Fast Forward Friday with Kerstin Karlhuber

kk montclairFor this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed Zip Creative client filmmaker-director Kerstin Karlhuber.  Her first feature film, Fair Haven, will have its World Premiere at the Human Rights Campaign in Washington DC on April 23rd. 

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

 My first feature film, Fair Haven, is about to be released. It has been several years in the making and on April 23rd it is officially premiering in Washington DC, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. Fair Haven is a drama about a father and son, but it also tackles the themes of acceptance, love and the controversial practice of ex-gay or conversion therapy. We’re thrilled to collaborate with the HRC on our world premiere which will be complete with a red carpet, cast and crew Q&A, and a reception afterwards! Then we’re off on an international festival run and we’re releasing theatrically this Spring. VOD, DVD and TV release dates will be announced soon.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

I actually began writing a similar script in the early 2000s. I put it away for years and then in 2012 my colleague, screenwriter Jack Bryant, and I revisited the idea. We ended up combining an existing screenplay of his and my original concept. Together we came up with this timely and beautiful story we wanted to tell about a young man coming to terms with his true identity in the face of societal and familial pressure.

 Q: Who are your artistic heroes who have had an impact on you and your work?

My “go to” answer is Robert Redford. A River Runs Through It has always been my favorite film and I think my aesthetic is similar to his in the use of landscape and location. The settings of my films always has a big impact on the story line and tone. I see locations, geographical or structural, as a kind of background character that is helping to tell the story.

There are also a number of theater pieces that have made a big impact on me creatively. I studied musical theater in college and from the time I was an adolescent until my early 20s, when I decided I wanted to pursue filmmaking instead, musical theater was my greatest passion. A few pieces that impacted me the most are The FantasticsSide ShowChicagoRagtimeEvitaAnything GoesWest Side StoryOnce Upon a MattressCabaret. I could go on and on.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?  

Well, that’s hard. I’m not always motivated or inspired. There are long periods of time when I’m not motivated or inspired at all! But what I always come back to is character, and character is something we all interact with daily (especially living in New York City). People and their unique qualities or quirks inspire me. I’ll often find a characteristic in a person, even sometimes in a stranger, that I want to explore or weave a story around. Also as I mentioned before, landscapes are important to me. I grew up in Vermont and go back often. I’m always finding new locations there that I want to shoot and sometimes that alone is enough to spark an entire concept.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I’m in development on a narrative feature film that deals with the immigration issue in this country and I’m also working on a limited series featuring several strong female leads. In my next project it is important to me to tell the story of an empowered female character.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

I’m going to the Cannes Film Festival in May. Fair Haven will be featured at Le Marche du Film and I’ll be attending with our international sales agents. This is a real “pinch me” moment, an example of something I hoped for, envisioned and will now experience in person.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I would be directing big budget films. My dream is to direct a project where money and time are not obstacles. I know that money and time are ALWAYS an obstacle no matter the budget, but my goal now is to transition from low budget projects to a much bigger budget scenario next time around.

Q: What has been your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

I think the balance of making a living but also having the space in my life to develop and realize projects is my biggest obstacle. There is not only a time constraint issue, but also a lack of motivation when I’m working too hard on client projects. Often the last thing I want to do is sit down to write, edit or even step foot on set when I’m doing those things for clients day to day. The short film I directed in 2012, Legacy Cleaning, was 12 minutes long. It took me a year to edit it. At the time I was editing almost daily to make a living and in my free time I couldn’t stomach staring at my editing software for another moment.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I’m talking a lot about Vermont, but I usually clear my schedule to spend a few weeks at a time in the Fall and in the Spring to disconnect and go up North to get creative.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

I would love to let go of the anxieties I have around my career. The more I achieve the less I feel anxious, but if I could go with the flow I’d be better for it.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

I can’t unwind and watch anything narrative. I’m constantly analyzing. So, as much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s reality TV. If I’m super stressed and need to zone out, I’ve been known to binge on Bravo.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Speaking of anxiety, I would tell my younger self to let go of all of it, and it will all be OK. There’s no need to panic and things will unfold the way they are supposed to unfold.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Vermont again. My ideal would be to split my time evenly between Vermont and NYC. I need each place equally in my life. I would love to have a farm in Vermont and a brownstone in Manhattan (is that too much to ask for)?

Q: What is your idea of success?

Success in my career means I’m able to keep making films. If there is a way to continually finance my projects and if there is an audience who wants to see them, I think that would mean I’m a successful filmmaker.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

I think I’m happy when I feel balance and fulfillment in all the different areas of my life simultaneously.

Q: Final Thoughts?

Great questions. Thank you!

 

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