Storm Garner joins Columbia’s 2018 OHMA cohort from a decade or so split between working zealously in the New York storytelling arts--mostly film and theatre, variously as writer, director, actor, designer, producer, musician and composer--and slowly earning her BA in Creative Writing--Nonfiction--here at Columbia’s School of General Studies.
Born in Washington DC in 1983, and raised mostly in Paris among international politics and NGO folk, Storm’s childhood ambitions to help fix Big World Problems on a policy level in a power-suit were dashed by a Bipolar diagnosis and subsequent downward spiral of health in her late teens, which forced her to leave her beloved studies and take a path less traveled, and often no path at all, since her future then seemed so tenuous.
Nonetheless, art-making continued to heal and invite, and work was somehow made: after co-founding a theatre company in Kraków, Poland, she moved to NYC in 2006 to work as a collaborative theatre artist at La Mama Experimental Theatre Company in the East Village, and one creative project after another has kept her in the city since then.
Last summer she production designed the feature film SOUTH MOUNTAIN directed by Hilary Brougher. This fall she’s costume designing a new feminist time-traveling opera by Alex Temple at Carnegie Hall. She still hopes to make a short film out of her original script that won, among other awards, the LGBT screenwriting award at Rhode Island Film Festival last year. But by and large, she’s hoping to spend less time backstage and on film sets in the future, and more time in development, with the help of her Oral History studies.
Inspired by her fascinating research experience as co-writer of short film “The Loyalist” (2015) by Minji Kang, a drama about the family life of the North Korean military elite which went on to win dozens of awards on the festival circuit, she’s been turning her focus to research and development of film treatments and scripts that tell real, lived, underrepresented stories—responsibly!
And her favorite part of the process is—you guessed it: just finding sources and hearing their stories in the first place!
The oral history project Storm is starting out with at OHMA is her first that is unrelated to the film and theatre world. She’s making a series of short, light, video portraits of the immigrant chefs at the Queens Night Market, a 4 year old weekly food festival of sorts that aims to “celebrate the ethnic and cultural diversity of Queens”, and is the brainchild of her fiancé John Wang. She hopes the chef portrait series will lead to deeper conversations that won’t fit so easily into social media video posts, and looks forward to finding out what form these conversations will take, with the help of her instructors and fellow cohort members at OHMA.