Filmmaker Spotlight: Kim Garland

Filmmaker Spotlight: Kim Garland

Image Some flirt with the line between life and death, but for Kim Garland; she embraces it and injects it into her filmmaking. As a writer and director Kim has developed her filmmaking style around the congregation of those who celebrate life and mourn death, having grown up above her family’s funeral home in New York City. In Kim’s supernatural shorts trilogy she utilizes the space to challenge her characters with the idea of life and the act of death.

Kim Garland biography:

Kim Garland is a screenwriter and director from Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. She is a co-owner of City Kid Films, a co-founder of Scriptchat, and a columnist for Script magazine. At Script, she covers her ongoing experience writing and directing her first films in the column, Write, Direct, Repeat. Kim graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Creative Writing and began her career in book publishing at Random House while continuing to write fiction. She studied screenwriting at The New School University in NYC and transitioned to the film industry through her work in literary acquisition at Braven Films, a production company headed by Producer Frida Torresblanco (Pan’s Labyrinth). Kim made her directing debut in 2012 with the award-winning short film Vivienne Again, a supernatural thriller she shot in her parents’ Manhattan funeral home. Shortly after, she directed her second short film, Deal Travis In, a supernatural thriller starring Nick Sandow (Boardwalk Empire, Orange is the New Black). Films written and directed by Kim Garland have screened at numerous film festivals, including Fantasia International Film Festival, HollyShorts, Dragon*Con, New York International Short Film Festival, Flyway, NewFilmmakers New York, FilmColumbia Festival, and the Big Apple Film Festival.

Tell me a quirk about yourself:

I guess the big quirk about me would be that my family is in the funeral home business and that I grew up in the brownstone building above my family’s funeral home in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. Probably as a result, I’ve always been fascinated by that thin line between life and death and you can definitely see that in my work today. When I decided to direct my first short film, I started by getting permission to shoot in our funeral home and then came up with the story idea. I knew having a free and unique location was my greatest asset going into my first film so I built everything around that prime resource.

Tell me about your column for Script magazine:

I write a monthly column for Script magazine called Write, Direct, Repeat. It’s geared to screenwriters who want to learn about directing their own work, but the type of content I cover also applies to directors in the early stages of their careers. I’ve covered a variety of topics so far, including a hands-on project that takes you through the steps of directing a scene for the first time and another piece on selecting your first film to direct. I’ve also covered script development, table reads,lookbooks, film festivals and lots more. Coming out in early June, my next article will be on marketing your short film.

Where you are in your trilogy of shorts?

I’m two-thirds of the way through creating a trilogy of supernatural shorts, that are set in a covert world in NYC where people can resurrect from the dead. The films in my Resurrection Trilogy (as I’ve been calling it) are stand-alone, each with their own stories and characters, and offer a glimpse into this world through the people trying to survive in it. The first two films of the trilogy are complete: VIVIENNE AGAIN (2012) and DEAL TRAVIS IN (2013). And both films had their west coast premieres at HollyShorts! Before diving back in for the third film, I needed to take a step back and develop this world much more completely to see where it was heading beyond the shorts. My goal is to share a more in-depth story about the people in this world, either as a feature film or as a serialized story, so while I’m writing the third short, I’m also developing this into a much larger world. You can watch the first two films of the trilogy online at my website.

What are you working on right now?

I’m developing two new short films. The first is a science fiction short I plan to shoot this year and the second is the final film of my Resurrection Trilogy. In addition, I’m working on two new feature scripts. One is a supernatural thriller — a ghost story with a twist — and the other is a horror film I’m writing with Brad Johnson. Brad is also a columnist for Script magazine and this is our first script as collaborators. All of these projects are in different stages of development ,but I’m very excited about each of them. I absolutely love genre films and each of these projects will give me a chance to try something new as I continue to develop my filmmaker’s voice and visual style.


If you had an unlimited budget and time to create your next film what would you make?

I don’t think an unlimited budget would change the type of stories I would tell, so I would continue to move forward with the projects I am already planning, but it would probably change the scale with which I could tell those stories. As a genre filmmaker, I would always love access to more tools to create believable, fantastical worlds, whether that’s using practical or in-camera or visual effects to create something surprising and transporting. Visual and special effects are definitely areas where a bigger budget could bring in a lot more choices. I would also want to spend more time in prep working closely with key cast and crew to find the best solutions to all of the challenges we’ve set out for ourselves with the film. If I could throw money at prep and buy more time to really work out the details with every department before getting on set, then I think that would be money well spent.

Who is your dream team to work with? (dead or alive)

I currently work with some very talented people who I would want to continue working with. My dream team would include my most trusted collaborators plus the hires they each felt would help them to do their absolute best work. But in the end, I would love to work with my usual collaborators no matter what the budget. They bring original ideas to the table and work diligently to achieve them. They have impeccable taste and refuse to settle. That’s my kind of team!

Tell me about what it is like to be a woman in the film industry:

The stats are daunting, no doubt, and as much as I would love to be viewed as a filmmaker, and not separated out as a “female filmmaker,” the reality is that day hasn’t come yet. The old guard does not share power without revolution and one way or another revolution has to come.

Who has been your inspiration in the film industry?

I’m most inspired by the other independent screenwriters and filmmakers in the trenches with me. These filmmakers have day jobs and families and school loans to repay. The world isn’t waiting with bated breath to watch the next film or read the next script they produce, but hell if they don’t get up every day and pursue filmmaking with an obsessive passion that is a hallmark of the arts. In my filmmaking circles, every day someone gets a win and someone gets a loss. But the winner doesn’t just disappear and move up to a better class of friends and the loser isn’t kicked out and ostracized. Instead, we pat ourselves on our backs or lick our wounds, but either way, we never stop pushing forward. I am most inspired when I see someone just like me refuse to take no for an answer. If they can do it, then I can do it, too.

Filmmaker Spotlight: Carey Williams

Filmmaker Spotlight: Carey Williams


Short films are often a first acquaintance to a feature film that a filmmaker may have in mind. For award-winning filmmaker Carey Williams his short, Cherry Waves, will be developed from first acquaintance to a full feature.

Carey also talks to us about his eventful year directing an episode of Banshee Origins, his HBO and NBC wins, upcoming projects, and staying humble.


What has this past year been like for you?

This past year has been a fantastic ride creatively. I had the great fortune of shadowing Emmy-winning director Greg Yaitanes on the television show Banshee. I learned the in’s and out’s of television production, discovering that mostly the difference is the pace and how to direct the actors. I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to direct an episode of their web series Banshee Origins, while there.

I also had the feature version of my short film Cherry Waves optioned by an independent company out of Austin, Texas and have been in development on that for the past few months.

Lastly, I signed with Lindsay Framson at United Talent Agency, which I’m very excited about. She’s great and they really cater to developing talent.


Tell me about your awards:

My short film Cherry Waves received the Best short in the 2012 HBO short film showcase as well as Best Short in the 2012 NBC Shortcuts. I didn’t anticipate the wins. I felt strongly that I had a solid piece, but I was in very strong company of filmmakers in both competitions.

That’s exciting to hear that your short will become a feature. Tell me about Cherry Waves and how you are going to develop it into a feature

The short of Cherry Waves had quite a bit of story crammed into 14 minutes. There was more story to tell, but I had no idea if people would respond to what was there. You never know and that’s the exciting, scary and wonderful thing about art. Once I saw that it started to resonate with folks, I expanded the story and explored the relationships of the characters. I began writing the feature version along with the producer of the short Brad Clements and another writer Rickie Castaneda.


What are your other two new feature projects called? Are you doing any crowd funding for those films?

One project is a psychological thriller in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby meets The Conjuring, that I’m writing with Brad Clements. Here are a couple of visual mood teasers for them.

I’ve found that when I set out to make a new film, I’m anxious to shoot something. I’m a very visual person so I try to shoot something that represents the tone of what I’m thinking and it keeps a fire lit to fully realize the project.

The other project is a drama that I’m writing with Rickie Castaneda. It’s at the stage that I don’t want to say too much it, yet.


Who are you making this film for?

Honestly, I’ve found that I will forever make films for me first and foremost. It goes back to what I stated earlier about never knowing if people will respond to your art or not. All you can do is make something that comes from your true self and your heart, and that you are proud of and that’s it. If people love it, that’s wonderful. If people don’t respond to it, its still okay because you made something that you are happy with.


What films have been an inspiration for you?

The films that have inspired me are varied. I can watch Jaws over, and over again. The way Spielberg directed that film is incredible. Another favorite is Rosemary’s Baby. The subtle-ness and restraint of that film really resonate with me. It manages to be so creepy without trying too hard. There will be Blood is also a favorite. Recently, Blue is the Warmest Color, blew me away for its rawness. I also thought Spring Breakers was mesmerizing in its filmmaking. Many people want to write that film off, but I felt Harmony Korine nailed it visually with cinematographer Benoît Debie and Harmony put some subversive commentary in there.


Who/what has been your inspiration to your style of filmmaking?

My inspirations for my style of filmmaking has always been music first and foremost. Music is my first love which led me to music videos. In the world of music videos, I was always drawn to the work of strong visualists, such as Chris Cunningham, David Fincher, Mark Romanek, Hype Williams, Francis Lawrence, Paul Hunter, and Jonathan Glazer. I developed my craft in the world of music videos, trying different things, sometimes succeeding, oftentimes failing, but it was a great opportunity to experiment with the music as my guide and backbone. I not only grew as a filmmaker, but as a person, losing the fear of failure and as well as the fear of judgement on the art.

My filmmaking progressed to narrative storytelling and in that realm I was drawn to the work of Paul Thomas Anderson, Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski, David Fincher, Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg. These directors are not only great visualists, using their camera with a specific point of view, but they also elicit excellent performances from their actors. That inspires me.

What advice do you have for starting filmmakers or current filmmakers?

I’m still learning and I hope to always be learning on my journey as a filmmaker, but I do have some words of advice that I remind myself and would share with others:

-Stay humble. Bottom line, no matter where you are in your career, remain humble because it’s a blessing to be able to do it.

– Don’t take it personally. As artists, it can sting when someone trashes your work, something you put your heart and many hours into. Don’t let it discourage you, you will never please everyone. My short film won some wonderful awards, but was also not accepted into many festivals and was even booed at a festival. Art is subjective, don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like it. As long as you like it, that’s what matters. Which leads me to the next—

– Make the piece that you want to make, Go with your damn gut. I had numerous people tell me to change aspects of my short film in order to make it more accessible. Accessible to whom? All I knew is that I had made the story I wanted to tell and if I changed it to make it more “accessible,” I wouldn’t want to stand in front of a theatre of people and represent a film that wasn’t from my true self. Any time you have the chance to make exactly the film that you want to make, take it and don’t listen to anyone telling you what you should do. You are the artist, make your art. Be selfish about it. People are committed to helping you make your art because they believe in you, honor that and make exactly what you are intending to make.

– Its alright to not know the answers. I went through a period of extreme anxiety over not knowing every answer immediately on set. As a director you are asked questions constantly, almost every decision is run through you and I’m telling you, there will be times that you honestly just don’t have the answer at the ready. Red scarf or Blue scarf? Is this enough bruising on her eye? We’re losing light, is this shot really important or should we cut it and move on to the other shots before sundown? Prep can mitigate a lot of those game time decisions, but never all of them so I’m telling you, It’s okay to not know the answer. Ask the costume designer, makeup artist, director of photography, etc, what they think if you don’t know. They are your collaborators and will often know what they want already. Allow them to express their creative thoughts and you have the right to agree or disagree based on your vision. You will feel less anxiety and you will also strengthen that bond of trust with your collaborator.

-Have fun dammit. If it’s not, then why do it?



Find out more about Carey Williams-

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Twitter: @cdubfilmmaker

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