Independent filmmaking: Katie Kessler ’17

Posted by Rebecca Moore - 08 May, 2017

Katie photographed by Faith Meier ’17

My interest in film started in the 2nd grade. I saw something about how to make cool special effects, like cotton ball snow, shooting movies on your phone and I’ve gone from there. I knew in middle school that that was what I wanted to do.

In 10th grade, Mr. Townsend taught an Introduction to Film that was a one-semester course, and a small group of us really wanted to continue. This year he tailored a film class for four of us (Faith and Holland Meier, Nathaniel Anderson, and me) like an independent study. Mr. Townsend has been a great mentor, as has my advisor, Mr. Green, who was an actor in one film.

Mrs. Voight has also helped me. I student-directed the last two Spring Musicals,  Chitty and HONK! I know the basics of lighting. Directing skills help me with filmmaking — I can convey how to move and speak without demonstrating. And when I worked as an assistant at Fantasy Playhouse this summer, I realized that’s an important skill to have when you work with kids.

Last year, the School helped me find an Interim job shadow with a filmmaker. I appreciate that when we have a school project there is usually a video option. My 11th grade I-Search was on the representation of women and African-Americans in the film industry. I watched a selection of the Oscars and movies dating back to 1910 that depicted the experience of being a woman or being an African-American.

I use film as a way to show how I see the world. I want to show the experiences of those who are less represented, like women and minorities; Latinos and Asians are even less represented than African-Americans. How we see ourselves in media is a big part of how we see/understand ourselves, so it is important. I am also interested in the role women have played behind the camera. Only one woman has ever directed an Oscar-winning film. I want to go into film and be the role model that I don't really have.

You can watch “Alma Mater,” the horror film Katie made for her film class.

The video of one of her film classmates, Nathaniel Anderson's “The Backbone of Hunstville,” , was the subject of an episode of Bobby's Bama.

This story is from a series of thumbnail portraits in the forthcoming Spring 2017 Randolph Magazine,  in a feature titled “Learning in the Community: Transformative Experiences.”  The student portraits that accompany these profiles were created in an editorial photography project in Peter Townsend’s Advanced Photography class.

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Topics: Academics, Arts, career development, creativity, curriculum, I-Search, Interim, mentors, professional development, the world, Theater Randolph, Theatre Randolph, training, film, People


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