2014 NUEA Peer Groups!

Welcome to the info page for this year’s NUEA Peer Groups program! This year, we have 11 AMAZING peer groups, each led by a fantastic NU alum excited to share their experience and wisdom with you.

Peer Group consists of up to 10 NUEA members who share similar career interests in the entertainment industry. Each Peer Group meets with seasoned professionals in different disciplines – acting, producing, writing, directing, the business, etc. Each group will meet three times over a period of about three months.

If you are not familiar with Peer Groups, here are things you need to know:

  • You must be an NUEA member to participate. Not sure if you’re a member? E-mail membership@nueawest.org.
  • Each NUEA member gets to take one (1) Peer Group for FREE!
  • You are welcome to take more than one Peer Group. Each additional group costs $30.
  • Peer Group Leaders are wonderful, awesome people who take time out of their busy lives to give back to our NU entertainment community. PLEASE TAKE THIS COMMITMENT SERIOUSLY. Because we certainly do.

This is what you need to do to join a group:

  1. Read the descriptions on this site and decide which group(s) you are interested in. It’s a lot of
  2. Go to the registration form to sign up for the group(s) that you want.
  3. Wait patiently for a confirmation e-mail from Jackie, the Peer Groups Coordinator. If the group that you are interested in is full, or if you need to renew your NUEA membership, she will contact you and let you know.
  4. Once confirmed, enjoy your peer group experience! Be a good peer group member, and don’t flake out on your group, okay? We hate when people do that.

If you have any questions about Peer Groups, please contact Jackie at peergroups@nueawest.org. Thanks!

The 2014 NUEA Peer Groups:

Kickstart Your Dreams: Secrets to Crowdfunding Success
Leveraging Film Festivals
Feature Writing and the 8-Sequence Approach
Writing Personal Stories for the Page and Stage
Film & TV Music 101: Song Selection, Synch Licenses and Seeing the Big Picture
TV Club
The Art of Producing
Reality Programming: Concept, Pitch, Production
What Does THAT Button Do?!: An Introduction to Multimedia Production for Entertainment Artists
Getting in the Game: Network Building and Career Planning
Shaking It Up: Changing Your Career

Kickstart Your Dreams: Secrets to Crowdfunding Success

Discover what it takes to run a successful Kickstarter campaign, because it’s harder than it looks. This workshop is perfect for any project, whether you want to fund your film, a bicycle trip across the Middle East or develop a new product.

Learn how to build a team, identify champions, schedule effectively, and set realistic goals while focusing on four key principles: Intimate, Authentic, Engaged and Consistent communication.

After absorbing a serious package of information, together we’ll analyze successful campaigns and discover what they did to create a compelling narrative to inspire people to join their team. And, time permitting, we’ll begin to tackle your own projects and get some insights through partner work on what could be the most powerful approach for you.

GROUP LEADER: David Rodwin

David Rodwin is a writer, producer, and crowdfunding consultant. Having managed campaigns for Film, Music and New Products, his company Jadelake Productions is a one-stop shop, handling everything from strategic planning to creating the videos for successful campaigns.

A prolific producer of new media, in 2001 David created RIPFest, the first digital short filmmaking event through which he produced 60 highly-crafted short films by Oscar, Emmy and Tony-winning artists.

Having worked with hundreds of artists helping them tell their stories naturally led to work in crowdfunding because at the heart of every successful Kickstarter is the ability to craft an inspiring narrative.

MEETING DATES (Mid-City):

  • Tuesday, April 29th: 7:30-10 PM
  • Tuesday, May 6th: 7:30-10 PM
  • Tuesday, May 13th: 7:30-10 PM

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Leveraging Film Festivals

Have a short film or a feature film that you want to screen at film festivals? Then this peer group is for you. The group will share each other’s films and analyze what are the best film festival “fits” for them, including the “A” list of festivals, Oscar-eligible festivals, and the niche market festivals. The group will also explore how best to leverage the film festival experiences for promoting your film or next project.

PEER GROUP LEADER: Gayla Kraetsch-Hartsough

Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough, Ph.D., Writer/Producer of Los Angeles, has written award-winning feature and short film screenplays. Her shorts have gone to 50 festivals to date, including Los Angeles Shorts Fest, Cannes Short Film Corner, New Orleans, Sedona, Newport beach, Phoenix, Denver Starz, Tribeca’s American Now+Here Program, Broad Humor, and Palm Springs International Short Film Festival (1 of 320 selected out of 3,200 submissions). Her short “Slap” won audience, best of the fest, and other designations at the festivals. www.slapthemovie.com Slap stars NU alum Clancy Brown with Mel Rodriguez. Shorts International is Slap’s distributor.

Her feature screenplays have won several film festival and contests. Today, she has three of her features optioned, involving an historical romance, a political thriller, and a coming-of-age story. Alison Eastwood is to direct the latter one – “Year of the Caterpillar”.

Gayla is also an entrepreneur, president of KH Consulting Group, a management consulting firm that has served 200 clients in 25 states and in 6 foreign countries. She is also adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy. She has a BS degree, Northwestern University, School of Communication; a Masters degree, Tufts University; Ph.D. and Masters degrees, University of Virginia; and a certificate in feature screenwriting from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

She is a Women in Film (WIF) member and served on the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance (NUEA) Board for three years and an active member in the University of Virginia Feature Screenwriters’ Group. IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3115190

MEETING DATES (Sherman Oaks):

  • Sunday June 8th: 7-9 PM
  • Sunday July 13th: 7-9 PM
  • Sunday August 10th: 7-9 PM (May be shifted depending on Peer Group members’ summer plans)

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Feature Writing and the 8-Sequence Approach

Everybody knows the basics of the 3-Act story structure, so why do some screenplays still feel so unsatisfying? Sure, some stories need to meander, and of course, there is no formula (and when there is – boring! – we’ve all seen it 1,000x), but there may still be something missing: microstructure. (Full disclosure: I made that word up.) The 8 Sequence Approach, which I learned while studying screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University, elevated my feature scripts to the point of winning contests, and let’s face it, even if you think structure and formula are the same thing, we can all benefit from some wins, right?

In the first group meeting, we’ll talk through the architecture of a film and how the broad and the narrow correlate. We’ll take a look at some existing examples (and possibly some counter examples) and address other important elements storytelling in features. In the final two meetings, we will workshop one sequence from each group member. There will be snacks, and it will be amazing.

This group is ideal if you are already working on a feature and are perhaps ready for some re-writing, but it’s also acceptable if you have an idea you intend to write. However, if you do not have a script in progress, please send a detailed treatment of your story in advance of the first meeting, and please be prepared to write the first sequence (approximately 15 pages) after the first meeting.

GROUP LEADER: Jen Howell

Jen Howell graduated from Northwestern in 2007 with a degree in radio/tv/film. Armed with only Lysol and dreams of writing television, she moved to Los Angeles… at the start of the infamous writers’ strike. So she started in reality instead, did the agency thing, got sidetracked, and finally, went back to school for her MFA in Screenwriting, where her feature BLEEDING CUBA won her some dollars, and she began to think she might be not terrible at this screenplay thing. She’s willing to spill some of those dirty little MFA secrets to you, for the alarmingly low cost of $0, in this peer group. Most recently, Jen has been preoccupied with finishing post on a sitcom she wrote and produced and expects you to attend the premiere of. In this group, we will also discuss the importance of never ending a sentence with a preposition.

MEETING DATES (Culver City / Marina Del Rey):

  • Sunday, May 10th: 11 AM
  • Two meetings TBD

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Writing Personal Stories for the Page and Stage

From the mundane to the monumental, the ridiculous to the relatable, learn how to take your own experiences and craft them into an entertaining yet heartfelt personal story that will capture an audience’s undivided attention. In the first meeting, we’ll do exercises to find your unique voice and figure out what gets people rooting for you. We’ll then mine your life for material to help you create a stockpile of story ideas. And finally, you’ll get feedback on the structure, style and presence of YOU in a short personal story piece, which you can then perform at storytelling shows, submit to publications, or develop into a larger solo show or memoir. Along the way we’ll also discuss the annoying issues surrounding the genre like changing names, creative license, and what your friends/ex/mother will think of you. Welcome to writers, performers, or writer/performers!

GROUP LEADER: Rati Gupta

Rati Gupta is a rare breed of professional hip hop dancer turned comedy actor, writer and storyteller. She has acted in various indie films, lent her voice to Sasha of The Bratz, and co-starred in the MTV movie “Worst.Prom.Ever.” directed and produced by the internet comedy conglomerate Derrick Comedy. Rati is a Moth StorySlam champion and performs at comedy and storytelling events around the country. Her debut one chick show, “Not Another Teen Solo Show,” was nominated for Best Solo/Duo at the LA Comedy Festival and named one of the Top 3 Performances of the New York International Fringe Festival.

MEETING DATES / TIMES (West Hollywood): Sundays or Thursdays, TBD based on participants’ schedules

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Film & TV Music 101: Song Selection, Synch Licenses and Seeing the Big Picture

How do I get my song into Grey’s Anatomy? How do I get that song into my movie..and how much will it cost? Whether you are an aspiring music supervisor, musician, director or producer, knowledge of music licensing is essential. Take a peek inside the world of film and television music: the basic process of music searching, selection and (most importantly) clearance, the players involved in each step, and the art of music supervision from start to finish of a project. If you think a killer record collection is the most important asset in music supervision, you should sign up for this group ASAP!

GROUP LEADER: Amanda Krieg Thomas

Amanda Krieg Thomas began her career in the music department at Lionsgate, working on films such as The Winning Season and Warrior, and television projects that included Running Wilde (Fox), Weeds (Showtime), Mad Men (AMC) and several pilots. After three years with the department, Amanda tackled the unscripted world at Reveille Studios (now Shine America). In addition to coordinating music on The Biggest Loser (NBC) and MasterChef (Fox), she music supervised two cable television shows: Commercial Kings (IFC) and One Born Every Minute (Lifetime). At the start of 2012, Amanda moved to film at leading music supervision, production and soundtrack company, Format Entertainment, as Music Coordinator for Julia Michels, on films that have included Pitch Perfect (Gold Circle Films/Universal), Parental Guidance (Fox), the upcoming The Other Woman (Fox), as well as the ABC half hour comedy, Trophy Wife. In addition to her roles at Lionsgate, Shine America and now Format, Amanda has also music supervised the independent films Off The Floor, Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-In Movie and The Back-Up Bride. Full credits and musical musings can be found at tadpoleaudio.com.

MEETING DATES / TIMES (Echo Park): Weekends TBD

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TV Club

1st Rule: You DO talk about TV CLUB. This group will watch and discuss television content and strategy across multiple platforms and business models. Each session, the group will cover 3-4 shows that members must watch beforehand. If there is interest from the group, we will spend one session discussing children’s television.

GROUP LEADER: Robin Faerber

Robin Faerber is Vice President, Programming, Disney Channels. She is responsible for managing program planning and scheduling for basic cable ratings leader Disney Channel and the preschool plus block and 24 hour channel Disney Junior.

Faerber joined Disney in 2005 from Discovery Kids, a programming block on NBC, TLC and the Discovery Kids Channel, where she was Director of Programming & Operations from 2000-05. During her five year tenure, Faerber built a strong reputation as a programming strategist.

She was employed by the ABC Television Network in New York from 1998-2000, where she worked in research for Daytime and Children’s Programming before transitioning to Discovery Kids.

From 1994-98, she worked at the Turner Entertainment Group, most recently in its Research department; at Cartoon Network booking guests on the late night cartoon talk show “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” and at Turner International.

Faerber has a degree in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University’s School of Speech, and is a volunteer big sister for Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles. She resides in Burbank.

MEETING DATES (Mid-City or Burbank): TBD depending on group members’ availabilities

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The Art of Producing

The Art of Producing explores and clarifies the Art of Producing in Film & TV.  Often times the role of the Producer can be greatly misunderstood because producers work in many functions, roles and responsibilities behind the scenes. This Peer Group is for individuals interested in learning the basics about producing in Film/TV; understanding how to get an independent project off the ground; and creating/producing content for the first time. For those who have an existing project idea to be produced, there will be practical application of developing a strategy, plan of action and next steps to bring that project to life. If applicant has a specific project in mind to focus on during the The Art of Producing NUEA Peer Group, please submit it with your application.  This will help tailor content and speakers in the areas of interest and focus to maximize the process.

The Art of Producing Peer Group will provide the following:

  1. A strong understanding of the various roles of producers in Film & TV
  2. Clarify different types of producers (Creative, Technical, Writing, Money and Business Producers)
  3. A practical understanding of producing in Film & TV entertainment by guest industry professional(s)
  4. The practical business tasks and functions of a producer (Deal-making, Negotiating, Networking, etc.)
  5. Developing a strategy and plan of action for upcoming projects, which participants want to produce.

The 4-week class structure will be broken down into four sessions:

  1. General Overview of the Art of Producing and Meet & Greet (May 29th)
  2. The Business of Producing in Film & TV with special guests (June 26th)
  3. Getting Started with Your Proposed Project and Producing Career – Discuss Submitted Project, Develop Strategy and Identify Big Next Steps (July 17th)
  4. Develop Practical Plan of Action to Produce Your Project (July 31st)

GROUP LEADER: Danita Patterson

Multimedia personality Danita Patterson is a young entrepreneur, creative visionary and producer in the Entertainment Industry. Danita was recently featured on Fox News Channel’s “Beyond The Dream” segment, which aired internationally http://video.foxnews.com/v/4448232/beyond-the-dream-danita-patterson.

Danita is CEO and principal content developer of Destiny Unlimited, Inc., a family entertainment company that creates, develops and produces innovative film, TV and new media content.

As a producer and writer, her production credits and development work over 26 years include more than 120 episodes of television programming for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Tribune Entertainment/WGN networks and local affiliates; as well as film. She recently produced the Award Winning Documentary film, “Soulmate”; served as advising consultant on star-studded “Bible Experience” audio bible; consulted the #1 global family entertainment company; and is currently writer/producer on Destiny Unlimited’s new slate of TV/Film projects. Early on, Danita worked closely with actor, Will Smith and served as director of development and administrative manager for his company and NBC’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Danita also founded an educational organization, Destiny Outreach, Inc., a 501c(3) with the mission of, “making learning fun so that dreams do come true,” through interactive human development programs that support self-education, vision clarification and destiny/career development. The organization’s Dreams & Destiny® Campaign focuses on “Finding, Fighting For & Fulfilling Your Dreams www.destinyoutreach.org.

Danita received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Northwestern University in Radio, TV and Film with post-graduate work at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management/Executive Education, University of Southern California and Chicago State University.

MEETING DATES / TIMES (Playa Vista):

  • Thursday May 29th: 7-10 PM
  • Thursday June 26th: 7-10 PM
  • Thursday July 17: 7-10 PM
  • Thursday July 31: 7-10 PM

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Reality Programming: Concept, Pitch, Production

This group is for those interested in creating reality/non-fiction programming and “specials” by exploring the various processes and presentation techniques/tools (pitch reels, pilots, proposals) of getting them made, from concept to completion. We will talk about what makes a strong reality/non-fiction concept (including reviewing any concepts brought in by group members), discuss fit with different networks and the pitching process, talk about the nuts and bolts of shooting and assembling pitch materials, and cover web and emerging media / distribution models. The group will also include an overview of the series production process once a series goes into production–what do different producers do, and what role can someone expect to fill once they’ve sold a show idea to a network or production company?

GROUP LEADER: Michael Blum

Michael Blum is a local Emmy nominated producer, writer, program developer and production executive with multi-cultural global and business start-up experience. Blum was the Executive Producer/Showrunner for the first three seasons (70+ episodes) of A&E Network’s hit magic and illusion series “CRISS ANGEL– Mindfreak.” He has served on the start-up launch teams of networks, channels and entertainment brands now worth billions of dollars and has created original specials, series and projects for HBO, A&E Network, AOL/Time-Warner, E! Networks, Showtime, NBC, USA Broadcasting, TRIO, KCBS, Regency and UTV International.

Under the MBLUMPROD banner, Michael garnered a reputation for cutting edge programming, streamlined production management and successful business launches including, Magic Casting (Hollywood’s first computer data based casting agency), UTV International (Asia’s largest private production house), E! Networks International Channel and USA Broadcasting’s “City Vision” network experimental flagship station, WAMI TV.  Blum was a Consulting Producer for the PBS/Conde Nast tech geek series, “WIRED SCIENCE” and Producer of AEG/EPiX “SETH MACFARLANE – Swingin In Concert” Special featuring Sara Bareilles.  He set up Savva/Blum Entertainment with New York Entertainment Attorney Stephen J. Savva as a bicoastal development company for original media IP, talent and creative property management.

Michael has set up some rather unique productions, facilities and programs around the world – from a CMX Sports Thai Boxing Special on the border of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), to heading PPV satcast production from Beijing, China for Big Vision and Don King Entertainment (Holyfield vs. Ruiz Heavyweight Title Fight). Blum had already worked for three years in Asia as Sr. VP-Programming and Production for Fox/News Corp. subsidiary UTV Intl., (India’s largest private production facility and program supplier) where he oversaw productions and staff in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta; launched and managed 3 physical studios and created 12 original 26-episode series garnering two TV Asia Awards.

Prior to becoming a broadcast and live events show runner, Michael amassed 300 film/TV casting and set- coordinating credits as a principal owner of Magic Casting. Highlight projects included Disney’s “Captain EO and the Space Knights” for director Francis Ford Coppola and star Michael Jackson, and the award winning short film “Brother Where You Bound” for music group, Supertramp. Michael originally hails from Short Hills, New Jersey and is a graduate of the Northwestern University Radio/TV/Film School of Communications in Evanston, IL.

MEETING DATES / TIMES (Hollywood Hills): Mondays @ 7-9 PM, dates TBD

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What Does THAT Button Do?!: An Introduction to Multimedia Production for Entertainment Artists

Whether you’re an actor developing a web series, a songwriter recording demos, a director shooting a reel, or anything in between, knowing the ins and outs of the amazing machines that make media creation possible is vital.

In What Does THAT Button Do?, technical wizard Keith Harrison guides you through an exploration of the primary gear used when producing audio and video for professional media projects. Digital cameras, lighting theory, editing suites, color correction, special effects, field microphones, sound mixing, video monitoring, image composition, and delivery formats are covered in the film unit (session 1). Microphones, DAWs, virtual instruments, room acoustics, signal processing, audio interfaces, studio monitors, and orchestration are covered in the music unit (session 2). Each subject will be covered as generally or thoroughly as group members’ needs dictate.

Session 3 is a presentation-based masterclass. Group members will present either a production plan for an imagined or intended project, or realized media material currently in development. Using the concepts and skills learned in the first two sessions, they will talk through the challenges they will face/are facing in their process, and how to solve these problems effectively.

The peer group forum format is ideal for learning or brushing up on technical skills, as group members learn from one another by asking questions and positing inferred solutions of their own.

GROUP LEADER: Keith Harrison

Keith Harrison (MUS ’08) is a brilliantly talented composer, pianist, singer, songwriter, producer, director, writer, actor, and media engineer. He was the first undergraduate to earn a degree in Music Direction and Conducting from Northwestern University, where he music directed two dozen productions in three years, earning awards from the School of Music and School of Communications.

Since graduating, he has composed for and produced projects for major clients including NBC, FOX, Disney, Sony, Lifetime, Million Dollar Quartet (Broadway), Heathers: The Musical (Off-Broadway), McDonald’s, Allstate, Folgers, and many others.  He composed the music for the Emmy-nominated anti-bullying PSA “Students Taking A Right Stand,” and his 2011 independent short film Seaglass played at festivals in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Texas.

He is currently working on a major motion picture for 20th Century Fox, and several exciting independent projects.  He lives with his wife, actress/singer/dancer and fellow NU alum Laura Harrison.

MEETING DATES / TIMES (Silverlake / Los Feliz): Tuesdays TBD

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Getting in the Game: Network Building and Career Planning

Geared towards recent graduates looking for their first (or second) jobs and other people in career transition seeking film and television executive paths, these sessions will cover how to approach your career, covering both short-term and long-term strategies for navigating around Hollywood. We will discuss how to pitch yourself on paper, meet the people you want to meet, convert these contacts into opportunities, and what to do once you’re hired to continue building your network and progress your career path.

Topics to be covered include: resume workshop, networking and job search strategies, general meetings, interview tips and role play exercises for navigating the workplace and showing your value from an entry level position.

GROUP LEADER: Shira Rockowitz

Shira Rockowitz serves as Manager of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. Prior to joining Sundance Institute, Shira was director of development and production at Exclusive Media. She is a co-producer on the upcoming Begin Again, from director John Carney. Other projects include the 2014 release The Quiet Ones and recent films Snitch and End of Watch. Prior to joining Exclusive Media, Shira held development and production positions at New Regency and Paramount Vantage. She started her career as a marketing and publicity executive for Fine Line Features/New Line Cinema. Shira has also worked as a publicity consultant for Picturehouse and Roadside Attractions. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds an MFA from the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.

MEETING DATES / TIMES (Mid-City): Wednesdays @ 7:30-9:30 PM, dates TBD

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Shaking It Up: Changing Your Career

This group is for anyone looking to make a career change–big or small–who wants a bit of structure and accountability as they move forward with their goals.

In the first meeting, the group will get to know each other and talk about what career changes each member is looking to make. Each group member will establish a set of goals to accomplish by the end of the group, and the group will discuss what kind of speakers would be the most beneficial. Depending on the group’s wishes, we may also pair members up to be accountability buddies and make sure that everyone is moving forward with their goals.

The second and third meetings will be with speakers who will address topics that benefit the group as everyone moves forward with their progress (example: career / life coach, breakout groups with industry professionals, branding expert). At each meeting, each group member will revisit goals, update the group on their progress, and ask for any advice or help they may want from the group.

GROUP LEADER: Jackie Laine

Jackie Laine is an ’08 Northwestern graduate and reality TV producer, having worked on shows for ABC, NBC, FOX, CMT, Oxygen, VH1, Spike, and PlayStation Network. She is currently working on “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” a new series for Hub Network hosted by Joey Fatone. Yes, it’s been hard to concentrate working so closely with a former member of *NSYNC.

Jackie has been an NUEA president for three and a half years and has been an NUEA volunteer since she graduated from Northwestern. As an NUEA board member, she has produced at least twenty events, held resume workshops for new graduates looking for entry-level work in entertainment, and organized five (now six!) rounds of Peer Groups. In her free time, she is a letterpress artist and Instagram photographer.

MEETING DATES / TIMES (West LA): Sundays AM (dates TBD)

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