Josh A. Stevens
“Even if, quite often, meetings lead to partings and pain, it’s still worth meeting people and experiencing life” – Mari Okada.
I am a writer and an independent film-maker, and have been ever since the anime screenwriter Mari Okada spoke those words to me from across an interview room table back in 2018. Back then, I had already secured a reputation in the Film PR and Marketing industry as an expert on Japanese anime, but I was only working freelance. Experiencing films from creators like Okada and learning how they were shaped by their personal stories made me realise that even someone like me has stories to tell and an audience I’ve yet to meet. If Mari Okada could grow from a truant in Chichibu, Japan to talking with me about her directorial debut in England, where could an autistic nerd like me end up?
Going back to studying as a mature student was a nerve-wracking decision, but even as the shadow of COVID loomed over me, I’m graduating at 30 with a newfound fire ignited inside me: a burning desire to grow in the more creative sides of the industry, as a writer and director.
As a Writing & Film graduate, I have produced short films, and crafted stories across mediums including screenplays, short stories, plays, and poetry. The topics of my work can vary considerably but broadly fall into the genres of either magical realism, or politics. Whether I’m writing about a young adult whose choices are foreclosed by the economy or a lovestruck teen who turns into a kaiju whenever she’s flustered, however, I believe that characters must always come first.
On the academic side, I am interested in broadening the relatively new field of anime studies, and challenging the widely accepted notion that only directors can reach “auteur” status. My Major Research Project fought on both of these fronts with a critical analysis of the theme of motherhood in Mari Okada’s directorial debut “Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms”, and how it connects to both Okada’s life and earlier screenwriting work. As a topic of deep personal interest to myself, I hope to continue researching and developing it post-graduation.
In both creative and critical spheres, I am fascinated by the intertwining relationship between creators and their work, and wish to continue exploring this down both paths.