Issue 185 | June 2020


In This Issue:

  • Message from Harvardwood


  • Featured Member Posting: Production Assistant (Nickelodeon / KAMP KORAL) - LA
  • Our music video tribute to the Class of 2020
  • Online summer program for TV writers | Apply by June 7th
  • Connecting creatives with entertainment attorneys


  • Exclusive Q&A with Renee Zhan AB '15 (Animator, ReneepoptosisHold Me)
  • Industry Successes
  • New Members' Welcome
  • Alumni Profile: Matthew Aucoin AB '12 (Composer & Conductor, Los Angeles Opera)


  • Calendar
  • Opening the Harvardwood Lowdown to ALL members

Message from Harvardwood

During this challenging time—as the nation grapples with our history of institutionalized racial injustice and violence, and during a global pandemic, no less—Harvardwood strives to foster an inclusive, nurturing community where all of our members can listen to, learn from, and uplift one another. More than ever, we recognize the power of the arts and storytelling as a force for positive social change and will endeavor to do our part to amplify marginalized creators, voices and stories.

- Adam, Mia, Stacy, Allison, and Dona

Featured Member Posting: Production Assistant (Nickelodeon / KAMP KORAL) - LA

  • Provides general assistance to production employees, artists, coordinators, production managers and producers. 
  • Responsible for basic office duties such as photocopying, faxing, filing, and scheduling.


  • Assist in the preparation of production materials.
  • Organize the production unit’s files. 
  • Properly file, label, and arrange correspondence, invoices, recorded media, folders and all pre- production materials.
  • Assist managers, producers, and coordinators throughout production.
  • Assist in the creation of various documents, files, orders, scripts, and research material.


Our music video tribute to the Class of 2020

Harvardwood musicians, let's get together and create a “Playing for Change”-style music video tribute to celebrate the Class of 2020!  

If you're interested in participating as a musician, please complete the form below. All instruments (including vocals) are welcome; we’ll work it in if we can!

We aim to move quickly on this project, so musicians should be available to record their tracks within the next couple of weeks, once Harvardwood has selected the song. You can let us know what song(s) would be your favorite in the form too.

Once the song is selected, musicians will receive a scratch track that they can play along to, provided by Harvardwood. Videos should be recorded in landscape mode, with as high-quality audio as possible.  In some cases, we may also be able to accept audio-only recordings. Further instructions will be sent to all participating musicians once we’ve confirmed your interest.

Also, if you are a musician/mixer with the tools and experience to help Harvardwood edit the tracks into one cohesive music video, please contact Adam Fratto. Thank you!

Online summer program for TV writers | Apply by June 7th

We are VERY excited to announce that The Jeff Sagansky Harvardwood TV Writers Program is offering, for the first time ever, an online summer program for writers who do not necessarily live in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, or other major Harvardwood chapters. Applications from TV writers will be accepted now through Sunday, June 7, 2020 at 5:00pm. 

To be eligible, participants must be Full Members of Harvardwood, so make sure you (1) are logged in and (2) have an active Harvardwood membership subscription in order to access the application link below.


Connecting creatives with entertainment attorneys

As you wheel and deal around town, selling pitches and entering into contracts with studios and production companies, you may be in need of an entertainment attorney! Harvardwood will create a list of entertainment attorneys who are available for new clients and willing to have their professional contact info listed.

If you're an entertainment attorney who'd like to be added to this database for Harvardwood members, please enter in your information at this Google spreadsheet. Thank you!

Exclusive Q&A with Renee Zhan AB '15 (Animator, ReneepoptosisHold Me)

By Woojin Lim AB '22

Screen_Shot_2020-06-01_at_7.17.41_PM.pngRenee Zhan AB '16 is a director and animator who uses dark, visceral images to explore the ugliness of beautiful things. She has participated and won awards at numerous film festivals, including the Jury Award for Best Animated Short at Sundance Film Festival. A native of Houston, Texas, Zhan received her Master of Arts at the National Film and Television School in London.

Q. Let’s talk about your background. How did you start out in animation and what made you stay?

A. Growing up, I started out by doing paintings and drawings, and watching a lot of movies. I felt that animation was the perfect marriage. In college, I took a freshman seminar on animation run by Ruth Lingford. It was so different from what I expected it to be. In our first class, I was expecting to watch Finding Nemo, but we watched these crazy old Russian shorts, such as Hedgehog in the Fog. I was so confused, but I loved it. It just felt like magic to me—drawing a bunch of things in a row and suddenly they’re moving.

I also liked how much time animation took. When I started, I liked things that I can just draw while watching TV for hours and not think, doing a repetitive process. I no longer enjoy that because it takes so long. I’m considering my next move into live-action. I did a stop-motion film at the end of NFTS, and I was just in a dark room by myself for 7 months. So I definitely have a love-hate relationship with animation.

Q. Tell me about the animation world. Where is your place in it?

A. In animation, there are big studios like Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, and smaller independent studios, and then a bunch of people making shorts on their own. Right now I’m trying to work out where I want to be—whether to keep making shorts on my own or transition into the mainstream. On some level, I am interested in having a wider audience. It’s an exciting time for animation in the United States because it’s mostly been a medium for kids, but now it’s opening up to adults.

I recently read that there’s a gap in the animation market for young adults and teens. In fact, I am re-reading the Hunger Games right now since their prequel was just released. Looking back at these as an adult, I think my main problem with them is the romance that comes out of nowhere and doesn’t feel real. When I was a young adult, this was my favorite part, but now I feel more cynical about it. I love these fantasy sci-fi worlds and it’s something I’d love to work on moving forward.

Q. How would you come to describe your work as an artist—all the way back from “Fish Juice” to “Pidge” to “Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw)” and “Reneepoptosis”?

A. My first animation actually goes further back than “Fish Juice.” In my freshman seminar, I made one of a girl with rainbow hair, and then I went to Berlin that summer and started on other projects. I love the materiality that animation can bring. When you see the materials that are used to make it—the paper and the charcoal, the erasing marks, the paint, the smudges, and in stop-motion, materials like wax, plasticine, styrofoam—I love that you can see that it feels handmade. That’s why CG hasn’t really appealed to me so much.

I tend to make films about things that I’m afraid of, as a way to work through them maybe, and things that I’m obsessed with. I realized recently that all my films end with someone being eaten, and I don’t really know why. I haven’t really worked that out. My latest film [“O Black Hole!”] is about a woman who becomes a black hole because she’s afraid of losing everything, and so she keeps it all inside her. At the end, she vomits everything out—the whole universe. I thought if I made this film, I could convince myself that it was okay for things to change, that it’s fine if things don’t last forever, since eventually we’ll all be nothing. So I guess that's a reversal of endings.


Industry Successes

Hurrah, Netflix has renewed half-hour dramedy Gentefied, executive produced by Aaliyah Williams AB '02, for a second season!  

Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor AB '97 are teaming up to write Legally Blonde 3 from MGM, with Reese Witherspoon reprising her iconic role and her studio Hello Sunshine producing. This is the second feature collaboration between Kaling and Goor!

Ian Steaman AB '91 has been selected by Corus and the Banff World Media Festival to participate in this year’s Corus Writer’s Apprentice Program. Originally a record executive in New York working with many legendary hip-hop acts, Ian helped cofound the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival (now in its sixteenth year) and eventually returned to Canada as an Associate Producer at CBC Music. One of six residents of the 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Writing Program at the Canadian Film Centre, Ian says of his work for the screen: “When I turned from programmer to artist myself as a screenwriter, I was inspired by the cultural and social impact of the artists I had worked with. Sharing stories and voices from outside of the mainstream has been a personal passion and professional mission of mine over my entire career.”

Angela Gulner A.R.T. '11 and her team at BINGE created a new three-episode darkly comedic mini-series exploring eating disorders and COVID titled: HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT IN THE APOCALYPSE – now streaming! 

BJ Novak AB '01 (The OfficeThe Mindy Project) is the writer, director, and executive produver behind an untitled half-hour anthology series that has been picked up by FX Networks

Dear..., a 10-episode documentary series from Emmy-winning filmmaker RJ Cutler AB '83, will air on Apple TV+ beginning June 5th! View the trailer here.

Andrew Sodroski AB '04, co-creator of true crime series Manhunt, will be adapting the screenplay for action-thriller Rogue from STXfilms, Tencent and producer David Goyer. "Sodroski’s feature script Holland, Michigan, voted #1 on the 2013 Black List, is set up at Amazon Studios. Sodroski has also sold and written films for Warner Brothers, MRC (with Israelite), Black Bear and Studio 8" (Deadline).

The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment and the Black List recently unveiled the 2020 CAPE List, 10 features and 10 pilots centering on diverse Asian-Pacific characters and experiences that were surveyed as Hollywood executives' favorite un-produced screenplays. Among the scripts selected this year were Wonderland, a feature by writer-director Tiffanie Hsu AB '09, and Dust Child, a one-hour drama by D. Dona Le AB '05.

"All the Time," the new single by Sarah Melson AB '90, was featured in American Songwriter magazine and is being played on 88.5 FM. Her new EP, “Wild & Precious Life” comes out June 19th. Follow Sara for live stream concerts on IG (@saramelson) and Facebook.

On June 9th, Sarah Relyea AB '80 begins a virtual book tour for her latest novel, Playground Zero. Find out more about the book and virtual tour dates here.

Make sure you are caught up on the latest series from Greg Daniels AB '85! Amazon announced last month that Upload will be renewed for Season 2, and Netflix JUST released new comedy series Space Force, starring Steve Carrell, John Malkovich, Jimmy O. Yang, Tawny Newsome, and Lisa Kudrow.  

New Members' Welcome

Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization last month:

  • Dara Badon, College, BOS/Campus
  • Lora-Marie Bernard, KSG, LA
  • Nuri Bhuiyan, College, BOS/Campus
  • Susan Blanc, College, NY
  • James Caven, College, BOS/Campus
  • Edward Chen, HBS, LA
  • Gayla Claes, College, LA
  • Mary Conroy, FOH, LA
  • Karina Cowperthwaite, College, BOS/Campus
  • Benjamin Fu, College, BOS/Campus
  • Sibel Galindez, College, NY
  • Erin Garner, College, Other U.S.
  • Terzah Hill, College, BOS/Campus
  • Eli Holmes, College, BOS/Campus
  • Katharine Kirk, GSAS, BOS/Campus
  • Madeleine Lee, College, BOS/Campus
  • Jenny Li, College, LA
  • Ben Lorenz, College, NY
  • Liang Luo, GSAS, Other U.S.
  • Samuel McAllister, HBS, NY
  • Matthew McCutchin, Ext, LA
  • Eddie Raj, College, BOS/Campus
  • Edward Redmond, KSG, LA
  • Shikha Sethi, College, Other U.S.
  • Sd Shanti, SPH, Other U.S.
  • Alfred Smith, HLS, LA
  • Nikeeta Sriram, HBS, BOS/Campus
  • Imani Tisdale, HLS, NY
  • Dylan Tracy, FOH, LA
  • David Vaughn, KSG, LA
  • Henry Vaughn, FOH, LA
  • Kathryn Wantlin, College, BOS/Campus
  • Abigail Wen, College, LA

*FOH = Friend of Harvardwood

Alumni Profile: Matthew Aucoin AB '12 (Composer & Conductor, Los Angeles Opera)


By Simi Shah AB '19

Matthew Aucoin AB '12 has long been regarded a wunderkind in the world of classical music and opera. He has donned many hats as conductor, pianist, and writer, but first and foremost comes his role as composer.

The overture in the opera of Aucoin’s life sings to the tune of Bolivian street musicians and Beethoven’s 9th symphony. A precocious 9-year-old, he recalls feeling “dumbstruck,” upon hearing the latter for the first time. Within two years, he had composed symphonies, chamber works, and an entire opera based on a children’s book.

The child of a journalist, technical writer, and all-around bibliophiles, Aucoin’s passion for music was welcomed and celebrated in his youth. By the time middle and high school came around, Aucoin dedicated every waking moment to music.

But his passion shapeshifted. As he approached teenagehood, Aucoin became disillusioned with the dry and arid nature of the classical concert vibe. He longed for something more vivid, and found his way to jazz piano, and eventually, an indie-rock band named Elephantom. It was his life, and at one point, he thought it would be his future: performing, rather than composing.

Aucoin initially prepared to attend a musical conservatory for college, until the 11th hour, when he decided to attend Harvard. At the College, he discovered the magic that compelled his change in plans: exposure to individuals who traversed unique specialities, held dynamic world views, and who cultivated eclectic skill-sets and interests. In the richness of the Harvard community, Aucoin collaborated, created, and experimented with his music. It was here he settled back in with his first love: classical music. In his words, “I was a student by day, and a musician by night.” 

He directed the Dunster House Opera (now known as the Harvard College Opera); helped direct the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra; and produced his own operas in Lowell House, the Loeb, and with the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club. He reflects, “You know, you add up the hours, and it doesn’t make sense that everything could’ve happened in those four years.”

His professional commissions ring out in similar chorus: the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Peabody Essex Museum, and myriad others. Aucoin attributes his early success to the American Repertory Theater, which sits in Harvard’s backyard. The A.R.T. commissioned his first opera, “Crossing,” in the months after his graduation in 2012. In the three years he spent developing the production, Aucoin also received a graduate degree from Juilliard and served as Assistant Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera as well as the Solti Conducting Apprentice with the Chicago Symphony. “Crossing” premiered in 2015 and catapulted his career. In subsequent years, the large-scale, professional piece went on to be produced at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Los Angeles Opera.

To the trained eye, it’s obvious that luck played a small part in the face of irrefutable talent and devotion. Nevertheless, Aucoin expresses deep gratitude for his good fortune, “Looking back, that was the opportunity that allowed me to make a life as a composer.” 

For Aucoin, composing exists at the heart of everything. He loves performing, conducting, and working with words, but when he embraced composition with totality, his life’s purpose “snapped into focus.” Still, he recognizes that his experiences as a performer have afforded him opportunities as a composer. He’s often been asked to write for those he forged relationships with while working as a conductor or pianist. The ability to seamlessly compose with a performer’s perspective has distinguished Aucoin. He likens composing to building a cathedral, “single-handedly lugging the stones, dealing with every piece of stained-glass, and every other detail.” To him, it is, at once, life’s greatest challenge and greatest reward. 

Aucoin’s work has been largely influenced by plays and poetry. While studying English at Harvard, Aucoin learned how the lines between writing music and writing poetry often blurred. He completed his thesis under the mentorship of Jorie Graham, a Pulitzer prize-winning, American poet. To this day, he considers her one of the most important musical teachers he’s ever had.

He also draws inspiration from the surrealism of opera as an art form. Across his repertoire, the liminal spaces between life and death are a resounding motif. “Crossing” is set in a Civil War hospital, a setting that symbolically hovers between life and death. Recently, Aucoin conducted the first performances of “Eurydice,” which is based on a play by Sarah Ruhl. The story unfolds in the Underworld and weaves in similar themes that delve deep into the human psyche. Aucoin’s appreciation for this theme stems from his love of music and opera itself. He underscores, “Because everyone’s not sure if they’ll go back to their world or pass on to the next world, everything that’s said feels urgent, and it’s all things you can’t say in everyday life. I’m inspired by that dream-like, heightened state, because that’s what music is for, for saying things you can’t say in speech.” “Eurydice” was commissioned by both New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Los Angeles Opera. The piece will have its New York premiere in 2021. 

Matthew_Aucoin_Petruzzelli_1.jpgAucoin actually serves as Artist-in-Residence at the Los Angeles Opera currently, in a role tailor-made for him. Typically, opera companies don’t offer long-term roles to composers. In 2015, the CEO of the Opera, Christopher Koelsch, attended the premiere of “Crossing” in Boston. Upon seeing Aucoin’s work up close, he worked to carve out a position for Aucoin at the company. 

Over the course of almost four years with the group, Aucoin has conducted pieces he’s authored as well as those fashioned by the likes of Verdi and Philip Glass. He’s found a home in the organization: coaching artists in training, organizing community outreach events, and hosting a late-night concert series.

But as we’ve quickly learned, Aucoin has never been the type to tackle any single endeavor at a time. In addition to his work with the Los Angeles Opera, he serves as Co-Artistic Director of the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC). The collective of singers, dancers, and instrumentalists functions as his homebase. 

AMOC burgeoned in light of a shared frustration with the way in which classical music institutions tend to operate. Within the confines of these spaces, creatives often lack autonomy, with little to no say in what projects they assume and with whom they collaborate. AMOC offers a space to exist outside convention, making room for its artists to act on their most ambitious, out-of-the-box ideas. While still collaborating with traditional institutions, Aucoin has helped a roster of 17 artists produce and perform smaller-scale projects through AMOC. The projects encompass dance pieces, chamber operas, and instrumental music. His endearment to the ensemble harkens back to his high school days: “I missed being in a band,” he laughingly reveals. Having worked in the broader world for a while, Aucoin had developed an affinity for certain artists, and he sought to build a space to unite them under one roof.

In the eight years since he’s graduated, Aucoin has embarked on creative opportunities and new-age projects, building a career that has earned him international renown. He continues to guest-conduct around the globe, from the Santa Fe Opera to the Rome Opera Orchestra, and his work has been performed by the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Salzburg’s Mozarteum Orchestra.

Still, humility seeps from the advice he offers to aspiring artists. Based on his own experiences, he encourages composers to give their pieces the time they deserve; to let them marinate, outside the bounds of a never-ending string of deadlines. In a field fraught with critical, sometimes demoralizing feedback, he counsels, “Be a harsher critic to yourself than anyone else. If you hold yourself to the highest possible standard and develop an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, then nothing anyone can say can hurt you.”

In the current hour, Aucoin is making his final tweaks to wrap up “Eurydice.” He revels in the fact that with the conclusion of this composition, the horizon is wide open for him. “I already know I’m not going to have enough time in one lifetime to say as much as I want to say in music.” But he will certainly try. In the opera of Matthew Aucoin’s life, we’ve only just begun the crescendo. To put it in his libretto, “the best is yet to come.”shah.jpg

Simi Shah graduated from Harvard College in 2019 with a degree in economics and government. After spending some time in private equity, Simi has reacquainted herself with her creative side as Co-Host of The Pioneers Podcast and as a writer and blogger.


Harvardwood Presents Prof. Stephanie Burt: What Makes a Good Superhero Story? - Tues., June 2

Superheroes can work so well for movies now because movie effects have caught up to heroes' great powers, and because people who grew up on comics often write the movies. But what made the comics popular in the first place? Among the myriad and mostly forgettable stories of capes, punches and derring-do, which ones stuck in readers' memories, and why? Stephanie will ask why superhero stories—and which superhero stories—work best, and for whom. She'll talk about who identifies with superheroes, and why, and what those identifications have to do with being, or feeling like, a minority; why superhero stories so often seem, to fans, political but not  political enough; and why—even if you're there for the romance and character—superhero stories may require big long fights.

Superheroes can work so well for movies now because movie effects have caught up to heroes' great powers, and because people who grew up on comics often write the movies. But what made the comics popular in the first place? Among the myriad and mostly forgettable stories of capes, punches and derring-do, which ones stuck in readers' memories, and why? Stephanie will ask why superhero stories—and which superhero stories—work best, and for whom. She'll talk about who identifies with superheroes, and why, and what those identifications have to do with being, or feeling like, a minority; why superhero stories so often seem, to fans, political but not  political enough; and why—even if you're there for the romance and character—superhero stories may require big long fights.

Harvardwood Co-Hosts A TIME TO LEAD: Featuring Abigail Hing Wen AB '99, Lea Salonga, and Cecilia Mejia - Wed., June 3

Join Lea Salonga, Cecilia Mejia, and NY Times best-selling author Abigail Hing Wen AB '99 as they share perspectives on utilizing their platforms as leaders in the arts and entertainment industry to activate the API community around important social issues like immigration and humanitarian efforts.

Harvardwood Social Impact: A Conversation with Julie Corman - Thurs., June 4

From the Skoll State of Social Impact Entertainment report: “As a vehicle for storytellers, artists and visionaries for over a century, narrative film has rapidly become one of the most influential mediums of the modern age.” For the inaugural event of Harvardwood's Social Impact Initiative, we’d like to welcome producer Julie Corman.

Hosted by Gene Pao MBA '97, Harvardwood’s Director of Social Impact, Julie will walk us through her 50 years of filmmaking and her approach to incorporating social impact themes and messaging into her works.

Veteran producer Julie Corman has produced over 30 films. She has worked with noted talents: Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, John Sayles, Monte Hellman, Martin Sheen, Charles Grodin, RayWalston, Diane Ladd, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Jonathan Kaplan, Jason Priestley, Barbara Hershey and Mario van Peebles. She has never lost money on a film.

Her first feature producing credit was on BOXCAR BERTHA, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring David Carradine and Barbara Hershey. She went on to produce MOVING VIOLATION, starring Kay Lenz and Eddie Albert; CRAZY MAMA, directed by Jonathan Demme, starring Cloris Leachman, Jim Backus, Stuart Whitman and Ann Sothern (chosen as the U.S. entry in the Edinburgh Film Festival); THE LADY IN RED, written by John Sayles, starring Robert Conrad and Pamela Sue Martin (chosen as the U.S. entry at the Deauville Film Festival); SATURDAY THE 14TH, starring Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss and Jeffrey Tambor; and DA, starring Barnard Hughes and Martin Sheen, based on the Tony award-winning play.

In the 1970’s Corman and her husband, film legend Roger Corman’s New World Pictures became one of the most successful independent production and distribution companies in the film industry. The company produced and distributed over 200 feature films, in addition to distributing a prestigious slate of international films by such acclaimed directors as Francois Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Volker Schlondorff (whose TIN DRUM won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film), Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa...

Harvardwood Presents Robert Kraft AB '76: Careers in (Film & TV) Music - Wed., June 10

Harvardwood Advisory Board member Robert Kraft AB '76 (President, Kraftbox; Former President of Fox Music) will give a talk + Q&A covering film & TV music, music careers in general, how to move past the "perspiring" artist phase, and how to transition between creative and business roles.

Robert Kraft is an award-winning songwriter, film composer, recording artist and record producer. As President of Fox Music from 1994 to 2012, Kraft was the Executive in Charge of Music for more than 300 Fox feature films, as well as dozens of TV shows.

Highlights during his tenure at Fox include the record-breaking scores and soundtracks from “Titanic”, “Avatar”, “Moulin Rouge!”, “Romeo + Juliet”, “Garden State”, “Waiting To Exhale”, “Crazy Heart”, “Walk The Line”, “Ice Age”, “Juno”, “Once”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Rio”, and “Life of Pi”.

At Fox Music, Kraft supervised the music for 20th Century Fox Television hits such as “Family Guy”, “Ally McBeal”, “X-Files”, “24”, and “The Simpsons”. Under his leadership, Fox Music garnered 11 Academy Award nominations for Best Score and/or Best Song (winning 4 Academy Awards), 20 Golden Globe nominations (including 5 Golden Globe Awards), 61 Emmy nominations (11 awards) and 50 Grammy nominations (winning 14 awards).

In 2013, Kraft started Kraftbox Entertainment, which currently is in production on projects across several platforms, including the feature film, “Rapper’s Delight” at Warner Bros Studios, with co-producers Paula Wagner and Stephanie Allain, to be directed by Justin Simien...

Harvardwood Presents a ROADMAP Webinar: Branding Yourself - Thurs., June 11

Roadmap Writers is a leader in screenwriting education teaching writers what to do after they have completed a script. Roadmap has helped over 150 writers get signed, optioned, staffed and produced. 

This 1-day program will walk each writer through how to figure out what their personal logline is, how to brand themselves and how to find companies that are right for their projects. To get personalized feedback during the class, please email the loglines for your completed projects and a 1 paragraph writer’s bio to [email protected]When emailing, please put "Harvardwood Program" in the subject line.

Joey Tuccio is the CEO of Roadmap Writers. He previously worked at Bold Films (DRIVE, WHIPLASH). Roadmap Writers is a screenwriting education and training platform for writers looking for a guided path to success. Our programs are hosted by working industry executives and are designed to empower writers with actionable tools and insights to elevate your craft and cultivate relationships with industry professionals. Since 2016, we have helped more than 150 writers sign to representation and countless others get staffed, optioned, or sell their script.

Harvardwood Presents EVERYONE TOGETHER: A Talk with the Comedy Series Creators - Tues., June 16

EVERYONE TOGETHER, a comedy series, follows two dysfunctional families from different cultural backgrounds as they clash and bond over a new major family milestone each season. In the pilot – which was set to make its world premiere at SXSW prior to COVID-19 – resentments and old wounds come to the forefront when siblings Lulu and Martin Gutman are forced to attend the week-long, campsite wedding of their younger sister, Fern, to Eli, the younger brother of Lulu’s boyfriend. 

The creators of EVERYONE TOGETHER are: Jessica Kaye (creator/actor), Steven Klein (creator/actor), and Kelsey Ledgin (creator/writer).


A recent graduate of the AFI Directors Workshop for Women, Jessica Kaye was born in South Africa and raised in Minneapolis. After studying Literature and Performance Studies at Harvard, she earned her MFA in Acting at Columbia. While in New York, she starred in plays and feature films, produced and performed in ribald performance-art parties, and played a soap opera villain on television's ONE LIFE TO LIVE. In 2008, she produced and starred in GARGOYLE, a SAFTA-nominated short film shot in Johannesburg. In 2013, she received an MFA in Film Production from USC. Her short films ANGEL and FABIAN DEBORA, A LIFE FOR ART, screened at numerous festivals. Her short film SHORTAGE was executive-produced by James Franco. Kaye is the co-writer/director and lead actor of the feature film INHERITANCE, which premiered at SXSW in 2017 and was released theatrically and on VOD. In addition to EVERYONE TOGETHER, Kaye is currently writing the feature film SKATER, inspired by her AFI DWW short.

BCD_8877.jpgSteven Klein is an actor/producer and the founder of Firefly Theater & Films. As an actor on screen, films include THE CIRCLE, KENSHO AT THE BEDFELLOW, and THE SKYJACKER, and TV includes BURN NOTICE, PIZZA TIME, and STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE. On stage, favorite shows include the award-winning LA premieres of CAUGHT, by Christopher Chen, and of COMPLETENESS and THE FOUR OF US, by Itamar Moses. Firefly’s theater productions have won more than two-dozen awards for shows in Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Belfast, Off-West End London, and Off-Broadway. Firefly’s films – including notable documentaries MAKE BELIEVE, PRINT THE LEGEND (2014 SXSW Jury Prize winner), FINDERS KEEPERS, and 2019 films OUT OF OMAHA and WRESTLE – have been distributed worldwide after playing and winning prizes at dozens of festivals internationally, including SXSW, Sundance TIFF, and LAFF. Steven can’t resist the opportunity to inform Harvardwood that he went to Yale (’98).


Kelsey Ledgin is a writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and two young kids. Previous credits include THE CHAIR and OVERSHARE.

Harvardwood Lowdown - Thurs., June 18

More details coming soon, but this Lowdown call will be open to ALL Harvardwood members. Confirmed panelists include Adam Fratto AB '90 of HISTORY and Zadoc Angell AB '03 of Echo Lake Entertainment!

Harvardwood Presents Mark Kates (Fenway Recordings - MGMT, The Cribs) - Thurs., June 18

Where will the music biz be when we can return safely after the pandemic? Join this talk with Mark Kates, founder of Fenway Recordings, an artist management company headquartered in Boston. Originally an independent label offering management services to a small number of clients, Fenway has evolved into a full-fledged artist management company, guided by a simple principle: To work hard for artists we truly believe in and are inspired by. Fenway’s client roster currently includes MGMT, The Cribs, Mission of Burma, Doves, Swim Mountain and KUNZITE.

Mark Kates has been a central figure in the genre of alternative music since before it even had a name. He work has included A&R, promotion, marketing, label head and owner, and now is primarily an artist manager. Kates grew up in the Boston area where Mission of Burma's music inspired him to work for their label Ace of Hearts. From there he moved to Big Time Records in Los Angeles and artists like Love and Rockets, Alex Chilton and the Hoodoo Gurus. His work there led to Geffen/DGC Records where he spent 10+ years and created the alternative promotion department eventually seguing to A&R and playing a significant role in the development of the alternative radio format. He signed Beck, Jawbreaker, Elastica, Alabama 3 and others. He brought Sonic Youth to Geffen and a&r’d albums by them as well as Nirvana, Hole, Teenage Fanclub, Siouxsie and the Banshees, White Zombie and many others as well as co-executive producing the soundtracks for "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" and "Suburbia." Kates left Geffen in 1998 to run Grand Royal Records for the Beastie Boys and work with them and their roster including Sean Lennon and Luscious Jackson. In 2001 he returned to Boston and established Fenway Recordings, a music management and record company...

Harvardwood Family Event: Jonathan Aibel AB '91 (Screenwriter, TROLLS, KUNG FU PANDA) - Sat., June 27

Do your kids love animated movies and TV shows? Are they aspiring writers, artists, or just fans of TROLLS, KUNG FU PANDA, and/or THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE? In these strange quaran-times, kids (and grown-ups) around the world are getting more screen time than ever—and we here at Harvardwood thought some of them might be interested in learning how stories go from the page (or the toy) to the screen!

Please round up the kids in your life* and join us for a conversation with writer-producer Jonathan Aibel AB '91, who is headlining our first-ever Harvardwood event geared toward school-aged children. Jonathan (along with his creative partner Glenn Berger) has brought beloved children’s films and shows to audiences worldwide for several decades, and he’ll talk about what makes a good story, how to develop a character, how movies and TV shows get made, the animation process, and other topics of interest in a fun-filled discussion for kids of all ages!Alpert2018-018.jpeg

*Grown-ups are welcome to attend, but space is limited and priority will be given to parents registering with their children under 18.

The event will be moderated by Harvardwood co-founder Mia Riverton Alpert and her 9-year-old daughter, Hollyn.

JAibel.jpgJonathan Aibel AB '91 and Glenn Berger are the writing and producing team behind some of the most successful family films of the past decade. In addition to TROLLS and TROLLS WORLD TOUR, they wrote and co-produced Dreamworks’ Oscar®-nominated KUNG FU PANDA trilogy. They wrote the screenplay of Paramount’s hit THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER and created the story for its forthcoming sequel THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE ON THE RUN. Other family film credits include ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL, plus Dreamworks’ first 3D film, MONSTERS VS. ALIENS. They currently are adapting the best-selling book series WARRIORS into a feature film for HARRY POTTER producer David Heyman and STX Entertainment.

Opening the Harvardwood Lowdown to ALL members

In the past, all new Harvardwood members have been invited to participate in an introductory conference call, the HARVARDWOOD LOWDOWN, that takes place quarterly. The Lowdown features Harvardwood leaders, so you can ask basic introductory questions relating to careers in the arts, media, and entertainment industries and get them answered in real time! We are now opening up the Lowdown call to all members, so make sure you are dues-current and stay tuned for more details about the June 18th call!


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