Making Films with Kate Wydeven
Written by Ndemazea Fonkem
Published Jan. 22, 2018
When she picked up my call, Kate Wydeven was eating baby spinach from the box. This immediately set the casual tone for the rest of the hour we talked. Every question asked during our time together was answered honestly, with a sense of humbleness and humility that isn’t usually expected from others. Everything about her suggests openness. It encompasses this small-town humility that we rarely see as we scroll through our social media.
The first thing I asked Kate was about how her career started. Wydeven has always been an artist. Her journey to directing starts with her acting. She began to act at age five and spent her whole childhood thinking of different ways to express herself best.
When asked why she creates, her response was, “...[I] direct because I love to see the passions of other people combine.” She went on to lament about the geniuses involved in a production, and how the piece won’t come together without each part of the puzzle.
Wydeven directs because she likes to be in charge of her own vision. As an Russian woman, she’s aware of the gaps of representation in her field. Wydeven is strong-headed and strong-willed, and has pushed to make a name and a place for herself no matter the environment she is in, whether it be in the small town in Wisconsin she grew up, or where she is now: Los Angeles.
When asked about her inspirations, Wydeven’s response is immediate: her parents. The Julies are local icons; two older and adorable ladies, both named Julie, who have been together for the past twenty-two years. She credits them for everything, emphasizing that“they’re the reason I’m alive and I’m an artist.” They never discouraged her, and in fact urged her to follow her dreams of film. A move to Los Angeles at eighteen to pursue directing was never on her mind until one of her parents suggested it (to the horror of the other).
Her ideas for films all come from her dreams. She dreams in frames and shots. Wydeven sees differently. Her synesthesia allows her to process the world in a different way than the rest of us, and she sees this as an advantage. Everything she does elicits a visual response. And up until 2014, it didn’t connect with film. After confiding in a close friend about her dreams, he suggested she make a movie. That was the moment Wydeven was reborn as a director. Suddenly, everything she saw, thought, said, or dreamt could be a movie.
As our time together winded down, she left me with this quote: “Nothing that I’ve made has ever been worth making. But I made it. That’s what’s important.” A study done by the University of Southern California in 2015 found that only 3.7 percent of film directors are female. It’s an unfortunate statistic, but one that’s soon to be squashed by Kate and all other female directors with a vision and a passion who we are yet to see. Kate Wydeven is a director; it’s who she is, no matter where she goes.
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