Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for May, 2009

Why I hate MSN Messenger

From Flickr

From Flickr

I am currently logged onto MSN Messenger to chat with a friend who has it. Since I use Adium, once it’s set up I barely know it’s running. But once I sign on, the floodgates are opened and I am assaulted by all manners of strange European-seeming people with odd names. Like this gem of a conversation I had this morning:

11:22:42 AM hotsie totsie: hi
11:23:36 AM hotsie totsie: how are u doing ?
11:28:36 AM hotsie totsie: where are u from man ?
11:30:14 AM Michael Morgenstern: who the hell are you
11:30:19 AM Michael Morgenstern: and why have you immed me like 5 times in the past year?
11:30:49 AM hotsie totsie: just trying to make conversation man


Vote for me in Massify contest!

I’ve entered a short film concept in Massify’s online competition. Please check it out here and vote for it!

The film is set in the year 2015, and explores our relationship to technology and how it is likely to evolve. The portrayal is a bit frightening, but realistic as well – this type of erosion in our relationships is already happening to a great extent.

Hope you enjoy it – please leave comments on the page!

New e-mail address!

Thanks to those who participated in the contest!

After looking through the possible names I tend to agree that michael DONT SPAM ME is good. Barring a career change, graduate school, or a whim (all of which are likely in the next 10 years), you can reach me there!

Since I already had it nobody technically won the contest, but for convincing me, Dan and Adam, I owe you both a drink!

Some Weekend Quickies

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell just got TOLD!

Thanks Max for the great piece on Dan Choi, a Lieutenant, Westpoint Graduate, and Arabic expert, who has been fired from the army for coming out on national television. He is choosing to fight it, and I hope he can become a poster child for why this law is ridiculous, outdated, and bleeding our country.

President Obama responded personally to a plea by Second Lieutenant Sandy Tsao to intervene in her removal from service in a heartfelt gesture that unfortunately contained no action. While an executive order from the President overturning established rule of law would be inexcusably bushy, that’s no excuse for inaction.

Obama–you’ve promised to do this and the time is now! There is no reason to sidestep the issue when 79% of Americans are in favor of open service! (as Zack Beauchamp’s great piece on DADT from the election claims.)


Nicholas Cage Movie: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

I’ve been stopped from going home the way I usually do a few times this week by the shooting of a Nicholas Cage film two blocks away. They are calling the set cursed from the number of accidents on it so far – this is apparently the second (unintentional) car crash there this week!

Check out the street sign – I live on 48th in between 8th and 9th:

A Philosophy on Life

“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.”
-Emo Phillips

Tribeca Film Festival: Perspective of an Intern


Flasher: Think You’ve Seen it All in New York?
Played before some films.

This past week I had the opportunity to intern at the Tribeca Film Festival through a friend, John Santora (50/60 Productions), who manages events at the Festival’s Tribeca cinema location on 75 Varick Street. I saw some fantastic films and met some incredible people – reviews of the films I saw (most of which are really worth watching) are forthcoming.

I was a summer intern for the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and the differences between the two were astronomical! (Read the history of the festival here if you’re curious.)

Scale of the festival

Tribeca is a significantly more prominent festival. Through the backing of Robert DeNiro and American Express, it has very rapidly established a major presence in New York and the world. The festival claims to have had 1,500 volunteers, while Rhode Island functioned with about 30. They probably had 100+ paid staff while Rhode Island had close to 10. Yet RI showed over 275 films while Tribeca showed about 100.

What accounts for this discrepancy? Primarily the attitudes of the festivals. RI is really about short films. A win at RI qualifies a short film for an Oscar, and it’s meant to be a festival that gives smaller filmmakers the opportunity to get their work shown. Tribeca, on the other hand, is meant to provide the cream of the crop  and provide an experience to the viewer. High-quality films with high production values are the only movies shown and guest panels are a fixture at screenings. While there may be less of a chance to get a film shown at Tribeca, as a result a screening there is a more high-profile event.

To see a festival operate with Tribeca’s budget from the frugal perspective of the RI film fest was to see waste everywhere. The unflappable Demetria Carr, RIIFF’s Managing Director, liked to say “I don’t pay for anything,” and it was true. In such a small and tight-knit community we were only able to survive through the generosity of local businesses – donations of food, office space, and theaters made the festival possible. A New York festival with such big-ticket sponsors must pay for most things, from office space to theater venues, at full cost. (I must disclose that I know nothing of Tribeca’s finances and am only operating from observation–some of the sponsors were clearly footing the bill for many events.)

It is a truth about organizations that what a small and lean team can achieve with a dollar outstrips the efforts of a larger beast, and Tribeca is a prime example.

Tribeca FF’s Identity Crisis

A film festival born in the rubble of September 11 would inevitably go through an identity crisis seven years later, and Tribeca Film Festival is most certainly encountering some growing pains. The arrival of this year’s festival met the lingering question: What are you? What do you hope to be? And this festival must struggle to answer that question quickly. The first festival claimed to exist in the name of revitalizing the downtown and brought $50 million of patronage to its businesses. This year, only a fraction of it’s screenings were in downtown; even the kickoff event was four miles North of TriBeCa.

True, the festival has grown far past its inaugural size, but is this really an appropriate justification for moving most of it out of Tribeca? I heard the complaint time and time again: the scattering of its events deprived festivalgoers of the beautiful sense of a community-for-a-week that a good film festival can bring. The ability to walk down any street or sit down at any café in the area and see a dozen festivalgoers was reduced. Making festival friends and ever seeing them again was quite difficult, and the opportunities for interaction were limited; there was no space in most of the theaters to hang out before or after a movie.

I can’t speculate on the experience of a filmmaker, and I can imagine that for those invited to the parties there was a greater sense of community. Still, a festival founded on community principles ought to be accessible to the other 80% of its clientele.

The future

These issues were minor compared to the successes of Tribeca. The festival brought some stellar art to an appreciative audience, and brought prestige and business to our city. I get the sense that the festival’s leadership is acutely aware of the successes and failures this year, and can do a lot about these issues next year. Stay tuned for my reviews of the excellent films I saw!

Win $25 and find me a new email address!


Not this much money...

Alright, let's test out this whole capitalism thing...

What does $25 mean to you? It’s two cheap meals or one nice one. A trip to the top of the Empire State Building. A bus ride across the Northeast. A tank of gas. A handie in some places and a mouthie in others (though I recommend you partake of neither.)

What it means to me is a few idle minutes of your time thinking of a new email address for me. When my boss (endearingly) started calling me Mikeyla, I knew it was finally time to choose a professional one.

I want one that is professional but not overwhelmingly so. One that is available on is preferred. Some examples of my thought process:

Anything with mike or michael or incorporating film in some form is a good idea. My middle name is Jared and my birthdate is 6/20/1985. The emphasis is anything that is hard to misspell and easy to remember.

The prize will only be given if I approve and use the address. I’ll send it to you via PayPal or in person. Please put your submissions in the comments of my blog.

Good luck!