Catasauqua Press

Friday, May 29, 2020

Long and shorts of film-maker's journey

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Stephanie Gardner wrote her way into film-making.

Gardner, an Emmaus High School, Class of '04, graduate living in New York City, screens seven of her short films, 3 p.m. Jan. 26, The Barrister's Club, 1114 W. Walnut St., Allentown.

The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be taken for the production of Gardner's next short, "Paris in Winter," set to lens next month in Montreal, Canada. "It's meant to be the antithesis of the typical Paris love story," Gardner says.

There will be hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar and silent auction, with 10 percent of the proceeds donated to Valley Youth House.

"I began more as playwright. And I had a background in musical comedy. I wrote and directed an original musical comedy, 'The Not So Average Joe,' when I was at Emmaus High School," Gardner says during a recent phone interview.

"I wrote it as a vehicle for myself as an actor. It was so much more thrilling to hear audiences laugh and respond to the words that I created. It became an inspiration for me to continue as a writer and director."

At The George Washington University, Gardner wrote and directed another play, "The Point of No Return." "We sold out every performances. That experience propelled me to experience dramatic writing as my masters.

Gardner received a B.A. in Dramatic Literature, Music and Creative Writing from The George Washington University and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

She is a daughter of Linda Kay Gardner and Judge James Knoll Gardner, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Gardner was in the first graduating class for Tisch Asia, where she did the entire two-year program in Singapore. "The Mentor," the first film she directed during the program, is a five-minute narrative short, being shown in Allentown. "I call it a comedy. Some people question that."

Back in New York City, Gardner did "Ten to One Film Series," 2010 - '11, writing and directing one film per month for 10 months. "I wasn't a trained film-maker," she says. "I wanted to create exercises for myself to hone my craft of film-making in an effort to quickly discipline myself."

Four of the 10 films are to be screened.

Two of her plays, "Sexpectations," adapted into one of the short films to be shown, and "The Man Who Invented Himself," were staged last year at Manhattan Repertory Theatre.

Gardner also directed a music video, "Love Yourself," by Tha Gecko Brothas.

She describes the last film she's screening as an experiment. "The Moaning is in the Music" is based on a poem she wrote. "It represents my emotional journey as an artist, as a young person living in New York," says Gardner.

Her brother-in-law, Paul Merrill, a jazz trumpet player, will improvise live to the film.