Sunday, August 28, 2016

Privileges and Perspective

I believe in helping artists of color, but I'm experiencing some strange karma. In the last 2 weeks I've received emails from about four or five artists (all black) needing help or wanting some questions answered. I replied to every single request saying I can set aside some time to answer any questions, make recommendations, or meet for coffee. Radio silence. Nothing.

At the same time I was asked for help by a few artists (all white) and a conversation began, met some for coffee, sent along recommendations, help was given. It's hard for me not to notice a weird disconnect in putting something out there and then who responds, and it made me think about going to where the love and appreciation is, which may be beyond race. I was an artist-in-residence for two years at Brooklyn Arts Exchange and reached out to as many artists of color I knew b/c I had funding and free space for collaboration over a two year period. I was open to anything. Anything, pitch it, I'll do it or find space for it. The only people who ever replied and actually used the space were my buddhist dharma friends (white), an Asian theatre group, and white friends from college. During this period I actually started earning money in TV and I have donated to different projects, the overwhelming majority of which have been by black artists. In the few instances I've donated to non people of color I get a thank you note, praise, follow-up with progress reports. For the black artists I get a 'coolcool, thanks, whatevs' vibe and then radio silence, no follow-up reports. Some times I get an impersonal e-invitation to the show up later for an additional fundraiser or to pay some more money. I feel like I'm in danger of becoming a black artists who only helps out white people or who helps out white people the majority of the time b/c I actually get a response that's in alignment with my middle-class etiquette. So I'm trying to change...look at things differently. But I also feel like part of privilege is knowing etiquette and how to use connections to get what you want, and my community is at a severe disadvantage b/c of cultural habits, subconscious pessimism, doubt, and fear. I know it's not PC, but...just saying...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

15 Observations from writer/director Billy Ray

My WGA mentor Billy Ray ("Shattered Glass, "Captain Phillips," "The Hunger Games") invited me to an AFI screening of his new Amazon episodic "The Last Tycoon." Afterward he gave a master class in what it takes to be writer who is transitioning into directing. It's the first time this year I've attended a screening Q&A and had to whip out my notepad to write down all the advice. He even had clips ("Body Heat" and "The Godfather") to illustrate the camera subtext.

1. goal of a writer/director is to beat the page. If it's a faithful rendering of what you wrote down, then you are failing.

2. everyone knows that the camera captures subtext which means it must be stuff the character DOES NOT want to reveal. Make sure the actors know this when you are doing close-ups.

3. to get an actor to do something give them a verb, but also remember to give notes to the other actor in the scene to incite something in them.

4. in auditions get your lazy ass up and go out and grab the actors, shake their hands. Don't let the casting assistant just usher them in or you'll begin to feel nothing.

5. never engage in power struggle with actor in front of ppl. Clear the set or go into an office.

6. right before you yell "action" ask the actor 'do you know what you want?' so that it's at the top of their minds and not the blocking, camera, and the million other things.

7. right before you yell 'cut' give it five seconds. Tell the actors that. There will always be something in those quiet extra 5 secs that can be used.

8. know an actor's 'bag of tricks' and force them out of it. So if it's actor who overuses their hands make them do the intense angry scene with their hands folded or under their arms, make them fight against that urge and it creates natural dynamic tension.

9. change off-camera dialogue actors are responding to so that they keep it fresh.

10. change your socks at lunch. When you're on set and standing all day, your feet will start to burn. New pair of socks means new legs for second half of day.

11. ambition got you here, but paranoia keeps you here.

12. shake everyone's hand on set and thank them. It will take the crew about 2-3 days to realize you're not an asshole.

13. always deflect credit for anything good on to other depts and take blame for anything bad. You're the director! You get too much credit anyway, give it to others.

14. as a writer/director you must reject 'a film by' credit if offered. It's egotistical and a lie. Woody Allen doesn't use 'a film by' credit. Movies are a director's medium. We all know who directed the freaking film. You don't need to then stamp the entire thing as your 'creation.' And you don't get any more money for doing it so turn it down. 'A film by' credit is satan's ass crack!

15. Read "Directing Actors" by Judith Weston. It has a lot of the stuff in here. Write them down on notecards and have them in your shirt pocket on set so it looks like you're pulling from your own notes.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Scandal Monsters and Right-Wing Delusions

Oliver North accused Obama of bending over to the Iranian administration because the US sent money to Iran under an pre-signed agreement. Oliver North: the man whose name is synonymous with Iran-Contra, arguably the biggest illegal arms scandal in our nation's history that gave weapons to, wait for it...Iran! And this has been the surreal MO of the Republican party, which is to accuse the other party of doing the very thing they are intentionally and illegally doing. You get Oliver North, a disgraced officer involved with Iran, to accuse the Obama admin of being corrupt for following through on an agreement. They accuse Clinton of Benghazi conspiracy and launch 7 investigations which all find her innocent b/c the Congress rejected the State Department's request for more security in the embassies and consulates around the world. They obsess about Dems making the country weaker when the largest terrorist attack in our nation's history happened under a snoozing Republican president who received several warnings about a major attack and was literally caught reading a freaking children's book on TV when he heard the news...and he sat there, panicked, and had to be guided up from his tiny chair and out the door to go do his job. They accused Acorn of rigging the elections when Republicans are passing laws in each state to rig the elections by making it harder for Blacks and Latinos to vote. Conservatives say 'blue lives matter' and then consistently try to undercut policemen and firemen's pay and blue lives only matter when they're killing black people on camera. And 45% of the country (and over 60% of working class white people) vote for this. They are being lied to in such a strong and surreal way that they can't even accept the depth and detail of the deep con being played on them.

We wait and wonder if the next scandal, the next act of incompetence, the next Trump moment, the next audacious litany of lies will be the breaking point or at least wake people up from the irrational and 100% fictional bubble they live in. They drink lead-contaminated water, breathe coal-dusted air, watch their unions get eviscerated by conservative politicians while they scream about executing a citizen who has dedicated her life to healthcare, child care, equal pay for all. Love trump hates. But hate is like a bad drug that a lot of people can't kick, even when it's killing them. They keep looking for the target to hate, they keep contriving the next Clinton scandal.

For the record there was never a Whitewater scandal. It was a bad real estate deal. Nor was there a Travelgate scandal. A new incoming president let go a few people in his own White House. Nor was there Vince Foster scandal, Benghazi scandal, or email scandal. The Clinton have been the most investigated couple in our nation's history and the biggest thing they have come up with in the last 20 yrs was 1) Bill Clinton lied to hide an affair 2) Hillary Clinton using a private email server like her previous two predecessors who were Republican-appointed Secretaries of State 3) Secretary Clinton sending 4 classified emails on private server which was really 1 because 3 of the emails were incorrectly labeled as classified. One email out of 33,000. And yet a record number of people trust her less than a man who has been involved in over 3,000 lawsuits, knowingly ripped off families, didn't pay contractors who completed work for him, smears war heroes like John McCain and the Khan family, claims Mexicans have a penchant for being rapists and murderers, wants to ban Muslims from entering the US, and has shady ties to a Russian dictator running a kleptocracy that kills its own citizens with impunity.

A monster has been created through a bad habit. And we keep having to face this same demon again and again, during every election. I'm hoping Trump will inadvertently slay this beast of delusions. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

GET WHAT YOU WANT: August 2016

Brave New Film
Deadline: August 5th

Our program offers social justice advocates from communities of color and/or economically marginalized communities a one year, paid opportunity to work with Brave New Films and learn how to create and distribute media that makes a difference. By working alongside experienced staff, fellows build practical skills in digital storytelling, production, post-production, campaign strategies, outreach, and social media. Fellows spend the majority of the year in one of three areas: outreach, post-production, or social media. In the last two months they rotate through the other two areas. The fellowship equips activists to use film to support activism, and prepares them for  jobs in social justice advocacy, media, and filmmaking.
To complement the on-the-job learning, fellows also meet and network with film directors, activists, journalists, politicians and organizers, and they receive training in camera operation, database management, fundraising, and more.
As compensation, each fellow receives $772/week for the duration of the fellowship, medical and dental insurance, and holidays/hiatus pay. Fellows work full time (M-F, 9:00-6:00) in our Culver City, CA office.
For non US residents, we will assist with visa/immigration processing and can compensate a portion of travel. However, relocation/housing is not provided by Brave New Films.
This fellowship is a perfect fit, if you….
Feel passionate about social justice
Aspire to use film to support your activism
Love to learn by doing and pick up skills quickly through on-the-job training
Welcome opportunities to gain invaluable work experience
Appreciate a good story and can tell a compelling one visually
Possess a heart for progressive politics.

Yale Drama Series Prize
Deadline: August 15th

The Yale Drama Series is seeking submissions for its 2017 playwriting competition. The winning play will be selected by the series' current judge, distinguished playwright Nicholas Wright. The winner of this annual competition will be awarded the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, publication of his/her manuscript by Yale University Press, and a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater.

There is no application form or entry fee.
Please follow these guidelines in preparing your manuscript:
1. This contest is restricted to plays written in the English language. Worldwide submissions are accepted.
2. Submissions must be original, unpublished full-length plays written in English. Translations, musicals, and children's plays are not accepted. The Yale Drama Series is intended to support emerging playwrights. Playwrights may win the competition only once.
3. Playwrights may submit only one manuscript per year.
4. Plays that have been professionally produced or published are not eligible.  Plays that have had a workshop, reading, or non-professional production or that have been published as an actor’s edition will be considered.
5. Plays may not be under option or scheduled for professional production or publication at the time of submission.
6. Plays must be typed/word-processed, page-numbered, and in standard professional play format.
7. The Yale Drama Series reserves the right to reject any manuscript for any reason.
8. The Yale Drama Series reserves the right of the judge to not choose a winner for any given year of the competition and reserves the right to determine the ineligibility of a winner, in keeping with the spirit of the competition, and based upon the accomplishments of the author.

The Yale Drama Series Competition strongly urges electronic submission. By electronically submitting your script, you will receive immediate confirmation of your successful submission and the ability to check the status of your entry.

Electronic submissions for the competition must be submitted no earlier than June 1 and no later than August 15, 2015.

If you are submitting your play electronically, please omit your name and contact information from your manuscript.  The manuscript must begin with a title page that shows the play's title, a 2-3 sentence keynote description of the play, a list of characters, and a list of acts and scenes. Please enter the title of your play, your name and contact information (including address, phone number, and email address), and a brief biography (optional) where indicated in the electronic submission form.

If you would like to submit an electronic copy of your manuscript please go to:

Blue Ink Playwriting Award
Deadline: August 31st
website: American Blues Theatre 

The winning play will be selected by Producing Artistic Director, Gwendolyn Whiteside, and the Ensemble. The winner of this annual competition will be awarded the Blue Ink Playwriting Award of $1,000 and receive a staged reading at American Blues Theater in Chicago. There is a $5 administrative fee. Please follow these guidelines in preparing your manuscript:
- This contest is restricted to plays written in the English language. Worldwide submissions are accepted.
-Submissions must be original, unpublished full-length plays written in English. Translations, musicals, and children’s plays are not accepted.
- Playwrights may submit only one (1) manuscript per year.
- Plays that have been professionally produced or published are not eligible. Plays that have had a workshop, reading, or non-professional production will be considered.
- Plays may not be under option or scheduled for professional production or publication at the time of submission.
- American Blues Theater reserves the Right-of-First-Refusal to produce the World-premiere of the winning manuscript for (1) year beginning with the public announcement in March 2017.
-Plays must be sent as a Word document or pdf file to
- Send the $5 administrative fee to: American Blues Theater, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60610 or pay online here

Image Theater: Naughties
Deadline: August 31st

Image Theater of Lowell, MA ( is seeking submissions of short plays, sketches, songs, or monologues for our “adult only” evening of original works to be performed on Saturday, November 12, 2016.

We are looking for sexy, silly, scandalous pieces, limit four characters or less, single set… have fun, because that’s what this evening of theater is all about! To submit your play, monologue, or song, please send your work in a WORD format, along with full contact information on the cover page. Songs may be sent in Mp3 format, but lyrics should be included separately, along with sheet music.

Heading of submission: “ Naughties 2016”

Submission deadline: August 31st, 2016 no exceptions

E-mail your submission(s) to:, attention Jerry or Ann.

Image Theater is a not for profit theater company that has produced the original works of playwrights since 2005.

Radcliffe Institute at Harvard Fellowship
Deadline: September 15th

Radcliffe Institute is accepting fellowship applications from the creative arts until September 15th. Fellows receive office or studio space and access to libraries and other resources of Harvard University during the fellowship year, which extends from early September 2017 through May 31, 2018. Stipends are funded up to US$75,000 with additional funds for project expenses.Stipends are funded up to $75,000 for one year with additional funds for project expenses. Some support for relocation expenses is provided where relevant. If so directed, Radcliffe will pay the stipend to the fellow’s home institution. We work with fellows who have families to help with relocation issues for a smooth transition.
Fellows receive office or studio space and access to libraries and other resources of Harvard University during the fellowship year. Visual artists and film, video, sound, and new media artists may apply to come for either one or two semesters. In the event that they come for one semester, the stipend is $37,500. Fellows are expected to be free of their regular commitments so they may devote themselves full time to the work outlined in their proposal. Since this is a residential fellowship, we expect fellows to reside in the Boston area during that period and to have their primary office at the Institute so that they can participate fully in the life of the community.

Cullman Fellowship
Deadline: September 30th
Notification: March 2017
Award Period: September 6, 2017 - May 26, 2018
Stipend: $70,000

The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers supports projects that draw on the research collections at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (formerly the Humanities and Social Sciences Library). The Center looks for top-quality writing from academics as well as from creative writers and independent scholars. It aims to promote dynamic conversation about the humanities, social sciences, and scholarship at the highest level — within the Center, in public forums throughout the Library, and in the Fellows’ published work.
Candidates who need to work primarily in The New York Public Library’s other research centers — The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Science, Industry and Business Library — are not eligible for this fellowship.
In order to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers does not accept applications from New York Public Library staff members or their partners, or from people active on the Library’s Board of Trustees, Board Advisory Committees, or Library Council.
Please visit for detailed information about the collections of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.
Fellows are required to work at the Cullman Center for the duration of the fellowship term and may not accept other major professional obligations during the term. Some fellows may have a few prior commitments, but must limit research trips, attendance at scholarly meetings, and speaking engagements to short periods of time. Anyone who needs to be away for more than two days must notify the Center's Director or Deputy Director. The Library will pro-rate fellowship stipends for fellows who spend too much time away from the Center.
Fellowships will not be granted to post-doctoral fellows or to applicants doing graduate-school dissertation research.
The Cullman Center will not accept dossier letters in place of new letters of recommendation.
Fellows must be conversant in English.
Completed applications and supporting materials — research proposal, Curriculum Vitae, letters of recommendation, and creative writing sample or art work sample — must be submitted by 5 p.m. EST on September 30, 2016.

Marin Theatre Company’s Sky Cooper American Play Prize
Deadline: August 31st

Norton J. “Sky” Cooper established the New American Play Prize at Marin Theatre Company in 2007 to celebrate the work of the American playwright and to encourage the creation of bold, powerful new voices and plays for the American stage. The Sky Cooper Prize will be awarded annually to either an established or emerging playwright for an outstanding new work. The play selected as the Sky Cooper winner will receives a $10,000 award and a developmental workshop as part of the theater’s annual New Play Reading Series. The winning play will also be considered under option for a full production at MTC as part of the theater’s annual main stage season.

Sky Cooper New American Play Prize Guidelines
• Submissions will be accepted from August 1 – 31, 2015
• Submissions must be unpublished, original full-length plays in any genre.
• Musicals, translations, individual one-acts, and any play submitted in a previous year for the Sky Cooper or David Calicchio Prizes are not eligible.
• The submitted play may not have received or be scheduled for a full-scale, professional production prior to submission (plays that have had a workshop, reading, or non-professional production are eligible).
• Playwrights must be citizens of the United States.
• Only one submission per playwright is allowed each year; you may submit the same play for both prizes.
• For the Sky Cooper prize, the submission is required to include a professional recommendation.

About: Now in its tenth year, Marin Theatre Company's Sky Cooper New American Play Prize is awarded to an emerging or established playwright for an outstanding new work, and is given a $10,000 cash prize and option for production on MTC's main stage.These prizes serve to further MTC’s commitment to the development of new plays as a central component of its artistic programs.

PHASE I: Submit a completed online submission form and 10 pages of consecutive sample dialogue.
Agents may submit full scripts of their client’s work. Please do not send full scripts for Phase I unless via an agent or professional representation; unsolicited scripts will not be read.
We prefer sample pages attached to the online submission form in .pdf format, with last name, first name, (title of the play) as the document title. For example: Wilson, August (Seven Guitars).pdf.
PHASE II: Selected submissions will be invited to send full scripts for Phase II. All full scripts that have been solicited after Phase I will be read by a member of the Marin Theatre Company artistic staff.
All scripts will be read by a member of the Marin Theatre Company artistic staff. Please do not send more than the requested materials. Do not send videos, CDs or DVDs. Incomplete submissions will not be considered. Due to the high number of submissions, not every playwright will receive a response to their Phase I submission. No materials will be returned.
Winners will be chosen from among submitted and solicited scripts; final selections are made by Jasson Minadakis, Artistic Director.

MacDowell Colony Residency   
Deadline: September 15

The MacDowell Colony nurtures the arts by offering creative individuals of the highest talent an inspiring environment in which to produce enduring works of the imagination. Residencies are awarded based on a completed application to the Colony. Applications are chosen by a peer-review panel. Artists may apply only ONCE within a 24-month period - select the residency period that best suits your schedule. We are currently accepting applications for our winter spring 2017 residency season. The deadline is September 15, 2016.
The MacDowell Colony provides time, space, and an inspiring environment to artists of exceptional talent. A MacDowell Fellowship, or residency, consists of exclusive use of a studio, accommodations, and three prepared meals a day for up to eight weeks. There are no residency fees. MacDowell Fellows are selected by our admissions panels, which are comprised of a revolving group of distinguished professionals in each artistic discipline who serve anonymously for three years.
The Colony accepts applications from artists working in the following disciplines: architecture, film/video arts, interdisciplinary arts, literature, music composition, theatre, and visual arts. The sole criterion for acceptance is artistic excellence, which the Colony defines in a pluralistic and inclusive way. MacDowell encourages applications from artists representing the widest possible range of perspectives and demographics, and welcomes artists engaging in the broadest spectrum of artistic practice and investigating an unlimited array of inquiries and concerns. To that end, emerging as well as established artists are invited to apply. Applicants who are in a degree program as of the date of application are ineligible for a residency and therefore cannot apply.
Artists may apply only once every 24 months. MacDowell will only accept applications for the next deadline. Please refer to the applications dates in the column on the left for open application time periods.  Applicants will be notified of admission status approximately 10 weeks after the applicable deadline. Winter/Spring residency takes place Feb 1, 2017 -May 31, 2017. Notification: November 25th     
Processing Fee: A nonrefundable processing fee of $30. Payable by Credit or Debit Card.  
Princeton Arts Fellowship
Deadline: September 19th

The Princeton Arts Fellowship, funded in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be awarded to artists whose achievements have been recognized as demonstrating extraordinary promise in any area of artistic practice and teaching. Applicants should be early career composers, visual artists, conductors, musicians, choreographers, filmmakers, performers, directors, or performance artists—this list is not meant to be exhaustive—who would find it beneficial to spend two years working in an artistically vibrant university community. Princeton Arts Fellows spend two consecutive academic years (September 1-July 1) at Princeton University and formal teaching is expected. The normal work assignment will be to teach one course each semester subject to approval by the Dean of the Faculty, but fellows may be asked to take on an artistic assignment in lieu of a class, such as directing a play or creating a dance with students. Although the teaching load is light, our expectation is that Fellows will be full and active members of our community, committed to frequent and engaged interactions. An $80,000 a year stipend is provided.
Fellowships are not intended to fund work leading to an advanced degree. One need not be a U.S. citizen to apply.  Holders of Ph.D. degrees from Princeton are not eligible to apply.

Princeton Hodder Fellowship
Deadline: September 19th

 The Hodder Fellowship will be given to artists and writers of exceptional promise to pursue independent projects at Princeton University during the academic year. Potential Hodder Fellows are writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts”; they are selected more “for promise than for performance.” Given the strength of the applicant pool, most successful Fellows have published a first book or have similar achievements in their own fields; the Hodder is designed to provide Fellows with the “studious leisure” to undertake significant new work. Fellowships are for one academic year and provide the opportunity to pursue an independent project. Hodder Fellows spend an academic year (September 1-July 1) at Princeton, but no formal teaching is involved.
Fellowships are not intended to fund work leading to an advanced degree. One need not be a U.S. citizen to apply.  An $80,000 stipend is provided for this 10‐month appointment.

Playwrights First
Deadline: September 20

Playwrights First consists of a panel of judges looking for original unproduced plays with a unique point of view, founded by Carolyn French.
Requires one, original, unproduced play in English. Hard copies no longer accepted. No adaptions, translations, or musicals will be accepted. Include a summary of your playwriting history with your play.  $1,000 grant and a professional reading when feasible.  

Brooklyn Arts Fund
Deadline: September 21st

The Brooklyn Arts Fund aims to cultivate Brooklyn’s artists, arts organizations, and audiences through its support of performances, exhibitions, pop-up galleries, workshops, reading series, festivals, public art and more, all across the borough. This program is appropriate for arts and culture makers developing projects that contribute to the rich creative experiences that engage audiences all across the borough. Competitive applicants will clearly identify the audience they strive to reach, and articulate how the project’s outcome(s) will impact the cultural life of the borough. 

This program is appropriate for arts and culture makers developing projects that contribute to the rich creative experiences that engage audiences all across the borough. Competitive applicants will clearly identify the audience they strive to reach, and articulate how the project’s outcome(s) will impact the cultural life of the borough. Brooklyn-based 501c3 organizations and individual artists with Brooklyn residency may apply directly to this program. Program areas of funding include: dance, film/video/media, folk arts, interdisciplinary arts literary arts, multi-disciplinary projects, music/opera, theater/musical theater, performing arts community education and visual arts/crafts.

Funding is made possible through the generous support of the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in partnership with the New York City Council and Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. Additional support is provided by MetroPlus Health Plan.

Visit for complete guidelines and a downloadable PDF of application questions, for your reference. In order to apply, you will need to scroll down and create an account with Submittable.

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