Monday, May 21, 2012

Panic Girl-Kate Greer

An actress, screenwriter, producer and fundraiser, Kate Greer's newest work, That's What She Told Me... is taking the indie world by storm. Long before the film graced the eyes of festival judges around the globe, I was privledged to not only see the premiere of the film, but to get a glimpse into the creative process of such a rare genius. A gentle mixture of funny, thoughtful, and nostalgic, That's What She Told a must see. In an era where women on screen cheapen as second rate sex pots in order to appease a mainstream audience, and conversely where many female filmmakers make pieces that are self-aggrandizing to the point where they turn off their audience, Kate Greer's That's What She Told neither. With wonderful writing, masterful acting, and a throwback to the classic age of cinematography, That's What She Told Me....and Kate Greer are not only redfining the genre of indie film but the role of women in the movie business, making the them strong figures and making being a creative genius chic. That is why Kate Greer is this week's Panic Girl.

Kate Greer: Actress, screenwriter, and all around creative genius

1.       What inspired you to make the film That’s What She Told Me...?

This story came from a recurring dream that I would have about waltzing with my father on a sea of floating phone books. I think I wanted a creative way to work out the true fact that I had never met my biological father, and just simply needed to tell the story and get it out of my system.  I was also at a place in my acting career about five years ago, where I wanted more creative control and the ability to create something from the ground up, and telling this story seemed like a good place to start. This particular story had been rolling around with me for a very long time, and I was finally ready to explore it. It was just a matter of do I want to write this for the stage or screen.  I chose the screen. It seemed to work the best for the story. The idea of an artist struggling with the next choice in her life and who is trying and make sense of her personal/creative life really spoke to me.

2.       The making of That’s What She Told Me... took a few years. Could you explain the process and the ups and downs involved?
Yes, it definitely did take longer than expected, especially since it is a short film!  Mostly it took so long due to unexpected budget issues. We had the money, then lost some money, but the director and I decided to go ahead and shot the first part which came in way over budget. Then the financial crash of 2008 happened and people that were planning on funding the rest of the film simply couldn't and pulled out. I had to start over again.
          So it is kind of like we made two films. We shot the first half in 2008. Took all of 2009 to raise the rest of the money needed to finish, and then shot part two in the fall of 2010. A lot of the time I wanted to quit, thinking it would never happen, but I felt such a responsibility to the film's contributors  (250 to be exact), and obviously to the story, the cast and the crew--everyone who invested their time, money, blood, sweat and tears to make That's What She Told Me... happen.

3.       You wrote and starred in That’s What She Told Me.... In addition, you also played a large part in directing, producing, and fundraising as well. What was it like being a female Charlie Chaplin, a woman who wore many hats? How did you manage?
A lot of people say I starred in the film, but to me it was a total ensemble experience. Every actor brought huge insight to their role, and so elevated the story.
I actually did not direct the film. the multi award winning Kim Cummings did, and she was an incredible collaborator on all levels.
Wow. I never thought of myself as a female Charlie Chaplin, but I will take it!  As far as how did I manage--well, I had a very large team of experienced people working with me. Bringing Kim onboard was great b/c she brought her experience and her crew network to my project. I also always had at least one other producer working with me at all times--especially since I was playing the lead role and needed to be able to hand over the producer reins once we got to shooting.
I should give a shout out to the incredible Molly Pearson, whose Producing workshop is where this all started,  and she helped me be able to take one hat off and put another one on.
The key here is surround yourself with a VERY good and professional team.
The fundraising was a whole other beast-I often felt like a concert promoter and event planner!!   I had help from my producer friends and other key crew people and of course Molly's workshop--where we break all this stuff down into managable portions.

Carly North and her boyfriend, Costa the Cowboy, shortly before her meeting with the Ghost of Johnny Cash

4.       Roberta Wallach played a supporting role in your film. You also worked with Arthur Bartow, former head of NYU Tisch Undergraduate Theatre. What was it like working with Hollywood royalty as well as an accomplished theatre educator? What lessons did you learn from this great wealth of talent?

Ha! Roberta = Hollywood Royalty, and yes, the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree! Actually she is affectionately known among the cast and crew as the Grand Duchess of Riverside!--I am kidding of course. Roberta Wallach signed on to the project by way of one of our Producers and co-stars: Rebecka Ray. Rebecka is an amazing acting talent in her own right, an excellent editor/collaborator, and has believed in this project from the get-go. In all seriousness though , working with Roberta was nothing less than spectacular. She is a true pro and it was an honor to work with her, not to mention that she is a lot of fun and one of the most generous actors I know.
Arthur Bartow came to us by way of our director, Kim Cummings. He was also a prince to work with and brought an intense emotional gravitas to the role of Carly's father, Basil North. We were very lucky to get these two well-known actors.

Carly North and a magical moment with the Ghost of Johnny Cash.

5.      Can That’s What She Told Me..  be purchased online? If so, where and how?
Not yet, as we are hot on the festival trail, but in 2013 we will be seeking out distribution/online viewing opportunities.

6.   That’s What She Told Me… is now being screened at festivals. What are some of the festivals it is being shown in? Are you planning on making any red carpet appearances?
Why yes we are!!! We just played the Connecticut Film Festival in April and are official selections of the Long Island International Film Expo in July in Belmore, Long lsland where we are up for Best Director and Best Short, and The New York International Film Festival in August--right in Times Square--and yes there will be a red carpet there! We are all very jazzed about it. We continue to submit to many festivals and are looking forward to screening at many more here and abroad!

7. You filmed an underwater scene in That’s What She Told Me… That was some awesome filmmaking. What were some of the challenges associated with filming underwater? Can you give away your secret or is it a cinema secret you are taking to the grave?

Ah, the underwater scene! One of my favorites in the film. Yes, it was incredible thanks to the amazing Art Dept. we had, led by Jennifer Breen, and shot by the uber talent Cinematographer, Christina Voros (named one of 25 filmmakers to Watch in Filmmaker Magazine). Kim (our Director) and I had often said we should have documented the experience. We shot the film in a pool in Queens, and they needed to make it look like a pond.  The art department took giant bolts of fabric and lined the deep end of the pool to make it look darker, like a pond. They would tie weights to the fabric and dive down to the bottom of the pool to secure it. It was Incredible. Then Christina (DP) had a water-proof box that the camera would stay in to get the underwater stuff. There were all kinds of vines, flowers and phone books swirling about in the water. It really was spectacular and scary at the same time, as I did my own stunts and almost drowned!

8. If you could give one piece of advice to young women, what would it be?

Get into a good school. Study your craft. Surround yourself with good people and help each other out. . Just GO FOR IT! Do what makes you happy and if you have a story to tell, tell it. We need more female voices in the world of film and T.V.  We want to hear yours!

Johnny Cash, on location, filming, That's What She Told Me...

9.  If you could work with any famous Hollywood legend alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Calli Khouri-Not a legend per se, but wrote one of my all time favorite movies. Thelma and Louise and she won an oscar for it!
I always wanted to work with Robert Altman (director of SORT CUTS and NASHVILLE). He was a brilliant filmmaker with a strong point of view.
The Cohen Brothers. O Brother Where art Thou is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the surreality they always seem to infuse in their films.

Sissy Spacek and Susan Sarandon.
Roberta Wallach as Stella LaRue, the woman with the snake tattoo and answers

10.   What is this Panic Girl’s idea of a dream date?

Flowers, a candle light dinner and plans of a trip to Cannes or Venice!
Poster Jacket for That's What She Told Me....

Panic Girl Stats
Name: Kate Greer
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Status: Single
Sign: Aries
Height: Tall enough
Weight: Liberated, educated, and hitting those Hollywood so-called heavyweights in the metaphorical way

Photos by Vesta Goodarz

 Facebook Page for That's What She Told Me.....

 Nick of Time Films

No comments:

Post a Comment