Professional Directions Series

About Professional Directions

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


Past Professional Directions listed below:

Spring 2024

Women in Charge

Feb 16, 2024  

Erin Jones-Wesley, Simone Harris, Chigo Menakaya, and Alexandria Whitner, four execs from Lionsgate, Proximity Media, Blackmaled Productions, and SpringHill Studios will join virtually to talk all things TV and Film development. They'll answer questions about developing taste, how to choose a good story, the process of taking a story from script to screen, and how they got started in the business. 


So You Think You Wanna Produce?


Tyler Young, Maura Chanz, Bryant Lydell, and Duran Jones will join virtually to discuss their work as producers. Come get the inside scoop on different kinds of producing and which paths might suit you! We'll cover everything from scripted to unscripted, game shows, docu-series, feature films, award shows, and more. 

Fall 2023

Screen Acting Panel and Q&A

November 13, 2023  

The panelists are Novi Brown (Sistas), Tristen Winger (Insecure, So Help Me Todd), Chase Anthony (Bigger), Carolyn Michelle Smith (Cherish The Day, Russian Doll, The Chi), Gratiela Brancusi (1884), Bria Henderson (Mrs. America, The Good Doctor), D.K. Uzoukwu (Insecure, Clean Slate), and Gabrielle Ryan (Power Book IV). 


A Conversation with Filmmaker Stewart Thorndike

November 15th, 2023 

Stewart Thorndike is a writer and director who makes feminist genre films. Stewart’s second feature film, BAD THINGS, premiered in competition at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. BAD THINGS is a queer feminist horror film starring Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, and Molly Ringwald and it premiered in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival. Stewart earned her MFA at NYU and is a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society’s Women Filmmaker Fellowship for women in genre. 

Spring 2023

A Conversation with Gabriella Moses

Feb 16, 2023  

Gabriella A. Moses is an award-winning director, writer, and production designer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Her production design work has been featured across top film festivals across the globe including Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and SXSW. 


A Conversation with Daniel Passer (Clown Conceptor, Cirque de Soleil, CalArts)

March 13th, 2023 

Daniel Passer creates work as a performer, writer and director. Daniel currently is on the faculty of the Theater School at CalArts where he is also the Associate Director of Performance. He has taught Commedia/Clown/Improvisation at Moscow Art Theatre, Cirque du Soleil, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Brown University, Harvard, Cornell, CalArts, Trinity College, The Second City and was a Master Acting Teacher for The Edward Albee Theatre Festival and the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. 


 A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker – David Siev (BAD AXE) 

March 16th, 2023 

David is a first-generation Cambodian-Mexican-American filmmaker. Prior to directing his SXSW award-winning feature debut, Bad Axe, David attended the University of Michigan film school. He spent his early career embracing the versatility of guerrilla filmmaking, working on various projects under director Jeff Tremaine including BAD TRIP (Netflix), THE DIRT (Netflix). He first made waves in the Asian-American festival circuit with the debut of his award-winning short film based on his father's experience of surviving the "killing fields" titled YEAR ZERO. David now lives in New York City and is focused on developing narrative and documentary projects 

Fall 2022

A Conversation with Raelle Myrick-Hodges 

November 8th, 2022

Raelle Myrick-Hodges has worked as a stage director for over 25 years and a producer/curator for more than 10. She is the founder of Azuka Theater in Philadelphia (over 25 years). As a practicing theater artist, Raelle had directed play genres ranging from classical work to interdisciplinary ensembles/presentations.


Q&A with Jimmy A. Noriega, Professor of Theatre and Dance, The College of Wooster 

November 9th, 2022

This Professional Directions session will explore the current environment for scholar-practitioners from diverse backgrounds, and how socially conscious performance can or should contribute to making a change in the world. Hosted by Debra Castillo, Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Emerson Hinchliff Chair of Hispanic Studies, Professor of Comparative Literature, and director of the Cornell Migration Studies minor.


Q&A with Keri Putnam, Co-founder of ReFRAME and former CEO of the Sundance Institute 

November 16th, 2022

Keri Putnam served as CEO of Sundance Institute from 2010-21, where she oversaw the annual Sundance Film Festival as well as the Institute’s extensive array of programs to support and present the work of storytelling artists around the world. Moderated by Jessica Bardsley and Daniel Pfeffer

Spring 2022

A Talk with Director / Cinematographer Rand Rosenberg
March 25, 2022

Rand Rosenberg is a director and cinematographer based in New York City. He has directed for clients such as Estée Lauder, Polaroid and Sony Music, and has worked extensively in hip-hop, documenting artists such as Trey Songz, Future and Wu-Tang Clan. His short films and documentaries meditate on information as reality and explore this through geography, simulation and sense experience. In 2018 he directed “Say It with Flowers” which premiered at Artbook at MoMA PS1.

In 2020 he was a contributing cinematographer to Vimeo Staff Pick music video “Hold That Weight.” Most recently, Rand was the cinematographer for “Chiqui,” a television pilot that had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

A Talk with Actor/Writer/Director Ellie Foumbi
March 27, 2022

Ellie Foumbi is an actor/writer/director from Cameroon whose work has screened at Venice, HollyShorts and Santa Barbara International Film Festival. She holds an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in Directing.

In addition to participating in Berlinale Talents and New York Film Festival’s Artist Academy, her projects have been supported by the Venice Biennale College-Cinema, SFFILM & the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The Gotham's No Borders Project Forum, the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, and the Tribeca Film Institute.

Ellie made her TV directorial debut on BET’s hip-hop anthology, Tales. Her short film, ‘HOME’ was commissioned by Netflix, in association with Film Independent, and premiered on their Netflix Film Club’s Youtube channel where it got over 18K views. Her first feature film, Our Father, the Devil premiered at the Venice International Film Festival.

She’s a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America.

Fall 2021

A Talk with NYC DIY Latinx filmmaker, Carlos Cardona
October 14, 2021 

Carlos Cardona is an award winning cinematographer, writer, and director with over a decade of experience directing and shooting narrative and documentary content. His first feature "Second Chance", released in 2016, won many awards throughout the international film festival circuit. Carlos recently shot the Vimeo Staff Pick short film/music video, "Hold That Weight" and his second feature, "Scenes From a Breakup", released in 2020, a neo-mumble core, New York City apartment drama, is currently streaming on platforms such as Amazon Prime. In the fall of 2020, Carlos wrote and directed "Chiqui", an independent television pilot about his parents immigrating to the United States from Colombia in 1987.

Spring 2021

Director and writer Boots Riley
March 4, 2021

Boots Riley is a provocative and prolific poet, rapper, songwriter, producer, screenwriter, director, community organizer, and public speaker. Fervently dedicated to social change, Boots was deeply involved with the Occupy Oakland movement. He was one of the leaders of the activist group The Young Comrades. He wrote and directed Sorry to Bother You, which premiered at Sundance and won an Independent Spirit Award. Boots has a new TV show, I'm a Virgo, following a 13-foot-tall Black man living in Oakland. 

Filmmaker Miguel Arteta
March 24, 2021

Miguel Arteta is a Puerto Rican filmmaker living in Los Angeles. 

He studied film at the Wesleyan Film Program with Jeanine Basinger. His first three features, Star Maps (1997), Chuck & Buck (2000), and The Good Girl (2002), all premiered and found distribution at the Sundance Film Festival. He then made Youth In Revolt (2009) with Michael Cera, Cedar Rapids (2011) with Ed Helms and John C. Reilly, and Beatriz at Dinner (2017) written by Mike White starring Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, and Connie Britton. 

His latest feature Duck Butter, with Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, and Mark and Jay Duplass, won the Best Actress award at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and is available on iTunes. 

His TV work includes Freaks and Geeks, Six Feet Under, Enlightened, American Horror Story; HBO’s Getting On and Succession, created by Adam McKay; and Forever for Amazon, created by Alan Yang.

He was awarded an Independent Spirit Award for his work on Chuck & Buck.

Life after college in film/TV/media with Mark DiStefano ’16, Kelly Riopelle ’20, and Samantha Weisman ’15
April 29, 2021

Samantha Weisman (’15) graduated with a degree in communication and film. She now works at ViacomCBS as a marketing manager where she creates branded programming and influencer marketing. She has also worked as a production assistant for Netflix and CBS shows. During her time at Cornell, she served as the Student President of Cornell Hillel, and is now a member of the Cornell Jewish Young Alumni Committee. Samantha lives on the Upper West Side of New York City with her fiancé David (CAS '15) and their dog Zoey.

Mark DiStefano (’16) is a writer and filmmaker based in New York City. He makes his living in post production and has worked for such clients as HBO, Vice News Tonight, Amazon Prime, and Warner Bros. For the last two years he has worked in dailies and was fortunate enough to be a dailies operator for In The Heights (dir. John Chu), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (dir. George C. Wolfe), and Tick Tick Boom! (dir. Lin Manuel Miranda). As a filmmaker, his latest short, “A Black Sleep,” was selected for the NY No Limits Film Series, The REEL Recovery Film Festival & Symposium, and The Paris Liftoff Film Festival.

Kelly Riopelle (’20) graduated with a BA in American Studies and minors in both Business and Film. During her time at Cornell she was involved with the Centrally Isolated Film Festival, and as a tutor for the Cornell Writing Centers. She previously interned in the mailroom at United Talent Agency's headquarters in Beverly Hills and at Circle of Confusion, a management and production company known for AMC's The Walking Dead. Currently, she works for a talent manager at Range Media Partners, a start-up representation company founded by former agents from CAA, UTA, and WME.

Fall 2020

Q&A with filmmaker/podcaster Stewart Thorndike
October 2, 2020

Visiting assistant professor Stewart Thorndike is an award-winning filmmaker who tells feminist genre stories. Her debut feature Lyle, a queer horror film starring Gaby Hoffmann, premiered in 2014 and continues to play at festivals (and on Amazon Prime). She recently created a podcast called COME ON, COME OUT, a dark comedy produced by Refinery 29 and featuring Mary Houlihan, Ana Gasteyer, Sam Jay and Gaby Hoffmann. Stewart earned her MFA in Directing at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society’s Women Filmmaker Fellowship for women in genre. She is currently writing a feminist slasher film that centers around women in their sixties.


Producer/Cornell alum Brian Dreyfuss
October 29, 2020

As a lit agent, Brian Dreyfuss launched the careers of many talented first-time writers and filmmakers whose films included Brick, Unknown, and The Babysitters. He formed Featured Artists Agency in 2006 and has packaged television shows at AMC and at Epix and represented and/or packaged the films including The Brothers Bloom, Seeking Justice, Looper, and Free Ride. His latest film, Haunting of the Mary Celeste (which he co-financed and produced) will be released by Vertical Entertainment on demand and all digital platforms on October 23, 2020.


United Talent Agency info session with Kelly Riopelle '20
November 5, 2020

Past UTA Summer Internship Program participant Kelly Riopelle (American Studies, '20) spoke about the internship program and application process for United Talent Agency (UTA), where screenplays find buyers, groundbreaking films find financing, new TV series are launched, and new companies are born.


A Conversation with Jess Kane

November 6, 2020

With years of experience in the film industry, primarily working as a producer, Jess Kane, Business Development Executive of, has worked on and consulted scripted content from feature films, to commercials, to episodic shows, and beyond. She understands first hand the challenges of breaking into the industry, bringing productions to life, and recently, how to be creative during Covid. She also is the executive heading the filmmaking and crew side of’s platform for the East Coast, which provides her with the insight of exactly what productions and companies are looking for when they need to hire someone.


Q&A with narrative designer Hannah MacLeod '12

November 13, 2020

Hannah MacLeod (A.B. English ‘12) is a writer and narrative designer at Crystal Dynamics (a Square Enix company) on Marvel’s Avengers. Previous writing credits include Telltale Games’ Minecraft: Story Mode season 2 and the StyleHaul web series Vanity. Hannah got her start in game development as a creative development assistant on Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: A New Frontier and worked in interactive web narrative at Pemberley Digital and Canvas Media Studios. Hannah earned her MFA in screenwriting from Boston University in 2014. Before that, she mucked stalls at Oxley Equestrian Center at Cornell University.


Q&A with film editor & NYU film professor Jenn Ruff

December 7, 2020

Jenn Ruff is a film editor, video artist, and collagist based in Brooklyn. She explores the alchemy that results from combining divergent shots, paper cut-outs, and celluloid. She believes that, in the right order, art can cast spells. Jenn has edited numerous award-winning films, including Sister’s Rising, which won best documentary at the American Indian Film Festival in 2020, and Erin Vassapalous Superior, coming out in 2021. Jenn has been an editing professor at NYU’s Tisch Graduate School of Film for over 15 years and has exhibited her films and collages at galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.

Spring 2020


Filmmakers Aja and Kaelan Selbach-Broad on a film shoot

Workshop & presentation with filmmakers Aja and Kaelan Selbach-Broad
February 27, 2020

Aja and Kaelan Selbach-Broad are twin filmmakers originally from southern Vermont, currently based out of central New York. After starting their own freelance production company Broad Brothers Productions in 2015, the two produced and directed 12 short films from 2016–2019, and worked on set in technical departments on many more. In 2019, on top of spearheading Syracuse University’s first in-house video production team, the two worked on more than seven feature films in lighting departments, including A Quiet Place II and The Binge.

Screenwriter Guinevere Turner

Screenwriter Guinevere Turner
March 10, 2020

Guinevere Turner wrote, produced, and starred in Go Fish (premiere Sundance Film Festival 1994) and has collaborated with director Mary Harron to write the films American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page, and the 2019 film Charlie Says, about the women who killed for Charles Manson. She was a writer, story editor, and actor on Showtime’s The L Word. She has written and directed seven short films, two of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Guinevere has taught screenwriting at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, University of Georgia, UCLA, and NYU. She published an essay in The New Yorker in April of 2019 and will expand on that essay in a memoir in 2020.

Fall 2019


Cynthia Wade sitting and leaning toward camera

Filmmaker Cynthia Wade
October 9, 2019

Cynthia Wade’s 2008 documentary Freeheld won a 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and 13 other awards. She was a lead producer on the 2015 fictionalized adaptation of Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell, and Michael Shannon. Wade’s 2013 HBO documentary Mondays at Racine was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. She is the director of the documentaries Grist for the Mill (1999, HBO), Shelter Dogs (2004, HBO), Born Sweet (2009), Living the Legacy (2009, Sundance Channel) and Generation Startup (2016, Netflix), and producer of The Gnomist (2015, CNN). She holds a BA from Smith College and an MA in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University. Wade has won more than 45 film awards worldwide.

Charles C. Stuart

Writer/Producer/Director Charles Stuart and Nyamon Nguany Machar (aka “Moon”)
October 23, 2019

Charles Stuart is an eight-time Emmy award–winning filmmaker and investigative reporter, and president of Stuart Productions, which specializes in documentaries.

Stuart’s work includes eight FRONTLINES; stories for 60 MINUTES; and documentaries for HBO, The Discovery Channel, A&E, TLC, Lifetime, CNN, MSNBC, National Geographic, and ESPN.

Moon’s story is one of resilience, having emigrated to the US from Ethiopia at age 5. Moon served in the US National Guard, following high school. She now works with at-risk youth in Portland, Maine.

In sharing her story, Moon shows that trauma does not have to be forever.

Kelly Riopelle '20

Kelly Riopelle '20, United Talent Agency (UTA) Past Intern
November 6, 2019

UTA is an agency where screenplays find buyers, groundbreaking films find financing, new TV series are launched, and new companies are born.

Hear past UTA Summer Internship Program participant Kelly Riopelle ’20 speak about the internship program and application process. TV Talent agent Jonathan Beckerman ’14, Motion Picture Talent assistant Ross Wiggins, and agent trainee Ellen Kaminski ’15 will also answer questions remotely from UTA’s Los Angeles office.

Broadway producer Erica Rotstein
Broadway producer Dana Lerner '14

The Business of Broadway: How Musicals Are Made with speakers Erica Rotstein and Dana M. Lerner '14
November 12, 2019

Each new show is like its own startup and the lead producer is its CEO. Following the moment of inspiration, there is no one blueprint or roadmap to follow—each project has its own unique needs, goals, and challenges. Producer Erica Rotstein will walk you through the development life cycle of a new musical in order to demystify the process of creating and producing a Broadway show from the ground up.

About the speakers:

Erica Rotstein is a theatre producer, talent manager, and educator. As Director of Production for Broadway Across America, she plays a role in the development and production of Broadway musicals and helps manage BAA’s portfolio of theatrical investments. Her independent work is driven by a passion for music and a desire to create opportunities for and collaborate with artists possessing talented minds and good hearts. Producing projects include Hundred Days by The Bengsons and Sarah Gancher; Water for Elephants by Rick Elice and PigPen Theatre Co. (in development); and The Make It Fair Project, a PSA calling for gender equality in arts and entertainment (

Erica is the Board Chair of Colt Coeur Theatre Company ( and holds an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Dana M. Lerner '14 is a Tony Award–nominated theater producer and entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of Red Pelican Creative, a social media management and brand enhancement company providing strategic advice and management consulting to clients primarily in the live entertainment and arts industries.

She made her Broadway producing debut in 2017 with Indecent (Co-Producer, Tony Nomination). Her off-Broadway producing credits include Hundred Days, Far From Canterbury: A New Musical and Application Pending. Dana has also produced concerts, stage readings, and developmental workshops.

Dana received a BA in Theatre Arts with a minor in Visual Studies from Cornell University in 2014. She is also an active Cornell alumni volunteer.

Andrea Berloff

Filmmaker Andrea Berloff '95
November 15, 2019

Academy Award–nominated writer Andrea Berloff ‘95 marked her directorial debut this year with her film, The Kitchen, a crime drama starring Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy and Elizabeth Moss. Berloff previously co-wrote the critically acclaimed feature film Straight Outta Compton. The film earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award, BET Award, NAACP Award, PGA Award, and WGA Award, as well as various other regional critics’ awards.

Her first screenplay credit was Over Stone’s World Trade Center in 2006. Her other credits include Blood Father, which was celebrated at the Cannes film festival, and Sleepless. She is a board member of the Franco American Cultural Fund and a frequent advisor to the Sundance Labs.

Berloff presented her film, THE KITCHEN, at Cornell Cinema on November 15, 2019.

Claire Roberson '15

MFA in Acting info session with Claire Roberson '15
December 5, 2019

Claire Roberson ‘15 is a Los Angeles–based actor and educator who graduated from UC San Diego’s MFA acting program. Claire received her BA in Literature and Performing and Media Arts (PMA) from Cornell University in 2015, and most recently worked as an assistant director and movement choreographer for the production of The Wolves, directed by Beth F. Milles.

In her time at Cornell, Claire acted in main stage productions including Blood Wedding and Titus Andronicus, along with a regional production of Julius Caesar with the Ithaca Shakespeare Company. Productions at UCSD include Desdemona in Othello, Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew, and Mary in Native Son, along with understudying the role of Jolene in At the Old Place at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Spring 2019

Chantal Bilodeau

Playwright & Translator Chantal Bilodeau
February 21, 2019

Chantal Bilodeau is a playwright and translator whose work focuses on the intersection of science, policy, art, and climate change. She is the artistic director of The Arctic Cycle—an organization created to support the writing, development, and production of eight plays that look at the social and environmental changes taking place in the eight countries of the Arctic—and the founder of the blog and international network Artists & Climate Change.


Filmmaker Shadae Lamar Smith
March 20, 2019

Shadae Lamar Smith is an American-British filmmaker whose heritage is set in the hills of St. Catherine, Jamaica. He received his BA in theatre performance from Fordham University and his MFA in Film Directing and Production from UCLA.

His film The Resort was shot on location in Tobago and offers an intriguing glimpse into sex tourism on the island. It has screened at The Havana Film Festival, The Zimbabwe International Film Festival, and the Munich Festival of Film Schools, to name a few.

His most recent narrative directing endeavor includes Miss Famous, executive produced by James Franco and starring actors Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, SNL), Jimmy Kimmel (Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel), and Tony Cox (Bad Santa, Friday). Miss Famous premiered at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival and screened as in-flight content on United Airlines.

Shadae currently directs music videos for Grammy Award–winning artist and entrepreneur He also art directs for’s lifestyle brand

Dramaturg Morgan Jenness
March 21, 2019

Morgan has served in dramaturgical capacities with theaters (and some films and developmental situations) across the country for over three decades. They worked in the literary office and as associate producer at the Public Theater, as an associate artistic director at NYTW and LATC, as well as creative consultant at both the Helen Merrill and Abrams Artists agencies.

Morgan has been a guest artist with multiple educational theater programs, is currently on the faculty of Columbia, Fordham, and Pace University and has been on multiple theater funding and award panels including NEA, NYSA, NEFA, the Drama Desk, and Herb Alpert Award. Morgan is also a recipient of an Obie for Long-Term Support of Playwrights, the prestigious LMDA Lessing Award, the first Elsa Rael VintAge Award, and a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award, under which they are pleased to work as a creative consultant for Double Edge Theater as well as several projects at LaMama.

Morgan is currently founder/creative director of In This Distracted Globe—a dramaturgical and management consultancy—and an artistic advisor to Taylor Mac.

David Lawrence
Faye Greenberg

Composer David Lawrence & Writer/Lyricist Faye Greenberg
March 26, 2019

David Lawrence scored High School Musical 1, 2 & 3American Pie 1 & 2, and a host of other movies. On television, you’ve heard his music on Jericho, Harper’s Island, and The Cleaner, to name but a few. He received a Quadruple Platinum CD for his work on the original High School Musical soundtrack. He served as Music Director on the Emmy Award–winning Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows. He has received two ASCAP Achievement Awards for High School Musical 3 and American Pie 2. He has arranged/orchestrated numerous records and shows, on and off Broadway.

Faye Greenberg, along with composer/husband David Lawrence, contributed songs to Disney’s High School Musical 1 & 2, The Happy Face Murders, MTV’s American Mall, and Holidaze, among others. She received a Quadruple Platinum CD for her work on the original High School Musical soundtrack. Faye received a Denver Post Ovation Nomination for her work on The 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol, and an LA Weekly Award for her work on An Elephant Never Forgets: An Evening of Trunk Songs. She has written many family musicals and her children’s songs have also been heard on Sesame Street, Out of The Box, Allegra’s Window, Big Bag, and A Little Curious.

Amanda Idoko '10

Writer Amanda Idoko '10
Friday, April 26, 2019, 12:00 p.m.
Film Forum, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts

Amanda is a class of 2010 Cornell grad who majored in Theatre Arts and spent a lot of time at the Schwartz Center. Originally from the Bronx, Amanda currently lives in LA. She got her break in the TV industry through the 2016 Disney-ABC Writing Program and was a writer on several ABC sitcoms: Imaginary Mary, The Goldbergs, and The Mayor.

Amanda broke into features after placing on the 2017 Black List. Current feature projects include Breaking News In Yuba County (starring Allison Janney), Plastic Man (DC), and Untitled Musical (starring Cynthia Erivo).

Set Designer & Dramaturg Sarah Lambert

Set Designer & Dramaturg Sarah Lambert '85
Thursday, May 2, 2019, 4:30 p.m.​
Film Forum, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts

Sarah's work includes collaborations with writer/director Leigh Fondakowski on SPILL, The People's Temple, and Casa Cushman, as well as the initial Laramie Projects workshops. Additionally, with Moises Kaufman and Tectonic Theater Project, she designed Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (premiere productions in NY, SF, LA, Toronto, and London).

Her designs at Cornell included Much Ado About Nothing (2000), Love's Labors Lost and The Importance of Being Earnest (2008), and The Servant of Two Masters and The History Boys (2009). Sarah has a BA from Cornell ('85) and an MFA from Yale ('90).

Fall 2018

Sara Holdren

Theatre Director & Critic Sara Holdren
October 22, 2018

Sara Holdren is the artistic director/co-founder of the theatre company Tiltyard and the theater critic for New York Magazine and She served as the artistic director of the 2015 Yale Summer Cabaret, where she directed the original production of Midsummer (which she co-adapted from the play by Shakespeare) and Sarah Ruhl's adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando. She is also a Drama League Fellow, a graduate of the Acting Shakespeare program at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and the recipient of the 2016–17 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.

Sara combines a lifelong love of Shakespeare and classical texts with an interest in contemporary ensemble training and devised theatre, striving for a rigorous and dynamic use of language, fused with passionate, physical storytelling, vibrant visual worlds, and a spirit of joy, collaboration, and play.


Lynn Tomlinson '88 & Jason Harrington
October 26, 2018

Lynn ('88) has created spots for Sesame Street, MTV, and PBS Kids. Currently, her clay-on-glass animated films and interdisciplinary new media projects investigate environmental and historical stories told from unusual points of view. Her films have exhibited at dozens of international film festivals. 

Her 2014 film The Ballad of Holland Island House received awards from Greenpeace, and The Elephant’s Song is currently on the festival circuit and recently won Best of Festival at the Peekskill Film Festival and Best Animation from the University Film and Video Association. 

Jason is a professor of film and animation at Ithaca College. His films have shown nationally and internationally and his last two films, Breathing In (2012) and The Tree with the Lights in It (2007), received multiple awards, including Best Animation (SNOB Film Festival and DIGit Film Festival). 

Trained in traditional media, including drawing, painting, and sculpture, Jason incorporates these skills into digital media formats. He earned his BA in Human Ecology at the College of Atlantic, and his MFA in Film at Syracuse University. 


Producer Scott Ferguson
November 12, 2018

Scott is a two-time Emmy Award–winning film and television producer known for The Night Of, Only Lovers Left Alive, Brokeback Mountain, and All The Way. He has worked with a host of highly celebrated filmmakers including Jim Jarmusch, Stephen Frears, Mick Jackson, Jay Roach, Michel Gondry, David Mamet, James Mangold, Ryan Murphy, Alan Taylor, Danny Strong, Lisa Cholodenko, and Academy Award–winners Barry Levinson, Milos Forman, Sydney Pollack, Robert Benton, and Ang Lee.


Elliot Fox
November 12, 2018

Elliot Fox is an Associate Consultant for the DeVos Institute of Arts Management in the Arts Innovation and Management Program and the Executive Director for The Emelin Theatre Company. As the Managing Director of Primary Stages for eleven seasons he planned, produced, and developed more than fifty new plays and launched the Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA).

Elliot established the Fordham / Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting and served as its Co-Director. As General Manager and Associate Director of Signature Theatre Company, he established Signature’s first home on West 42nd Street and worked with Romulus Linney, Lee Blessing, Edward Albee, Horton Foote, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller, John Guare, and Maria Irene Fornes to present their seasons of plays. He is a graduate of Brandeis University.


Filmmaker Jesse Robinson
November 27, 2018

Writer/Director Jesse Robinson's Young and Innocent (2017) was the Audience Award Winner at the Richmond International Film Festival and awarded Best Debut Feature at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Young and Innocent was an also official selection in the Sidewalk Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival.

Jesse is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He has worked as Assistant Editor on a number of independent features, including Grandma, All the Wilderness, and Bleeding Heart. Young and Innocent is his first feature as writer/director. His next film is slated to begin pre-production in his hometown in northern Virginia.

Spring 2018

Yaara Sumeruk

Editor/Director Yaara Sumeruk
February 12, 2018

 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.

Ivan Rodrigues

Cinematographer Ivan Rodrigues
March 1, 2018

Ivan made his way from a small town in Brazil to acquire a master's 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.


TV, Film & Theatre Internship/Career Panel 2018
March 5, 2018 

Discussion topics included "What makes a good internship?" "Where do you find them?" "How do you get them?" and "What should you do when you graduate?"

The panel included:
  • Rachel Ellicot '15 (Paradigm Agency)
  • Jason Goldberg '14 (MTV, VH1)
  • Hannah Shuman '18 (Cornell University)
James Greenberg

Writer/Director James Greenberg '89
March 8, 2018

James Greenberg wrote and directed the 2017 feature film Future '38, as well as the movie Stags and a variety of award-winning short films. He co-created PBS' Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? for which he was nominated for two Emmy Awards, and wrote for all five seasons of its predecessor show, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

He also was a senior Performing Arts writer on a variety of MTV special programs, including Wanna Be A VJ, Total Britney Live, MTV Spring Break, and many more.

Kia Corthron

Playwright/Novelist Kia Corthron
March 23, 2018

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.

Josh Goldenberg
Michael Wilson

Film/TV Managers Josh Goldenberg & Michael Wilson
April 9, 2018

Josh Goldenberg went to Northwestern to pursue acting, but after two back-to-back summer internships, he realized he'd rather be on the business side of things. He started his career at Marc Platt Productions (LA LA LAND, WICKED, etc.) and Karz Entertainment (VALENTINE'S DAY), which led to a Vice President position at Red Wagon Entertainment (THE GREAT GATSBY, DIVERGENT). 

Michael Wilson transitioned to management and development, working at Management 360 in the TV production department. His clients have staffed on numerous shows, including AMERICAN VANDAL, FUTURE MAN, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADEPHIA, TRANSPARENT, ALTERED CARBON, LIFE SENTENCE, BERLIN STATION, VIDA, MADAM SECRETARY, QUANTICO, BULL, CHICAGO PD, IMPACT, TROLLS, THE TICK, and CHANNEL ZERO.

Laura Archer

Filmmaker/Producer Laura Archer
April 10, 2018

Laura is a Brooklyn-based Director and Producer. She is the founder of March Forth Productions, a Theatre and Film production company committed to developing and producing works by artists that expand the aesthetic horizon of theatrical and motion picture storytelling.

Laura is a member of several industry groups including The Lambs, Directors Discuss, and the Women in Arts and Media Coalition. She is also finishing her MFA at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at Brooklyn College.

Fall 2017

David N. Weiss

Screenwriter 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 Palmer

Screenwriter 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.

Stacie Passon

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 Berkley

Writer 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 Anderson

Publisher 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 Shaw

Theater 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 Pollon

Television 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 Perkinson

Director/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 Panel

TV, Film & Theatre Internship/Career Panel 2017
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)
Rick Schwartz

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


Spring 2016

Film/TV/Theatre Internship Panel

Film/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 Barakiva

Ithaca'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. 

Fall 2016


Sooni Taraporevala

Screenwriter/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 '86

Director/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 Tatlock

Screenwriter/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 Dauchan

Solo 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 Festival

The 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.