QFR interviews :: Kelly Sebastian

Creating independent film is like sewing a patchwork quilt. As filmmakers stitch together their stories using light and lenses as needle and thread, the product is as memorable as it is personal. Kelly Sebastian’s film, “a gIRL aND a gOLDFISH”, is a bright patch; it is a story of love and loss, forcing viewers to not forget the Queer experience. Surely, this narrative love song is only the first of many stories she will direct and write, and when and where she brings her pieces together, a fresh perspective will be forged, baring witness to Queer life. Kelly, thank for taking the time to speak with QFR.

QueerFilmReview.com: What was one of your defining moments as a filmmaker, a time when you realized making this film was what you had to be doing?

Kelly Sebastian: I have been making films since my later teens. I started with experimental avant-garde forms, that then shifted into documentary works, & a few years later after working on other people’s projects & beginning to work as a casting director for narrative work, I found it was time to tackle the next formula.

I always see my projects through. When I want to accomplish a task…I do it. With ‘a gIRL aND a gOLDFISH’ I knew would be made, but when I would/could make it, I wasn’t entirely sure about. The storyline for ‘agaag’ had been born for maybe about a month, & then the call came that I got the green light to a lender camera from a friend for 2days, that is when I knew I had to make this film.

QFR: Why do you think Queer media matters?

KS: All media matters. Everyone has a voice that deserves the respect of being heard. Queer media has an obligation to provide a vehicle for our voices to yell, shout, speak & whisper.

QFR: What are your favorite films? Queer Films?

KS: I have a laundry list of films that are important to my head & my heart…here are some highlights of Queer Film for me:

Aimee & Jaguar
Brokeback Mountain
The Aggresives
Trembling before G-D
All Over Me
Boys Don’t Cry
Watermelon Woman

Desert Hearts

Also: I am very much inspired by: Exp. Filmmakers like Sadie Benning, Bill Viola, Nam Jun Pak, Doc. Filmmakers the Maysles Bros.& I am very inspired by the directing careers of contemporary filmmakers: Lisa Cholodenko, Mary Harron, Gus Van Sant, John Waters, David Lynch, & The Coen Brothers.

QFR: When did you start writing? What makes your writing important to you?

KS: I have always been a writer; whether it is the boxes of poetry I began writing in my early adolencese, or the words I scratched into inch thick paint on a canvass. If, in specific we are talking about screenplay form, which began about 3 yrs ago.

Writing is an exorcism of sorts for me. It’s the sandbox in which I make characters & words play nice, pick fights, then kiss & make-up with each other. I always carry pen & paper & am constantly making & taking notes. It’s my therapy.

QFR: How have other artists motivated you?

KS: Simple: it’s called inspiration. I have a bulletin board, a ‘think’ board in front of my edit station. Posted on it, there are probably over a hundred different images & or words of other artists.

QFR: As a New York based filmmaker, what do you love about the city? In what ways do you draw inspiration from its energy?

KS: First, I will concentrate on the positive energy here…
New York is wonderfully hyperactive city, the energy is very attainable & easily morphed into positive clear thoughts to whose windows I open for air. I also Know the negative energy & I have been blessed with an awareness to find a solid balance within my existence here to keep the negative at arm’s length.

I love this city because it has taught me to breathe. & when I loose my breath, she helps me to find it once again.

QFR: Ideally, what sort of work do you want to do in the future?
KS: I am going to continue on my paths of artistic expression, which is essentially my job/my work. My art, whether it be directing, writing, casting, or the next new turn around a corner, cumulating into www.ohtheladies.com, my vehicle for driving home & creating exciting & adventurous productions in the future.

QFR: Thematically, what topics appeal to you and why?
KS: A lot of themes appeal to me. I most especially enjoy ‘rising out of chaos’, I enjoy seeing characters 360/180 or even their attempt to do so, I like wordy aggressive dramas & I enjoy mute juxtaposed images, I like extremes & soft lullabies.

QFR: To make Queer movies you need many allies – who supported you during the various phases of making “a girl aND a gOLDFISH”?

KS: My allies during the making of that film, were through & through two people: my co-writer/co-editor Caitlin Egleson & my Director of Photography Sara Heart Bacon.

QFR: As a visual artist, what motifs do you use to keep the film’s aesthetic vital?
KS: A magician must never reveal his tricks…right?

QFR: How do you see your film in context of Queer cinema?

KS: It exists, therefore it is.

– Reviewed by T. Nova