The Ampersand Industry Summit includes a week-long series of workshops, panel discussions, and Q&A sessions with alumni and festival guests. All of these sessions are free, unticketed, and open to the public. Seating for in-person workshops is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Most sessions are held in the Ford Classroom or Cox Classroom in the Reeder Media Center on the ground floor of Swem Library.
Use these links to attend all workshop sessions virtually via Zoom. You may need to copy/paste the URL depending on your browser:
Theatre is uniquely positioned to build important life-skills in young people: communication, empathy, self-confidence, creativity, problem solving and more. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the many career paths within arts education and how pursuing the arts, as a profession or as your passion, is a worthwhile endeavor for us all.
About Sara Strehle Duke ‘06
Sara Strehle Duke is the Executive Director of Encore Stage & Studio, the largest children’s theatre program in Northern Virginia. During her tenure, Encore has more than quadrupled in size and now serves over 15,000 children and their families annually. She is an accomplished director, choreographer, and improvisational actor, in addition to her passion for arts management.
Join us for a discussion of how a first novel goes from early drafts, through agency representation and sale to a publisher, and eventually to the final book on shelves. Featuring editor/publisher (and VP of Pantheon Books) Lisa Lucas, literary agent Chad Luibl (Janklow & Nesbit), and author Laura Warrell (Sweet Soft Plenty Rhythm). PLEASE NOTE this session is not on Zoom – instead click this link, and input the password LAURA.
This workshop will explore how to view horror media through a sociopolitical lens. We will discuss how arts journalism and the horror genre to can be used to document generational fears and shifts in societal values.
About Jenika McCrayer ‘13
Jenika McCrayer (she/her) is a freelance journalist based in New York City. She is currently the Contributing Editor for Horror Press, where she explores horror through a Black feminist lens. Her work has also appeared in Gayly Dreadful, Prism Reports and Everyday Feminism.
Singular expertise is out. Being a Jack-of-Many-Trades is in, and can help lead you to more open doors and unique opportunities. In this workshop we’ll dive into the joys and benefits (and challenges) of trying that weird hobby or leaning into that off-the-wall specialty, and how that can actually make you more likely to achieve your One Big Goal.
About Dan Plehal ’09
Dan Plehal ’09 is an actor, director, acrobat (and a few other things) based in Chicago. He currently plays Sven the reindeer on the Broadway National Tour of Disney’s Frozen. He has been an actor, director, and movement director for productions at Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and many others. He also founded Aura CuriAtlas Physical Theatre with W&M Alum and professor Joan Gavaler, and served as Co-Artistic Director for 9 years. Dan studied Theatre at W&M, then Physical Theatre at the Accademia dell-Arte in Arezzo, Italy.
An overview of the process of creating professional videos from conception to completion. Canon experts will explain design briefs, storyboarding, filming, feedback and review, how they record audio, and touch on creating .SRT closed caption files, legal disclaimers, titles, and more. Presenters will also speak about how they’ve adapted from using a studio to making the same professional-quality videos at home.
An intro to the ins and outs of entertainment journalism, how studying film and media are the perfect springboard for a career as an arts and entertainment reporter, and how to channel your fandoms into your work.
About Maureen Lee Lenker
Maureen Lee Lenker is a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly with over six years of experience in the entertainment industry. An award-winning journalist, she’s written for Turner Classic Movies, Ms. Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. She’s worked at EW for over five years covering film, TV, theater, music, and books. The author of EW’s quarterly romance review column, “Hot Stuff,” Maureen holds Master’s degrees from both the University of Southern California and the University of Oxford. Her debut novel, It Happened One Fight, will be published in July 2023.
Interested in a career in publishing? Join me for a conversation about job possibilities, different career paths, and the joys and challenges of working in the industry with ample time for a Q&A. It’s a wild time in publishing right now, and I can’t wait to talk with you!
About Errin Toma ‘11
Errin Toma is an Assistant Editor at Harlequin, working across several imprints. Before starting her editorial career in 2019, she worked in various publishing positions across the industry. She publishes stories with a focus on BIPOC and queer voices. Website: errintoma.com
Having an idea is easy. Selling your vision is hard. Whether you’re sharing your project with creative collaborators or pitching to investors, it’s important to be able to communicate your ideas in a clear and compelling way.
In this workshop we will review pitch essentials and take a look at sample decks. We will focus primarily on unscripted and documentary work, but we will touch on examples for projects ranging from scripted series to podcasts to music videos. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a pitch deck is for, what to include, or how to make your materials stand out – there’s something for you in this workshop.
About Chelsea Marotta ‘12
Chelsea Marotta is a graphic designer, development producer, and creative swiss army knife. Currently, she is Creative Producer at Tom Brady and Michael Strahan’s company, Religion of Sports, where she works on creative and visual development for new projects across unscripted, scripted, and audio.
Ever dream about working in the film industry? Come hear from two people that managed to break into the industry and build successful careers! They will share their career journey and what they have learned along the way.
About Rob Maylor JD
Rob Maylor is a Jamaican-American lawyer, writer, and producer on a mission to bring new narratives from the Caribbean and its diaspora to life and a screen near you. His feature film production, Storm Saulter’s “Sprinter” was Executive Produced by Jada Pinkett-Smith & Will Smith, and won over a dozen global best of festival awards en route to distribution in North America, Europe, Africa, and Latin America in 2019. He continues to find success through collaborations with visionary auteurs like Joshua Kissi, groundbreaking companies including Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad and award-winning films including the 2021 IDA Award Winner for Best Music Documentary, “Universe.” As the head of business affairs and operations for Jamaica’s leading production services company Cinecom he has worked on Paramount’s upcoming “Untitled Bob Marley Project”; Marlon James’ upcoming series “Get Millie Black” for HBO and the Oprah Winfrey produced Hulu series “Black Cake.” Rob is regularly called upon to share his expertise in crafting and creatively distributing authentic stories from creators of Color. His engagements and collaborators include Sundance, Berlinale, Toronto International Film Festival, The British Film Institute, Puma, and Walshy Fire of Major Lazer. Maylor began his career working with the late, famed attorney Johnnie Cochran before going on to hold industry positions at UTA, Mark Burnett Productions and Magnolia Pictures where he was most recently the Director of International. Rob is a Torino Film Lab alumni and Film Independent Producing Lab Fellow.
About Milan Chakraborty ‘00
Milan Chakraborty is Head of Film at Marginal MediaWorks, overseeing all of the company’s efforts in independent, studio and streaming film. Milan worked at Warner Bros and New Line Cinema in production finance and accounting on projects including Batman Begins, Superman Returns, and V for Vendetta. He has produced and executive produced over 20 features including My Friend Dahmer, Assassination Nation, Plus One, The Dark & the Wicked, multiple Spirit Award nominee The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, and Four Samosas.
Born and raised in VA, I didn’t exactly have a blue-print on how to make it as a Writer/Director in Hollywood. Now living in LA, working in entertainment full-time, and having just completed my debut feature, I will share some key take-aways and perspectives from my journey.
About Omar Kamara ‘15
Writer/Director Omar S. Kamara is a first-generation Sierra Leonean American, Virginia native, and graduate of the College of William and Mary and the American Film Institute. His short film, MASS AVE, won the Grand Prize at the Director’s Guild of America Student Film Awards, was named a Finalist in HBO’s Short Film Competition at ABFF, and was nominated for the Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand International Film Festival. The film was licensed by HBO and is currently streaming on HBO Max.
In addition to winning the Silver Screen at the Cannes Lions Young Director Award and the Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award at AFI, Kamara’s films have played at numerous Oscar-Qualifying film festivals including Rhode Island, HollyShorts, and the Pan African Film Festival. He recently completed production on his debut feature film, AFRICAN GIANTS, which is targeting a 2023 festival release. Kamara’s films touch on his first-generation experiences and strive to highlight and honor the African Diaspora.
Recording Engineer and Producer Christian Amonson ’09 shares lessons and stories from his time recording orchestras, classical music, and film scores. Topics include getting started, finding opportunities, opening doors, industry nemeses, finding (or not finding) mentors, finances, branding, team building, neurodiversity, networking, sabotage, intrigue, and more.
About Christian Amonson ‘09
Christian Amonson is a recording engineer and producer specializing in acoustic music. Projects include John Williams and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Midori and the Kansas City Symphony, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields at Abbey Road Studios in London and NPR’s JazzSet at the Kennedy Center. Amonson volunteers as the mastering engineer for And We Were Heard, an initiative focused on sharing works of underrepresented composers.
From 2014-2019, Amonson served with The President’s Own United States Marine Band in Washington, D.C., producing albums, concert recordings, videos and live sound reinforcement. He participated in the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, PBS’s Emmy-winning “All-Star Band” and various events at the White House. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, he founded VirtualChoir.net and led a team of 55 singers, composers, conductors, instrumentalists and administrators in the creation of over 1,700 virtual performances for ensembles around the world.
We’ll have an informal chat about the types of opportunities that exist in New York and beyond, and their typical timelines. We’ll also look at the kinds of application questions you might see, and some sample resumes and responses that really stand apart from the pack. No need to prepare anything in advance, but feel free to come with specific goals and questions, or resumes that we can workshop as a group!
About Caitlin Clements ‘11
Caitlin is a theatrical producer and creative consultant who spent the last 10ish years working on the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” in its many stage iterations. Other Broadway and West End producing credits include “Plaza Suite,” “Orlando,” and the current revival of “A Doll’s House” starring Jessica Chastain. A Film Studies major / French minor at W&M, Caitlin was a founding student staff member of the earliest iteration of what’s now known as the Ampersand Festival. She has also served as coordinator for a number of Broadway apprenticeship programs – and hired many, many interns – so let’s talk tips about how you can be one of them!
Did you know that thanks to a 2019 law it’s now a federal requirement for everyone to at least think about starting a podcast by the time they’re 25? It’s true! But while the barriers to entry for making and publishing your own show are incredibly low, making your podcast stand out – and turning a profit from it – can take a lot longer than you might think. Podcast writer, producer and host Greg Benson leads a talk offering practical (and some fun but not so useful) tips for making your podcast stand out, growing your audience, and attracting the attention of the folks who write checks.
About Greg Beson ‘11
Greg Benson is a Brooklyn-based creative who has been writing, producing and hosting podcasts for seven years, and making a living off of it for two. He writes and produces “World Reimagined” with Nasdaq, “Testing… 1,2,3” with NI and “Back Bar” with HRN.
The world of book publishing has drastically changed from seeking an agent and a publisher for a book to self-publishing. There are now a variety of ways to get your book published and distributed to the reading public. Learn industry tips and tricks from a seasoned writer and publisher.
About Erika Fabian
Erika Fabian, a writer and photographer, had her books published by world renown publishers, such as Putnam, Ballantine, Amphoto, and even Harlequin. However, with the advent of computers and special programs, she had also become a publisher for others. In addition to private authors, she created government commissioned books for Indonesia and China.
Fabian’s 26th book, Liars’ Paradise, is available online and in paperback. It is an autobiographical novel about love and survival under Nazi occupation and Communist dictatorship in Hungary.
Do you wish you were more creative? Would you like to write stories (films, TV shows, plays, short stories) but don’t know how to begin? Would you like to increase your powers of creativity? In this workshop, you’ll learn about the many techniques for unlocking the creativity buried inside you. You’re far more creative than you may realize. And after this workshop, you’ll learn where great stories come from and how to create compelling stories of your own.
About Professor Smith
Prof. Kevin Smith (not the “Clerks” guy) is a professor who teaches film studies at William & Mary. His BFA in Creative Writing and Literature is from Emerson College in Boston. His MFA in Cinema is from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He teaches classes in screenwriting, film production and critical studies.
What are the values of people who put their health and lives on the line to be a stunt person for movies and film? Learn what it takes to make it in this extreme speciality field.
About James Northup ‘04
Jamie was a member of the men’s gymnastics program at William and Mary 2000-2004 and graduated to pursue a career in film. After 18 years, he has made a career out of fighting, fire, car crashes and jumping off buildings. Most recently, he works as the Stunt Coordinator on CBS’s show “The Equalizer.”
For The Improvised Shakespeare Company to create brand new plays on the spot, its members must be masters of spontaneous group work. This presentation will explore the main principles of group improvisation. Attendees will observe and be invited to participate in a variety of exercises that emphasize the importance of active listening, support, working as a team, confidence, and creativity. After an introduction to the nature of improvisation, join ISC ensemble members as they present a crash course Elizabethan dialogue and show you how to create your own Elizabethan prose right on the spot. Stay for a Q&A with ensemble members.
About The Improvised Shakespeare Company
The Improvised Shakespeare Company was founded in Chicago in 2005. In 2006 it began an open run at the iO Theater where its hit show, Improvised Shakespeare Chicago, still performs today. The ISC performs regularly at The Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles and continues to entertain audiences around the globe. The ISC has been featured at The Kennedy Center, Bonnaroo, San Francisco Sketchfest, the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, The Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, and Outside Lands in San Francisco. They are featured regularly in NYC at Theatre 80 St Marks and the 92nd St Y and recently completed a run at the Soho Theatre in London where they were presented by Sir Patrick Stewart. The ISC was named Chicago’s best improv group by both the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Examiner and has received numerous awards in LA (Best of LA-LA Weekly), New York (New York Nightlife Awards), and Chicago (The Chicago Improv Foundation).
About Joey Bland ’00
Joey Bland is a Los Angeles based writer/performer who hails from Virginia, where he attended the College of William and Mary. He spent many years in Chicago where he performed with ComedySportz, the iO Theater, and The Second City. For two years, Joey traveled the world with The Second City Touring Company, and in 2009, he played the title role in The Second City’s hit, original musical, Rod Blagojevich, Superstar. Television credits include “Teachers” (TV Land) and “Forever” (Amazon Prime). Joey is also a two-time Jeopardy champion.
About Brendan Dowling ’98
Brendan Dowling is an actor and writer whose recent credits include writing for and appearing in Showtime’s “Work in Progress.” Stage credits include Baby Wants Candy, The Second City National Touring Company, and The Second City Denver’s How I Lost My Denverginity. Film credits include “It’s All Good” and the award-winning short, “Curtains.” Follow along at @berndandooling.
About Greg Hess ’03
Greg Hess is a Los Angeles based actor and writer. Stage credits include Cook County Social Club (UCB), the Second City national touring company, the School at Steppenwolf. Film/TV credits include: “Yesterday” (Dir. Danny Boyle), “Playing House” (USA), “Adam Ruins Everything” (Tru), “Key & Peele” (Comedy Central), “Tacoma FD” (Tru), “LA to Vegas” (Fox), and “Food the Source of Life” (Adult Swim) which he created. He has developed original pilots with Showtime, Comedy Central, Pop and Warner Bros. Greg’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker Magazine Shouts & Murmurs, Points in Case, and The American Bystander. He is the co-host of the hit podcast MEGA, an improvised satire set inside a mega church. @heygreghess
About Martin Wilson ’02
Martin Wilson has trained and performed extensively at the iO Theater, ComedySportz, and is a long-time ensemble member of The Improvised Shakespeare Company. He can be heard occasionally on the hit comedy podcast “Hello From the Magic Tavern,” and works by day as the Director of Creative Production for the Office of Global Marketing and Communications at Northwestern University. He is a resident of Wilmette, IL, a native of Washington D.C., an avid reader, a baseball enthusiast, a husband, a dad to two high-energy girls, and a proud alum of The College of William & Mary.
Writing for television is a collaborative process. In this workshop, we’ll explore how the foundations of improv can help you in every step of the writing process, from pitching your show idea to working in a writer’s room. We’ll answer questions about writing for TV and lead exercises to help you craft your pilot.
About Joey Bland ‘00 and Brendan Dowling ‘98
Joey Bland and Brendan Dowling are LA-based performers/writers. As members of The Improvised Shakespeare Company, they perform monthly at The Largo at the Coronet in LA, and have also been part of the group’s successful runs at The Kennedy Center, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Soho Theatre in London. They can also be seen regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater Los Angeles with Baby Wants Candy. Joey has developed an original pilot with PopTV, and Brendan was a staff writer for Showtime’s “Work In Progress,” where he wrote the episode “Two Queens on Two Queens.”
Grab a light breakfast and mingle with presenting alumni guests and other festival attendees at a complimentary breakfast reception hosted by the Reeder Media Center on the ground floor of Swem Library.
Grab a light breakfast and mingle with presenting alumni guests and other festival attendees at a complimentary breakfast reception hosted by the Reeder Media Center on the ground floor of Swem Library.