Multiple award-winning filmmaker Dawn Scibilia was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her debut documentary, HOME won critical acclaim and earned an Emmy Award and two Emmy Award nominations. Dawn co-produced, directed, photographed and edited the documentary featuring New York notables, Susan Sarandon, Woody Allen, Liam Neeson, Mike Myers, Rosie Perez, David Amram, Elaine Kaufman, Pete Hamill, Frank and Malachy McCourt, Alfred Molina, Fran Lebowitz, Colin Quin, Vinny Vella, Armand DiMele, Alan Cooke and a host of immigrant and native New Yorkers.
Starting off as a Screenplay Analyst, then moving on set as a Film Runner and Production Assistant, Dawn worked on many New York based TV shows, music videos, and major studio motion pictures. Passion for both the art of cinema and an appreciation for the craft of acting, Dawn produced, directed and edited short films as well as directed Off Broadway theatre, including Noel Coward’s HAY FEVER. New projects include, LOVE UNDONE, her debut feature narrative film set in New York and Berlin and a historical documentary AFTER THE VOTE: THE WOMEN WHO CHANGED NEW YORK, about Belle Moskowitz and a host of powerful women in 1920s and 30s New York.
On a personal and professional level, and also through my art, I’m best at connecting with people and speaking to their emotions, in a way that is genuine.
If I had to choose one quality, it would be perseverance. Integrity, passion, talent, and confidence in my talent are also great contributors.
To write and direct great films. To do something new with the art form.
To continue being a great parent to two amazing children. To exercise more.
My biggest success is my documentary HOME. I couldn’t find financing for the film, but didn’t let it stop me. I found a way to make it for as little money as possible. It was made for thirty thousand dollars over the course of two years with financing help from my husband. I quit my job to work full time on the film. Without a budget, I had to make the film mostly by myself. HOME is about young Irish immigrant Alan Cooke. He wrote about his experiences in New York, and what it felt like to leave one home for another. I visualized that expression and added to it many things I wanted to say from my perspective as a native New Yorker. Because I studied at NYU Film school, I had the knowledge and confidence to do it all myself. I also had my own camera. Because I didn’t have a budget, I was the producer, director, DP, editor, sound recordist, sound effects editor, final mixer, marketer, printer, publicist, etc. Without representation or contacts, my co-producer Alan Cooke and I were able to reach many A list actors and writers in person and convince them to appear in the film. After HOME was complete it won a few festival awards but could not find a distributor and sadly was turned down by Tribeca and Hamptons Film Festivals, but thankfully and most impressive, HOME was embraced by BAM, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the IFP which meant a great deal to me. I’ll never forget the sold out show at the Walter Reade theatre where I sat so many times before, inspired by so many films. I sent a copy to PBS thirteen and they fell in love with it. They even hired Frank McCourt to do an introduction to the film and premiered it at 9PM on St. Patrick’s Day. Airing on thirteen qualified HOME to be submitted to the Emmys for consideration. HOME went on to win the Emmy Award for Best Writing, and two Emmy nominations for Best Photography and Best Documentary. HOME never found a distributor but thanks to Alan and I acting as though we were sales agents, HOME aired on PBS stations in Florida, Kentucky, on Aer Lingus flights from Ireland to NY, on TG4 in Ireland (in Gaelic) and on Canal Plus in Poland.
Soon after HOME won the Emmy Award I was faced with the most challenging decision of my life, my decision to halt my career entirely in order to move in with and take care of my sick elderly parents who needed full time care. This occured after just having become a mother myself. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. But I chose to do it because I loved my parents and would do anything for them as they would and did for me. I could not move them in a nursing home. I’m glad I was there for them. I’m glad my children witnessed it all and hope that it instilled in them the great gifts of perseverance, integrity and honor that my parents instilled in me. They have passed on now. We were truly blessed and honored to have had them in our life for as long as we did. Somehow through it all I managed to write a narrative screenplay which I want to direct after the documentary I’m currently working on, AFTER THE VOTE, about women in New York in the 1920s, 30s and 40s and what they were able to accomplish after having won the right to vote. This idea came to me while making HOME in 2006.
Never give up.
My role models are my parents who loved me. They lived through the depression and my father who was older fought under General Patton in WWII. They survived it all and gifted me with wisdom, a good work ethic, perseverance, a competitive spirit and most important of all, integrity.
All of my siblings for always believing in my talent, especially my sister Annie who encouraged me the most. My favorite people are all of my family members, most of all my two children and my husband. The filmmakers who’ve inspired my work are too many to name. The following directors left the most indelible mark. David Lean, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Jacques Tati and the filmmakers of the French New Wave.
I’ll take Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Hudson Valley too…. My most favorite place of all is the beach, especially the beach in Southampton, NY.
I also love being in movie theatres, on movie sets, in libraries, museums, walking city streets, Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, Park Slope, all of it, Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton, Williamsburg, Governor’s Island, The upper east side and upper west side of Manhattan, The High Line, Greenwich Village, Central and Prospect Parks, South Street Seaport, Soho, and Lower Manhattan, Neponsit, Breezy Point, The Hamptons, California, Hawaii, The French Riviera, Normandy, Paris, St. Barths, Italy, Ireland, Berlin. And must admit, LA, and Disney World!
I love books and my DVD boxed sets, Sennheiser microphones, 35mm Nikon cameras, my used Hasselblad I found at B&H Photo, and the Avid Media Composer.
“AFTER THE VOTE” (current project)