers, but also the disability community has been very supportive of, in terms of the types of stories we're telling and telling them in a way that isn't cloying or condescending.”
The work is part of a shift in Chun’s career toward “feeling like I can be more of a driver of the conversation.”
“When I first moved out here,” he explains, “I thought, ‘Just hire me and I'll run through walls for you.'” Now, “I’m really grateful that I'm in a position in my career where I get to walk into rooms now and say, ‘Here's what I think we should be doing. Here are the types of stories I think we should be telling.’”
The industry has a long way to go, but Chun is inspired by the different perspectives now making it to screen. “It's an exciting time for me as someone who is a person of color."
One thing that hasn’t changed? Chun says he’s never going to be the person who can just write freely and come back to improve it later. “My natural process is much more: read Twitter for two hours, write for 5 minutes. Go down a YouTube wormhole for an hour and then write for ten minutes. For me, every line is like trying to pull a tooth out. And that's such a psychologically brutal process that I need to take frequent breaks.”
However, "the trick to working successfully as a TV writer is that you really do have to show up at 10 o'clock, or 9 o'clock in the morning, and you have to sit down and start writing and be helpful and creative on demand.” Thus, Chun recommends, especially for people with a natural tendency for multi-tasking and breaks, “an experience where you have to get things done” quickly.
His other advice for aspiring writers is fairly straightforward: find a way to get feedback on your script that's not from your friends or family.
“Everyone who wants to be a writer writes a script and every single one of them thinks the script is great because they're only showing it to people who are going to say good things,” Chun points out. He also recommends doing the hard, introspective work of “really understanding that the best writing comes from some personal place, whether it's your own story or personal observation.”
He encourages setting a high bar for oneself, rather than settling for merely better than the thing you saw on TV that was just barely passable.
“Until you've been on the hiring side, you have no idea how many scripts are out there and how many similarities there are between them all, and how quickly people can read a script and say, ‘Ok, this person does not seem to have anything special that's worth paying them as much as we pay professional writers,’” Chun says. "You have to stand out, and the way to do that is trying to be special and not just trying to fit in with the rest of what's on TV."
Adrian Horton AB '17 is a journalist and freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH. She’s currently figuring out how to move from a daily newspaper in Kalispell, Montana to New York City, where she’ll start as an editorial fellow at the Guardian US next month (provided she adjusts to buildings taller than four stories). She can be reached by email or on Twitter @adrian_horton.
FEATURED EVENT | Harvardwood Helps: Operation Gratitude Assembly Day - Sat., Dec. 15 (LA)
At any given time, our facility, “The FOB” (Forward Operating Base), is filled with millions of items donated by Americans from across the country. Once a month or more, we call on hundreds of eager and spirited Volunteers in the Southern California area to help us assemble these items to create the Operation Gratitude Care Packages, and Harvardwood Helps will be participating this month! There are tasks appropriate for all levels of ability:
- “Prep” work consists of sorting donated items, folding shirts, writing/screening letters, quality controlling Battalion Buddies, and/or preparing products and the Assembly Line.
- “Assembly” work includes production of the Care Packages, labeling, taping, running packages, re-stocking the lines, breaking down cartons, and other tasks.
- “Production” work includes hand-making items onsite. Time allowing, we will provide instruction and materials for making Paracord ‘Survival’ Bracelets and/or Battalion Buddies on-site.
Youth ages 12 and older are welcome to serve at The FOB. RSVP to pitch in with Harvardwood Helps so we know to look out for you at the event!
Los Angeles, CA
Join the Harvard community in Los Angeles for an informational panel that will discuss the current Harvard admissions lawsuit that went to trial on October 15th. Eight Harvard affiliated organizations who believe in the value of affirmative action have come together to co-sponsor this event.
Panelists will include:
- Michaele N. Turnage Young JD '06, Senior Counsel at the NAACP LDF, who represents 25 Harvard students and alumni organizations as amici curiae in the lawsuit.
- Nicole Gon-Ochi, Supervising Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA representing Harvard students as amici curiae in the lawsuit.
- Dr. David Moguel MPP '00, CSUN professor of secondary education specializing in building college bound cultures among students of color.
- Angela Sousa JD '80, an attorney specializing in Business Litigation and Labor and Employment Litigation with an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley. Ms. Sousa interviewed semi-finalists for an Alumni Association scholarship program at Berkeley when “color-blind” criteria were utilized for scholarship applications.
⛄ Harvardwood's Candy Cane Cocktail Party - Fri., Dec. 7
Three hurrahs for Harvardwood! Come revel in holiday cheer and happy festivities with your fellow Harvardwood members, friends, and volunteers on Friday, December 7th. It'll be a wonderful way to kick off not just your weekend, but also the season of holiday festivities! We'll be celebrating at The Parlor on Melrose, where you'll rub shoulders and make merry with entertainment's favorite Harvard alums. Food will be available for purchase at The Parlor. Cash bar. One free drink ticket per person to the first 75 people to RSVP!
In addition to the holiday festivities, join Harvardwood Helps in a toy drive for the holidays! The Los Angeles County Fire Department's "Spark of Love" drive collects new toys and sports equipment for the Department of Children and Family Services for distribution to the foster children of Los Angeles County. Any remaining toys are then distributed to non-profit charitable organizations within Los Angeles County. New, unused, unwrapped toys and sports equipment for every age are appreciated. Every year, however, there is an extra need for "Toys for Teens" and "Infant Toys. 1 DONATED NEW TOY = 1 RAFFLE TICKET
You can also get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping while celebrating. We are hosting our annual holiday silent auction in support of the Harvardwood Fund. Auction items, which will be featured at the holiday party for in-person bidding, include one-on-one lunches with industry VIPs, autographed feature film scripts, unique film/TV memorabilia, gift certificates, museum/show tickets... the list goes on and on.
It's that time again! Celebrate the end of the year with The Ivy Plus Society at "the best kept secret in LA," The Viceroy Santa Monica (LA Times). This afternoon holiday get together will be the perfect time to jingle and mingle with the brightest in Southern California! You already sleigh all day, so why not do so at this "romantic AF" (LA Mag) beach resort? Experience exceptional seaside cocktails, exquisite dining, and the finest achievers in Santa Monica this December.
Harvardwood Heads To... The HCSC Holiday Salon & Potluck - Thurs., Dec. 20
Join the Harvard Club of Southern California, Yale alumni, and and their friends for a lively holiday party and mixer in Los Angeles. Please bring a dish to share and a beverage of your choice. Do you sing? Play? Perform? Dance? Or have another unique talent that would entertain others? This is your chance for fame, if not fortune! Deadline to register is Wednesday, December 19, 2018 ($10/person).
Harvardwood Meet-up at the Black List DC Happy Hour - Wed., Dec. 5
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 at the link above.
New York, NY
Many of us have met Tania at Harvard-wood NYC events over the last few years and have been eager to hear her play. She now has a performance scheduled in New York! After a successful sold out tour in Spring and Fall 2018, "Bulgarian-born piano dynamo" (Time Out NY) and Billboard Top 10 international multi-award winning artist Tania Stavreva, is returning to the Tenri Cultural Institute to perform an intimate piano recital on her birthday, December 3, 2018. Stavreva will perform a program of her own compositions, including several World Premieres.
Harvardwood Heads To... The Lambs Presents CHEKHOV'S "THE PROPOSAL" - Thurs., Dec. 6
Our friends at The Lambs have very graciously invited Harvardwood members to this performance of Chekhov's one-act farce THE PROPOSAL. When you register (at the email or phone number in the announcement below) say that you're "a Harvardwood member."
Myq Kaplan presents his favorite comedians, friends, rappers, humans, robots, and/or aliens. Featuring:
Myq is a headlining comedian who has made multiple appearances on Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show, Conan and Last Comic Standing.
Our Happy Holiday Harvardwood PARTY!! - Fri., Dec. 14
The holiday season is here! And that means—it's time for our Happy Harvardwood HOLIDAY PARTY!! This will be another great one, and a wonderful opportunity for you to meet more of our incredibly smart, sexy, and scintillating Harvardwood members! Major jubilation alert! We have a new host this year, the wonderful Ethan Cohen Gallery. Ethan Cohen has presented both emerging and internationally renowned artists for over 25 years. Cohen was the first to present the Chinese avant-garde of the 1980s to the U.S., including such now-celebrated artists as Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, Gu Wenda, Wang Keping, and Qiu Zhijie. Cohen today represents a diverse mix, including contemporary American, African, Iranian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Pakistani, and Thai artists, both emerging and established.
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!
Get a Harvardwood gift certificate for the artist in your life
Stymied by your holiday shopping list? Unsure what to get the aspiring writer or overworked producer in your life? Harvardwood can help! In addition to checking out the fun memorabilia and other opportunities in our annual holiday silent auction, you can always give a Harvardwood gift certificate. For example, you could gift one-, two-, or three-year memberships to a recent Harvard alum looking to break into the entertainment industry. Or you can purchase a gift certificate to the Harvardwood Script Review service for your favorite screenwriter. If you're interested in getting a Harvardwood gift certificate this year, get in touch and we'll create a custom certificate just for 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.