Steven R. Berry

I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Early in my life, I realized that art had a special meaning for me. I would always find myself attempting to draw renditions of portraits of celebrities. As a young child, the other thing that fascinated me was my grandfather’s Polaroid camera. My grandfather would always take pictures of my family whenever he visited with us. I was always fascinated by the camera’s ability to produce instant images.

Later, in my twenties, I would buy a Polaroid camera of my own. I began to do portrait images with it at dances and parties as a way to make money. As a result of this experience I began doing weddings and special event photography for many of my friends.

As a teenager I was also fascinated with cinema. On the weekends, my brother and I were always sent to the neighborhood movie house by our mother which was a total treat for me. I was always spell bounded by how film helped you as an audience member enter into another world or locale. Eventually, I began taking photography classes at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). While taking classes there in 1983 I took a class on film-making. After creating a short experimental film, I was hooked on film-making. That film was entitled, Dance of the muse, a 16 mm, 8 min. film on the idea of creativity. It was subsequently screened at the 10th Annual Philadelphia International Film Festival.

After a hiatus from Film-making for a number of years  due to an uncanny interest in playwrighting, I went on to write seven plays. In 1989 I received a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts to help me complete a play on Philadelphia African-American Vietnam veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After subsequently getting the playwriting bug out of my system I returned to film-making and in 2004, I completed an  8 min., Hi 8 film on the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). This was followed by a  2005 film I did on the Odunde festival now held every year in Philadelphia. Also in 2005, at the request of AAMP, I completed an 18 min. film, entitled, The Children of Darfur, based on a seminar held at the museum. While attending a film class at CCP in 2007, I created four 30 sec. commercials for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC).

In 2009, a neighbor whose father was a retired fireman asked me to help him do a film on the fire station his father was deployed at before his retirement. I honored his request and became the lead cinematographer and editor of the film. It became part of the “Precious Place” film series of that year headed up by Scribe. The film was subsequently aired on PBS. I very recently had a film short, entitled, Other Phila. Jazz Greats, air on the website of the 20th Anniversity of the Philadelphia Film Festival. In the summer of 2010, I interviewed via video over 45 Philadelphia Jazz musicians at Temple University in preparation for a film I am doing on a history of Jazz in Philadelphia. At present, I am completing a film on Trudy Pitts, a  Philadelphia legendary Classical and Jazz pianist who recently passed away.

As a result of my background in film and playwriting, my photo illustrations are assembled as if building a sequence of events or actions to arrive at a final image or destination. As a photo illustrator, I seek to imitate a pattern of the life cycle. Life is and can be transformational; we are born in one state of being and we physically die in another. By disassembling as well as reassembling portions of my images, I intentionally explore this transformational process. I recreate the image hoping to expand its message.

PLAYS WRITTEN
You Win Some – You Lose Some! (1984)(Full length)
The Man Who Was Destined To Marry A Pregnant Lady (1985)(One-Act play)
All That Glitters Ain’t Necessarily Gold! (1985)(One-Act Play)
Winnie and the Bishop (1986)(One-Act Play)
An African’s Tale (1993)(Full length)
The Molestation (1996)(Full Length)-revised 1999 (Body, Mind and Spirit)
Lefty (2003)(Full Length)

FILMS MADE
Dance of the Muse (1983)(8 min., 16mm)+
The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP)(2004)(8min.,Hi 8 )
Odunde! (2005)(18 min.,Hi 8 )
The Children of Darfur (2005)(18 min.,Hi 8 )
James Dupree (2005)(4 min.,Hi 8 )
Greater Phila. Marketing Tourism Corp. (GPTMC) (2007)(4 x 30 sec.,Hi 8 )
Engine 11: A journey of Discovery and Segregation (2009)(9 min.,HD)*
Trudy Pitts: In her own words and language! (2011)(29 min.,HD)

WORKSHOPS ATTENDED
Frank Silvera’s Writers Workshop-Master Playwriting Seminar, chaired by Charles Fuller (1984-85)
Independent Film-making workshop, Philadelphia Independent Film/Video Association (1986)

AWARDS
Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Playwright Fellowship (1989)

MEMBERSHIPS
Bushfire Theater Group (1975-76)
Freedom Theater (1979-80)
Theater Center of Philadelphia (1984-85)
International Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers
Theater Association of Pennsylvania, Inc.
The Philadelphia Dramatist Center
The Print Center
International Center of Photography
Scribe Video Center
Philadelphia Independent Film/Video Association(PIFVA)

TEACHING EXPERIENCE
Instructor, Introduction to Playwriting, Temple University, Pan African Studies
Community Education Program, 1992- 1995

+ Screened at the 10th Annual Philadelphia International Film Festival
# Screened at the 23rd Annual Philadelphia International Film festival
*Screened at the International house (Univ. of Penn.) in 2009 and shown on PBS television in the fall of 2010.