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MFA Showcase A Success

This past Friday, Northwestern’s MFA Writing for the Screen + Stage department held it’s annual showcase, featuring the work of the year’s graduating MFAs. Each of the 12 members of the cohort were allotted 10 minutes for a table read done by professional actors and directors from around the Chicago area. The talent was undeniable, the show a pleasure to behold, and the entire evening a delight. In addition to watching the highly entertaining and thought provoking work of these amazingly talented burgeoning writers, the night featured some guest stars including…

Julia Louis Dreyfus. (That’s right, it’s Elaine!)

Brad Hall. JLD’s husband and producer on such shows as SNL, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Frasier.

(By the way, both Julia Louis Dreyfus and her husband Brad Hall are alumni of Northwestern. Feels so good to wear purple sometimes.)

We were also graced with the presence of…

Amanda Watkins, the Director of Development at the Araca Group in NYC.

And last but certainly not least…

Kia Corthron, playwright, and Academy Award Winning TV writer for The Wire.

I’m truly counting my blessings right now as I look back on what unfolded but a few days ago. For the first time, all the hard work my cohort and I have been putting into building our portfolios really felt like it paid off. Not only did these notable people watch a play by little old us, but they actually seemed to enjoy it! I must, at this point, give many thanks to David Kersnar from Lookingglass Theater for directing my scene, as well as to Leah Karpel, JJ Phillips, Stone Pinckney, and Mandy Walsh for their spot-on acting in my atypical little story.

In case you are interested, here is the link to my Showcase submission. It is the hook scene from my play Lucky Penny –> Press Here.  If you are interested in reading the full script, please contact me by email at hollywould.ink@gmail.com.


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Northwestern MFA Showcase

Tonight I have the honor of hearing my work read along side that of my 11 distinguished colleagues in the Northwestern MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage Showcase. We are the graduating class of 2012…

Writer’s Bios

(in alphabetical order)

Chris Bowen

Chris Bowen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Studies and Creative Writing. While there, he received the UNCW Blank Slate Productions Best Cinematography and Achievement in Filmmaking awards.  He was also producer/writer/director of The Roaming Reporters, a bimonthly public access show for Student Body Television, and SIDES, a live, weekly sitcom for the stage.  Chris has received numerous honors for his short films including Best Comedy for Off the Wall and Best Film for Mime Unit at the One Take Film Festival, both of which he wrote and directed.  This past summer, he was a development intern at Lionsgate in Los Angeles.

David Crawford

Prior to entering the Writing for Screen + Stage program at Northwestern, David Crawford served as an academic advisor, where he worked with underrepresented student groups He is a recipient of the Regina Taylor: State(s) of America production grant for Cy.cle, a film he wrote, directed and co-produced. David also interned at Syfy in the unscripted department.

Neal Dandade

Neal Dandade has lived in Chicago since 2006. He has trained and performed at the Annoyance, Second City, and iO theaters. He was also a member of Stir Friday Night, Chicago’s Premier Asian American comedy group. He is currently an understudy for the Second City National Touring Company and an MFA candidate in the Writing for Screen and Stage program at Northwestern University. In Summer 2011, Neal was a writing intern at The Daily Show and the Colbert Report as part of Comedy Central’s Summer School Internship.

Erin Hays

Erin Hays holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater studies and psychology from Yale University and is a 2012 MFA Candidate from Northwestern University’s Writing for the Screen + Stage program. In 2011, her short play, CRUDE, was produced as a part of the Regina Taylor Project at Northwestern, and in 2012, her play, LOST AND FOUND, was a semifinalist at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Allyssa Hynes

Jersey girl Allyssa is the founder of the HynesSight Players, which performs adapted Shakespearean comedies for children. Since Allyssa jumped right into grad school after getting a BA in Psychology and Theatre Studies at Montclair State University, she is frightened of entering the so called “real world.” Allyssa is an aspiring TV writer.

Ethan Kass

Ethan Kass is a Chicago-based playwright and graduate of Northwestern’s MFA Writing for the Screen & Stage program. His play Square Peg, Round Hole was a 2012 semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and his most current work, Fat., will be workshopped at American Theater Company this summer.

Jenni Lamb

Jenni Lamb is an MFA candidate at Northwestern University in Writing for the Screen and Stage. Jenni came to this program after being an actor and improviser in Chicago for over 10 years. In 2006, her play Memento Polonia was “Highly Recommended” by the Chicago Reader. She has had readings of 10-minute plays at Chicago Dramatists, and was a semi-finalist for the 2012 O’Neill Playwrights Conference.

Holly O’Brien

Holly O’Brien holds a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, and is currently an MFA candidate in the MFA Writing for the Screen & Stage program at Northwestern University. This past summer, Holly interned at Chicago Filmmakers where she curated the short film program for Reeling: The 30th Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival. Holly plans to release a self-published anthology of her screenplays in January of 2013. To learn more about Holly O’Brien, and read samples of her work please visit hollywouldink.com.

 Dan Ochwat

Dan Ochwat worked as an editor and reporter for 10 years before enrolling in the Writing for Screen & Stage program. “Adrift” is his first stab at a monologue play. He is happily married, despite what
you might think after the play. Dan concentrates on feature-film writing, namely small American stories that range from cyberbullying to cuddling. Dan placed as a quarterfinalist for the Nicholl Fellowship. He has written and directed short films, and appeared in festivals you’ve never heard of. Upon graduation, he plans on forcing his 1-year-old son into modeling.

Milta Ortiz

Milta Ortiz is a playwright with an MFA from Northwestern’s Writing for the Screen and Stage program. Milta’s play, Fleeing Blue won the 2012 Wichita State University Playwriting award and will be produced in their upcoming season. Her play, Last of the Lilac Roses is a 2012 finalist at Repertorio Español’s Nuestra’s Voces play contest. She was a member of American Theater Company’s 2012 Chicago Chronicle playwriting team. She received grants from City of Oakland Cultural Arts and Zellerbach Family Foundation to write and perform original work and co-founded HyPE theater troupe and Las Manas Tres Spoken Word troupe.

Jessy Lauren Smith

Jessy Lauren Smith is a playwright and screenwriter whose work has been produced in Chicago, Boston, and Colorado. She has been a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and The Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program, and a finalist for the Heideman Award. Jessy’s other full-length plays include Famished, a dark comedy about hunger strikers, and Robostracized, a children’s musical about a robot who wants to be an ostrich.

Jen Spyra

Jen Spyra is a playwright and screenwriter with a BA in English from Barnard College of Columbia University and an MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern. Her humor writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. She was a semifinalist in the 2012 Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s conference for her play Guts, and her comedy pilot Titans was nominated for a 2012 Humanitas Prize. Her original musical comedy Ripper was produced at The Annoyance Theater this past fall and was Reader Recommended and a Timeout Critic’s Pick. She spent the past summer as a Script intern on Conan and returned to work on an offsite Conan production in New York, and will be working on Conan’s upcoming shows in Chicago this June.

 


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11:11 Make a Wish!

Everyone should dream and dream big. Here’s my list of Top 10 11:11 Wishes.

(Note: I imagine myself as Jennifer Lawrence in my dreams.)

10. I wish ya’ll would read more of my writing samples. Feel free to print them out and share them with your friends. It isn’t copyright infringement if it’s good publicity for me. If you read my blog you know I’m actually a screenwriter just trying to make her own way in this chaotic mess known as the film industry. I strongly believe that I can cultivate a fan base around my writing before getting an agent and getting produced. If you believe in that to, or maybe just in me, I invite you to take a look at my work.

Jennifer Lawrence reads, even when her peers are training to killer her.

9. I wish my heart would stop aching over a dead and beaten relationship.

This is not Jennifer Lawrence, but wouldn't that be nice.

8. I wish I had that body and didn’t have to do anything for it.

Damn, gurl.

7. I wish feminists would loosen up.

See what I mean. Not even a hint of a smile. Yeah, I know I'm objectifying Jennifer Lawrence for my own personal gain, but I do it with love.

6. I wouldn’t mind having something like this hanging around while I knit scarves, and practice my archery.

5. I wish I could dress up like it was the 40’s.

Three words: winter minx pelt.

4. I wish my old boss will invest several hundred thousand dollars into a small my small business schemes so that I can have a day job doing something I actually enjoy.

I'm going to open my own consignment and resale shop, and from the looks of that outfit, Jennifer Lawrence might shop there if she's ever in Philly. (And I ever get my shop.)

3. I wish to sell my first screenplay within 2 years out of grad school at Northwestern.

I sure won't look that glum about it, though.

2. I wish to win $5,000 a week on a scratch off lottery ticket today.

May luck always be in your favor. Riiight.

1. I wish to win an Oscar while I’m still young and hot.

Yup. Just like that. Except actually win.

What are your Top 10 11:11 Wishes?

Happy writing!


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Which Writer Do You Write Like?

Oh, man, I love these games. So I went to I Write Like.com to get the low down on my writing style, inserted a chapter from my novel (in progress) about Cupid (since it was like the only thing I had that wasn’t in screenplay format, which I thought might throw off the system), and it turns out that I write like…

H.P. Lovecraft!

Not really sure I got that considering he wrote “cosmic horrors”, one of the defining elements of which is the underlying belief that there is no divine presence in the universe, and my whole novel is about how the Greek gods are still running amok creating havoc in the lives of us wee people. But whatevs. I guess my writing fits into the category of “weird fiction.” Personally, though, I think I write more like this guy…

With a glass of wine and a devilish glint in my eye.

Hilariously, when curiosity got the best of me and I submitted part of my screenplay Coming Out, the little doo-dad came back and told me I write like Jane Austen. Now that’s funny. Why? Because I do like to take the piss out of the upper class. Boom. That’s two points for the text analyzer!

They just forgot to mention my keen sense of poolside fashion.

Anywho, as long as they don’t tell me I write like Earnest Hemmingway, I’m cool. Good thing I stay away from such thrilling topics as fishing. Okay, to be fair, he did write a lot about war too, but that’s just one more reason to believe that war is stupid. But enough about him, and back to me.

Huh? Oh, sorry, I spaced out for a second.

What do you guys think? Does my writing remind you more of Austen or Lovecraft?


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Beginnings & Intermedia Text

Say this is all you had to start with…

Press the botton below to watch a very short film.

Trampoline, Trampoline.

And let’s just say for the sake of argument that this is a short film produced in Scotland, with a run time of 13 seconds…What would be wrong with this picture?

There's nothing wrong with this picture, except that it's the wrong picture you should be looking at.

The picture I’m talking about is the abstract one of the elements of storytelling as both an art and a craft. Trampoline, Trampoline is a great as a beginning as much for a short film as the words would make for the great beginning to a poem or short story. The thing most people don’t think about in movies is that it all starts with the words on the page, and that makes it a brother to the prose writing arts.

Is there any lovelier a senstation than your hand moving swiftly across the page?

No. There is not. Because this is what separates us from the animals.

Honestly, kids, I didn’t know where I was going with this post when I began it, and it’s taken on a mind of it’s own, so I’d just like to step back and make a point about “the process.”

I’ve been talking a lot about writer’s block and procrastination recently, and I just want to point out that often times these can both be cured by a simple spark of inspiration. Trampoline, Trampoline set something off in me, and maybe it or something like it will spark something for you too. It doesn’t have to prove HUGE results to be of value. Take me for instance. There is something interesting and metaphysical about writing about writer’s block, especially as I’m experiencing writer’s block.

Yes, I know metaphysics can be a bit of a headache.

I think it’s interesting to think that when you put two things together it makes a third thing. Like staring a fire or writing a blog. Let’s look at how these two things work. Blogs for instance are stories told by blending of images (1st mode of communication) and words (2nd mode of communication) which in turn creates a third way of communicating via the intermedia text. In a nutshell, 1 + 2 = 3. Same goes for fire. combustible material + flash point = fire.

And now that I’ve gone from trampolines to hypothetical math I shall stop this train of thought.

My best,

Holly O’Brien

 

 


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Procrastination Sensation

So it’s Monday night and you’ve got a lot of work to do, but if you’re anything like me you’re procrastinating by doing something else like this instead:

Iron Man. Yes, please.

…And 2 hours later it’s back to…

These guys. Smoke if you got 'em.

Then maybe a little of this…

Ahhh, but if only.

No, but seriously. Get back to work.