AN INTERVIEW WITH KAT CONWAY, WRITER, PRODUCER & DIRECTOR OF "ME, MY MEDS & MOTHER"
Nominee: Best Indie Short - June 2021 Edition
Hello Kat Conway. Tell us how you came to filmmaking.
My Grandmother sailed from Ireland to work as a silent film actress in the 1920's, my Father built film sets, and my Mother (born in Hollywood) performed in films as a professional dancer. My teacher in college left his tenure to represent me in Hollywood as, apparently, I had a flair for comedy!
Your Director's statement mentions how your approach to Short Film changed with time. What in your opinion, is the function of Short Film in Cinema as a whole?
Short Films are positively a wonderful way to showcase oneself as a consummate writer, director, and producer. Right now I am in post on a documentary based on the harrowing true story of a Southern Vietnamese Prison of War with the intent to raise financing for a feature length film, as a first-time director, with a commercial cinematic release. Short films are a merited forceful path to finance a film and showcase ones work as a director and/or producer for other films.
The first title we see on screen is "Me, My Meds & Mother - Based on Actual Events" What inspired this wonderful story?
Galvanized by my formative years in the film industry, and the academy award-winning filmmakers I have worked with, I am able to view real life as a film. For example, the other day I was walking the beach, when I noticed three young men in wet-suits snorkeling, one suddenly popped up and yelled "I found it", as a wave gently crashed over him, he held up his friend’s iPhone! Now don't you think that would make a really fun Apple commercial? Cut to, this was a family with a fascinating and complicated mother daughter relationship many women experience. Everyday I felt like I was walking onto the set of Terms of Endearment or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I was absolutely compelled to write down every moment, and turn this story into a feature length script. Something kept pushing me, and it took three years to write. Over a decade later I wanted to go to the Cannes Film Festival, which one cannot attend unless one has a film entry. It was suggested I edit the script down to a short film, in two days, shot in three, and placed my very first film entry into the Cannes Film Festival, unknowingly, the year it shut down due to Covid, the last minute, the last hour, of acceptance! Thereafter, I entered the ever so fabulous Cannes World Film Festival! My little short has won over 35 film awards. It feels good!
You have managed to show a lot of intimacy on screen, without at any moment provoking unease, although both the Mother and Daughter characters keep crossing the line. What is the reflection, the process behind this feat?
Rehearsal, rehearsal, and more rehearsal!
As a first-time Director and former Actress, what is your approach to Actor Direction? Was there a challenge there? How important is this particular aspect of the Director's task, in your view?
There are intuitive gifts I possess that make me a people person. As a trained actress I respect and understand a trained actor's process, along with supporting a first time performer. Moreover, working with accomplished academy award-winning actors and directors there was much I integrated into my directorial debut.
You worked on a pretty tight budget. After years of experience in Production, what did you learn, and what did you already know to do and not to do in producing your own film?
It was not until 2019 I was encouraged to step back into the industry, and thought there was something I was missing, so, I hired a low-budget film production company to assist. It was a comedy of errors that should have been shot as another film. Two days prior, I still had not heard from the props department, set-designer, or a line producer ergo no call sheets. The co-producer tripped all over set wires (obvious set etiquette one learns by working on film sets), he forgot to hire the cameraman day 3, then decided to play cameraman minus film in his fancy camera!
I was devastated due to the lost footage, but as director Ron Howard famously says “Every film will break your heart at some point”. It was then I decided there was only time to finish the job, danced around wearing about ten hats, in addition to directing ten scenes per day, and slept on set! Imagine the look on my face when they asked me to do craft services too! The reason you see so many of my credits in this short film is because they were that incompetent! I learned there is nothing I am missing, I get the job done! When someone asks you the following question: “What is a line producer?”, that is when you know you are in trouble — very different from a creative producer.
Do you think you will feel like producing other Directors' films again, after this your first shoot as a Filmmaker?
This was my directorial and writing debut. As an experienced filmmaker there are other films I have produced, and countless film sets I have worked on as part of the cast or crew. As long as the film already has financing in place, I am getting paid well, I will be happy to direct or produce any project I feel connected to. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much fun I had directing, and love it! With my decades of experience from actor to producer to now director, working alongside iconic film directors and producers such as Larry Cohen, Sir Lew Grade, Jim Cameron, and more, there is a wealth of experience, and balance, I bring to any film project as a female director, co-director, producer, or co-producer! Not to mention I do make a mean chocolate salt and pepper dipped marshmallow!
It is ironic, the Cannes World Film Festival took notice as there is a quirky and charming French film (work-in-progress) I am ready to direct and produce, yet, we need film financing.
Short statement describing your vision of the post-covid cinema, do you think there will be notable changes?
Post covid cinema has ushered in a new era for filmmakers making it much more acceptable to screen one's film, walk the red carpet, anywhere in the world, all online!
WRITER, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR
Multi-award winning director, writer, film producer, executive producer, associate producer, former actress, and model, Kat Conway is the CEO & director of business affairs for ChiffonFilms.com in association with American Pictures, Inc. a-nonprofit.org. As a film veteran, Ms. Conway has worked closely with acclaimed Oscar-winning to B-movie producers, directors, writers and actors. In her early career Ms. Conway starred, guest-starred, or appeared in films, on stage, television and gained her business acumen working as an executive assistant with top executives at major studios such as Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Raleigh Studios, Warner Brothers Entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox & Writers Guild of America.