March Spotlight on Leah Warshawski | BIG SONIA

…audiences are responding to the positive messages within the film sort of like an “antidote” to the hate. They leave feeling like there might be just a little bit of hope for humanity.

Leah Warshawski via IMDB

Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday are the brave filmmakers who produced the documentary feature FINDING HILLYWOODThrough the eyes of Warshawski and Soliday we witness the power of healing through a newly emerging film industry bringing people together in post-genocide Rwanda. Creative expression, storytelling and collaboration mark the incredible journey of repairing a country after unimaginable atrocities. I had the great pleasure of welcoming Leah and Todd to Kansas City in 2014 when they came to screen FINDING HILLYWOOD for a KC FilmFest Spotlight event. I was taken with the clarity of their vision, the boldness of their documentary work and I knew then that they were artists to watch. Their next project is a feature documentary six-years in the making – BIG SONIA, the story of an unlikely hero…a woman with “an enormous personality and fragile frame [that] mask the horrors she endured in the Holocaust to make a new life in Kansas City…” [via BigSonia.com]

We are thrilled Leah Warshawski agreed to be our next KC Film Spotlight. Leah is the co-director and producer of FINDING HILLYWOOD, the director and producer of BIG SONIA and has been assistant marine coordinator on familiar titles such as – LOST, ALONG CAME POLLY, HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, SURVIVOR and BAYWATCH to name a few.


KCFO: Your latest documentary feature film BIG SONIA is about the life of Sonia Warshawski, a national treasure [and Kansas City treasure] and Holocaust survivor. What motivated you to make this film?

socialmediagraphicLEAH: We were motivated to make BIG SONIA because Sonia – and her family – have important lessons that are so needed in today’s world. We began making a humorous short film about a tiny tailor shop in a dying mall, but the film turned into a deeper exploration of trauma and the affect this has on generations – and lots of other surprises along the way. Our story arc grew and changed throughout 6 years of production and we could not be happier with how the film turned out.

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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

March Spotlight: Stephen Locke

Each  month we connect with an influential professional in the industry. This month our Spotlight is on Stephen Locke from Tempest Gallery.

I’m a painter, photographer and filmmaker. Making visual art immerses me in the world. Through painting and film I explore the fathomless experience of being alive. Deep presence allows me to explore both the dramatic and mundane with equal exuberance.

locke 12

STEPHEN LOCKE goes where the wind takes him -literally. He is a man who captures storms. His weather photography business is appropriately named, Tempest Gallery and he sells “hi-def time-lapse videos to producers around the world” [KC Star, July, 26, 2014] – his clients include LG Electronics, Kia Motors, BMW, Wrangler, Fuji Television, Scottish snythpop band Chvrches, European culture television ARTE and ZDF German public-service television.

His films are so captivating and mesmerizing I’ve kept his site up on my computer and replayed them for hours. Stephen captures the sheer power of a storm with thousands of still images that make up his own distinctive style of time-lapse video and the outcome is beautiful. The outcome is art.

With Spring storm season approaching we thought it was the perfect time to talk to Stephen Locke for our March Spotlight.


KCFMO: You began capturing storm systems later on in your career. What drew you to this type of photography/videography?

Stephen: Originally I was interested in general landscape photography. As a landscape photographer in Kansas it was inevitable I would discover thunderstorms. They made the horizon more dramatic. I began planning my landscape photo excursions based on forecasts for severe weather. Eventually I learned to make my own forecasts so I could plan trips 3-10 days in advance. Initially my intent was still photography but I discovered I could combine several hundred stills to make a high resolution movie. Thus my career in time lapse film making was born.

KCFMO: From spotting a developing system on the forecast to finalizing the video, how long is the process of creating a time-lapse video?

Stephen: The entire process can take several days or weeks. The post production procedure of grading still pictures and combining them to make a movie can take several days to produce 30 seconds of footage. As technology improves and my methods evolve I’m often remaking movies shot several years ago. I regard all my movies as continual works in progress.

KCFMO: When you begin tracking a storm system, how often do return with the footage you were hoping for?  Continue reading

Why a Local Film Incentive for Kansas City?

collageWhile at the at the AFCI Locations Trade Show in Los Angeles representing Kansas City and the state of Missouri, a screenwriter, let’s call him “Steve,” engaged us in a conversation about a romantic comedy script he wrote called “BBQ.” I immediately pitched the virtues of our incredible Kansas City BBQ scene and our strong crew base and he easily became interested in adding Kansas City to the list of cities he would consider. In the next beat he asked, “What are your incentives?” This question is the norm in the industry. In fact we may have been the only booth at the trade show without active incentives.


 

Last year the AFCI drew over 3,000 attendees, over 1,000 producers, 684 production associations, 227 directors, 108 film commissions and 83 independent filmmakers. [Source AFCI]


 

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Celebrity Chef “Simply Nigella” Chooses KC for Christmas Special

Nigella Lawson Loves Kansas City

Five years ago Nigella Lawson visited Kansas City and she never 
forgot how magical it was. Fast-forward to her newest UK-based
cooking show, BBC's "Simply Nigella" and where does she choose 
to film the first Christmas special for her show? Kansas City.

Nigella is a celebrity chef with a career history as a journalist, 
broadcaster, television personality, gourmet and food writer. She has
written eleven cookbooks and Simply Nigella is her most recent. 

She has also starred in several of her own cooking shows - 
Nigella Bites, Forever Summer, Nigella, Nigella Feasts, Nigella
Express, Nigella Kitchen, Nigellissima, The Taste and Simply Nigella. 

Nigella has been a celebrity guest on shows like ABC's Modern Family, 
Bravo's Top Chef, Food Network's Iron Chef and Australia's Master Chef.

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