Professional Directions Series
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About Professional Directions
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.
Past Speakers: Spring 2019
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 will.i.am. He also art directs for will.i.am’s lifestyle brand i.am+.
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.
Composer David Lawrence & Writer/Lyricist Faye Greenberg
March 26, 2019
David Lawrence scored High School Musical 1, 2 & 3, American 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.
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 '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).
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 Vulture.com. 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.
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.
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 Institute, The Malala Fund, and elsewhere. She's currently in production on a documentary set in South Africa and teaches film at Princeton University.
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 IndieWire, inHollywood Magazine, and Movie Maker Magazine.
TV, Film & Theatre Internship/Career Panel
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?"
- Rachel Ellicot '15 (Paradigm Agency)
- Jason Goldberg '14 (MTV, VH1)
- Hannah Shuman '18 (Cornell University)
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.
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.
Film/TV Managers Josh Goldenberg & Michael Wilson
April 9, 2018
Josh Goldenberg grew up in South Florida, where he wanted to be an actor from the age of 7. He went to Northwestern to pursue that path 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). After selling a movie with one of Kaplan/Perrone's clients, they pitched the idea of management and brought him over—he's been there for seven years now after spending seven years in development.
He reps writers/directors who have been hired/sold scripts everywhere in the feature space (including the produced EXTINCTION, KODACHROME, REMEMBER, UNFRIENDED, HONEYTRAP, ARMY OF ONE, LIKED, BROTHER NATURE, COPENHAGEN [which won Slamdance 2014], LIGHT OF THE MOON [which won SXSW 2017], and DRAFT DAY [which was the #1 blacklist script in 2012]…as well as the just-announced SPLASH reboot with Channing Tatum and the upcoming Netflix film 6 BALLOONS with Dave Franco and BAD BOYS 3 with Will Smith/Sony). On the TV side, his clients have developed at all of the major networks (including the upcoming L WORD reboot) and been staffed on shows like HOUSE OF CARDS, THE OA, THE FLASH, 24, DECEPTION, SLEEPY HOLLOW, AMERICAN ODYSSEY, EXTANT, SCHOOL OF ROCK, WHISPERS, BIZAARDVARKS, and the upcoming WATCHMEN, WARRIOR, and LODGE 49, to name a few.
MICHAEL EC WILSON
Michael Wilson moved from East Coast to West Coast immediately after college, falling in love with Los Angeles and the entertainment business almost immediately. Starting his career in the UTA mailroom, he quickly worked his way into television department and developed a love for all things TV and representation. After UTA, Michael transitioned to management and development, working at Management 360 in the TV production department. From there, he moved to Kaplan/Perrone, tasked with building a bigger footprint in television, where he has been ever since.
In addition to representing his own list of clients in television and film, Michael is tasked with sourcing opportunities in television for all clients of the company. To that end, he 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. Additionally, he has worked with various television and streaming networks to sell projects including USA, FX, SyFy, TBS, ABC, FOX, and Amazon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 & 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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)
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.
Current Internship Links
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.