An Evening with Sloan Foundation Short Films and Panel Discussion with Grant Recipients and Sloan Faculty

November 13, 2012, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

The USC School of Cinematic Arts and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation invites you and a guest to a special evening of short films and a conversation with Sloan Foundation grant recipients.



7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

The event will begin with a screening of the following Sloan Foundation-produced shorts:

1. Snow
2. The Collector's Gift
3. Sonadores
4. The Reality Clock
5. Signal

Followed by a panel discussion with Thomas Miller, Alan Baker, Mark Jonathan Harris, and Sloan Foundation grant recipients Isaac Ergas, Chris Farrington, Ryan Kravetz and Freddy Gaiten.

About the Sloan Foundation-Produced Short Films

Snow – Directed by Isaac Ergas

The 1854 cholera outbreak has decimated the unseemly district of Soho, London.  While the leading medical authorities blame the polluted air, Dr. John Snow uncovers an entirely different theory.  He then pieces together a scientific puzzle that will culminate in one historic moment, anointing him as "Father of Modern Epidemiology.”

Bio: Isaac Ergas is a Los Angeles based award winning writer/director who holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Film and Television Production from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley.  He most recently won the Alfred P. Sloan film and science grant, which enabled him to write and direct the film Snow, the perfect project to bring together two of his leading passions.   Isaac has also written and directed several other short films, which have screened and earned awards at festivals around the country.

The Collector’s Gift – Directed by Ryan Kravetz

The Collector’s Gift is an animated, modern day fairytale about a young girl who discover the key to creating a new world.

Bio: Ryan Kravetz is a director, animator, and designer. Ryan started his career in New York working as a set designer and art director for Theater, TV and Live Events. His work has appeared in festivals, music videos, independent films, on cable and network television as well as Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional productions, corporate events and concerts. He moved to Los Angeles to further his education through visual storytelling in 2009. His first film, “Before The Storm”, screened in several festivals internationally including the Chicago International Children’s Festival. Ryan recently finished work on his animated thesis film “The Collector’s Gift” which was a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Grant. Although the styles and mediums may vary, throughout his work from stage to screen and for all audiences, Ryan creates vivid worlds full of rich characters and strives to find the heart in every story. Ryan received his BFA in Theater Design at Carnegie Mellon University and his MFA in Animation and Digital Arts from The USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Soñadores – Directed by Thenmozhi Soundararajan

On the eve of a national Dream Act Protest, a dreamy biology nerd faces the crossroads of graduation with fear as she is paralyzed by the realities of her immigration status. When she is awarded a scholarship for college, she must now decide if she will confront her fears or continue to hide and lose her dreams forever.

Bio: Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a singer and Transmedia artist who in 2003 was featured in Utne Reader as One of the Top Visionaries Under 30, and the same year was profiled in The Source as One of the Top Ten Political Forces in Hip Hop. Growing up as an Indian Untouchable, she was driven to tell the stories of marginalized communities, which led her, upon graduating from UC Berkeley, to found the international media training organization, Third World Majority, for which she taught in the U.S., France, Tunisia, Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, and India. She also spent time in residence at the MIT Center for Reflective Community Practice, writing about storytelling, diversity, and future technology, and that research inspired her transition to narrative filmmaking, and enrollment in USC's School of Cinematic Arts where she received her MFA.

Since then, Soundararajan’s work has been recognized by the Producers Guild of America Diversity Program, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Annenberg Innovation Center, Slamdance, MIT Center for New Media Studies, The Sorboone, The National Center for the Humanities,  International Children’s Festival, The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Currently, she’s preparing to direct her documentary Touchable: The Journey from Untouchable to Dalit and its related album Broken People.

The Reality Clock – Directed by Amanda Tasse

The Reality Clock is an animated portrait of a watchmaker's struggle to accept the influences of early stage Dementia on his identity and sense of time. Shot in full 3D, using stop-motion, live-action and time-lapse photography, this impressionistic film references tests and dialog drawn from autobiographical works written by individuals with Dementia, while expressing broader themes of loss.

Bio: Amanda Tasse is a PhD candidate in the iMAP Media Arts + Practice program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she also received her MFA in Animation and Digital Arts. In 2012, she received a Student Academy Award Gold Medal for her Sloan Science funded film, The Reality Clock.

Amanda is interested in communicating emotional information and complex data using non-verbal metaphors, experimental narratives, and an emphasis on art direction. She develops hybrid live-action/animated short films and creates interactive applications that promote wellness through generating awareness of everyday patterns and activities.

In 2011-2012, as a Fulbright researcher in Neurocinematics at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, Amanda worked with an interdisciplinary team of neuroscientists and filmmakers on experiments exploring how varying sensory modalities influence visualization processes within cinematic media. For her dissertation, she is designing an interactive narrative data visualization application and considering how theories within neuroscience can be beneficial to cinematic design processes.

Signal – Directed by Chris Farrington

Against the backdrop of 19th century wireless telegraph experimentation, a scientist must survive a confrontation with a distraught local who claims the mysterious technology keeps him from contacting his recently departed wife. 

Bio: Chris Farrington is an award-winning writer/director. He received his BA in Art/Semiotics from Brown University (2000) and his MFA from the University of Southern California (2009).  His thesis film, Signal, qualified for the 2010 Oscars by winning the 'best short film award' at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and earned Farrington the 'Best Director award' at the 2011 USC First Look Festival. Farrington was a finalist in the Coca Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Contest (2008-2009), and has been a recipient of various production grants from Fotokem, the Sloan Foundation, and the University of Southern California.


About the Panelists

For filmmaker bios, see above.

THOMAS G. MILLER (Moderator), SCA Adjunct Faculty

Thomas G. Miller has worked on documentaries and in public television since 1994. He associate produced the Sundance award-winning film Licensed To Kill and co-produced and edited Fender Philosophers and the feature documentary Camp Out. Miller has also edited the feature documentary films, Rock the Boat, Good Kurds, Bad Kurds, Home of the Brave and was supervising editor on See What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary. He directed, produced, co-wrote and co-edited the award- winning feature documentary, One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story. Other credits include editing biographies for Fox Family, and producing television films for Discovery and WNET's series on disabilities, People in Motion.

Miller is also on the executive board of the International Documentary Association,  a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Writers Guild of America, West.  He has been teaching editing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts since 2004 and has been the Sloan Mentor for the past four years.  He is also a board certified pediatrician and has practiced medicine and served as medical consultant for Sesame Street and other film and television series.

Miller graduated with a B.S. degree in zoology from the University of Michigan, an M.D. from the Medical College of Ohio, and an M.F.A. from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

ALAN BAKER, SCA Associate Dean, Administratice & International Projects

Alan Baker is in his eleventh year as the School of Cinematic Arts associate dean, after spending 25 years in network, syndication and public television production and programming. Alan’s current responsibilities include the initiation and oversight of several international programs, including five years organizing production and writing workshops in Vietnam and at USC for Vietnamese filmmakers.

For the past four years, Alan has also been working with Jordan’s Royal Film Commission in designing and implementing workshops in Jordan for aspiring young Jordanian filmmakers. Alan wrote the original grant proposal and now supervises the State Department’s USC Fusion Arts Exchange summer program, beginning its third year, which brings 20 international university students to USC for five-week workshops. He is also principal liaison for new programs with Dubai, India and other locales.

Alan oversees the school’s scholarship programs and does special projects for the dean and associate dean. He publishes a bi-weekly newsletter for faculty and staff.

Prior to USC, Alan was a vice president for programming at 20th and Paramount Television companies. He produced numerous cultural programs at the Los Angeles PBS television station, and was in charge of press and publicity for the 1984 Olympic Games international Arts Festival.

Alan has a B.A. in English from the University of Hawaii, is married and has three sons and a badly behaved dog.

MARK JONATHAN HARRIS, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Advanced Documentary Production course

Professor Mark Jonathan Harris is an Academy-Award winning documentary filmmaker, journalist and novelist. Among the many documentaries he has written, produced and/or directed are The Redwoods, a documentary made for the Sierra Club to help establish a redwood National Park, which won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary (1968); The Long Way Home (1997), a film made for the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the period immediately following the Holocaust won the Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary (1997); Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, which was produced for Warner Bros. and also won an Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary (2000).

Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003), an HBO documentary he wrote on slavery in America, was nominated for an Emmy for Non-fiction Special. In 2007, he produced Darfur Now, which was nominated by The National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics Association for best documentary of the year. The film went on to win an NAACP Image Award.

His latest project as a writer is a feature length documentary about the involvement of doctors and psychologists in the torture of detainees in U.S. military prisons. He is also the Principal Investigator on a three-year project to create a website and film about best practices in treating autism.

In 2010 the International Documentary Association honored him with their Scholarship and Preservation Award.

In addition to filmmaking, Harris is also a journalist and has published short stories and five novels for children. He has taught filmmaking at the School of Cinematic Arts since 1983.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The goal of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation film school program is to influence the next generation of filmmakers to create more realistic and dramatic stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers through the visual media.

The goal is not to propagandize on behalf of science or to create exclusively positive images of scientists and engineers. Rather, the Sloan program aims to help aspiring and professional screenwriters and filmmakers integrate science and technology themes and characters into their work.

This innovative program awards prizes at six leading film schools: American Film Institute; UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television; Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama; Columbia University Film Department; NYU Tisch School of the Arts; and USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Check-In & Reservations

This event is free of charge and open to the public. RSVPs required. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmations, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making RSVPs through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA events are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago