I produced the Filmmakers' Workshop for New York Stage & Film's Powerhouse season up at Vassar this summer with NYSAF co-founder Leslie Urdang and artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer. It's the third year of a relatively new program and it was am amazing experience to play a role in selecting the nine kick-ass screen and TV writers: Azia Squire, Bat-Sheva Guez, Charles McNamara, Denise Meyers, Jed Cowley, Kyle Fried, Melody Cooper, Michael Cooke and Syd Stewart. We all spent a week in the woods at Vassar, joined by an impressive group of 9 industry mentors from NY and LA who volunteered their time and talent to dive into the writers' projects. Throw in a dream-company of 14 actors who brought everyone's scripts to life in table reads during the week, plus guests who came to lead masterclasses and share their experiences on panels - it was an intense, magical week. Here we are at our farewell dinner. Goodbye for now - but to be continued. Looking forward to see what's next for this talented group .
It's not often you get to present scenes of a work-in-progress at a beautiful historic theater (Santa Fe's Lensic theater), to a large crowd, and have world-renowned scientist-philosophers weigh in. OK, one of the scientists was my father, Michael Gazzaniga. The other was my collaborator on Caught in the Pulpit, Dan Dennett. So I had a leg up. But still. It was a one-of-a-kind evening and the audience reaction was heartening for the future of the play. Seems people are hungry for discussion about religion, and hearing the real words and struggle of clergy who no longer believe is a suprising and interesting way in to the conversation.
Thanks to David Krakauer and Jessica Flack at the Santa Fe Institute for the invitation to produce this event. And to the Santa Fe actors Elizabeth Wiseman, Hania Stocker, Charles Gamble, Sabina Dunn and Campbell Martin for giving voice to the clergy in the selected scenes.
A video of the event is available to watch here.
I am heading to Santa Fe in May to take part in a special event, part of SFI’s 2017 Community Lecture Series. Actors will present select scenes from the play I have been developing, Caught in the Pulpit, followed by discussion with cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel C. Dennett (who wrote the book/study the play is adapted from) and Michael S. Gazzaniga, a cognitive neuroscientist (and, not coincidentally, my father), about what brain-mind mechanisms might be at work in religious belief — and the implications for individuals and society.
I am excited to see what we learn from the event - and to visit Santa Fe and work with the generous actors who have agreed to take part in the reading. Elizabeth Wiseman, Charles Gamble, Sabina Dunn, Hania Stocker and Campbell Martin.
THE LINE is a half-hour dark comedy pilot I wrote with Serena da Conceicao. It was just selected by The Black List as part of their ATX partnership, to be sent to studio/network partners at HBO, Bad Robot, Carlton Cuse Productions, Amblin Television, Okay Goodnight, Hazy Mills Productions and Kilter Films for staffing consideration this season.
As part of this ATX- The Black List partnership, the script is also a semi-finalist for the ATX Season 6 Pitch Competition.
THE LINE is about the ghost designer for a celebrity fashion line for a discount superstore.
My play IN WAYS BOTH FRIVOLOUS AND DEEP was a finalist for Ashland New Plays Festival this year. And while I would have loved to be headed to Oregon for October to spend a week workshopping it, I'm honored it made it that far in the rigorous contest. And I *will* be going to Dallas to see a reading of 100 DEGREES CELSIUS which was a finalist for Echo Theatre company's Big Shout Out contest - honoring women playwrights.
I tend to be good on cranking material but less good at marketing the wares once they are done. But I have been making more of an effort to send scripts out in the world in the past year or so, and it's nice to see some ROI. Here's hoping there will be more opportunities to get the work out in the world in 2017.
After 12 days of non-stop film screenings, parties and Q&As, the 19th Annual Brooklyn Film Festival wrapped on Sunday night. I learned so much programming the narrative features and met some talented filmmakers. Very grateful to the volunteer screeners who helped me watch films all winter: Matt Brandenburgh, R.J. Foster, Jimmy Gartly, Taneka Morris, Robert Murray, Sarah Pirozek and Laurie Weltz. And glad I didn't have to be a judge but thrilled with the choices the jury (Marilyn Agrelo, David Chachere, Peter Christian Hall, Sarah Pirozek, Laurie Weltz) made.
I'll share more about the experience soon, but in the meantime, check out the winners and watch for their films in the coming year.
I've been watching feature films for months - along with the help of my volunteer screeners - to select some great indie films for the Brooklyn Film Festival this June. Very excited to share the line-up soon. In the meantime, here's some news about our theme and programming team.
My spec pilot YANK is on the 2016 WriteHer List. As Deadline Hollywood reports: "The scripts were culled from nearly 200 nominations and evaluated based on criteria including diversity of cast, the Bechdel Test, and the number and quality of female roles." Thanks to We For She for advocating for more women in TV.
YANK: When Bollywood Princess Mira Vijay has to flee the Mumbai mob, she must start over in NYC as a bikini wax specialist.
It's been a busy few months. A few highlights:
I am in the midst of a development workshop for my play Caught in the Pulpit , getting to spend time with a generous group of creative minds. More on this soon...
I'm pleased to be the new narrative feature programmer for the Brooklyn Film Festival this year. The 18-year old festival was named one of the top 50 festivals worth the entry fee by Moviemaker magazine. I will be spending this winter watching indie films and am looking forward to sharing the selections this June in Brooklyn.
I have been working on a rewrite of my pilots BABE'S which deals with an anchor baby business in southern California.
And I am continuing to write for Fortune.com and working on some behind-the-scenes pieces for a new AMC show. Stay warm and stay tuned.
From marijuana entrepreneurs to Guerrilla Girls -- these are some hard working women I wrote about for Fortune.
Now that my play SO CLOSE is published on Indie Theater Now, I am making an effort to reach out to those at local theater and colleges to consider producing it this fall for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
Read this interview with me on Indie Theater Now about the play, read the play - and help spread the word about doing it near you.
I enjoyed covering the controversies around the US Women's Soccer team and their ticker tape parade, crunching the numbers on the diversity of the Academy of Arts and Sciences newly elected Board of Governors, and taking a look at the finalists for The New MacGyver award to promote a female engineer protagonist on TV.
Not to mention interviewing Michelle Ashford, the showrunner for Masters of Sex.
Last week I had a reading of the first draft of a play I am working on, currently called Caught in the Pulpit, based on interviews with non-believing clergy. The interviews were part of a study by Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola, and they published a book (Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind) about their research.
I have spent many hours, days, months over the past year poring over original transcripts, identifying possible characters, themes, scenes. The amazing and generous cast of 11 actors who read for the small group of invited listeners brought these clergy to life splendidly. Now the hard part begins: the next draft. It is fascinating material and I am grateful to be working on it. I feel a great responsibility to Dan, Linda and the interview subjects to do their stories justice.
Here's a piece that Linda wrote about the reading, and about the play's development.
As a freelance writer, I am a bit burnt out on listicles, but I was pleased to be included in the 2015 Black List TV Staffing Book as one of 31 writers "who, based on the merits of their spec pilots, we believe have strong potential for staffing on television shows."
I was listed in the comedy section for my dark comedy spec:
900-Confess “Meet Jane D’O”
Jane D’O works at a sleazy 900 call center, eliciting confessions from strangers. But she’s no saint: She’s out to absolve her own guilt about people she’s left behind.