The Process Artist Lab

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Tone: A Director's Workshop with Karyn Kusama

Dates: TBD

As a film director, part of my work is to investigate why some stories work for me and some simply don't. And while of course personal taste is always a factor in answering this question, over the years what I've come back to again and again is the notion of tone. To successfully execute a particular tone in your work is how you keep your story alive and your characters engaging. It's also one of the bigger challenges we'll all face in our filmmaking.

In this two-day workshop we'll be exploring the many questions of tone: what is tone and why is it important to define it? Is it necessary to maintain a consistent tone? How can we surprise and engage our audience through our tone? Is it possible that tone defines a work even more than its plot or story?

Over two days we'll talk about how we arrive at our tone, how it fits into a larger tonal landscape of art (or doesn't), and how we approach the opportunity to transform or derail our tone within a piece. We'll discuss the concepts of naturalism as a style, as well as explore how we can use emotional authenticity as a framework for the theatrical gesture. There will be writing exercises, screenings of instructive scenes and sequences, discussions of signifying performance and visual styles, and a general "hashing it out" of the challenges and comforts of using tone as a creative guide. I will also conduct short one-on-one mentoring sessions with students who have work they'd like to discuss in more detail.



COST: $395
CONTACT: Michelle
There are limited spots available, please register in advance.

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About Karyn Kusama

Karyn Kusama wrote and directed her first feature film, “Girlfight”, in 1999. The film won the Director’s Prize and shared the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. “Girlfight” was theatrically released by Sony Screen Gems.

In 2004, Karyn directed the science fiction love story “Aeon Flux” for Paramount Pictures. Her third feature was the comedy-horror film “Jennifer’s Body”, written by Diablo Cody, and released by Twentieth Century Fox.

Karyn’s latest feature, entitled “The Invitation”, is a psychological suspense film that stars Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, and Michiel Huisman. The film won the Grand Prize at the Sitges Film Festival, among other awards. “The Invitation” will be released in March 2016 by Drafthouse Films.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the screenwriter Phil Hay, and their young son Michio.

Contact Us

Please use the form below to contact us.


For over 20 years, I have developed a relationship with fear, vulnerability, power, permission, unconditional confidence...what it means to use yourself as an instrument for performing. I have forged a self and an identity by becoming an Actor and it has provided me a lens into the world as an Artist and a storyteller. Sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I’m not. The one true constant however is that the path of any performer is through a process of learning and experiencing.

I was not the star pupil in my theatre department. I did not have parents who encouraged me to audition for Julliard or who could have afforded to send me to Yale, but I managed to buid an education from extraordinary teachers because I was hungry to learn. I knew in my core what I wanted and I sought angels, allies, guides and champions. Whenever I work on a new project, I enter a new conversation with artists who inspire and teach me. It is my hope to continue this conversation within the Process Artist Lab. I consider my work as if I were in an empty park and bit by bit, the landscape is being populated with the most beautiful species of flora and fauna.

Extraordinary teachers are hard to find. They teach with compassion, without personal agenda and they share the best part of themselves and their knowledge. The Process Artist Lab grew out of my blog “The Process” as a desire to create a space for people who wish to be in an artistic exploration of the work. Teachers in this lab are highly accomplished professionals interested in sharing their knowledge and experiences through small master classes, workshops and salons. They come from acting, filmmaking, writing, performing and more. Students can be anyone hungry to learn.

Another evolving component of P.A.L. is the outreach program designed to provide underprivileged youth free access to the same resources mentioned above. Our hope is to work with larger networks such as schools or diverse communities so that the Arts can be used in the same way I experienced it growing up, as a means of finding one's voice and empowering oneself to create a narrative for storytelling and personal growth.

Welcome to P.A.L.

--Michelle Krusiec


Michelle Krusiec is an actress best known for her starring role opposite Joan Chen in the romantic comedy Saving Face, directed by Alice Wu. The role garnered her a Chinese Language Oscar for Best Actress in the 2005 Golden Horse Ceremony in Asia.

Born in Taiwan and raised in America by her Taiwanese aunt and American uncle, Ms. Krusiec has crafted an impressive career spanning two decades in the entertainment industry on film, television and stage. Her credits can be found online and on


Ms. Krusiec holds a certification in screenwriting from the UCLA Professional Program. In 2005, Ms. Krusiec created and performed her tour-de-force solo show Made in Taiwan. The show, a darkly comedic coming of age story based on Krusiec’s own family, premiered at the HBO Aspen comedy festival, NY Asian American Theatre Festival, LA Women’s Theatre Festival, 2010 NY Fringe Fest, NY Fringe Encores and Shakespeare Orange County.


In 2009, Ms. Krusiec began teaching acting as a member of the Gravity Project, an ensemble and lab of professional Artists. Ms. Krusiec is also state certified to work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and has taught storytelling workshops as a method of healing for trauma survivors. (Center for the Pacific Asian Family)


Ms. Krusiec holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Theatre Arts from Va Tech University. Additionally, she completed extended studies of Shakespeare and Women’s Studies at the University of Oxford. Her teachers include Larry Moss (Yale, Julliard), Fran Bennett (Cal Arts), Saul Kotzubei (Fitzmaurice Voice Master Teacher), Andrew Belser (PSU) among many others. In 2006, Ms. Krusiec was recognized by the Ca State Board for her Outstanding Achievement in the Arts and Entertainment Industry. In 2013, she completed the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy program. She is the 2014 Screenwriting Fellow for CAAM (Center for Asian American Media).