Filmmaker, former journalist
A former Hawaii newspaper journalist and an EMMY Award-winning independent filmmaker,
Stephanie has been developing television documentaries full-time since 1989. Her latest film
is NIGHT BIRD SONG: THE INCANDESCENT LIFE OF THOMAS CHAPIN, her 10th documentary.
In 2016, it won BEST STORY at a film festival in Nice, France and in 2017 played at Jazz at
Lincoln Center and the 2016 Monterey Jazz Festival. It won Best Music Documentary at the
Asbury Park Film and Music Festival. Her Emmy award is detailed below.
She holds an Executive MBA (2000) from the University of Hawaii.
After a five-year stint as a reporter with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Stephanie formed her
Hawaii-based production company, 'Olena Media. It completed its first documentary film,
SIMPLE COURAGE: A Historical Portrait for the Age of AIDS, in 1992 as a co-production with
Hawaii Public Television. The documentary examined the history behind Hawaii's tragic
leprosy epidemic and the compassionate intervention of Belgium missionary priest Father
Damien. It won a Regional EMMY in 1993 as well as many other national awards that year,
including a CINE Golden Eagle, a Gold Award at Worldfest Houston, a Silver Award at the
Chicago Intl Film Festival, Best Hawaii Film at the Hawaii International Film Festival, and an
Honorable Mention from the National Education Association.
Currently, Stephanie is working with Random Media to distribute worldwide her film NIGHT
BIRD SONG: THE INCANDESCENT LIFE OF THOMAS CHAPIN, which reveals to the world an
important jazz great and a voice for jazz. It is already streaming in China and is available at
iTunes, Amazon Prime and other digital platforms. A 6-hourSpeccial Edition DVD is also
available at moviezyng.com. It recently won BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY at the Asbury Park
Music and Film Festival in 2017.
My Jazz Story
Published on: 2016-12-30
Before I made my jazz film about Thomas Chapin—NIGHT BIRD SONG, I virtually new nothing about jazz. Yes I listened and liked cool jazz, but
that's about it. When I interviewed Thomas Chapin in 1993 and did a short film about him, I asked him, "How do you listen to jazz that sometimes
sounds like noise?" He replied: "Any way you can." And so that's what I did when I made NIGHT BIRD SONG, I listened to Thomas's adventurous,
experimental, and far out there jazz any way I could. I just kept listening to this highly stimulating, highly intellectual jazz that he created in his
Knitting Factory days in the 1990's until I began to actually find it very interesting and could listen to it and hear in it its complexities and in its
creativity. After four years of making and editing the film, after meeting the characters in his life who played with him and understood what he
was doing, my brain was getting it and it became quite enjoyable. Jazz is a language, it was said to me, and so I guess I say I've learned enough
jazz language to finally begin appreciating it. And to appreciate Thomas and his co-creators. My film is a reflection of my learning from this