Artist of the Issue: Luke Gardiner ’21

Gardiners love for black and white photography led him to shoot his current film project on black and white film.

Luke Gardiner

Gardiner’s love for black and white photography led him to shoot his current film project on black and white film.

 Luke Gardiner ’21 is a four-year senior, head of Film Club, co-head of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), board member of Hotchkiss Dramatic Association (HDA), proctor, and filmmaker. His latest short film, “Burning,” premiered on campus on November 1. 

How did you become interested in film?

I was originally a Star Wars fan, and from a young age I was just enraptured by the magic of those films. I was super into fantasy and the Hunger Games, and I got caught by film through that. I became fascinated with how this magic was made on screen. I ran with that and started making my own stuff.

What does film mean to you?

I see film as the ultimate art form because it combines so many different ways of expression. You express yourself through writing, so you can take your own stories and write them down; through theater – actors go and they play a character; through music – music is deeply integral to the film; and you get to use technology for editing. 

How has the school had an impact on your filmmaking?

Hotchkiss has one of the top film programs among our peer schools. I had the opportunity to take photo my first two years and that helped me build a deeper understanding of cinematography and how to compose a shot. Throughout my career at Hotchkiss, Ms. Ann Villano, instructor in film, has really mentored me, even before she was my teacher. When I started taking film classes, I learned how to analyze film, and I got to utilize a lot of the excellent equipment the film department has. 

Have you faced any challenges with film?

I think filmmaking is probably one of the most difficult things to do at a high school level because there are so many different moving parts and a lot of things that can go wrong. Unlike other performance arts, where there are a ton of different music kids and a ton of different theater kids, there is me and a sprinkling of other kids in film, and so I end up doing a lot of it myself. It is a complicated process. You have to gauge interest from actors, you have to hold auditions, you have to write the script, you need to schedule a time and place for everyone, and you have to get all the shots in. I am handling the camera while I am directing the actors. So it is a lot of moving pieces, and because of that it can be challenging and frustrating at times. I have had films that I started shooting and just weren’t working out. So it takes a lot of organization at this level, which is difficult, especially within the high-pressure environment of Hotchkiss.

What advice would you give to artists?

My advice would be to be as creative and daring as possible and to try different things across different mediums. I came into Hotchkiss really interested in film, but also I took photo for two years. I developed a love for black and white photography that led me to shooting my new film project on black and white film. There are so many tools and interested faculty, and you just have to be creative. You just need to take the time and come up with an idea and really explore that, because this school is your canvas and you need to utilize the opportunities that exist.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.