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Northwestern School of Communication

Erik Gernand

Associate Professor of Instruction
I'm a playwright and filmmaker focusing on stories primarily about families in crisis and also queer characters.

Area(s) of Expertise

Cinema-Film, Media production, Playwriting, Screenwriting
Erik Gernand

Erik Gernand is a writer and filmmaker whose award-winning short films have screened at more than 100 film festivals around the world including SXSW, Mix Milan (Italy), Cinequest, and Palm Springs International Shortfest, as well as been broadcast on IFC, PBS, and the Logo Channel (MTV Networks). His films have been distributed by First Run Features and Strand Releasing. As a playwright, his produced plays include Year One, A Place in the Woods, and The Beautiful Dark (publication: Dramatic Publishing).


  • MFA, Writing for the Screen and Stage, Northwestern University
  • BA, Telecommunications Production and German, Ball State University

Creative Work

“Year One”Playwright, full-length play

  • Script available at:
  • Production: Premiere Stages, Union, NJ, 2021
  • Award: Winner of the Premiere Stages New Play Festival, 2021
  • Review: A compelling dive into extremism's creep... It leaves audiences with the difficult task of recognizing the seeds of evil concealed in otherwise perfectly pleasant people. This point of view ensures that ‘Year One’ is not a history play exploring specific events of 1933, but rather a valuable meditation on the unseen or—worse— willfully overlooked origins of violent extremism.” — The Star Ledger, Newark, September 14, 2021

“A Place in the Woods”Playwright, full-length play

  • Productions: Mercury Players Theatre, Madison, WI, 2018; The Fine Print Theatre, Chicago, 2014
  • Award Nomination: Jeff Nomination, Non-Equity—Best New Work, Chicago, 2015
  • Review: “A topical family drama that reaches its true heights in its comic moments… Gernand’s script is an endearing mix of desolation and humor.”—NewCity, April 8, 2014

“The Beautiful Dark”Playwright, full-length play

  • Script available at:
  • Publication: Dramatic Publishing, 2015
  • Productions: Actor’s Workshop, West Palm Beach, FL, 2017; University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME, 2017; Mercury Players Theatre, Madison, WI, 2015; The Barrow Group, New York, 2014; Premiere Stages, Union, NJ, 2013; Redtwist Theatre, Chicago, 2013
  • Review: “Affecting, thought-provoking… a tribute to Mr. Gernand’s gracefully expository script, awash with resonant dialogue… Mr. Gernand has created complicated, recognizable people who are, like most of us, victims of their own flaws.”—The New York Times, September 15, 2013

Sundown, short filmWriter/Director

  • Available to stream at:
  • Selected film festival screenings include: LesGaiCineMad, Madrid (Spain); Pink Life QueerFest, Istanbul (Turkey); CinHomo, Valladolid (Spain); Wicked Queer, Boston; KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival (India); Thessaloniki International LGBTIQ Film Festival (Greece); Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival; Long Beach QFilm Festival, Long Beach, CA

Non-Love-Song, short film - Writer/Director

Available to stream at:

Recent Awards, Honors and Grants


  • Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award, School of Communication


  • Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Lectureship, University Teaching Award


  • Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award, School of Communication
  • New Works Project Winner, T. Schreiber Studio, New York, full-length play The Beautiful Dark (writer)
  • Heideman Award Finalist, Boy Talk (writer)
  • Finalist, Woodward/Newman Drama Award, Bloomington Playwrights Project, The Beautiful Dark (writer)


  • Faculty and Administrator Honor Roll, Northwestern University, 2010/2011
  • Shortlist, Iris Prize, Wales, UK, Nice Shirt (director)
  • 2nd Prize, Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy, Nice Shirt (director)
  • Best Short Film, Festival international du film gay et lesbien de Grenoble, France, Tech Support (director/co-writer)


  • Faculty and Administrator Honor Roll, Northwestern University, 2009/2010
  • Shortlist, Iris Prize, Wales, UK, Tech Support (director/co-writer)
  • Audience Award, Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tech Support (director/co-writer)
  • Best Short Film, Fresno Reel Pride LGBT Film Festival, Tech Support (director/co-writer)
  • Best Lesbian Short, Hamburg International Queer Film Festival, Germany, Tech Support (director/co-writer)
  • Best International Short, Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, Non-Love-Song (director/writer)
  • Honorable Mention, Narrative Short, Athens International Film Festival, Non-Love-Song (director/writer)
  • Winner, Feature Screenplay – Family Category, Screenplay Search, Bug Boy (writer)
  • Third Place, James River Film Festival, Non-Love-Song (director/writer)


  • Shortlist, Iris Prize, Wales, UK, Non-Love-Song (director/writer)


  • Heideman Award Finalist, It’s A Girl (writer)


  • Audience Award, First Sundays Comedy Film Festival, New York, Shop & Save (director/writer)
  • Audience Award, First Sundays Comedy Film Festival, New York, Do You Have A Minute? (director/writer)


  • RTVF 379: Sitcom Production
  • RTVF 298: Satire in Response to Crisis
  • RTVF 190: Media Construction
  • RTVF 260: Foundations of Screenwriting