MFA Student Profile- Edmond Stevens
Edmond Stevens is a professional screenwriter, filmmaker, adventure sports enthusiast, and current student in the MFA Program at AULA. His first writing job was as a 16-year-old reporter for his hometown newspaper. He has been a member of the Writers Guild since 1977 when he was hired to write his first studio motion picture. Since then, he has been actively involved in writing movies and television episodes, with many production credits. His last work was an independent feature produced from his novella, “Skating to New York” in 2014. When asked about his long writing career he tells people “My greatest gift was not necessarily the knack for crafting sentences, but the very early knowledge that I wanted writing to be my life.”
Stevens’ strong commitment to the written word eventually expanded into a passion for social justice. In the early 2000s, he became involved in political and social causes and formed a video production company to promote these themes. “It was very hands-on work, wearing all the hats of production – directing, shooting, editing,” he said. Stevens also has created a number of short videos to convey the high-altitude experience. Two years ago, he documented his climb of the North Col of Mt. Everest.
Every second semester MFA candidate must perform a field study outside of the regular curriculum. “When considering my field study possibilities, I thought hard about what could I draw upon from my personal experience that would support the Antioch community, and especially its commitment to social justice,” said Stevens. He proposed a project that would draw on his thirty-plus years of filmed storytelling experience to create a short documentary-style film focusing on Antioch’s unique mission of demonstrating social justice through the written word.
His vision was to call upon faculty, graduates, and students in the Antioch community to describe in their own voices how Antioch shaped their personal vision of social justice. Over the course of a year, he scheduled two dozen on-camera interviews with students and staff to explore their semesters and how these experiences shaped their view of social justice and possibly altered how they would approach their worldview going forward. “Looking at the final version, I feel satisfied that the video frames an accurate view, not only of the social justice message, but also the learning experience at Antioch and the ways that faculty, mentors, and students go the extra mile to support our ambitions as writers in all the genres,” Stevens said. “From the moment Steve Heller gave the green light, I received unqualified support from the community.”
Looking back at his career as a whole, Stevens’ only regret is that he did not pursue more education early on. “My experience at Antioch, including the mentoring and support of my colleagues, has made me a vastly better writer, more deeply informed in craft and voice, and expanding my toolbox to tell stories,” he said. “If I would have had this experience before my motion picture career took off, I can imagine that I would have been a vastly more successful screenwriter, not necessarily in terms of income, but how I would have approached my themes and characters.”
Stevens will be graduating from the program in December and he doesn’t see himself returning to screenwriting. He plans to continue writing fiction, his chosen area of study for his MFA. “Going forward, I will approach my work with a keener and more deeply formed view of the stories I want to tell and the characters that I want to live in those stories.”