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IAFT Student of the Month Interview with Dawn Gilardi

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Dawn Gilardi is currently a student of the One-Year Advanced Filmmaking Program in IAFT Miami. 


What is your filmmaking background?

I experienced my first intense emotion of fear while watching “Trilogy of Terror” at the age of five. That triggered an intense curiosity in me to try to create fear by making little plays with people around me. I would direct my family and friends…I became a bossy, little director and it thrilled me to entertain anybody I could put on a show for.

What attracted you to filmmaking?

The emotion of fear. It was intriguing to me to find people getting scared at the movies.  I wanted to create that, to have the power to mess with peoples’ minds a bit. (laughs mischievously)

Why did you choose IAFT–Miami for your filmmaking education?

In my first year at the Miami Film School, I made a film called “The Luring.”  I had about 50-70 people working including cast and crew. It did really well and successfully made it into a few film festivals. I also won the award “Creature Feature Young Blood” at the Spooky Film Festival. This gave me the confidence to recognize that this is something I could do for a living. I learned so much from the program that I just figured the next step was to take a longer, more intensive program at IAFT to further develop my skills.

What are your favorite courses/mentors at IAFT–Miami and why?

Gosh! It’s so hard to say because I absorb so much from each class and mentor. What I can say is that I really like that it’s hands-on and knowing that every mentor is a working industry professional. That’s so important because I know that I’m learning what’s current and not something outdated from a textbook.

It sounds like you know your industry well. What are your goals as a filmmaker?

To get my name out there. My dream is to come up with the next “Saw” franchise.

So what projects are you working on now? What can we watch out for?

I’m doing a document called “Orangutans.”  It’s a documentary about the palm oil industry… how it’s destroying the rain forest and forcing the orangutans into extinction.  It’s something I am passionate about bringing awareness to.

I’m also working on my final year thesis film “Mr. Pete.”  Modern motel hell…nobody beats Mr. Pete’s meats.  And yes, you guessed it – another horror film…with a touch of humor.

Personally, I’ve been co-writing a film with (Celebrity chef) Ralph Pagano. I can’t disclose too much at the moment, but the story is “Monty Python meets Generation X.” Stay tuned!

Dawn Gilardi-Sansonetti

Born September 13th,  1970, in Park Ridge IL, Dawn Gilardi grew up loving Alfred Hitchcock movies. She is the eldest child of Char Carlisi and Frank Gilardi. She partied like a rock star in her early 20’s after her family moved to Florida.  This is  where she soon discovered her love of writing and directing. She’s been studying film since 1988. Dawn’s raw talent and deep connection to the dark twisted side of the human soul makes her a game changer in this male driven industry. Her short horror movies can be viewed on her IMDB page under Dawn Gilardi. Dawn gets her inspiration from her childhood growing up in the  corn fields of Johnsburg, IL, where she and her sisters had to scare each other to entertain themselves. Her favorite directors are  Quentin Tarentino and Oliver Stone, whom she looks forward to working with in the future.



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