Tag Archive | "Stony Brook Southampton"

Deadline for Florence Writers Conference Looms

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View on Florence Duomo and city from Campanile tower.

Always wanted to live the life of a writer in Florence, sipping wine at the Café Giubbe Rosse or walking in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri? The Stony Brook Southampton MFA Program in Creative Writing offers just that kind of experience, January 13 through January 24, during its Florence Writers Workshop featuring a fiction workshop with Sag Harbor resident Susan Scarf Merrell, author of “Shirley: A Novel” and fiction editor of “TSR: The Southampton Review.”

The program also includes an evening at the opera, a walking tour of Florence, a faculty-guided trip to the Bargello museum and an excursion to the Italian countryside, as well as an elective in contemporary Italian fiction, Michelangelo and the Medici family, Italian style and design or Italian cooking.

The deadline to apply for the workshop is October 2. For more information, visit stonybrook.edu/mfa/winter.

The Southampton Review has also announced The Robert Reeves $1,000 Prize in Comic Fiction, judged by distinguished author and editor Daniel Menaker. The entry fee is $15 per submission (no more than 5,000 words), and entries are due by October 31, Winners will be notified on January 15 and honored at the Manhattan launch of TSR: The Southampton Review’s Spring 2015 issue. Finalists will be considered for publication in TSR Online. For more information, visit thesouthamptonreview.com.


Storytelling in Southampton

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Wendy Suzuki

Wendy Suzuki performing with The Moth in May.

By Mara Certic

In a world in which technology seems to be taking over, entertainment often becomes interactive and distracting, desperately trying to grip the ADD generation with graphics and fanfare. But for over 15 years, a group of writers, scientists, criminals, musicians, thinkers and average Joes have come together under the guise of “The Moth” to provide the public with something raw: a simple story.

As the story goes, writer and poet George Dawes Green spent the summer evenings of his youth sitting on his porch, telling stories with his friends, as moths would flock through a hole in the screen door toward a nearby light. This group of friends began calling themselves The Moths and many years later, Mr. Dawes Green started “The Moth” in New York City in an attempt to recreate the low-key nights he spent in his native Georgia. Since then, it has become a nonprofit group dedicated solely to the art of storytelling. “The Moth” offers a weekly podcast and a radio show and has heard stories from speakers as diverse a bunch as The Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson, Garrison Keillor, Ethan Hawke and Salmon Rushdie.

Originally based out of New York City, “The Moth” now runs over a dozen storytelling programs throughout the United States and for the very first time this week, it will come to the East End. On Friday, July 18, as a part of the Southampton Writers Conference at Stony Brook University, writer Adam Gopnik will host an evening of five storytellers from “The Moth” with very different backgrounds.

The theme for each story is the same: “fish out of water.” Friday’s five fish-out-of-water range in profession from a fashion commentator to a neuroscientist, with writers and performers punctuating the night of first-person stories.

Special Projects Coordinator for Stony Brook Southampton Kathie Russo has been involved with “The Moth” ever since it began. She was married to writer and actor Spalding Gray who told one of the very first stories for “The Moth.” She previously worked as a booking agent, where she helped get the storytellers their first gig on the West Coast. Since her husband’s death, she has told her very own Moth story, which she described as “daunting.”

“And I told a very short story,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like for these people to tell an 11-minute story [without notes].”

It is that process that differentiates the oral tradition from the written word, according to Moth member and journalist Ted Conover. “You have to open up this direct channel from your brain to your mouth. It’s intense and it is cathartic,” he said in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s a cool thing for a writer to get to do.”

Mr. Conover has a wealth of tales from his many inquiries into worlds unknown. When he was still in college he traveled on freight trains around the country to learn about the last remaining hobos. Years later, Mr. Conover spent a year working as a Corrections Officer at Sing-Sing Prison to get some insight into a very unfamiliar and undocumented life.

“It’s not just any story I want to tell. I’m especially interested in stories that need to be told and aren’t easy to tell if you’re from a different world. Prison is an example of that. Prison is full of stories that don’t get told,” he said.

“I like putting myself in these difficult situations and learning about them firsthand. This is something I did long before I ever heard of ‘The Moth.’ ‘The Moth’ is really great because it gives the writer a chance to tell the story in a different way.”

“We’re trained not to tell stories this way in science,” said Wendy Suzuki who told her first story with “The Moth” earlier this year. “I’m a neuroscientist who studies the neurobiology of memory,” she said. “And the story’s about my dad, who developed dementia and how I deal with that.”

Ms. Suzuki’s story talks about the difficulty and frustration she felt, being an expert in a disease that still has no cure. “I know how it works,” she said. “But there’s nothing I can do to cure it.”

Of “The Moth,” she said, “it was a great experience. It’s very emotional, but it feels very releasing to be able to share that.”

“The Moth” “brings storytelling back to the forefront,” Ms. Russo said, “which is where it should be.”

The evening is sure to entertain technophiles and luddites alike. As Ms. Russo said: “It’s nice to just be still and listen to a story.”

“The Moth” will take place at Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theater, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at themoth.org.


League Offers Stony Brook Southampton Tour

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The League of Women Voters of the Hamptons has invited the public to take part in a tour of Stony Brook Southampton’s state-of-the-art School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Building on Monday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. and to learn about the program from its manager, Christopher Paparo.

The $8.3 million, two-story, 15,000-square-foot building, which opened last fall, is a high tech research facility on Little Neck Road, overlooking Old Fort Pond, which connects to Shinnecock Bay.

It houses a seawater laboratory with a computerized circulation system, two wet labs, an analytical lab, classrooms, a conference room, and other spaces such as an outdoor tank area.

Moored outside is a fleet of three research vessels used to collect specimens and conduct classes.

The facility is being used for Stony Brook University’s graduate programs in marine sciences, four undergraduate degrees and programs such as Semester-by-the-Sea, and high school field trips and two-week summer oceanography classes.

Refreshments will be served at the beginning of the meeting.

Parking is available on Little Neck Road, just past the SoMAS building, which is diagonally across from the Stony Brook Southampton campus on Montauk Highway.

Additional information is available from the League at (631) 324-4637 or by visiting www.lwvhamptons.org.

Shinnecock Bay Restoration Seminar

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SoMAS faculty and students among oyster gardener volunteers for SBU’s Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program.

Faculty members of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University will present a seminar, “The Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program,” on Friday, June 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Duke Lecture Hall of Chancellor’s Hall at Stony Brook Southampton.

During more than a decade of research in Shinnecock Bay, scientists have documented the strong negative trajectory in the bay’s water quality, bivalve populations, and seagrass habitat.

With the initiation of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, these same scientists have identified approaches to reverse these trends and improve the ecological condition of the bay.

The goal of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program is to use science, outreach, and partnerships to restore the water quality and fisheries of Shinnecock Bay via enhancing natural filtration capacity of the ecosystem with bivalve shellfish, expanding remaining eelgrass beds, and enhancing nutrient removal through macroalgae. The program is specifically focused on using the species or strains of bivalve and eelgrass be best suited as restoration targets in different regions of Shinnecock Bay.

The program involves robust monitoring of the whole ecosystem to assess the efficacy of restoration. This presentation will provide an overview of the program, highlight progress and successes to date, identify challenges, and describe the near term plans of the program.

Small Batch Food Producers Get a Kitchen of Their Own

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Carissa Waechter at work baking bread in new South Fork Kitchens at Stony Brook Southampton. Stephen J. Kotz

By Stephen J. Kotz

Imagine a farmer searching for ways to get the most out of a bumper crop of strawberries this June. Besides selling them by the quart, along with every other farmer whose crop has just come in, he might want to try his hand at making jam to sell at the farmers market later in the season. The same might be true of a cook who wants to use local tomatoes to sell the sauce her friends have been raving about for years.

Typically, one of the biggest logistical roadblocks for such entrepreneurs is a place where they can produce their small batch food products and not run afoul of state agriculture and markets law or county health department regulations.

That changed this week when Stony Brook Southampton and Amagansett Food Institute announced that the college had reached an agreement to rent the sprawling commercial kitchen in its Student Center to the institute. The institute, in turn, will rent it to entrepreneurs as well as provide them with other assistance to help them bring their foodstuff dreams to the table, as a business incubator known as South Fork Kitchens.

“Many producers told us there was no commercial kitchen on the East End where they could go and produce their product in a professional way,” said Kathleen Masters, executive director of the food institute, part of whose mission is to provide economic development support to farmers and other small scale local producers. “Many have been renting restaurant kitchens at night, or using church kitchens.  It might be a nice kitchen, but there is no storage space” for both their raw ingredients or finished products.

Carissa Waechter, the owner of Carissa’s Breads, who has baked for Amber Waves Farm and Garden of Eve, and is a founding board member of the food institute, will be the kitchen coordinator.

Part of her job will be to help provide schedules for the different entrepreneurs who are expected to start using the kitchen in the coming weeks.

“The people who plan to be working out here are such a cool mix of professionals,” she said. “I’m really excited to be working with them.”

Ms. Waechter said the kitchen, which once served the college cafeteria, is so spacious and well equipped, with a six-burner Garland stove, Blodgett pizza oven, industrial-sized Hobart mixers, and refrigeration galore, that as many as four different people could be using it at any one time, provided they don’t need to use the same mixer or other equipment at the same time.

“This space was the perfect find,” she added.

Ms. Masters said the facility will provide ample storage space and afford those who use it a place to accept deliveries. The size of the kitchen will allow them to work more efficiently and in larger batches than they could elsewhere.

Another selling point. “The law prohibits you from doing it in your home, with very limited exceptions,” Ms. Masters said. To that end, those using the kitchen must be licensed by the state. Ms. Waechter said a class would be held for the dozen or so producers who have expressed interest in using the facility.

The institute will also be available to do “co-packing,” according to Ms. Masters. So, if a farmer does not have the time or staff to take on the cooking, “we are available to production for you,” she said. “It’s a process. You have to have your recipe approved by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.”

As part of its rental agreement, the food institute will also reopen the student cafeteria on a small-scale basis as a “farm to table” café serving students, staff, and campus visitors.

“There is an audience out here for everything” South Fork Kitchens will produce, said Ms. Waechter. “Something the AFI says is everyone should have access to good food.”

Julie Sheehan

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Star Black photo

Star Black photo

By Stephen J. Kotz

The director of Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA Program in Creative Writing talks about this summer’s upcoming Writers Conference, the deadline for which to enroll is Tuesday, April 1.

Can you give us an overview about what the Writers Conference is?

It is an intensive experience that centers on taking part in a writing workshop. When you apply you are applying for a specific workshop. And we offer them in poetry, fiction, memoir writing, playwriting. The workshop meets five times for two and half to three hours per day. The rest of your day you will take part in embarrassing and enriching readings, panels, performances, talks. It’s nonstop and we’ll have some really impressive authors coming in.

The whole vibe is beach. You won’t have much time to actually go to it—maybe you’ll get a chance to slip away one afternoon and stick your toe in the water. People work extremely hard, but it has a relaxed feel; it’s very soul enriching to be among 120 to 150 other writers. Plus, the dorms are available, so it’s cheapest 12 days you’ll ever get in the Hamptons.

Are there any new or special faculty members this year?

One of the great things about this is we’re in the Hamptons. From the faculty members’ view, it’s a paid vacation. This year we were able to get Terrance Hayes, a fantastic poet, very laid back, but  also a genius. Julia Glass is a terrific novelist. Libba Bray writes young adult novels. It was a coup to get her. She’s a big deal in the YA field. Two other new faces are Peter Lerangis, who also writes young adult fiction, Dan Yaccarino, who is known for his picture books and illustrations. A new face in playwriting is David Adjmi.

Then we have faculty who come every year: Billy Collins, Meg Wolitzer, Roger Rosenblatt, Matthew Klam, Patricia Marx, who collaborates with Roz Chast, The New Yorker cartoonist, on children’s books, Frederick Tuten, a novelist and short story writer who also writes art criticism, and Annette Handley Chandler, who teaches screenwriting.

What’s new this year?

There’s an introductory writers workshop that will be taught by an MFA student. It will be a chance to try your hand at range of genres. You can sign up and come and enjoy a writing workshop and not have any of the stress that come with the more intensive offerings.

I think there’s something about signing up that just sort of commands your muse. There is something about the mental act of signing up. You might not write anything beforehand, but when you get into that small group of 12 to 15 people, you get your work done.

There is a 12-day conference, from July 9 to 20, and a five-day “intensive” conference from July 9 to 13. Why do you do that?

We started doing that a couple of years ago. For some people finding 12 days, where you essentially have to take two weeks off from whatever you are doing, is difficult. We just found the five-day version of events would allow people to come who just can’t take that much time out of their lives.

 What does having this program do for the community and what does the community do for this program?

We try to make sure we keep our ties to the community strong. We have regular reading series on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Masha Gessen, who just wrote the book on Pussy Riot and blogs on events in Russia is coming this Wednesday, April 2 [at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge, as part of the Writers Speak series.] We want there to be a constant interchange between us and the community.

In turn the community is a great resource for us. There is a great community out here of writers, artists, filmmakers, playwrights, and actors. That’s where our guest list comes from. They have really enriched our students’ lives.

For more information, visit stonybrook.edu/southampton/mfa/summer.


Regional Healthcare System Praised by Officials Touting Stony Brook and Southampton Hospital Affiliation

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Flanked by government leaders at a Monday morning press conference, officials from Southampton Hospital and Stony Brook University Medical Center lauded plans for an affiliation between the them. It’s the beginning of what both facilities hope will become a regional healthcare system for the East End of Long Island.

At the press conference, leadership from Stony Brook University, the State University of New York and Southampton Hospital announced they have signed a non-binding letter of intent in which Southampton Hospital will join Stony Brook University’s medical system and construct a new hospital building on the Stony Brook University Southampton campus.

For Robert Chaloner, the CEO of Southampton Hospital, the opportunities presented in an affiliation with Stony Brook will allow the hospital to grow in a positive direction.

“It’s hard for me to walk anywhere in this community without hearing the role the hospital plays,” said Chaloner. “We are the largest employer, we are an economic engine for the community, we are the organizing force for keeping doctors here in the community and we are the developer of services. And many people, especially as you go further east into East Hampton communities and out to Montauk, are frightened at the fact that we may move or any change we have made because we are an isolated community that is aging in its demographic.”

“We need to partner as we move forward,” said Chaloner, “because when all is said and done we are still a small community hospital entering an era of unprecedented change in health care and an era where hospitals of all sizes will be stressed and challenged.”

“We need a partner we can work with to ensure the long term survival of this organization,” he added. “And I can’t think of a better partner than Stony Brook University Medical Center.”

According to a press release issued the morning of the press conference, Southampton Hospital’s 125-bed facility would provide care under Stony Brook University Hospital’s New York State operating license. As the affiliation between the hospitals moves forward, Stony Brook and Southampton officials will comply with the collective bargaining agreements with public unions at Stony Brook University Hospital and the private sector unions at Southampton Hospital.

Southampton Hospital employees will maintain their status as private sector employees along with all of their collective bargaining rights, according to the release.

The letter of intent calls on Southampton Hospital to continue clinical services on the South Fork with a joint advisory committee made up of members appointed by both hospitals advising on strategic and community issues for the East End facility.

The letter of intent also calls for launching a Southampton Hospital led philanthropic campaign to raise funds to build a new state-of-the-art hospital on Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus. Southampton Hospital’s current facility on Meeting House Lane opened in 1909.

According to Congressman Tim Bishop — who joined New York State Senator Ken LaValle and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele at the press conference — this affiliation will lead to expanded educational opportunities for the hospitals and serve as an economic driver allowing the college campus to realize its potential.

“It is so important from so many different vantage points not the least of which is the educational opportunities which will give rise to the economic possibilities that will solidify that college and solidify the role we have always wanted it to play on eastern Long Island,” said Bishop, who has had four generations of his family born at Southampton Hospital and who also served as the provost for Southampton College when it was owned by Long Island University. “Let’s go forward and make this happen.”

Like Bishop, Thiele has roots in both the hospital and the college. Born at Southampton Hospital and a graduate of Southampton College, Thiele noted his life literally would not be what it is today without both institutions.

“And to see those things brought together and married together into something that is going to benefit so many people in this community is just something I couldn’t be more proud of,” said Thiele.

According to the terms in the letter of intent, the next step in the process is for the two hospitals to enter “a due diligence phase,” during which they will exchange business, financial and legal information. Final agreement would also require the approval of numerous New York State regulatory and legislative authorities as well as the Southampton Hospital Board of Trustees.

For LaValle, Monday morning’s press conference was the first step in realizing a 20-year dream. The concept of a regional healthcare system for the East End has been on LaValle’s mind for two-decades, since he passed a bill allowing loan deferral for medical students who agreed to work in a medically underserved area like the East End for as long as five years.

“That was the first recognition that the community I represented was medically underserved,” said LaValle.

He would later talk to former director and CEO of Stony Brook University Medical Center, Michael Maffetone about a vision where Stony Brook was the center of a regional healthcare system for the whole of the East End, including Southampton Hospital, the Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital.

“It is all about the delivery of quality care and as was mentioned not only will people be getting quality care but within the environment we are increasing job creation because what will happen is more doctors will come out here, open office and they have to hire people,” said LaValle. “It is a win-win.”

“Initiatives like this are going to help us provide better medical care to the people of the East End of Long Island,” said Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel Stanley. “And it is also going to help Stony Brook University fulfill its mission as an academic medical center to train the next generation of medical care providers.”

Stony Brook University Hospital’s new CEO and vice president for health systems Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak comes to Stony Brook from the Inova Health System in northern Virginia, which Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, the senior vice president of health sciences and the dean of Stony Brook University School of Medicine said has given Dr. Pasternak the tools necessary to help develop another successful health care system on the East End.

“This is truly a great day for the residents of eastern Suffolk County,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “It is a day that marks a new era in health care on Long Island — regional health care.”

Musings on Kenya

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The Southampton Review (TSR) is as thick as a verbose novel, and in its bound pages readers can find everything from poetry and photography,  to lectures and fiction. Now in its sixth year, the literary anthology tied to Stony Brook Southampton’s Writers Conference and its fast-growing MFA program will celebrate the newest edition this Friday at Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theatre.
This issue of The Southampton Review includes a 75-page homage to last winter’s Kenya Writers Conference, during which about 15 students and faculty traveled to the Turkana Basin Institute in northern Kenya to study poetry with Julie Sheehan.
“The Turkana Basin is the cradle of language,” says Lou Ann Walker, editor-in-chief of The Southampton Review, “and what’s important to us is indeed celebrating language and art. That’s what they found there with the poetry workshop, with the lectures by Richard Leaky. What a wonderful chance to get Richard Leaky into TSR talking about language and paleo-anthropology in a way that writers and readers can really respond to.”
The Turkana Basin Institute was founded as a collaboration between the Leaky family and Stony Brook University, and as Stony Brook Southampton expands its programming, Kenya offered an exciting leap. First, the MFA program opened a campus in Manhattan, then it began a conference in Florence, Italy and this past year, brought writers to Kenya.
Julie Sheehan, who led the poetry workshop in Kenya, found a common thread between the writers’ contributions to the anthology that went beyond the subject matter and the place.
“I guess it’s what you would call in theater, breaking the fourth wall,” says Sheehan. “It’s when reality can’t be contained by the box. So if you open the Turkana section, you look at the words and see a lot of sprawl. There’s an expansiveness. A lot of our contributors usually write tight little poems, and these are uncontainable.”
The new Southampton Review is 260 pages, and of those pages, about 75 are devoted to the Kenya Writers Conference.
“Elsewhere in the magazine, you’ll see the kind of white space that you’d expect when you encounter a poem,” says Sheehan. “In Kenya, you’ll see the page is filled and probably started before the page and continues long after. There’s a sense of bursting out. And you look at the images and see the landscape. That sense of space that you rise to meet and fill.”
Like any intense experience, the writers’ response to Kenya was anything but simple. Christian McLean, director of the Kenya and Florence Writers Conferences, contributed several photographs and a personal essay to The Southampton Review. He explores the struggle he felt in photographing in Kenya.
“The piece deals with the difficulty in photographing people without feeling like you’re intruding on  their lives,” says McLean. “The dilemma is that with every 12 or 15 or 30 people we bring there, every action will change the Turkana culture slightly. The more they see iPhones, it will change, and I can’t say it’s for better or worse, but it will change their lifestyle and their perspective of the world.”
Other pieces in the magazine also depict the exchange between cultures, from an image of a Southampton student and a Turkana resident sharing a doum palm date to a piece by Adrienne Unger about the two groups singing to one another.
“There’s a lot of lyricism in those sections,” says Walker. “It was a chance for the people who were there to muse on language. To hear their own language in a foreign place. You think more about each word as you’re processing the language, and writing about fresh experiences that are so different from what you’re writing back home.”
McLean notes Stony Brook Southampton values the relationship between travel and writing, which is why the program abroad presence continues to grow.
“We’re planning on going back to Turkana in a few years,” says McLean, “but first we’ll be taking our students to Florence this year, and hopefully to Cuba in January of 2014.”
The general public is invited to hear readings and see images from The Southampton Review this Friday, July 27 at the Avram Theatre. The afternoon will be devoted to the Kenya Writers from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. That evening, Poet Billy Collins and Essayist Roger Rosenblatt, who have both been included in every issue of The Southampton Review to date, will read.
“Roger will be reading from his new memoir,” says Walker, “a work in progress called ‘The Wanderer. ‘It’s a delightful tour of his childhood in Manhattan. His work is always so full of humor, and so thoughtful. Billy Collins as well is incredibly fun to listen to: following his thought processes in the poems, thinking about the use of language.”
The Southampton Review is an undertaking. Walker notes that every year, hundreds of pages of work by established and emerging artists and writers are edited, printed, and bound. But feeling the volume in hand is a priority.
“We really feel that it’s important to have books as objects,” says Walker, “and we really care about the design of it, that it be a book that is worthy of the art that’s in it …  I like the idea that people can physically connect with these writers and these works of art.”

Christine Vachon

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Christine Vachon, co-founder and CEO of Killer Films, whose films include “Boy’s Don’t Cry,” “Far From Heaven,” “Happiness, I’m Not There,” “One Hour Photo” and “Mildred Pierce” for HBO has joined the Stony Brook faculty on the Southampton Arts Campus.

By Candace Sindelman


What is your goal for the program?

The film industry is changing so radically our goal is to a put together a program that really reflects the times.


How long have you been teaching for?

On and off for about 20 years.


How has your experience been teaching?

The experience has obviously been pretty good.


What has been your favorite experience about teaching?

Working with filmmakers just starting out makes you realize what an exciting business it can be. It really prevents cynicism and that’s a great thing.


How did you get the idea to team up with Stony Brook?

I was originally approached by Magdalene Brandeis. I sat down with Bob Reeves and we started talking about different strategies. We were both frustrated with how film production careers were being taught in a traditional setting. We wanted to do something different.


What are some of the biggest mistakes that film schools tend to make?

Honestly it comes back to film schools are still dealing with the idea that the end goal has to be a theatrical feature film. It needs a radical overhaul in that most people consume media in completely different ways in how we actually tell stories and the stories we actually film; new filmmakers need to be thinking about that in much more innovative ways.


What makes a great film?

Everyone has a different answer. Ultimately, the film takes you to some place you have never been and the experience of watching the film has been directed by a terrific journey in incredibly safe hands. (Pause) Some people’s idea of a great film is “Weekend at Bernie’s,” and that is fine.


What advice would you give to filmmakers just starting out?

Be as open as possible to new opportunities and be as flexible as possible how you tell stories and where people see them and think about who the audience is for your work.


What is something you wished you knew when first starting out in film?

I don’t think about stuff like that.


What type of stuff do you think about?

Oh, where I am going to get my next meal.


Where do you see the program in the next five years?

That’s a tough one. I don’t even think about next week. Ideally we’ll create something self-sustaining that’s really relevant. I’ve made over 70 films; I love what I do. I managed to stay in business and listen to the times. I hope that there will be a new generation of filmmakers to tap into and really collaborate with.


What about Stony Brook Southampton’s facilities appealed to you?

It’s a beautiful campus and a beautiful place with a lot of possibilities that I am just beginning to explore.


How do you stay current in today’s industry?

The answer to that question is longer than I have time for. Come to my master class.  Ultimately the short answer is to watch as much content as you can. Find the good stuff and support it.





Emma Walton Hamilton

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Executive Director of The Young American Writers Project at Stony Brook Southampton

What exactly is The Young American Writers Project (YAWP)?

The Young American Writers Project was created by the MFA program at Stony Brook by Southampton MFA Director Robert Reeves in the spring of 2009. The program is dedicated to mentoring high school students and middle school students in the art of writing, through whatever medium that might be. In part of the program we send out teams made up of MFA graduate students to various high schools and middle schools around the East End to lead writing workshops. But we also do school break workshops, summer workshops and retreats.

The next event coming up is YAWP Spring Workshop on Friday, April 9. What goes on at these workshops?

Well, the spring break workshop is a five day program dedicated to script writing for plays as well as film screenplays. Professional writers teach the students how to think visually, how to incorporate conflict and character, as well as develop a work in progress. By the end of the week the students will have completed a one-act play or one short scene of a movie.

Have there been any memorable pieces to come out of the YAWP program?

Something that jumps immediately to mind was one piece written during a high school program. This school was going through some budget cuts and one of the first departments to be cut was theater. A student in our playwriting classes wrote a play about lobbying a school board to restore funding to a theater program. That was just a really wonderful and powerful play that had a message that echoed beyond that evening. One of the important things about this program is that we don’t censor what the students write about. We ask them to write from their own experience and to write in their own words. That sometimes results in some eyebrow raising material.

Who are the teenagers who sign up for this writing course?

For the school break courses the students are already interested in writing and want to improve their writing skills. They are usually already interested in writing and want to experience a type of program that they could not get at school. What we are trying to do is cultivate voice. What we are really focusing on at the program is individual voice, what is important to say, and how it is said.

What have you learned looking at the writing of these YAWP students?

Kids go out on limbs and take chances when they write.  We have had plays about discrimination, plays about abuse, plays about substance abuse, as well as essays and poetry about just being different. This program gives the teenagers an opportunity to write about how they truly feel.

To find out more about YAWP or the upcoming workshops please call 632-8000.