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Career Night for the Arts Alumni Feature: Lauren Pollock ’07, Gallery Director

by Rachel Lee

Meet Lauren Pollock from the BC class of 2007! Pollock is currently the Gallery Director of the Leila Heller Gallery in New York City (read more about the Gallery, with locations in New York and Dubai, here).

Career Night for the Arts 2016! Come join us on Thursday, November 16th between 7:00pm – 8:30pm in the Heights Room to meet tons of BC alumni working in the arts to network, ask questions, and get advice about developing your own creative career! Check out the Arts Council Career Night for the Arts website for more info, or look at the Facebook event page! This event is a collaborative endeavor between the Arts Council, the Career Center, and the Alumni Association, bringing together all of BC’s best resources to help BC students turn their creativity into a career. You can also read the bios of all of the attending alumni here. 

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Lauren Pollock graduated from Boston College in 2007, with a degree in Art History. She continued her graduate studies at Hunter College in New York City, and completed a 6-month internship at The Jewish Museum where she assisted with the exhibition Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater1919-1949. Currently she is Director of Leila Heller Gallery, an art gallery specializing in contemporary international art with locations in New York City and Dubai. There she oversees the gallery’s ambitious exhibition and art fair programme, manages artist relationships, and helps to organize numerous off-site projects. Currently she is serving as the editor of a forthcoming book on the work of Shiva Ahmadi, to be published in 2017.

What is your most memorable art-related experience at BC and could you describe what you learned from it? 

Definitely the many afternoons spent at the MFA [Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]! It is so wonderful that the Art Department at BC takes advantage of having so many amazing museums and institutions at its fingertips. The time I spent engaging directly with works of art for coursework was immensely inspiring and a driving force behind my decision to pursue a career in the arts.

In today’s fast-changing art world, what are some of the biggest changes you have witnessed during your career? 

The accessibility to art, or more specifically to images of art. Art enthusiasts, collectors and the general public now have vast resources for viewing art online and via social media. Already just in the number of years that I have been working in the gallery world, I feel there has been a noticeable change in how art is experienced. While there are many advantages to this of course, I hope that galleries and museums continue to remain spaces of learning, enjoyment and social engagement!

As a director of a contemporary art gallery, what is the most rewarding part of your job? 

Being able to work closely with so many amazing and talented artists. There is a great feeling of fulfillment in seeing a project or exhibition of their work to fruition, especially one that is well received publicly and critically.

Some of our artists have also had really fantastic public installation projects, which are especially exciting to work on…You feel the work is able to have this whole other life outside of the gallery! One of our artists currently has a large-scale outdoor sculpture featured in a public park in the city of Chicago, presented through the Chicago Parks District. Knowing that countless people pass by that work every day is pretty special!

What are some of the qualities or skills that you feel will help a BC student succeed in today’s art museum/gallery field?

Being passionate, driven and curious I think are all very important qualities to have! And definitely being proactive and engaged. For anyone seriously interested in pursuing a career in the arts, my advice is to just get out there: see art, visit museums and galleries, connect with people who are in the field, and ask questions!

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BC Students: Don’t forget to check out all of the amazing artistic alumni attending Career Night for the Arts 2016, and make sure to read our interviews with Maureen Donovan, the Deputy Director of Harvard Art Museums; Eric Butler, Theatre Producer; Erin Dionne, Author; Karen Stein, Art Director and Principal Designer at goodgood; Daron Manoogian, the Communications Director of Harvard Art Museums; and Stephen Zubricki III, Principal Designer for Mystic View Design, Inc.  Meet these alumni and more at Career Night for the Arts, Thursday November 17th, 2016 at 7-8:30pm in the Heights Room!

Career Night for the Arts 2016: Meet Theatre Producer Eric Butler from CSOM ’12

Meet Eric Butler! Eric is a theatre enthusiast and business aficionado, proving you can combine your interests in both management and the arts in building your very own career! Eric is one of our incredible BC arts alumni guests attending….

Career Night for the Arts 2016! Come join us on Thursday, November 16th between 7:00pm – 8:30pm in the Heightscareer-night-final-1 Room to meet tons of BC alumni working in the arts to network, ask questions, and get advice about developing your own creative career! Check out the Arts Council Career Night for the Arts website for more info, or look at the Facebook event page! This event is a collaborative endeavor between the Arts Council, the Career Center, and the Alumni Association.

 

 

Eric Butler is the founder of Final Bow Productions, a commercial production company that invests in live entertainment, specifically Broadway and touring theatrical productions. He has served as a professional fundraiser in the not-for-profit sector since 2006, and his passion for education and the arts has helped him raise several millions of dollars for private institutions in his home state of Massachusetts. With substantial professional experience in fundraising and investor/donor relations, and an educational background in business and theatre arts, Eric is able to utilize these skill sets as he explores opportunities to produce and invest in works for the commercial stage. In the corporate sector, he has served as a consultant for Brown Brothers Harriman and an MBA Associate/Project Manager at Liberty Mutual, both with headquarters in Boston, MA.ericbutler.jpg

Eric is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA where he received degrees in Psychology and Theater. Following his graduation from Holy Cross, Eric served as a production assistant on the Broadway musical High Fidelity. In 2012, he received his M.B.A. (specializations in Marketing Informatics and Brand & Product Management) from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. Eric is also an alumnus of the Commercial Theater Institute in New York City, NY.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/finalbowproductions3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ButlerEric

  1. You have worked extensively in the art world, specifically in the theater arts, and your career has progressed along. How would you describe this journey? 

My career in the arts, like everything else, is a work in progress. The learning never ends. I’m blessed to be able to balance my work in commercial theater investing/producing with a more than full-time career in educational management. I do have to say that I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness shown to me by the Broadway community. I have been very fortunate to have received advice and mentoring from some of Broadway’s most successful producers. There is a tremendous level of support and opportunity out there for those who seek to network with and learn from the best.

  1. What made you decide to start your own company and what was the most fun part and the most frustrating part about starting your own company?

At Boston College, mostly through Professor Gallaugher’s Graduate Tech Trek, I developed a love of entrepreneurship. Starting Final Bow Productions was a way for me to begin to apply the skills developed in graduate school on a very practical level. It has been a blast for me to combine my love of theater with my interest in business. In my life, I always strive for balance. Investing and producing allows me to think analytically, yet be surrounded by great creativity.

In this industry, you need patience. It can take a very long time for a project to come your way that you think has strong commercial viability, but still possesses artistic integrity. The good ones are worth the wait.

  1. Your past/current work experiences involve being a fundraiser in the non-profit sector and also a consultant and an MBA Associate/Project Manager in the corporate sector. Could you describe and talk about your involvement in both non-profit sector and corporate sector and how it impacted your career? 

In many ways, my past and current experiences have served as a ‘perfect storm’ for producing. As an undergraduate psychology and theater double major at the College of the Holy Cross (the other Massachusetts Jesuit school!), I was exposed to many of the Western world’s best classic and contemporary dramatic works through theater history, dramatic literature, acting, and production courses. These classes gave me the ability to think critically about dramatic structure and recognize and appreciate strong, quality work.

My experiences in business school and in the corporate sector have given me the skill set to recognize investment potential in the arts. Broadway is a business and when evaluating investment opportunities you need to be comfortable dissecting contracts, capitalization and operating budgets, and recoupment schedules. There isn’t a project that crosses my desk where I don’t apply Porter’s Five Forces as part of my analysis!

And the last piece is the ability to raise funds. Obviously, theatre can’t be produced without the necessary resources. There are certainly many similarities between fundraising for a non-profit and raising capital for commercial theatre. Both philanthropists and investors want to see their funds treated with the utmost fiscal responsibility and to hopefully see an impactful return from their support.

  1. What during your time at BC do you feel was the most helpful advice or experience on your path to your career?

The best piece of advice I received in grad school might have come from Professor Bob Radin during the first week of class in his Managing People and Organizations course. He told a group of wide-eyed MBA candidates, “If you’re not good at something at this point in your life, you’ll probably never be good at it. Find something you’re good at and be the best you can be at that.” In a society that hands out ‘participation’ trophies left and right – this type of direct advice really brought focus and direction to the type of discernment that should be a part of your graduate school experience.

Given my unconventional background, the Boston College MBA program also put me out of my comfort zone. Having never taken a business course previously, I was forced into intense, academically rigorous accounting, finance, marketing, and management courses during our first semester. This fish-out-of-water/underdog experience (genres that almost always work) proved to me that natural competence combined with hard work can lead to unbridled satisfaction amid risk.

Also check out our interview with the Deputy Director of the Harvard Art Museums, Maureen Donovan!

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Career Night for the Arts 2016: Meet Maureen Donovan ’78, Deputy Director of the Harvard Art Museums

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Maureen Donovan graduated from Boston College in 1978 with Bachelor’s degrees in English and Art History. She began working at the Harvard Art Museums as soon as she graduated from Boston College, and hharvard-art-museuns-logoas since worked her way up to the position of Deputy Director of the Harvard Art Museums, consisting of the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Maureen Donovan is one of the many alumni visiting BC campus to network with current students and lend them career advice on Thursday, November 17th in the Heights Room at Lower (Corcoran Commons) for Career Night for the Arts 2016. Read some of her pre-Career Night for the Arts advice below to get to know Ms. Donovan, then be sure to come ask her your personal questions on November 17th!

 

Did you always want to study art and pursue a career in the arts?

No, actually. I wanted to major in English when I first started in Boston College. But after taking an Art History course, which was part of the core curriculum, I immediately fell in love and knew that I needed to learn more, so I ended up getting degrees in both disciplines.

How did you end up at the Harvard Art Museums?maureendonovan

During my senior year at BC, I volunteered at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and worked with the Conservation/Curatorial team. This experience provided me a direction in terms of my future career path.

When I graduated, I decided to take a year off to work before getting a graduate degree in Art History. I worked in Collection Management (then called Registry) at Harvard Art Museums. And I never left!

Art is a field where it can appear difficult to “get started” or “get your foot in the door.” Do you have any advice for students who are interested in building a career in the arts?

BC students and young professionals in general today have all kinds of resources that were unavailable back then. When I studied here, I used to have to take the bus down to Wellesley to find art books, and now we such a well-funded, expansive department. Back then, there were no Museum Studies programs at the graduate level. Now there are three just in the Boston area: at Harvard, Tufts, and BU. What’s great about these programs is that they usually require you to spend 200 hours working in an institution in order to get the degree. It allows you to have actual experiences. I myself hire regularly from these programs.

Reaching outside of your classes and finding volunteer and internship opportunities are also a good place to begin. My experience at the MFA definitely made me more certain that this is a profession I enjoy and want to pursue further in the future. Moreover, it’s important to not only look at the big names, such as the MFA, or the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. There are so many small, fantastic collecting agencies in this area that can provide great learning experiences.

Besides, when I majored in art history, I used to think that the two prospective careers in this major were to curate and to teach, but there are so many more aspects to this line of work. There is communication, technology, data visions, and conservation… This is why it’s important to reach out and speak to people from different positions in this profession. This is a multi-dimensional industry, and there are so many different things to do.

Lastly, I believe that it’s always helpful to just sit down with someone in the profession and talk to them. Find me at Career Night for the Arts 2016 on November 17th in the Heights Room and ask me questions! I’d be more than happy to answer them.

Follow Harvard Art Museums on Twitter! : @harvartmuseums

 

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Career Night for the Arts Alumni Profile: Erin Dionne!

by Alexa Villareal

Leading up to Career Night for the Arts, we have prepared some alumni profiles to give you insight into the careers of our alumni attendees. Today we are focusing on Erin Dionne ’97, a children’s book writer and professor at Montserrat College of Art. She received her M.F.A from Emerson College and worked in marketing at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing company. She then continued to write for papers and magazines alike, including the Boston Herald, before settling in as a teacher.

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Erin studied English and Communications at Boston College. She looks back on her time fondly, most distinctly her time in the marching band. Her participation inspired parts of her novel Notes From an Accidental Band Geek. Erin’s novels have garnered recognition from Scholastic Book Fairs as well as features in state lists and major magazines. Some titles include Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies, The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, and most recently her fourteen day mystery books Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking and Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting.

Tell me a little bit about your time at BC! What groups or clubs were you a part of and what are your favorite memories?

I loved being at BC! I was really active in the BC bands program, and did marching band and pep band for all 4 years. One of my favorite experiences was marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1995 (so much so that I memorialized it in my novel NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL BAND GEEK). I also had a great time playing in the pep band during the NCAA basketball tournament. We went to Salt Lake City one year and Orlando another.

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You’ve written for magazines, newspapers, and written books of your own, which is the most challenging and which is your favorite?

All types of writing are challenging for different reasons–deadlines, short turnarounds, and dealing with sources can all impact the journalism and magazine story writing processes. Writing novels involves lots of time and work to create compelling characters. Although I enjoy all of the types of writing I’ve done, I have to say that writing novels is my favorite–it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid.

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What during your time at BC do you feel was the most helpful advice or experience on your path to your career?

Taking Elizabeth Graver’s writing workshops were especially helpful to my career, because I learned to revise and edit my work–crucial in all of my endeavors.

How do you balance teaching, being a mom, and writing?

Haha. There’s no such thing as “balance.” Things are always shifting in priority. When I’m on a deadline, I have to fit everything around that. When grades are due, I have to grade. When the kids need something, they come to the front of the line. It’s a juggle, and each day is different.

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How did you get inspired to write and what inspired you to write your books for teens?

I’ve wanted to write since I was a little kid, because I loved books and reading. I write for tweens and teens because those are the stories I’m most interested in telling and the voices that resonate with me.

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Come meet Erin Dionne and other alumni artists at Career Night for the Arts on Thursday, November 12th! From 7:00-8:30pm in the McMullen Museum in Devlin Hall, you can come network and converse with BC alumni who have turned their creativity into a career.

Not sure how to network? Nervous about striking up conversations with new people? Come join us between 6:00 and 7:00pm right before the event in Devlin 008 for “Networking 101,” an advice session with networking tips and tricks from the BC Career Center. As a bonus, there will be snacks provided during “Networking 101” !

To see all the BC alumni artists attending Career Night for the Arts 2015, visit bc.edu/careernight.

Career Night for the Arts Alumni Profile: Daron Manoogian

By Estefania Szapiro Akl

 

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“I am constantly looking at the world around me”

As our event Career Night for the Arts approaches, we wanted to give you a sneak peek of some of the accomplished alumni that will be joining us for the night. Today, we are talking to Daron Manoogian’98 who is currently the Director of Communications at Harvard Art Museums. He has progressed and succeeded in the Communications industry working in Public Relations, Marketing, and Communications. Join Daron and other talented alumni to get insight into their careers and lives, and take the opportunity to do some networking.

Daron Manoogian had two academic careers at BC. He had originally enrolled in CSOM in 1984, but in his junior year as he got into more classes with his major realized he had made the wrong choice. Daron immediately took a leave of absence and spent 10 years working in various jobs in retail, nightclubs, and healthcare before returning to his education. In 1995 he enrolled in the Woods College of Advancing Studies and majored in Communications. After being in the workplace for a decade, he finally knew where his interests were. Father Woods allowed him to begin where he had left off, and had all of his previous credits transferred. He spent the next 3 years working full time during the day and going to classes part time in the evening. Daron received his diploma in 1998 and was ready to join the communications industry

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(Photo of a new Harvard Art Museum renovation by Renzo Piano, courtesy of The Boston Globe)

I read some of your articles published in The Heights from when you were a student here at BC. Could you discuss your involvement in it as well as your involvement in other creative BC clubs or organizations and how it impacted your career?
I think that I’ve always had an interest and knack for writing, so the Heights was a great outlet. When I was in the College for Advancing Studies, I didn’t have much time for extracurricular activities.

You have worked in the Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations departments of different institutions and have progressed. Could you describe and talk about this progress and how you got hold of your current position as the Director of Communication for the Harvard Art Museum?
I’ve always tried to be selective about what kind of organizations that I chose to work for. I don’t have the ability to put my heart into a company or product that I do not feel is important. Working for WBUR was a great experience — a quality news organization. After learning about the opening at Harvard, I thought that it could be interesting, and a place to grow. Here at Harvard for 10 years, I have grown from being the Public Relations Officer with one staff member to being the Director of Communications overseeing a staff of 15 in the areas of PR/Marketing, Design, and Editorial. The Harvard Art Museums have offered me the opportunity to really express my creative side, and we enjoy brainstorming and working as a team on a range of print and digital materials, advertising and marketing, social media, media relations, and special events.

What is it like to work in the arts? Have you always had an interest for the arts?
Yes, I’ve always been a creative person, taking art classes, and I enjoy music. I feel that the arts are a very important part of education and life. That is why I support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math), instead of the more popular STEM curriculum.

What are the top 3 qualities, skills, or abilities that might help a BC student succeed in your field?

Working collaboratively with others, having the right mix of thinking fast and taking the time to make the right decision, and creativity (thinking “outside of the box” as they say).

How do you incorporate creativity in your day to day and how do you manage to stay creative?
I am constantly looking at the world around me, not to copy anything necessarily, but to inspire my own ideas. Having a staff that includes younger people with fresh ideas and a better sense of what is trending.

The New York Picture Company Shoot at BC: We talk to them about majoring in theatre, Cooking for One, and Tub Time!

By Lydia Ahern

Actors slump back in the chairs of Gasson 307, channeling the students of Dad Joke Academy.

Actors slump back in the chairs of Gasson 307, channeling the students of Dad Joke Academy.

A couple of weeks ago, the atmosphere inside Gasson 307 buzzed with excitement and humor as the New York Picture Company, a comedic production house founded by three Boston College graduates, Matt Cullinan, James Fagan, and Zach Bubolo, visited to film for their upcoming season.

The Gasson classroom was used to film “Dad Joke Academy,” an upcoming episode of Season Two of their Sketch Show series. Dr. Jorgenson, of the Theatre department, plays a professor, who instructs thirty year old men how to be more “dad-like.” The episode riffs on the Harry Potter owl delivery system–men on their thirtieth birthday receive an invitation, by way of owl, to join Dad Joke Academy. Gasson 307 provided the setting for “Obscure Reference Class.”

It was clear to me, as an observer to the filming process that night, that most people in the room knew each other. Remarks of encouragement were shouted out to actors as they ran through lines, and between filming shots, laughter and jokes were the norm: I was to later learn that most of the actors and production crew were also BC alumni.

After the filming for the scene ended–around 2 hours for just a short 15-second slice of the episode–I was afforded the privilege of sitting down with the three men behind the New York Picture Company, Matt Cullinan, James Fagan, and Zach Bubolo, to talk about their experiences in starting their own Production Company, and explore the dynamics between the three charismatic and funny friends.

Dr. Jorgenson, a current professor in the Boston College Theater Department, taught Matt, Zach, and Jim during their time at BC. Here he practices his lines for the “Obscure Reference Class” scene.

Rehearsals for the “Obscure Reference Class” scene.

Your say your work has a “quirky” voice. Could you describe this quirky-ness?

Matt Cullinan: Comedy should come as a surprise. We always start off with a practical semi-real premise, and by the end something happens that blows it into absurdity.

Jim Fagan: We want to make each other laugh–and we don’t make each other laugh by doing obvious things, we make each other laugh by being weird.

How would you describe your group dynamics?

Zach Bubolo: All starts from a place of love, but you know [Matt and Jim] are really dumb, and I really need to take control over what happens. Even though they always have really great, funny ideas, and are the creative engines of the endeavor, they really just need a father figure in their lives that sort of tells them how everything works.

M: We really are like brothers, we absolutely love each other, and we fight all the time coming from a place of passion and belief and commitment and the ideas we’re presenting. We test and challenge each other so we know the ideas that are coming out of it are really great and strong, and we all believe in them.

What’s involved in your creative writing process? It is different for every project?

M: Each project is approached differently, but I feel like our overriding structure is that we all come together to talk about the macro of what we want from something…From there we kind of have a brainstorming session, where we brainstorm the ideas that we are really interested in exploring and then we assign roles…We come back together depending on our schedule to give feedback and collaborate…We pretty much try to move on when all three of us are laughing at the same time.

During your time at BC, did you picture yourself creating a production house post-graduation?

M: I don’t think I ever thought I’d be doing quite this.

Z: I definitely though I was going to be a movie star.

J: I kind of pictured this, I just thought theatre. But I have always been more interested in doing this, and it took me until a couple years ago to realize that theater was my safety job, (which was insane because it’s harder, or as hard), so I was like, I should just be doing the awesome thing that I really want to do.

How did your theatre major at BC help you with writing and acting?

J: The major at BC helps so much because you have to do everything. You have to write, you have to build sets, you have to light things, you have to direct—you have to do everything at some point or another.

M: I think a large part of it too, is because of the theatre background, we kind of operate this company like a theatre company in the sense that we have a group of actors, a group of designers, and a group of directors that come together to create and collaborate.

Z: The professional contacts we have are Boston College contacts. Our actors are BC actors, when we bring in writers or guests, we want them to be BC people because we feel the connection is really strong. That is one of the great things that comes out of the major: it’s not just your skills but also your working professional relationships are really strong and you also know the taste of the people you want to work with.

In fact, the main star of their short, Dr. Luke Jorgenson, was their own theatre professor during their time at BC. Not only did Dr. Jorgenson play a role as an actor for the episode, but he also helped them with the logistics of filming in a classroom at Boston College.

Were you involved in clubs or activities at BC related to comedy, acting, or production?

Jim: I wish that I had done Hello!…Shovelhead…The theatre department at the time was sort of ‘all in’; we did a lot of shows.

Zach: I did Chorale, I did BC Bop, and I was an orientation leader.

Matt: Within the theatre department there were two clubs, Contemporary Theatre and DS, and Jim and I were on the boards. I was on CT and he was on DS.

Jim: Senior year I finished a film minor, which was nice because it got me out of [the theater] building, and some of that has helped still [for what we’re doing now].

When you were all undergrads at BC, did you picture yourselves working together post-grad?

Jim: I think for Zach, again, this is his worst nightmare coming true every day of his life.

Zach: I thought I would be hiring them, like as personal assistants.

 

What was the most fun project you have worked on to date?

J: This season has been, for me, unbelievable.

M: Since August when we’ve been working on our second season, Josh, our DP, has come along. His job freed us up to do other things and so it has just expanded the reach of what were able to accomplish, so this season has been great…We just shot something last weekend, it’s a new cooking comedy show called, Cooking For One With The Crying Chef.

J: I mean they’re all fun for different reasons…We also have weekly live talk shows from our tubs now.

M: That’s fun because I take tubs once a week now. Tubs are so relaxing.

How did it feel to win an award for one of your commercials?

J: Oh my god so good, do you remember that?

Z: Oh my god I think about it all the time.

Matt told me he celebrated this achievement by buying tacos for everyone in “the tiniest, cheapest” Mexican restraint in central California.

J: When you’re doing this, you’re all in, you’re all on your own, and you need little benchmarks that tell you you’re doing it right and that you’re “good”. You need little wins.

What can we expect from New York Picture Company in the future?

Z: Every Monday night for the next couple nights, we’re going to be showing TubTime at 10pm, were going to be releasing Cooking For One With the Crying Chef, Tuesdays from November 24th through Christmas, and then February 13th we are launching season two of our sketch show.

M: But before that you can expect many panic attacks.

Zach Bubolo can be spotted acting in the scene, representing Boston College with a bright jersey.

Zach Bubolo can be spotted acting in the scene, representing Boston College with a bright jersey.

BC Alum Warming Hearts at the MFA with A Will for the Woods

By Cuilin Chen

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A WILL FOR THE WOODS
Award winning documentary
Saturday, October 11th @ 2:30pm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

If tomorrow were your last day, would you live it differently? What would you do? What kind of person would you think you were?

Directed by Boston College alumni Jeremy Kaplan and Tony Hale, documentary feature “A Will for the Woods” follows Clark Wang, a dying man who decided that his last act would be a gift to the planet — a green burial. A musician, psychiatrist, and folk dancer, Wang battled lymphoma for eight years, which aroused his concern for the environment and inspired him to take part in the green burial movement. Although the disease eventually exhausted Clark’s body, his spirit lives on in the legacy he left for the ecosystem.

Hale and Kaplan are both Brooklyn based and produce work that demonstrates a strong interest and genuine concern for the environment. They consider “A Will for the Woods” their most gratifying production to date. With their co-directors, they followed Clark for a year and filmed his personal life so closely that it’s difficult not to get caught up in the emotional power of Clark’s story. Along with Clark’s loving community, we are constantly confronted by his struggle between despair and hope: an approaching death is certain, yet unknown. Such a paradox prevails in human life — first we must realize how powerless we are, then we become powerful with that realization.

Kaplan described the film as “intimate” and said the film’s aesthetics are rooted very much in nature as well as human nature. The directors also told me that it was not easy to touch on a topic that has something to do with death. I could only imagine the difficulties the film may have faced in funding and reception. But as a viewer, I felt surprisingly consolidated in the end. It is as if you have been stumbling in darkness for so long that you would not even desire a compensating destination close to the sun, rather you would be happy to catch just a beam of light. Name it mortality, misfortune or anguish, it is by force we live with such a complication, yet it is by choice how we live it.

Directors Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale, Brian Wilson and Amy Browne (l-r).

Directors Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale, Brian Wilson and Amy Browne (l-r).

 

The scenes effectively capture the beauty of nature. A blossom for spring or a snowflake for winter, seasonal changes are parallel to the cyclical pattern of life. The film is also unified by a harmony in the relationship between humans and a harmony between human and nature. Clark did not fight alone. For his own life as well as the green burial movement, he had a supportive community that loved him dearly and would carry his spirit onwards. In this sense, Clark entered the endless cycle of life. In a larger sense, he entered this cycle by returning to nature.  Therefore, when I reflect upon my own life, I come to a two-fold definition of it: Who have I loved? What have I loved?

With tears in their eyes, many viewers were deeply touched by the film, which sparkled a lively discussion in the Q&A afterwards.

I have yet to find out answers for my questions, for it is my story. The film, however, is about the Green Burial Movement, embodied by mainly the personal story of Clark, and stories of many others. It is intertwining, poetic, or quoting the directors, rather “organic”.

Jeremy Kaplan, Co-director/Director of Photography, received his BA in film and philosophy in Boston College. His documentaries have brought him around the globe, yet among all, he finds A Will for the Woods his most gratifying work. Tony Hale, Co-director/Editor, studied Mathematics at Boston College and rediscovered his passion in filmmaking later. His works include non-fiction and narrative projects as well as character-based stories