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Professional Directions Series

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The Professional Directions series brings industry experts to campus to speak about their career journeys as screenwriters, playwrights, editors, producers, directors, theatre critics, dramaturgs, and more. These Q&A sessions are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Speakers

Ivan RodriguesCinematographer Ivan Rodrigues
March 1, 2018, 4:30 p.m., Film Forum, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts

Ivan made his way from a small town in Brazil to acquire a Masters degree from UCLA and work in the competitive market of Hollywood filmmaking. For over 10 years, Ivan has worked as a cinematographer alongside some great talent like Anthony Hopkins, Tyler Shields, and Skylar Grey, among others.

Ivan has shot two feature films, over a dozen commercials and a variety of TV shows. Articles about Ivan’s work have been published on IndieWireinHollywood Magazine, and Movie Maker Magazine.


Kia CorthronPlaywright & Novelist Kia Corthron
March 23, 2018, 12:00 p.m., Green Room, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts

Kia Corthron’s plays have premiered in New York, regionally, and internationally. For her body of work for the stage, she has been awarded the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, USArtists Jane Addams Fellowship, McKnight National Residency, Simon Great Plains Playwright Award, Otto Award for Political Theatre, Lee Reynolds Award, and others. Her debut novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, was the winner of the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.

Past Speakers: Spring 2018

Yaara SumerukEditor and Director Yaara Sumeruk
February 12, 2018, 4:30 p.m., Film Forum, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts

 Yaara Sumeruk's short film Ringo premiered at The Locarno International Film Festival and is a Vimeo Staff Pick. She has directed videos for Google, Penguin Books, Park Hyatt, USPS, and has edited trailers for director Spike Lee, The Sundance InstituteThe Malala Fund, and elsewhere. She's currently in production on a documentary set in South Africa and teaches film at Princeton University.

Fall 2017

David N. WeissScreenwriter David N. Weiss
September 12, 2017

David N. Weiss is an Emmy Award nominee and has written a variety of Hollywood family films including Academy Award–nominated features Shrek 2 and Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, as well as the Rugrats movies, The Smurfs, and Smurfs 2. With writing partner J. David Stem, Weiss served as head writer on the Rugrats TV series. Other TV credits include the hit CBS series Cybill, the CW’s Mission Hill, and Nickelodeon’s Roundhouse. Weiss also co-wrote the family hit Are We There Yet?, starring Ice Cube, and Paramount Pictures’ adventure film Clockstoppers.


Chase PalmerScreenwriter Chase Palmer
September 21, 2017

Chase Palmer is a Brooklyn-based writer/director and the screenwriter of IT. His current projects include writing/directing the psychological horror film Black Lung, executive produced by the filmmaker Cary Fukunaga; adapting the New York Times series The Outlaw Ocean for Netflix films and Appian Way; the bio-hacker drama series Biopunk starring Zachary Quinto, which he created; and the Hitchcockian fantasia Number Thirteen, about young Alfred Hitchcock’s lost first film.


Film/TV Director Stacie Passon
October 12, 2017

Stacie Passon is a film director, screenwriter, and producer whose debut film Concussion premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Teddy Jury Prize for LGBT themes at the Berlin Film Festival. She has directed episodes of Transparent, The Affair, The Path, The Last Tycoon and Billions. Her upcoming film is an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle.


Cheri Magid ©Miriam BerkleyWriter Cheri Magid
October 18, 2017

Cheri Magid is an assistant arts professor in dramatic writing at New York University. Her plays have been seen at Primary Stages, New Georges, The New Group, The Women’s Project, Rattlestick, and The Lark, among others. She is currently a member of the Dorothy Strelsin Playwright Group at Primary Stages, was the Tennessee Williams Playwright in Residence at Sewanee University of the South in 2015–2016, a 2014 Audrey Resident at New Georges, and a 2014 Walter E Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Magid wrote the screenplay Story of D, about the real story behind the writing of the famous sadomasochistic novel Story of O, for Nicole Kidman and adapted the book Heart of the Game for film producer Richard Wiener (Any Given Sunday). Additionally, Magid writes for the Emmy-award-winning children’s television show Arthur.


Beth AndersonPublisher Beth Anderson '80
October 19, 2017

Beth Anderson '80 is the executive vice president and publisher at Audible, the world’s leading site for spoken audio. In 1996, she left traditional book publishing to start at Audible, the eleventh person hired by the company.

She also serves on Cornell University's Library Advisory Council.


Helen ShawTheater Critic/Dramaturg Helen Shaw
November 10, 2017

Helen Shaw teaches drama at NYU. She has written about theater and performance for Time Out New York since 2005. She has also written for The New York Sun, Performing Arts Journal, The Village Voice, American Theater, and TheatreForum. She wrote the introduction to The Difficulty of Crossing a Field: Collected Plays by Mac Wellman (pub. University of Minnesota Press) and is at work on her own book on Wellman’s life and plays.


Daphne PollonTelevision Writer/Producer Daphne Pollon
November 13, 2017

Daphne Pollon is a prolific writer/producer of television comedy. During her twenty-year career, she’s worked on such shows as It’s Gary Shandling’s Show, Murphy Brown, The Job, and Sullivan and Son, as well as created original pilots. Currently she teaches graduate television comedy at the University of Southern California (USC). 

Spring 2017

Justin PerkinsonDirector/Producer/Cinematographer Justin Perkinson
February 3, 2017

Justin Perkinson is an award-winning director, producer, and cinematographer. Justin's production credits include narrative and documentary feature films and shorts, television, branded content, and virtual reality.

His work has been featured in American Cinematographer Magazine, screened at various festivals around the world, and broadcasted on national television. He has created content for VICE Media (VICE Sports and Live Nation TV), United Nations Foundation, Team USA Basketball, Maserati, Samsung, GE, History Channel (Dead or Alive), PBS, LinkedIn, and Airbnb, among others.

He holds a dual MFA degree in both Directing and Cinematography from UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Davidson College. Justin was also a finalist for the “Best Graduate Student Cinematography” prize from the American Society of Cinematographers (the Gordon Willis Student Heritage Award) for his innovation in first-person POV filmmaking. 

He was a Fulbright Arts Grantee to China, where he lived and created several documentary projects during a 15-month residency (2013–2014).


TV, Film, and Theatre Internship PanelTV, Film & Theatre Internship/Career Panel
March 10, 2017

Discussion topics with Cornell PMA alumni included What Makes a Good Internship, Where to Find Them, How to Get Them, What to Do When You Graduate, and How to Move to LA.

The panel included:

  • Jillian Holch '16 (Sony Pictures)
  • Jesse Turk '14 (FX Networks)
  • Casey Minella '14 (Circle of Confusion Management Company)
  • Chandler Waggoner '15 (Off-Broadway Actor, NY)


Producer Rick Schwartz
April 28, 2017

Rick Schwartz's credits include Black Swan, The Departed, Gangs of New York, and The Others. He is also the Executive Producer of TV's Lip Sync Battle


Fall 2016

Sooni TaraporevalaScreenwriter/Director Sooni Taraporevala
September 22, 2016

Sooni Taraporevala wrote the screenplays to Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, Girl Rising, and directed her script Little Zizou. She has written for Fox Searchlight, Hollywood Pictures, and Universal, among others.


Tia Lessin '86Director/Producer Tia Lessin '86
October 18, 2016

Tia Lessin '86 is the Academy Award–nominated director and producer, with Carl Deal, of Trouble The Water (Grand Jury Prize, Sundance), and Citizen Koch. She produced Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next and co-produced Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine.


Alison TatlockScreenwriter/Playwright Alison Tatlock 
October 24, 2016

Alison Tatlock is a screenwriter and playwright whose credits include the critically acclaimed AMC drama Halt and Catch Fire, the Netflix series Stranger Things and the award-winning HBO drama In Treatment (starring Gabriel Byrne and Debra Winger). Alison’s play The Shore received workshops at the Pasadena Playhouse and the Vineyard Playhouse (featuring Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen) and was produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre—The LA Project. Other plays include The Catch, developed at New York Stage and Film (directed by Tony Award–winner Pam MacKinnon) and Untitled IV by Ruth Markofsky, developed at the UCSB Launch Pad program. Alison holds an MFA in Acting from UCSD and a BA in Literature from Yale. In addition to her extensive experience as a theater performer, she worked for many years with the Los Angeles non-profit Street Poets, Inc., bringing writing workshops into juvenile detention camps and underserved schools, and currently serves on their board of directors.


Darian DauchanSolo Performer/Writer/Actor Darian Dauchan
December 2, 2016

Darian Dauchan is an award-winning actor, writer, and musician who has appeared on both Broadway (Twentieth Century starring Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche) and off-Broadway theatre. TV credits include Law and Order, Nickelodeon's Bet the House (as Darian the "SoundFX" Guy), and the Lionsgate feature film Things Never Said.

His solo shows include Fallen Patriots (NYC Fringe), Texaco's Last Stand (Ohio Theatre/IGNITE Festival), and Media Madness (Kitchen Theatre Company, Ithaca, NY), among others. In December 2016 he performed his solo show Death Boogie at the Kitchen Theatre.

He is the founder of The Spoken Word Almanac Project, a poetry collective committed to writing poems on current world events. He was a member of the 2006 National Poetry Slam Team for the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe, was a 2008 Nuyorican Grand Slam Finalist, and was the 2009 New Word Artist for Urban Word NYC in conjunction with the Dance Theatre Workshop, now known as New York Live Arts.


The American Pavilion at the Cannes Film FestivalThe American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival: Internship Information Session
December 2, 2016

The American Pavilion’s Student Program offers participants a completely unique experience with unparalleled access to both the Cannes Festival and Market. Candidates seeking a career in the entertainment business (marketing, sales, legal, distribution, or public relations) can experience the inner workings of the global film industry through internships with companies participating in the Market. Students can also choose to serve on a team in the American Pavilion, where they can have closer access to daily programming, work on the conference and panel production units, make industrywide connections, and participate in the Pavilion’s in-house ticketing system for Festival and Market Screenings.

The American Pavilion also offers a summer program, The L.A. Intensive, designed for students and recent graduates planning a film or television career in Hollywood.

Spring 2016

Film/TV/Theatre Internship PanelFilm/TV/Theatre Internship Panel
March 4, 2016 

Recent graduates returned to discuss finding internships, turning them into jobs, and their perspective on growing opportunities in film, TV, and theatre. Panelists discussed what makes a good internship, where you can find them, and what to do when you graduate. 


  • Jessica Evans ’15
    (Reality TV development, Eastern TV and Ish)
  • Dana Lerner ’14
    (NYC theatre producer, Broadway Across America)
  • Evan Needell ’15
    (Freelance filmmaker, Parts & Labor)
  • Dave Karp ’16
    (PA on HBO’s VINYL, intern at William Morris Endeavor)


Michael BarakivaIthaca's Hanger Theatre Artistic Director, Michael Barakiva
March 15, 2016

Michael Barakiva has served as the Artistic Director of the Hangar Theatre since September 2017, after one year as the Interim Artistic Director. He is an Armenian/Israeli-American theater director who has worked in New York and across the country developing new plays and staging classics. His first novel, One Man Guy, published by Macmillan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), was ranked the #1 Gay Young Adult novel on Goodreads in 2014, named to the Rainbow List and Family Equality Council’s Book Nook and released in Brazil by LeYa. The standalone sequel, Hold My Hand, is due out in Winter 2019. Hangar credits include Dégagé by Mimi Quillin (word premiere), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Third & I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. 


The Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA) Internships page provides information for PMA majors and minors who are looking for internship experiences in a related career field. The Current Internships page has an updated list of internship and apprenticeship opportunities, along with actual student evaluations.