Last summer, a friend told me about The Adventures of Penny Patterson, a short film that tells the origin story of a superhero from an intriguing point of view: his girlfriend.
The premise of the NYU senior thesis film that Stephanie Donnelly wrote and directed, and the eye-catching poster-in-progress by illustrator Liam Donnelly, stuck with me, so I looked forward to catching the comedy sci-fi this summer when LIIFE 2018, the 21st Annual Long Island International Film Expo, accepted the short film.
Last Wednesday night, July 18th, when spotting Stephanie Donnelly sitting with family and friends in Bellmore Movies’ vast theater shortly before the screenings began, I asked if Penny Patterson was her alter ego. Stephanie smiled, then said, “Maybe subconsciously.”
Though pushed in more ways than one, Penny turns out to be no pushover.
After the final screening, many filmmakers and actors – including Shara Ashley Zeigler, producer and writer of the funny, touching film Joe; Bethany Nicole Taylor, lead actress in Joe; Stephanie Donnelly; and Ajna Jai, who plays the title character in The Adventures of Penny Patterson – participated in a Q&A. [Q&A video clip might be added]
It was a late Wednesday night at LIIFE, and the next day Stephanie Donnelly flew to California for the San Diego Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, CCI-IFF 2018, where The Adventures of Penny Patterson screened that Saturday morning.
Last Sunday, while entering the snowy grounds of Old Westbury Gardens with my friend Bob, I thought back to 2007, when I visited the Gold Coast estate during a biting, heavy snowfall.
That day 10 Decembers ago, I stayed outside capturing photos until I absolutely had to go to Westbury House, beg mercy from staff in the Entrance Hall, take off my gloves and boots, and stand toasty close to the fireplace.
Slowly defrosting in the impressively elegant wood and marble hall, I imagined myself back outside the mansion, but during the Great Blizzard of 1947, when the John and Margarita Phipps family lived there….
I was a trespasser with a noble mission – wielding my Kodak in the snowstorm to capture ghostlike images of trees – and, alas, flirting with hypothermia.
Without warning, a tall stranger swept me off my numb feet and whisked me to the mansion. As we took off our coats, I noticed he, too, had a camera strapped around his neck.
We sat in front a fireplace surrounded by books, and he put his hand to his chest. “Victor, Victor Hasselblad – a… a husgäst of Phipps,” he said softly and with a melodic accent. “And you, lilla frusen lövsångare?”
“Oh my,” “I said, “You’re THE Victor Hasselblad!” The genius nodded. “You’ve just GOT to develop a Hasselblad camera for civilians!” I said, then started to tell him why….
Now I’m at times better about coming in from the cold before losing feeling in my extremities.
But I always do my best to protect my camera. So last weekend when Bob and I arrived at Old Westbury Gardens and stepped out of the car on to slippery icy snow-covered grounds, we headed straight to Westbury House.
Once inside, we heard what sounded like live music coming from the Ballroom just ahead. We were right, for in a far corner of the vast room, pianist ANGELINA FUSCO was playing traditional Christmas music on a Steinway grand piano, backlit by large windows. Capturing the atmospheric scene was a fun challenge.
The Main Hall was not to be missed, especially for families with children, since that’s where Santa sat surrounded by a Christmas tree, fireplace that was a great setting for holiday photos, and stairway strewn with stuffed animals looking as if they’d spilled out of Santa’s bag as he made his way up to the Children’s Quarters on the Third floor.