Adventures In A Decade

As I reflect back on the last decade, it is a collection of small moments, professional and personal, surprising and spiritual, some in solitude, most in the company of friends and family, that stay with me, give me joy, and drive me forward with humility, gratitude, and optimism. I’ve been asking friends lately to share with me their favorite moments from the last 10 years.
Here are 15 memorable work moments for me.
 
1. COMPANY – New York Philharmonic. Sitting in front of Stephen Sondheim on a rapturous, sold out Opening Night, discreetly mortified that it’s my job as AD to take notes on his show in front of him.
Company
2. RESTORING LOVE – Cowboys Stadium. Choreographing an entire Baptist gospel choir in the basement of the largest venue in America, just a couple hours before live broadcasting across the world.
Restoring Love
3. LOST CAUSE – The Old Vic Theatre. Reveling in the cheeky anarchy of our actors Alison and Zoe trashing the stage of Olivier and Dench with literal American garbage, all to the sounds of a hard rock rendition of Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy.
Lost Cause
4. PETER PAN – Mt. Tamalpais. Arriving at the top of the Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre to encounter our set designer Erik’s massive, wildly imaginative playground set being assembled on site, the San Francisco skyline floating on clouds in the distance.
Peter Pan
5. THE WIZARD OF LIES – Rosa Mexicana, Upper East Side. Improvising three takes of a three hander scene with Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer (that was later cut from the film.)
Wizard Of Lies
6. CONDÉ NAST – 1 World Trade Center. After a whirlwind, 48 hour prospective Editor-In-Chief initiation, suddenly pitching my ideas for the future of this global brand one by one to every executive at the top of 1 World Trade.
Conde Nast
7. THE TONY AWARDS – The Plaza Hotel. Walking the empty halls for the first time, wearing my Tommy Awards bowtie, gazing at black and white portraits of Monroe and Sinatra, minutes before the mad rush of after party attendees.
Tony Awards
8. ART BASEL – Miami. After a long, hot day, carefully placing the final inflatable ball on a makeshift art installation in the empty swimming pool of a beautiful waterfront mansion.
Art Basel
9. MONTANA – Lake Champlain. Sitting down for dinner at the lake house with our entire cast and crew the night before Day 1 of shooting, an image I’ve wanted to manifest since I was a little kid.
Montana
10. THE DROWSY CHAPERONE – Yale University. Barreling through a snow storm with my parents to arrive at our warm-in-every-way theatre on Opening Night, a week after Hurricane Sandy postponed our tech, eight months after my final grad school call back at Yale.
Drowsy Chaperone
11. SPICE IT UP – Burbank. Sharing a very specific look with my co-writer and one of my oldest friends Elspeth Keller Scott when an executive divulged some surprising information during our first pitch on the Warner Brothers lot.
Spice It Up
12. FIRE ALL OVER YOU – Venice Beach. Rehearsing and discovering a common movement vocabulary with our two remarkable and unique dancers, Rachel and Brianna, on the Casa Karmina rooftop at sunset.
Fire All Over You
13. THE HOMECOMING – A.C.T. Wordlessly communicating with Director and Artistic Director Carey Perloff across the Geary Theatre during tech, immersed in the language of a playwright I’ve loved since high school.
Homecoming
14. JULIUS CAESAR – Lincoln Center. Running around my rooftop screaming in disbelief after somehow managing to memorize Brutus in 4 days-time. (And then, in keeping with a week of quick turnarounds and bizarre career offshoots, finding out I was cast as Ryan Reynolds Body Double and needing to report to set the following morning. My screams quickly devolved into prayers that the title was not meant to be taken literally. My prayers were answered well.)
Julius Caesar
15. ALL STAR CODE – General Assembly. Leading team exercises and group conversations with our All Star Code students while the Black Lives Matter march roared on the streets below.
All Star Code
******************************************************************************
Travel has also been one of the greatest joys in my life. It is my primary method for learning, exploring, adventuring, expanding. Travel has provided the right challenges for growth. It’s been my most dependable education. I’ve been crazy fortunate to experience some otherworldly luxury travel, but many of my trips have been full-on frugal, bootstrapping adventures. (I’m always happy to share insights from my frequent flier programs and color coded spreadsheets.) I think it’s important to place a greater focus of pride on unexpected moments of joy and wonder over accomplishments, accolades, and wins.
In keeping with this week’s reflective focus on all the small surprising moments from the last 10 years, and because long subway rides afford me the time to make long, introspective lists, here are some of my favorite travel moments from 15 different places around the world. (Unsurprisingly, food, dancing, mountaintops and bodies of water seem to be the running theme.)
 
1. JAPAN – Exploring the Hakone Open-Air Museum on a misty morning mountaintop / Surrounded by bowing deer and rainfall in Nara, turning the corner to discover the overwhelmingly majestic Tōdai-ji Temple, the world’s largest wooden structure, which houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha / Meditating with a Zen Buddhist monk in a temple outside Kyoto / Sitting in silence in the Teshima Art Museum
Processed with VSCO with a7 preset
2. JORDAN – Meeting with Queen Rania in Amman / Chasing after my flying hat in Wadi Rum / Smoking hookah and watching the World Cup on the beach with my parents in Aqaba
Jordan 2
3. CALIVIGNY ISLAND, GRENADA – Jet Skiing around the islands at sunset / Dancing with a massive beach bonfire under a starry night / Enjoying a thought provoking conversation over dinner with Grenada’s Minister Of Health
Grenada
4. RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Riding the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain / Strapping myself to a man named Zero, jumping off a mountaintop and hang gliding down to Ipanema Beach
Brazil
5. CROATIA – Watching the sun set over the Southern islands and Adriatic Sea from the top of Srd Hill in Dubrovnik / Driving from Dubrovnik to Split, stopping to jump into the Kravica waterfalls of Bosnia and Herzegovina / Roaming the empty streets of a lavender scented mountain town on the island of Hvar / Fulfilling my #1 life goal of running around an inflatable, floating playground
Croatia
6. SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN – Pintxo hopping the streets of Basque country at night / Laughing my way through a water massage at the beachfront spa La Perla
San Sebastian
7. THAILAND – Dancing with elephants in a river outside Chiang Mai / Playing with room controls at The Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok / Learning how to make green curry in a stranger’s waterfront home on the Chao Phraya River / Praying at the golden mountaintop temple, Doi Suthep
Thailand
8. CERNAY-LA-VILLE, FRANCE – Dancing like mad with beautiful friends in the catacombs of Abbaye Des Vaux De Cernay, a Cistercian monastery, into the wee hours of the morning
France
9. MEXICO – Dining cliffside with friends old and new at El Farallon in Pedregal Resort, Cabo / Savoring one of my favorite meals ever at Arca, from Chef Jose Luis Hinostroza of Noma in Copenhagen / Surfing in Todos Santos / Reading on the back porch at El Banco
Mexico 2
10. BALI, INDONESIA – Questing through the monkey jungle in the middle of the night to discover the Nyepi parade’s final ritual / Riding the cliff tram down to Uluwatu Beach
Bali
11. CHIPPING NORTON, ENGLAND – Walking into our full fantasy cabin at SoHo Farmhouse, where a warm loaf of bread, a jug of fresh milk, and 1940’s radio was playing/ Feeding dear friends dessert across a table with extra long forks/ Dropping my mouth to the floor upon seeing a hot air balloon lighting up out back
England 3
12. SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – Getting lost in Angkor Wat / Exploring the floating villages
Cambodia 2
13. GUATEMALA – Hiking Pacaya, an active volcano, outside Antigua / Visiting a voodoo priestess on Lake Atitlan / Sitting with monkeys atop Temple 4 in Tikal / Volunteering with my Dad at Hospital de La Familia in Nuevo Progreso, where he’s performed free eye surgeries for three decades, and watching a formerly blind Mother come out of her operation and see the face of her teenage son for the first time in her life
Guatemala 2
14. BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA – Taking 48 hours off work and soaking in Esalen’s cliffside hot springs with three of my best friends between 1 and 3 am on a warm, clear, starry night
Big Sur
15. MONTREAL, CANADA – Bike riding around a new city with dear friends, stopping every hour to eat somewhere unexpected and wonderful
Montreal
Thanks for reading, friends. Cheers to another ten years of story telling, heart opening, mind expanding, globe trotting, community building work with you all.

Adventures In Sharing Your Art

A small story of joy at the end of a dark week in our country.

As some of you know, I build experiences across unused, Class A commercial spaces for one of my clients. My job is to essentially engage, strengthen and connect disparate communities in any given building.

One of the ways we recently achieved this for a particular building in Midtown was by inviting all tenants who had side passions as creators, makers, and artists to exhibit their work in our common space. So an HR manager at a hedge fund brought in her homemade greeting cards, an executive assistant at a law firm brought in his 3D paintings, a front desk associate at a beverage distributor brought in her photographs, and so on. Once we collected and proudly displayed all their work on the walls of our common space, we threw everyone a big Art Party. They could invite their colleagues, friends and family to attend in celebration (and hopefully sell some of that side hustle work too.)

I was particularly struck by a series of prints that appeared to be images of microscopic specimens, so I tracked down the artist. She was unbelievably sweet. Her name is Stephanie, and she’s been a secretary at the same company for nearly 30 years.

I asked her about her work. It turns out they were prints of various recyclable objects found around her desk. For the last three decades, whenever she’d get bored at work, she’d collect discarded staples, trashed packaging straps, and wayward hole punches, and make beautiful pieces of art out of them.

I asked her if she had ever shown her art before. She laughed. These prints had been accumulating under her bed, collecting dust for thirty years. No one had ever seen them before. In fact, she had hundreds and hundreds more where these came from.

I then asked her why she hadn’t shown her art before. She said she didn’t think she was a “real artist.” She said she didn’t think people would like her art. She said she didn’t think she had permission.

So I told her I wanted to buy a piece. Her mouth dropped and stayed open. I changed my mind. I told her I wanted to buy three pieces. She fell to the floor and sobbed. What seemed like a small gesture on my part felt like a tidal wave to her. Later that day, she submitted a few of her pieces online to a contest. And this weekend, her work will be shown publicly for the first time in her life at an art show in Red Hook.

I share this story as a reminder, friends. Please don’t hide your art under your beds. I say that both literally and figuratively. Show your colors to the world. If you’re angry, share your anger. If you’re happy, share your happiness. Enjoy your process. Share your work. Share your passions. Share your story.

This world could afford a little more of your light.

And if you’re interested in purchasing a piece of Stephanie’s, I’ll gladly put you in touch.

E6CF12A7-A9D1-4AA9-8680-07ECCC3A85EE

Adventures In 2018

2018 HIGHLIGHTS

FILM

Gempler Art 1.9 MBOur short film, Montana, based on my Sundance finalist TV pilot of the same name, played film festivals across the country this year, including
The Brooklyn Film Festival in New York, SeriesFest in Denver, and
The Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles.

9903db9c-2bb4-4edd-ac70-74a66ac06181 9aa8d06d-c30f-45eb-b413-6103b980aeb6

Montana will continue to play the festival circuit in the new year, and be available to watch online late Spring 2019. In a surprising but worthwhile development, I’m now hard at work writing the novel adaptation,
the manuscript of which has a target finish of mid Summer 2019.

Montana Poster

Montana_HeadlightsMontana_GatekeeperMontana Still - LucasMontana_ChairCircle

EVENTS

Processed with VSCO with acg presetc441e478-c0d9-424a-a882-542add54a6d7

56619d4b-7a5e-4ce9-ba5d-efbbee3cfe3e

1517faf9-69b2-410c-a6fd-bf0e74d4ba85

ac7aebb6-afec-4c2e-812c-113460f79fd6

Some of our annual projects continued in 2018 with event directing
The 72nd Annual Tony Awards Events 
at The Rainbow Room, The Sofitel, and The Plaza Hotel in NYC
The 5th Annual All Star Code Summer Benefit 
at a private estate in East Hampton
Some of our new events this year included
The Phantom Of The Opera 30th Anniversary Celebration,
events for Art Basel Miami and
U.S. News & World Report.

EXPERIENTIAL

phone mockup

010_IMG_0183

BetterSpaces_127

Since February, I’ve additionally been Experiential Creative Director
of Better Spaces, a leader in tenant engagement. We’re creating and operating experiential amenity spaces in top commercial real estate portfolios across the country. It’s been an exciting opportunity to bring programming, design and a bit of theatricality to commercial spaces nationwide.

ONWARDS

DXT1770532bc6868-39f6-4760-97f0-be9426119fce
f4c56747-9c3d-491d-badc-6dc5a59ad388
2018 was unequivocally Boat Ashore Productions’ most successful year yet.
I am most proud of the fact that we employed a record 75 different people on various film and event projects, and are on track to continue growing in 2019 with new experiences and TV projects in development. 

On a personal note, this year included a number of new travels,
from Tulum, Mexico to the Cotswolds of England
to Calivigny Island off the coast of Grenada.
2018 will likely be remembered as the year
I officiated my first wedding, moved to Brooklyn, and became an uncle!

Let’s continue to spread joy and make great things together in the new year.
Jackie_DeShannon_Grid
xx
Michael / The Adventure Addict / Boat Ashore Productions

CLICK HERE TO WATCH 2018 IN 60 SECONDS

 

Adventures In Self-Respect

I never share my craziest stories publicly, but this article gave me some major #TBT last week, and I think, I hope, the lesson is worth sharing.

Last Summer, smack dab in the middle of my Tony Awards Week, I suddenly found myself in ten interviews, from the Yale Club to the top of 1 World Trade, as the sole candidate for the newly created role of Editor-In-Chief, Experiential across all of Condé Nast’s titles. It was to be the first non-magazine, Editor-In-Chief role in the company’s history. (A role that, for the time being, would two months later become obsolete. But just imagine for a moment my wide eyes and slacked jaw when they told me that the in-house stylist was going to redo my entire wardrobe!)

I’ve had too many major job almosts to count. This one was certainly one of the most fascinating. It was a bananas, super “who me?” experience, and everyone I met with during that period was beyond wonderful and encouraging.

But through this experience and a confluence of other well-timed events, it was the first time in my life, at age 32, when I realized I was worth something. I’m not speaking of monetary value. I’m speaking of human value. Over the course of this wild year, I recognized something so essential: I was a human that was worthy of respect and worthy of love, just like everybody else. Perhaps I always knew that on my skin. But now I knew it deep in my bones. My college mentor told me “You are enough” on graduation day. I guess it took me a decade or so to finally listen.

Maybe it was the years of working some of the most degrading gigs I could find to barely make ends meet. Maybe it was the hundred No’s after auditions and festival submissions and directing program applications that came with every once-in-a-blue-moon Yes. Maybe it all goes back to my at times fanciful, at times miserable childhood. Maybe it was all the other external factors I could name that would ultimately take the responsibility off of looking after myself. “You can’t blame nobody but you,” Janet sang. “I’m starting with the man in the mirror,” Michael sang. Whatever it was, I don’t think I had much self-respect. Not love. “R. E. S. P. E. C. T.” (Aretha SANG.)

After I started to respect myself a little more, that’s when I found love.

After I started to respect my opportunities a little more, that’s when I found strength.

After I started to respect my life a little more, that’s when I found joy.

I’ve been talking to a lot of friends and family lately about Pascal’s Wager. “You might as well believe in God.” I can’t vouch either way for that statement. But I do believe, “You might as well believe in Good.” In this life, you might as well try to be good. You might as well try to feel good. You might as well try to do good. You might as well believe that humanity as a whole has the capacity for good. Every person’s unique circumstances could certainly argue otherwise, and this current administration does nothing to support my claim. But I can choose only how I aim to live. And for me, I think this is a directive worth aiming for.

Social media has become a scientifically proven dust bowl of psychosis, misinformation, and ultra targeted marketing. It’s the ultimate “You are NEVER enough.” Whenever I log on, I see that congratulations are in order for a multitude of things – a big job or promotion, a marriage or a baby. Heck I’ve seen people sincerely congratulate others on finding their light in a grungy bathroom selfie on the Lower East Side.

If you’ve read this far into my meandering, 2 am thoughts, here’s what I want to say to you:

I AM PROUD OF YOU.

Yes, YOU. I am proud of the jobs and the babies, yes. I am also proud of you on just a regular Monday like today. I am proud of you for taking the time to apply to all those jobs. I am proud of you for soldiering on after heartbreak. I am proud of you for busting through barriers on a regular basis. I am proud of you for waking up every morning and charging ahead when the world wants to eat you alive.

I am proud of your optimism. I am proud of your kindness. I am proud of your resilience.

If you ever need a reminder, let me know. You have to remind yourself every day.

IMG_2464 (1)          M_Schwartz_151

Adventures In 2017

2017: Top 10 Highlights

Check Out Our New Boat Ashore Productions Animated Production Company Logo!

1. MAKING MONTANA

Montana S&S Poster v04

This Fall, I directed a short film called MONTANA, based on a TV pilot script of mine that was a finalist in the 2016 Sundance Episodic Story Lab. With a top notch cast and crew, we completed the film this month. And with the backing of more than 170 incredible supporters, we ran a successful crowdfunding campaign on Seed & Spark, reaching 104% of our goal. Additionally, we partnered up with The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention to use the film as a catalyst for dialogue, support, and education around mental health and suicide prevention. We are currently submitting the film to festivals around the world. If there’s a film festival you love, let us know!

2. THE TONY AWARDS

07-tony-awards-2017-plaza-gala

 IMG_1535  IMG_2310

For this year’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, I directed one of the video segments for the telecast, directed the Nominees Luncheon in the Rainbow Room and Cocktail Reception at the Sofitel Hotel, and co-ran the After Party Gala at the Plaza Hotel. I look forward to returning in 2018!

3. THE NEW YORK FASHION GALA

Fashion+Scholarship+Fund+2016_full+take-414

Fashion+Scholarship+Fund+2016_full+take-614 Fashion+Scholarship+Fund+2016_full+take-589

Celebrating 81 years of service, The 2017 Fashion Scholarship Fund Awards raised $3.5 million dollars at this years gala, which I directed at The Grand Hyatt NYC. The FSF grants the single largest sum of money and total number of scholarships in the entire US. I’ll be returning to direct the 2018 gala, held next month at the Marriot Marquis in the largest ballroom in New York City.
For more on the 2017 gala, visit HERE.

4. THE 4TH ANNUAL ASC SUMMER BENEFIT

All Star Code 4th Annual Summer Benefit

All Star Code 4th Annual Summer Benefit  All Star Code 4th Annual Summer Benefit

In 2013, I helped launch the national tech education non-profit All Star Code. It was an honor to return this year as Creative Director for my 4th consecutive benefit, and ASC’s most successful one yet, raising nearly $850,000 for its incredible programming. All Star Code creates economic opportunity by developing a new generation of black and Latino entrepreneurs who have the tools they need to succeed in technology.
For more on ASC, visit HERE.

5. THE POWER OF PLAY

IMG_1990

This year at Fiverr HQ, Boat Ashore Productions launched its first ever workshop series, THE POWER OF PLAY, a unique and engaging on-your-feet experience that helps people access and utilize their two greatest resources when combating fear, fatigue, or frustration: a sense of wonder and their capacity to play. If you’re interested in bringing a POWER OF PLAY workshop to your home or office in 2018, e-mail me at
Michael@BoatAshoreProductions.com.

6. SPICE IT UP!

IMG_7233

2017 included a number of exciting, creative explorations, one of which was developing SPICE IT UP!, my TV project with Elspeth Keller Scott, into an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure style series with Warner Music Group and Eko. While we have chosen to continue developing the series in a more traditional format, exploring the interactive and VR landscape was a thrill, and Boat Ashore Productions continues to develop and produce various interactive, immersive, and experiential content.

7. MY FIRST WRITER’S RESIDENCY

IMG_3659  IMG_3509

This Summer, I spent 10 days on the outskirts of Bar Harbor, Maine participating in my first writer’s residency, The Hamilton Project, courtesy of the Barn Arts Collective. I wrote and workshopped a selection of my new play, THE EXPERIMENT.

8. WIZARD OF LIES/PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW

PYMK PremiereReal Wizard   unnamed

Check out my appearances in two films released this year,
THE WIZARD OF LIES (Dir. Barry Levinson – Now streaming on HBO), and
PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW (Dir. Sherwin Shilati – Now available on
iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and VOD).

9. NEW TRAVELS

IMG_1076     IMG_1034

From driving up the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and jumping off waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina to dancing the night away in the catacombs of a 12th Century abbey outside Paris, 2017 certainly had some of my favorite adventures yet. Stay tuned here, at TheAdventureAddict.com, for more adventures soon.

10. MARCHING ON WASHINGTON

IMG_9612

One of 2017’s greatest honors was hitching a ride down to Washington D.C. and participating in the Women’s March. Social engagement and activism have always played an essential role in both my professional and personal work. Going into the new year, may we all continue to march on, lifting up the voices of the few, the minority, the quiet, the oppressed, and the disenfranchised.


Boat Ashore Productions Offers Creative Direction,
Project Management, and Production Services
For Digital Media, Immersive Entertainment, and Large-Scale Events.

Stay Up To Date By Following Our New Social Media Profiles On Facebook And Instagram. Thank You For Your Incredible Support. Let’s Continue To Make Great Things Together In The New Year.

SEE YOU IN 2018!

happy holidays 1

Michael (aka The Adventure Addict) + Boat Ashore Productions