KATE REES DAVIES
Kate is an award winning director with experience in narrative features, short film, music videos and commercials. She is a story teller, whose passion lies in affecting the audience on multiple levels throughout a project. She has produced or directed 13 feature films and several shorts, five of which have showcased at The Cannes Film Festival. Her 6th short film X-Gen will showcase at Cannes in 2018. Her Feature Film, Altered Perception, has recently come out on DVD in Canada and is looking at a USA release soon.
A directing graduate of UCLA, where she was awarded a scholarship and selected to speak at graduation, her love and enthusiasm of the craft of filmmaking is infectious. While at UCLA her thesis film CELL/PHONE screened at Cannes. She was one of the first independent filmmakers to shoot on 4K with the Sony F65 and as a result, has had some of her work distributed on their 4K TV as part of the media package included in the purchase. She has also won a Telly Award and an Independent Film award for her work.
Coming from an acting background has been a valuable asset, as a director, to get the most out of her performers on set. She has worked at The Weinstein Company, along with Stacey Sher & Michael Shambergs Company, Double Feature Films. Kate also produces her own projects along with features for independent filmmakers. Her organizational skills and knack of getting a great deal can elevate a productions value. She has several projects in various stages of development and is currently working on the animated feature The Ark and the Aardvark staring Miles Teller and Aubrey Plaza.
Kate serves on the board of The Alliance of Women Directors in Los Angeles and is an active member in getting the film and TV industry to initiate more diverse hiring practices and gender parity.
1. When did your dream of becoming a filmmaker begin?
I have always been fascinated with film from as early as I can remember. I loved watching old movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s on TV, all the glamourous costumes and strong female leads like Ginger Rogers, Mae West, Jean Harlow and Judy Garland. This was a world that I wanted in on. For my 15th birthday I requested a cine camera and was thrilled when my wish came true. All my pocket money went on Kodak film and although most of my movies starred my cat Stevie and Sophie the dog, it was fun coming up with ways of putting them in different situations.
2. Why did you choose to pursue producing after extensive work as an actor?
It chose me. I went for an audition for a TV commercial playing a women who was moving house and while I was at the audition, the owner of the removals company said “you seem like you know what you’re doing do you want to direct and produce this for me, I have a budget” Luckily at that stage I had been on enough sets to know what a director did so I rose to the challenge. It was the best experience I had and immediately felt I’d found my calling. I also hired a student female DP on that project, called Zoe White. Fast forward eight years and Zoe just finished being the camera person on season two of award winning TV series The Handmaids Tale for Hulu!
3. What has been your greatest achievement as a producer?
There have been quite a few but collaborating with amazing people, being the first independent producer/director to shoot on 4K and getting six short films into Cannes are probably amongst the best.
4. What made you move to Los Angeles after coming from the UK and living in Australia?
I loved studying and working in the entertainment industry in Sydney, Australia but Los Angeles is the epicenter of filmmaking. My goal is to be working on big budget movies with an all-star cast and Los Angeles has more of those opportunities. Despite the fact it is a bigger challenge in Los Angeles, as I had to navigate visas and a Green card, my persistence has paid off as I applied for the Green card myself and am now working on the creative director of Kung Fu Panda's next animated film starring Miles Teller and Aubrey Plaza.
5. You've had several films screened at Cannes Film Market. Tell us how you first learned of the market and the process and experience of screening at such an esteemed festival.
Before I came into the entertainment business, I lived in the South of France and visited the festival several times. That part of the world has a special place in my heart. To have my sixth film accepted into the festival is an honor.
6. What are you currently working on?
I am currently in development on a documentary; I am also attached as a director to a feature film shooting in New York in October and I am also working on an animated Feature Film starring Miles Teller.
7. How do you feel your experience as an actor has supported your work as a producer?
As a director/producer who is also an actor, working with other actors is a joy. I love seeing what the actors I work with, bring to the table in terms of their performance. I like to create a safe space for the actors to get creative and do their best work. The biggest joy for me is getting them to a place where they push their character choices to the max.
8. What has been the greatest lesson you've learned during this journey?
Patience, this is a marathon not a sprint. It takes years to develop the skills and knowledge to create the stories you want to tell. I am still learning this while living my dream. Each goal accomplished brings new goals and aspirations. Always be open to what’s next and take a chance. If I'd have said no to directing the commercial. I would not be here today.
9. Finally, if you could share some words of wisdom for a young filmmaker just starting out, what would you say?
Be prepared to go the distance, keep writing, keep shooting and keep creating. Do the thing you love to do. Everyone is a storyteller and everyone has a cell phone and access to the internet, so you have a worldwide platform to have your voice and story heard. There is no one way on the road to success, be prepared for diversions and have the courage to keep going and keep believing in your dream.