Richard Brick

Richard Brick

site by Geoffrey Booth
Retirement from Columbia University School of the Arts

Long time Columbia Film institution Richard Brick has decided for medical reasons to stop teaching his Pre-Production of a Motion Picture class as of this fall.  Brick received his MFA in Film from Columbia in 1970 and started teaching with Milos Forman and Frank Daniel in 1983, at the suggestion of Michael Hausman (with whom, at the time, he was making Academy Award-winning Places in the Heart in Texas).

During his thirty years at the school, Brick served as co-Chair, Chair, Professor, and, most recently, Adjunct Professor. During Brick’s tenure, he doubled the number of foreign students enrolled in the MFA film program. In 1987, he founded, with students Tom Whalen and Paula Schaap, the Columbia University Film Festival, which has become one of the centerpieces of our program. While Chair, Brick hired Lazlo Benedek, Brian DePalma, Ira Deutchman, Emir Kusturica, Romulus Linney, Sidney Lumet, David Mamet, and Frank Perry to teach full-semester courses, and chaired the search committees which appointed Lewis Cole and Ralph Rosenblum as cornerstones of our program.

2013 Brick Company Producing Prize

We are delighted to announce that at the 26th annual Columbia University Film Festival, just concluded on May 9th, the Brick Company Producing Prize for Special Distinction in Line Producing was awarded to Jie Chen  for her M.F.A. thesis film, A Grand Canal.

Emir Kusturica’s Kustendorf Film Festival

Emir Kusturica founded the extraordinary Kustendorf Film and Music Festival in 2008 in a rural mountain village he created, Drevgrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia. Like Kusturica’s films, it is a place of magic and fully expresses his artistic, cinematic and political values. The festival is devoted to non-commercial cinema, the very best of a broad spectrum of national cinema and genres – what a typical American does not see – including both contemporary films and retrospectives. Screenings, workshops with the filmmakers, more screenings, great food, drink and socializing until the midnight music performances…and then back to the bar. Not an easy experience for those who cannot tolerate second-hand smoke, but completely exhilarating. I was delighted and honored to have been an official guest at Kustendorf 2010 and to serve as a juror at Kustendorf 2011.

The New York Foundation for the Arts presents The Geri Ashur Screenwriting Award in Honor of the Late Filmmaker


BROOKLYN, NY (May 20, 2010) —The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has presented The Geri Ashur Screenwriting Award of $10,000 to screenwriter and filmmaker Afia Nathaniel.

The Geri Ashur Screenwriting Award was established in 1984 in memory of Geraldine Ashur by her husband, Richard Brick.  Ashur, who died at age 37, graduated from Barnard College in 1968 and became a screenwriter, film editor, foreign language dubbing specialist and documentary film director.

“We are honored that Richard Brick asked NYFA to administer this award,’ said NYFA Executive Director Michael L. Royce, “and we are delighted to award it on a biennial basis to a screenwriter of promise and distinction such as Alfa Nathaniel.”

Nathaniel was chosen from 674 applicants for NYFA’s Fellowship in Playwrighting/ Screenwriting.  A Brooklyn resident and Pakistan native, Nathaniel graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in Film Directing and Writing.

Upon hearing the news of her award, Nathaniel expressed her enthusiastic gratitude to NYFA and Brick. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this incredible honor which you have awarded in memory of Geri Ashur’s life as a filmmaker,” she said. “I am thrilled to share with you the news that in a few months I will be directing the very film that you are supporting with this screenwriting award. Thank you for being part of this momentous and exciting journey.”

The film she refers to, Neither the Veil nor the Four Walls, tells the story of a Pakistani woman who embarks on a journey to save her eight year-old daughter from an arranged marriage to a powerful warlord.

Mr. Brick raised the Ashur Award endowment with the assistance of a distinguished board of advisors including Michael Hausman, David Mamet, Robert Benton, Irwin and Robert M. Young, Lee Grant, Rosalind Lichter, Barbara Kopple, Lawrence Loewinger, Robert Lantz, Milos Forman, Ted and Jim Pedas, Deborah Shaffer, Mark Obenhaus, Diane Sokolow, Marcia Nasatir, Sam Cohn, Mike Nichols and Frantisek Daniel.

The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) was founded in 1971 to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives.

New York Film Office Abandons Policy of Free Permits

It is highly disturbing that the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting is abandoning a forty-five year tradition – going back to John Lindsay – of attracting and supporting theatrical, television and commercial production with one-stop, free services. In December 2009 the City agency, DCAS, implemented a $3,200 fee for use of City owned buildings.  Now, Commissioner Oliver has proposed a $300 application fee the MOFTB permit to become effective in July 2010.  It is logical that other City agencies will also seek to offset recent budget cuts with their own fees for use of their facilities and staffs.

It is incomprehensible that these changes are being implemented during the mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg, arguably the most business-savvy mayor in New York’s history.  At a time when it is necessary to diversity our City’s economy away from dependence on Wall Street, film and TV production represent a clean industry employing 100,000 people whose significant economic benefits have been established by a half a dozen respected studies. There is a further public policy question that demands explanation when the recent 7.5% budget cut represents a loss of $150,000 to the MOFTB, while the new permit fees would generate approximately $900,000 annually. This new practice would move New York City and the  MOFTB from 45 years of supporting TV, feature and commercial production, to aggressively taxing  it.

The proposed MOFTB permit fee makes no distinction between a $600 student video exercise required by an academic course at our one of our City’s excellent film schools and a $60 million studio-financed feature film.  At the very least, Mayor Bloomberg ought to exempt all legitimate student productions from these new fees, recognizing that they represent an odious burden on the next generation of filmmakers.

Register your own opinion of these new fees before June 2, 2010 at

Taylor Hackford Elected DGA President

CONGRATULATIONS to Taylor Hackford on his election as president of the Directors Guild of America at the National Convention today in Los Angeles.  Mr. Hackford succeeds Michael Apted who served with distinction for three two-year terms. Among his accomplishments were leading the negotiations for two landmark contracts: in 2004 securing the financial future of the DGA health care plan and in 2008 securing jurisdiction and compensation for all new media production.   During Apted’s tenure, the DGA fought runaway production and also led the industry push that resulted in the passage of the first federal tax incentive legislation for audio-visual work.

DGA and Studios Agree on New Contract

BRAVO to the negotiating team of the Directors Guild of America for reaching an agreement with the studios on a new three-year contract commencing July 1, 2008. Congratulations for almost two years of serious research into the nature of the changing technical landscape in which their 13,500 members will work, for the wisdom to value establishing jurisdiction over new media rather than arbitrary income formulas from these, as yet, unproven platforms and delivery systems and for the highly professional manner in which they reached this complex agreement is less than a week of negotiations under an effective news blackout.

Over the past several contract cycles, the DGA has adopted the approach of negotiating first among the three above-the-line sister guilds (DGA, WGA, SAG) usually concluding their negotiations by January 1, six months before the expiration of their contract, with a premium settlement for going first.  This year, out of respect for and in support of the WGA, the DGA held off, hoping the WGA would reach an acceptabe contract.  When the strike ensued, putting tens of thousands of television and film workers out of work, and with no negotiations scheduled, forbearance had ceased to be a virtue and the DGA commenced the informal talks which led to the successful negotiations.