Monday, March 21, 2016

Keeping Busy: Seventeen Magazine, Directing Plays & Judging for Film Fests!

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” 
-Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland

Reviewing the set for Really Looking.

Up, up and away! My first time riding the crane!

Kira the director (me) and lead actress Ioanna Chasta, snuggling on set.
I keep writing blog posts in my head. I’ve written so many! But writing in my head is not very effective. So here I am now, hazelnut milk by my side. Yes, you heard me correctly. After many years of waiting and searching, hazelnut milk is back on the market. I am celebrating and you should too. Cheers to long lost beverages that make a come back in marketplaces all across America.

These past few days I’ve gotten into a groove that I thought my soul had forgotten: it’s called the “somewhat-oddly-graceful despite juggling 5+ big projects” groove. It’s my favorite kind of groove. I’ve been working non-stop. But it’s not “work-work.” It feels like play, ya know? I find that taking a moment to reflect is always a healthy thing. Sometimes I lose track of where I am- who I am- what I’m doing- what I’ve done…. because I pack my plate with every delicious opportunity I see. So reflection is a necessity if I value my balance & sanity even just a little bit. 

Where to begin…

Seventeen Magazine

Over the past few months I’ve been in contact with Seventeen Magazine… they did about 5 interviews with me. Well just last week they released my article! I still can’t believe it. They featured me as the April edition Power Girl and did a two-page spread on me. Notice how we are still in March. Yeah, I thought it was coming out in 2 weeks or so. So I’m just coming out of the theater of the new Michael Moore film Where to Invade Next? (which I highly recommend- I’ve gone twice!) and I turn on my phone to discover that my friends have posted pictures of my Seventeen Magazine article. I’m a mixture of shocked, excited, and terrified. Why? I haven’t even read the article yet and it’s already in Walmarts all over the world! So my mom and I run out of the theater - we make a pit stop at the Chocolate Lounge and grab some delicious brownies for the car ride - and zoom on over to Barnes & Nobles. But they only have the March edition! We panic and zoom over to Walmart. BAM. I get my copy. I finally read it. I melt into a puddle made of rain-drops of surreal-ness. I’m making no sense. But apparently life makes no sense and crazy things happen. I can’t believe it! 

Big Little Filmmaker

Mentioned in the Seventeen Magazine article was my organization Big Little Filmmaker so viewership is on the rise! These past few days I’ve been working passionately on content for the site. Many interviews & articles are in the works. I just released a few interviews and will be releasing more in the next few days. You should check them out! The social media aspect of the site is currently being worked on but should be up and running very soon. I’m excited to be releasing a “Film Festival Cheat Sheet” of youth (middle school, high school, and college age) film festivals that are free to enter. If you want to check it out, click here.  The film festival database now has over 40 festival listings, all of which are geared towards young filmmakers. And over half of them are free to enter. I’m very excited for the direction Big Little Filmmaker is heading. Check out some of the articles under the “Film World” section!: 

Asheville National 10 Minute Play Festival

I was selected as 1 of 5 directors to direct for the Asheville National 10 Minute Play Festival. I am directing two 10 minute plays. Performances will be April 7-9th. This is my first time directing for stage. I’m in the midst of rehearsals and it’s been a really good experience thus far. It’s interesting adjusting to directing so much dialogue and not having the freedom to “cut into a close up.” I plan on incorporating video projection in one of the plays. One’s called Sleepwalker and is written by a local playwright. The other play is called Employee Assistance and is written by a playwright out in Seattle who I’ll meet next month when I head up that way. They are both tonally opposites: one’s dark and haunting & the other is humorous and whimsical. It’s a nice balance. (Side note: I’m living in a dream world where crazy things happen. Shout out to my best friend Katie Larson who a) is turning 20 today (!?!?) and b) is coming to Asheville to perform with her amazing band the Accidentals on April 6th… at the SAME VENUE as my plays?! One day before the play festival opens?! Can we just take a moment to let this sink in?)

Really Looking 

I completed Really Looking and it is now in its film festival run! It premieres next month on April 29th at NFFTY in Seattle, WA. NFFTY, as I’ll say time and time again, is one of my favorite film festivals. I absolutely can’t wait to go for the 3rd year in a row. I have over 15 friends that will be there. It’s gonna be a party like no other to say the least. Last year I ended up in a room cuddling with a bunch of people. That, my friend, is what I call the meaning of life. In the meantime, here are the videos to the trailer as well as the behind the scene music recording session (recorded in Majorca, Spain by my composer Nicolas Martin) for Really Looking:

Pre-Production for “Desire Film”

Really Looking was produced by Massada Eyewear’s Massada Art Project. I am excited to announce I’ll be doing a second film collaboration with Massada Eyewear. This next film will be exploring the themes of desire, polyamory and indulging in your fantasies through art. I absolutely cannot wait to make this film. More info soon… Will be casting this project in the next few months. 

Feature Films

Sorting through camera batteries
on the set of Aaah Roach!
I’ve said this a million times, but I am planning on making my first feature film very soon. I just need to write it! But I keep getting distracted by other projects and fun opportunities. So I decided that it’s time to commit myself to taking the next steps. First off, I’ve been getting involved with other filmmaker’s feature length productions so that I’m more prepared when I make my first one. A few months ago I went out to LA to work on a creature feature called “Aaah Roach!” where I at first was working as a PA (mostly in the art department) but then I was promoted to 2nd AC. My goodness. I loved working with the lenses. There is something so exhilarating about holding really expenses lenses. I hope to 2nd AC on more projects in the future! Anywho: on set I had the chance to pet cockroaches. They were… extremely cute. Yes, I said it.

Kira, Assistant Art Director (me), handing out the prop guns to the actors on the set of Obamaland.

My Donald Trump painting...
Last month I worked on the set of an absurd, satirical comedy called Obamaland. I served as Assistant Art Director. For one month I lived with the cast and crew in a lake house off of Lake Norman. I have so many fun stories about this set… let’s just say I had to rig fake rats to be milked, photoshop logos like “Jim Beam” to be “Obama Beam,” and paint Donald Trump. Yes, I painted a portrait of Donald Trump. It was disturbing staring into his eyes for so long. I’m still recovering. 

Obamabucks that I made!
So with these new experiences under my belt (and hopefully some more soon), the next step is locking in a committed date to write it. As of today I submitted an application for a grant to an artist residency in France. If I get it, I’ll be spending one month this summer in a 17th century French convent. I’ll be applying to some other residencies soon. But none-the-less: the plan is to indeed write my feature this summer. No. Matter. What. Prepare for a story of circus day dream worlds… creepy ringleaders… polyamory… fairytale romance… and quirkiness. 

Film Festivals & Traveling

So I’ve competed in over ten 48 Hour Film Projects, with the goal of not stopping until winning Best in City so that I could travel to Filmapalooza. Well, that win finally came with Adulthood (the Seattle 48 Hour Horror film that I co-directed with my bestie Abbey Sacks this past October). So I finally attended Filmapalooza after 6+ years of attempts. It was [lucky for me] in Atlanta, so I was able to drive to the festival. I met up with my lead actor, Dan Crisafulli, who traveled from Seattle. He’s actually moving to Atlanta next month (meaning: more creepy film collaborations between the two of us coming on up). I had such a fun time meeting teams from all over the world. I have a new batch of friends. Attending Filmapalooza has triggered inside of me a desire to compete in 48 Hour Film Projects forever. I can barely wait for the next one. I’m, without a doubt, addicted. We released Adulthood online! Here ya go!:

I traveled to Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival in Winston-Salem for a screening of Tree Hugger. A few cool things: 1) Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival is an all women’s art festival. 2) It’s in NC! 3) The lead of my film, Thatcher Johnson-Welden, is from Winston-Salem, so she was able to attend! It was a great night and I ate so much dessert with Thatcher and her family afterwards. Funny how I’m eating a butternut squash shortbread cookie now. I can’t resist the goods.

I was asked to be a juror for Scout Film Festival, a high school film festival taking place in June in Vermont. So far I’ve watched & judged the top docs and comedy films. I’m so impressed by the vulnerability in so many of the docs. A few of them had my mom and I in tears. There was one comedy in particular that had me cracking up. It’s so cool to see how much raw talent these young folks have. I may be attending the festival to be a speaker / be on a panel- will know for sure soon. I was also just asked [today] to judge for another high school film festival through Blue Ridge Community College. With this festival I may be a guest speaker as well. This festival takes play May 5th (the day before my birthday!) in Asheville, NC.

Next month I have three trips in the works: 
1) I have a freelance job for a self-tinting glass company. I will be flying up to Grand Rapids, MI to shoot it.
2) I have a separate, additional trip to Michigan! I have been asked by my old high school, Interlochen Arts Academy, to be on an alumni panel at their Future of Cinema Film Festival April 21-23rd. I cannot wait to return!
3) After the Future of Cinema Film Festival I’ll be flying to Seattle to attend NFFTY. I’ll be rooming in a 1 bedroom condo with 5 of the best girls I’ve ever met. I’m crying tears of joy just thinking about it.


In the past few months I’ve started experimenting with photography and lighting. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

Various Updates

-I taught a 3-day Teen Green Screening class through Asheville School of Film!
-Serving as Director of Photography on a music video for artist Tyler Mingo and director Keema Mingo next week in Charlotte, NC.
Kira (me) teaching After Effects to teens.
-In post-production on a short currently called “Fix You” (title TBD) that I co-directed with Abbey Sacks. 
-“It's Just You," a film I co-directed with Abbey Sacks, was accepted to ZOOM-ZBLIŻENIA Międzynarodowy Festiwal Filmowy in Jelenia-Gora, Poland and took place from February 16-21. 
-“Hattie" was accepted to the Portland Women's Film Festival (aka POW Fest) in Portland, OR and screened at the festival March 3-6.
-Tree Hugger was accepted to the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival and screened March 3-5 in Florence, Alabama. It won for Best Youth Filmmaker!
-Tree Hugger was accepted to the Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival in Winston-Salem, NC where it screened February 18th.
-Tree Hugger and Really Looking will be screening at NFFTY in Seattle April 28th-May 1st.
-I acted as the role of a Newscaster in "Friends Like Me" directed by Sam Coppage.

In Conclusion...

Okay, I’m probably forgetting a bunch of big things happening in my life, but, I’m gonna stop reflecting for now and get back to work. I have a lot to plan, interviews to conduct, a laptop to buy (yeah… my laptop died off due to a heart attack and so I’ve been rendezvousing with my mother’s laptop in the secrecy of the shadows… shhhh…), plane tickets to purchase, plays to plan out… and so much more. And my coconut macaroon cookie patiently awaits my lips— that’s my gift to myself for finishing this blog post.

Lots of love, y’all. Remember to tell the people who are important to you that you love them. And stare them in the eyes when you do it. Maybe even take their hands. Just make sure it gets through to them. Oh, and remind them to stay hydrated of course! Water or coconut water or carrot juice or hazelnut milk. I'll leave that choice up to you.



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