Chair's Workshops 2014-2016

Thursday, Apr 21, 2016

The Graduate Film Department at NYU Tisch invites industry professionals to speak or make presentations every Wednesday evening during the academic year.  Some prominent recent guests of the series include: David Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Steven Soderbergh, Darren Aronofsky, Jodie Foster, Ang Lee, Robert Elswit, James Schamus, James Franco, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Susanne Bier and David Mamet. 

Here is the full list of participants for the academic years 2014-15 and 2015-16:

September 3, 2014

Alumna Tamara Jenkins is an Academy Award nominated writer, film and theater director, producer, and actress. She is best know for her two feature films, the semi-autobiographical cult classic The Slums of Beverly Hills (1998) and the critically acclaimed tragicomedy The Savages (2007).

September 10, 2014

Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair are a writing/directing team based out of Brooklyn, NY. Their first collaboration, High Maintenance, has become widely recognized as one of the best series on the web by the likes of The New YorkerEntertainment WeeklyThe Guardian, Slate, Indiewire and numerous other outlets. Blichfeld, an Emmy-winning casting director (30 Rock) and Sinclair, an actor and editor (and star of High Maintenance), also produce the series. 

September 17, 2014

An NYU-Tisch School of the Arts graduate, Ted Hope has been an independent producer for nearly thirty years. Among Ted Hope’s twenty-three Sundance entries, he holds the record with three Grand Jury prize winners, American Splendor, The Brothers McMullen, and What Happened Was… In the 1990s, Hope formed an early incarnation of Focus Features called “Good Machine” with friend, James Schamus. Together, they produced Todd Solondz’s Happiness as well as many of Ang Lee’s early films, including The Ice Storm and Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. Ted went on to found another New York production company, “This is That” which has produced seventeen films since its inception. This is That's first release, 21 Grams, received two Academy Award nominations and five BAFTA nominations. The company's second release, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, won an Oscar for best screenplay. Hope was also a producer on The Savages, which had two Oscar nominations. Hope worked as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, before joining Fandor as CEO in February 2014. He recently published a film memoir “Hope for Film,” and posts regularly on his HopeForFilm blog, home of the “Truly Free Film” which Variety has called a “fantastic resource.”

September 24, 2014

David Fincher is a film & TV director and producer. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for the romantic fantasy drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and the drama The Social Network (2010). For the latter, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director and the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. He is also known for having directed the psychological thrillers Seven (1995), Fight Club(1999), and Gone Girl (2014); and the mystery thrillers Zodiac (2007) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), as well as being instrumental in the creation of the U.S. television series House of Cards.

October 15, 2014

Oscar-nominated producer Albert Berger held a Chair’s Workshop on how projects change creatively during development and post-production. Berger formed Bona Fide Productions in 1993 with partner, Ron Yerxa. Together they produced Alexander Payne's Election, Cold Mountain, Steven Soderbergh's King of the Hill, Bee Season, Little Miss Sunshine, The Ice Harvest, and Nebraska among other films. After graduating from Tufts University, Albert Berger returned to his native Chicago where he owned and managed the Sandburg Theater, a revival showcase for obscure and classic films. He attended Columbia University Film School before moving to Los Angeles to write scripts for Paramount, TriStar, MGM, Orion, and producer Roger Corman. Berger went on to serve as vice president of development for Marvin Worth Productions at Paramount Pictures, where he worked on several projects, including Malcolm X.

October 22, 2014

Alumna Lisa Bruce did a Chair’s Workshop and a screening of her Oscar-nominated film The Theory of Everything before it was released in theaters. She has an extensive background in domestic and international feature production for both independent and studio films, working in all capacities of production with budgets ranging form $300,000 to $30,000,000.  Most recently she co-executive produced No Strings Attached starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kuchner and The Theory of Everything. In 2009 she co-produced Case 39 staring Renée Zellweger, Ian McShane and Bradley Cooper and executive produced Fighting, starring Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard.

October 29, 2014

Michael Slovis began his professional career in film in 1981. For many years, he worked as a camera operator on films. He became a cinematographer in 1995, working on the films Party Girl (1995), Half Past Dead (2002), Halloweentown (1998), The Thirteenth Year (1999), and Ready to Run (2000). In 2000, Slovis became a cinematographer on the series Ed, and went on to work on the series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, New Amsterdam, Fringe, Royal Pains, Rubicon, Running Wilde, and Breaking Bad. As a director, Slovis made his debut with the 2001 television film Spirit. Later, he went on to direct episodes of Ed, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Rubicon, Breaking Bad, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Hell on Wheels. In 2006, Slovis won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a One Hour Series for his work on CSI.

November 21, 2014

Alumnus Levan Koguashvili began working as a news reporter for Georgia’s first independent TV station before making several short films and the documentary Women from Georgia. His first fictional feature, Street Days, was the country’s official submission to the 2014 Academy Awards.

December 3, 2014

As President of IFC, Jonathon Sehring oversees multiple brands that are devoted to bringing the best of specialty films to the largest possible audience: Sundance Selects, IFC Films, IFC Midnight, IFC Productions and the IFC Center. One of the most well-respected executives in the specialty film business, Sehring is considered a maverick among his peers for expanding the audience for independent films.  He was part of the team that launched The Independent Film Channel in 1994 and later created IFC Films and each of the brands that it operates today. Sehring is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Trustee of BAFTA East Coast and sits on the International Arts Advisory Committee of the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio.  He is the recipient of the Chevalier of Arts and Letters, awarded by the French government, the Sarasota Film Festival’s Filmmakers’ Tribute Excellence in Producing Award, the Woodstock Film Festival’s Industry Maverick Award and an IFP Gotham Tribute Honoree.

December 10, 2014

Alumna Debra Granik is the Academy-Award-nominated director and co-writer of Winter's Bone, which was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Her first feature film, Down to the Bone, won the Best Director prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Her newest film, the documentary Stray Dog, screened at the New York Film Festival and was nominated for the Best Documentary prize at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards. 

February 11, 2015

Scott Macaulay is a New York based producer and editor of Filmmaker Magazine.  With his partner Robin O'Hara and his production company Forensic Films, Macaulay has produced over twenty-five films including Gummo, Idlewild, Raising Victor Vargas and Julien Donkey Boy. In 1998 Macaulay and O'Hara were the recipients of an Independent Spirit Award for their producing work. As the founding editor of Filmmaker Magazine, Macaulay directs the editorial content of each issue as well as the annual "25 New Faces of Independent Film.”    

February 18, 2015

A screening of Cronies was followed by a workshop with alumni Director Michael J. Larnell, DP Fede Cesca, and Producers Marttise Hill & Julius Pryor. In his first feature, writer/director/producer Michael J. Larnell catches a universal moment, then makes it completely his own. The three young actors crackle with energy, kinetic, potential, everything - their moves and words curved by the distinctive lope of urban St. Louis. Spike Lee served as the Executive Producer. 

March 4, 2015

Vice Chancellor of NYU Linda Mills is also the Co-Founder of the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership, the Co-Chair of the Of Many Advisory Board, and the inaugural Lisa Ellen Goldberg professor at New York University. Mills, born in Los Angeles, California co-directed the documentary, Auf Wiedersehen: 'Til We Meet Again, a film that explores the intergenerational transmission of trauma from the Holocaust to 9-11. The film was an official selection at eight film festivals, including the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival where Auf Wiedersehen won an audience award, Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival and the Vienna Jewish Film Festival. Dr. Mills is also an accomplished producer; her projects have included “The Reality Show: NYU”, which received the 2010 Silver Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and The Heart of Intimate Abuse, for which she received a Telly Award. Of Many had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014.

March 11, 2015

Richard LaGravenese is an academy award nominated screenwriter and film director. Writing credits include: the adapted screenplay for Unbroken, the HBO Emmy award winning Behind The Candelabra, (Emmy Nomination for Best Writing in Television Movie/Mini Series, BAFTA nomination Best Screenplay). The Fisher King (Academy Award, BAFTA and WGA award nominations), Water for Elephants, The Bridges of Madison County, A Little Princess, The Horse Whisperer, The Ref, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Beloved and Unstrung Heroes. LaGravenese wrote and directed the films P.S. I Love You, Living Out Loud and Beautiful Creatures, as well as “Freedom Writers,” (Humanitas Prize for Best Screenplay). He co-produced and co-directed (with the late Ted Demme) the Emmy-nominated documentary A Decade Under the Influence, (National Board of Review's William Everson Film History Award). With co-creator Tony Goldwyn, LaGravenese wrote and produced the critically acclaimed WE tv television series, The Divide. Most recently, he directed and co-produced the indie film musical The Last Five Years

March 25, 2015

Film Composer and Orchestrator James Sizemore, did a Chair’s Workshop on the role of music in film. Most recently, James completed a three-year collaboration with director Peter Jackson and composer Howard Shore, orchestrating and arranging the music for The Hobbit TrilogyWith a versatile background in many musical styles, his music ranges from the big Broadway musical numbers written for the recent Orenthal: The Musical to the ambient soundscapes heard in the award winning scores to David Cronenberg’s films Maps to the Stars and CosmopolisHis versatility can also be heard in Jon Stewart’s recent film Rosewater, where ethnic Persian soloists intermingle with hip-hop and rock influences. His music has been used on hundreds of episodes of network television, and he has taught on the faculties of New York University and the CUNY College of Technology.

April 8, 2015

Sofia Coppola is an accomplished screenwriter, director, producer and actress. In 2003, she received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the comedy-drama Lost in Translation, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2010, with the drama Somewhere, she won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. 

September 19, 2015

Killer Films was founded in 1995 in New York by Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler. The company quickly established itself at the forefront of independent cinema. Christine Vachon alone has produced 100 films. Known for delivering challenging, thought-provoking and original movies from filmmakers with distinctive visions, Killer's films have swept the arena of top festivals worldwide, been nominated for 9 Academy Awards and 25 Emmys.  In 2005 the company was honored with a retrospective at MOMA. In 2014, they merged with Glass Elevator Media to form Killer Content, with plans to develop content for a wide range of platforms.

October 14, 2015

While at NYU, alumna Stewart Thorndike was a Tisch Fellow and winner of the Fusion Festival Screenwriting Competition. Her thesis short TESS AND NANA, premiered at SXSW and was a finalist for the Wasserman Award. Stewart has a vested interest in genre filmmaking and has taken the horror film world by storm. Her recent debut feature, LYLE, starring Gabby Hoffman, was shot on a micro-budget as a response to the struggles of industry financing. It premiered at OutFest in Los Angeles, after which Stewart and her producer Alex Scharfman (NYU Stern MBA ’14) followed a self-distribution model to successfully create buzz around the film. Lyle appeared in countless film and culture magazines and blogs, as well as topped many genre lists in a year of good horror flicks. The film was then acquired by Breaking Glass Pictures and has just been released on DVD and VOD.    

October 16 & 17, 2015

DP Chris Manley conducted an Alexa Camera and Lighting demonstration on the 16th and a Chair’s Workshop on the 17th. After graduating from AFI in 1994, Chris Manley racked up a long list of interesting credits working on genre films and television, including episodes for CSI: NY, Prison Break and Homeland amongst many others. Over the years his impressive body of work has garnered him numerous awards and nominations. Most notably he was the DP on over 70 episodes of Mad Men, as well as directing 4 episodes. (Remarkably, the first episode he ever directed was the powerful and unforgettable penultimate episode of season 5 Commissions and Fees!) His work on Mad Men drew him 4 Emmy nominations and his most recent Emmy nod was for his work on The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. Chris is currently the DP for Showtime’s Masters of Sex.

November 11, 2015

Film director Joshua Oppenheimer is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” (2015-2019). His debut feature film, The Act of Killing, was named Film of the Year in 2013 by the Guardian and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards, including the European Film Award 2013, BAFTA 2014, Asia Pacific Screen Award 2013, Berlinale Audience Award 2013, and Guardian Film Award 2014 for Best Film. It was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary, and has been released theatrically in 31 countries. His second film, The Look of Silence, premiered In Competition at the 71st Venice Film Festival, where it won five awards including the Grand Jury Prize, the International Critics Award and the European Film Critics Award. Since then, The Look of Silence has gone on to receive numerous other awards and nominations including the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary, and an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature. Oppenheimer is a partner at Final Cut for Real in Denmark, and Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster in London.

November 18, 2015

Alumnus Jonas Carpignano did a Chair’s Workshop with a screening of his shorts (A Chjana and A Ciambra) plus his first feature Mediterranea. At NYU, his second year film, the short, A Chjana, won the Controcampo Award for Best Short Film at the 68th Venice Film Festival and was awarded a Nastro D’Argento Special Mention from the Association of Italian Film Critics (SNGCI). His last short film, A Ciambra, won the Discovery Prize at the 53rd Semaine De La Critique at Cannes. His work has been shown in countless prestigious film festivals and his first feature, Mediterranea, had it's world premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival in the Semaine De la Critique where it garnered great critical acclaim.  Jonas went on to win the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Director, the Golden Pyramid at the Cairo International Film Festival, and the National Board of Review Best Directorial Debut for his feature. Receiving distribution by IFC Films, it opened theatrically in the U.S. on November 20, 2015. Jonas is an alumnus of the 2012 Sundance Screenwriters & Directors Lab, and the winner of the Sundance/Mahindra Global filmmaking award. In 2012 Jonas was one of the Top 25 New Faces in Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine.

December 8, 2015

French producer Sylvain Bursztejn held a Brown Bag Lunch Q&A. He has produced more than of 25 films since 1989. He is best known for his French-Chinese films such as the Cannes Festival winners Spring Fever, Luxury Car, and the Locarno Golden Leopard winner She, A Chinese. His work has played at numerous prestigious festivals and he continues to be active in the European film industry while also heading the production company Amber Films.    

December 9, 2015

Joseph Reidy graduated in 1976 from Tisch School of the Arts with degrees in Film and Dramatic Literature. After completing the Directors Guild of America’s Assistant Director Training Program, Joe worked as a Second AD and First AD on well over 50 feature films and has often been credited as Co-Producer. Although Reidy has worked primarily for Martin Scorsese, he has also assisted Oliver Stone, Robert Redford, Sidney Lumet, Sam Mendes, Darren Aronofsky, Mike Newell, Angelina Jolie and other directors.  Among his credits as First Assistant Director are Goodfellas, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Age of Innocence, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Casino, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Quiz Show, The Departed, Black Swan, and Unbroken. He assisted director Jodie Foster on the upcoming Money Monster, and is currently working for Steven Soderbergh on Mosaic.

February 10, 2016

After starting work in television, Gary Ross got his big break when he wrote the Tom Hanks hit Big.  He followed the success of that film with a series of notable screenwriting credits including Mr. Baseball, Dave, Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. Pleasantville also marked Ross's directorial debut. He went on to direct Seabiscuit, nominated that year for Best Picture, and the first installment of The Hunger Games, which he adapted for the screen alongside the series novelist Suzanne Collins. Ross has been nominated for a total of 4 Academy Awards. He is currently in post-production for the Civil War era film Free State of Jones starring Matthew McConaughey.

February 17, 2016

Tom Bernard is the Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics (with Michael Barker). Over the past 25 years, Bernard has worked with many of the world's finest independent filmmakers including Pedro Almodóvar, Robert Altman, Woody Allen, Frances Coppola, David Cronenberg, Guillermo del Toro, Jim Jarmusch, Ang Lee, Richard Linklater, Errol Morris, Wim Wenders, and many more. Honors bestowed on Bernard's films include 25 Academy Awards and 101 Academy Award nominations, including three for Best Picture (Howard's End, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Capote) as well as ten Opening Night Presentations at NYFF. He has also received the Honors Award from the DGA, the Gotham Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from the IFP, and the FINDIE Spirit Award amongst numerous other accolades. Bernard is an Academy and BAFTA member, and sits on the Sundance Advisory Board, the Tribeca Film Festival Advisory Board and the Monmouth University Communication Board.

March 2, 2016

Alumnus Andrij Parekh and his wife Sophie Barthes, were participants at a Chair’s Workshop and mixer with Columbia film students. Andrij studied cinematography at the FAMU film school in Prague and at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where he received his MFA in 2001. Andrij was nominated for the 1998 Eastman Excellence in Cinematography Award, apprenticed on The Yards (2000) with Harris Savides, and is a recipient of the 2001 & 2003 ASC Heritage Award for Cinematography.  Andrij has shot over twenty features to date including Madame Bovary & Cold Souls (Director Sophie Barthes), Blue Valentine (Director Derek Cianfrance), and Half Nelson (Director Ryan Fleck).  He recently completed the HBO mini-series Show Me A Hero and the feature, The Zookeeper’s Wife (Director Niki Caro). His films have played at many international festivals including Cannes, Toronto, and Sundance. Andrij was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” and was included as one of Variety magazine’s “10 Cinematographers to Watch. Sophie is a director and writer. In 2009, Sophie’s directorial feature film debut, Cold Souls, was released in the US by Samuel Goldwyn, and was also distributed worldwide. The film stars Paul Giamatti and Emily Watson and was shot by Andrij Parekh. Prior to its theatrical release, Cold Souls played in competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and went on to play in more than thirty international film festivals. Sophie completed a residency at the Sundance Screenwriters & Directors Lab and was named one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film".  Her second feature MADAME BOVARY (also shot by Andrij Parekh), starring Mia Wasikowska, Paul Giamatti, Ezra Miller and Rhys Ifans, was released in the Spring 2015. She is a recipient of the Annenberg Foundation Film Fellowship.    

March 9, 2016

Alumna Chloe Zhao participated in a Chair’s Workshop, showing scenes from her film Songs My Brothers Taught Me. Zhao’s directoral feature debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me premiered in US Dramatic Competition at Sundance Film Festival and Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival; and was nominated for Best First Film, Best Cinematography and Someone to Watch Award at the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards. She was supported by organizations such as Sundance Institute, San Francisco Film Society, IFP, Film Independent, Cinereach and Time Warner Foundation.  

March 23, 2016

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s feature film debut On the Ice premiered at Sundance 2011 and won Best First Feature and the Crystal Bear for Generations 14plus at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival; The FIPRESCI Prize for Best New American Film at the Seattle International Film Festival; and Best Feature and Best Cinematography at the 2011 Woodstock Film Festival.  His short film Sikumi premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking. Other films include Natchiliagniaqtuguk Aapagalu (Seal Hunting With Dad), which had its premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, Kinnaq Nigaqtuqtuaq (The Snaring Madman), which won Best Short film at the 2006 American Indian Film Festival, Such A Perfect Day, and When The Season Is Good: Artists Of Arctic Alaska, a feature documentary.

April 20, 2016

Susanne Bier is an accomplished writer and director, who won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011 for In A Better World. The film also brought her the Italian Golden Globe for Best European Film and the Best Director award at the European Film Awards. Bier has most recently directed a six-part BBC/AMC series adaptation of John Le Carré's The Night Manager, starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. The series has already aired on BBC, becoming the most viewed TV-drama in ten years. Bier also directed the award-winning Things We Lost in the Fire, starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro, her first English language film. Prior to this, she had helmed the multi-award winning After the Wedding (2006), which was also an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film; and Brothers (2004), which, among others, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and the Boston Independent Film Festival. In 2002, Bier directed Open Hearts, shot in accordance with the Dogme ’95 filmmaking aesthetic. The film won numerous awards. Bier also co-wrote and directed the romantic comedy The One and Only (1999), which was the biggest domestic film in Denmark for twenty years. In 2012, Bier made her triumphant return to the genre with Love Is All You Need, starring Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm. Bier’s most recent works include Serena (2014) starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and A Second Chance (2014), which is Bier's 14th film, featuring a Scandinavian all-star cast led by Game of Thones’ actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.