July Spotlight: AMERICAN HONEY

AMERICAN HONEY Filmed in KC

If you didn't know the 2016 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize
winning film AMERICAN HONEY filmed in Kansas City last year, don't worry. 
The reason you didn't know is because the production kept their presence 
here very quiet. They asked  us not to discuss the project, actors or locations 
with anyone outside of those who were involved on a "need-to-know" basis. 
That meant no media, no social posts, no newsletter content about how 
exciting it was that they were here filming here. 

It was a great pleasure assisting this production. Knowing that this 
brilliant director was bringing her first US feature to Kansas City was 
incredible. Now that filming is done and they have premiered at Cannes, we 
can share some anecdotes that shed light on how the film office works with a
production like AMERICAN HONEY. First, watch their trailer and see how 
much KC you can find -

Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” plunges the audience, with dizzying hand-held exhilaration, into the lives of a couple of dozen young pierced and tattooed drifters who have banded together into a roving derelict cult, driving around the Midwest in a van, where they have a scam going to use their hustle and beauty to guilt-trip people into buying magazine subscriptions. You may never have seen a movie that so eloquently captures the feeling of living not for the future but for the moment — and, let’s be clear, living that way is not a good thing. But there’s a haunting question that shadows the flying-high hip-hop catharsis of “American Honey,” and that is this: How did these kids get here? -Owen Glieberman, Variety

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April Spotlight: Misti Boland | Red Bird

Each  month we connect with an influential professional in the industry. This month our Spotlight is on Misti Boland – screenwriter, director, producer, production designer, art director.

Using the internet to distribute film and TV content is sort of like the new Wild West…

You might recognize Misti Boland from the Sundance/Slamdance blog we did earlier this year when we highlighted area people at the fests. Misti was a member of the jury at Slamdance Film Festival. We got together at the Missouri Film/KC Film party in Park City and we had a good laugh as she shared a story about dancing with Emilio Estevez, who was very much enjoying himself at the party she just came from. She also spoke of her exciting project Red Bird that she was in post-production on.

Misti Boland is known as a a production designer and and art director, with more than thirty (30) films to her credit. She is one of the founders of Women of Lawrence Film (WOLF). She has been finding success as a writer-director as well and has just launched a new webseries called Red Bird. We are honored to have this rising star as our film office spotlight this month.


Misti Boland on Location Directing "Red Bird"
Misti Boland on Location Directing “Red Bird”

KCFMO: Where did the idea for Red Bird come about? And where did the name come from?

MistiI grew up watching Western television shows and movies, and as a filmmaker I’ve been looking for the opportunity to create one.  When I was approached by actor friends Alexandra Goodman and Ian Stark about writing a script with two characters who encounter struggles with living off the land, I thought it would be a perfect fit Misti-Boland-on-setfor making a Western.

My co-writer, Jeremy Osbern, and I live in Lawrence, Kansas, and we both share an interest in the history of Bleeding Kansas and in particular Quantrill’s raid. We wanted to showcase a woman who lived through a similar event and witnessed the murder of her young son, which sparks her bloody quest for revenge.

The name for the web series came about when Jeremy and I decided that Sam’s (Kitty Mae’s father) special nickname for her would be Red Bird. 


RED BIRD HorizontalKCFMO: You are the writer, director and co-creator of this series. Tell us about those roles and any others you took on. Continue reading

Kansas City Represents at Sundance and Slamdance

IMG_1709In Park City I almost literally ran into the legendary founder of Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford. Lucky for him and especially for me, a bodyguard type gentleman threw a “mom style arm-as-safety-belt” in front of me and I halted before plowing into Mr. Redford. Running into him could have been a national tragedy, or (and I like this idea better) he would have brushed himself off and so would begin our long-lasting, deep and meaningful friendship. Alas.

The KC Film + Media Office attends Sundance to connect with independent filmmakers, producers and other industry people. We support locally-tied films that play in the festivals. And one of the highlights is the networking party that we co-host with the Missouri Film Office on behalf of Missouri and KC-connected people which is steadily gaining a reputation as a don’t-miss affair.

Kansas City area people I ran into during the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals are only slightly less famous but no less important than the Sundance Kid:

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February Spotlight: Kevin Willmott

Each  month we connect with an influential professional in the industry. This month our Spotlight is on Kevin Willmott -screenwriter, director, producer, actor and professor.

To have one of your film heroes say that about your work is about as good as it gets.

Kevin Willmott

Kevin Willmott grew up in Kansas and attended college to study Drama at Marymount University in Salina. His work as a peace and civil rights activist after college resounds in his filmography. After Marymount he created two shelters for the homeless and fought for integration within several long-standing segregated institutions. Later he went on to the graduate program at the prestigious NYU, Tisch School of the Arts where he won several writing awards and earned an MFA in Dramatic Writing.

Although I didn’t have Willmott as a professor at KU, I did have the great pleasure of working as a camera assistant/loader for a 2nd unit team in 1999 on his critically acclaimed feature film, “C.S.A.: Confederate States of America” (2004). The film explores what America might be like had the Civil War been won by the South. “C.S.A.”, as well as “The Only Good Indian” (2009) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and represent only a few of his many professional credits.

Willmott’s numerous credits range from actor (11 credits), writer (8 credits), producer (9 credits) and director (8 credits). [Source IMDB]

As a professor Willmott inspires students by example – by creating consistently, working hard and having the determination to make films he believes in that often take years to enter into production. Our intern, Rachel Kephart, a former student of Willmott says, “he’s very present as a professor and teaches from a real knowledge of filmmaking from idea to distribution without pretension.”

We are grateful that he shared some of his experiences and photos with us, even with an incredibly busy schedule.


KCFMO: What were you doing before you came to University of Kansas to teach?

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