Thursday, 25 April 2013

Interview with Kristy Best

Kristy Best is a seventh-generation Australian of Sri Lankan /Spanish/Welsh/Dutch and British ancestry. She is a writer, teacher, actor, director and filmmaker who has appeared in Neighbours and Home and Away. Kristy also wrote and directed the award-winning short film Something Fishy, is currently working on a web series called Deadheart, but is probably best known as the presenter of ABC2's Feature Documentary show Sunday Best.
    When Kristy popped up on a Comments page, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions.
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•  Where were you born, and where did you grow up?


I was born in Sydney and I grew up in North West Sydney. My mother is Sri Lankan/Spanish/Welsh/Dutch. My father is a sixth generation Australian of Scots descent. His great-great-great-grandfather was George Johnston, who was briefly Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales after leading the rebellion later known as the Rum Rebellion. His  great-great-great-grandmother was Esther Abrahams, a Jewish convict and later First Lady of New South Wales.

•  What kind of a family did you grow up with?

I'm an only child, so I'm very close to my parents. I grew up with my dad's side of the family and have a few adopted cousins from different parts of the world.

•  Where did you go to school?

I finished my schooling at Bradfield College, North Sydney.

•  When did you first take an interest in films/stories?

I always loved watching films but it wasn't until I received the First Time Filmmaker's Grant from Metro Screen/Screen NSW that I fell in love with filmmaking. I had never directed, produced or written before, and it was like a whole new world opened up before me that I can't quite get enough of.

•  What was your first paying job (in any field)?

My first paying job was a Pringles Worldwide TV Commercial which I booked when I was seven.

•  Your short film Something Fishy had a great reception. Tell us how you came to write/make that film?

It was an idea I had that kept rolling around the back of my mind for some time. I had no idea how to take it from paper to screen until I heard about the First Time Filmmaker's grant. I submitted the script and upon receiving the grant was told I would have to direct the piece too. I had no faith in my ability to do that and accepted that it would be a great learning curve. I contacted crew members—some I had met socially and some I knew purely from their work. I brought together a team that were all on the same page, that seemed to understand my twisted sense of humour and my vision. It's still one of the best experiences of my life and I'm really proud of what we all achieved. It was my first short, the actress's first short and the production designer's first short.



•  Last year you appeared onstage in Truck Stop, a story about schoolgirl prostitution. How did the experience affect you?

Truck Stop was a well-written play and an amazing production to be a part of. The entire crew and cast were exceptional and I was blessed being able to act in a production that told such an important story. 
   My character didn't take part in the prostitution. She was new to the country and desperate to fit in. She parties with the girls, gets drunk for the first time, kisses her first boy and feels 'cool' and accepted, until she starts to realise that boys and Katy Perry aren't everything. She wants to be part of something stable and real. Everyone around her is so angry all the time. She questions the point of needing to be wanted by boys, noticed, pretty—everything.
   Then she is rejected and forced to be brave and find her own way. The themes of the play addresses teenage life so accurately. I believe it really encouraged our audience to think about their actions or the actions of teens they know. Lachlan Philpott is an immensely gifted writer.
 
•  You’re currently working on a webseries called Deadheart. Why do you want to make a webseries, and how is it progressing?

I showed the series teaser to a few people in L.A. where I received a great deal of positive response. It's something I still hope to develop. Although people have been impressed by the teaser for the series in Australia I've mainly been met with industry types suggesting it would be easier to turn the concept into a feature film. It has even been suggested that I write the book version first. I don't fancy myself as a novelist and in no way imagine it would be easy to write one. The consensus is we're not doing high concept, big budget webseries in Australia yet.
   I chose to do a web series because I'm passionate about the future of web-based media and I felt it was time we got involved in Australia. There are a few people with big ideas here for the web but we're not producing series like H+ and Halo yet. I'm very keen to make Deadheart. I can only hope it may find a way to be made at some point in the future. I'm thinking about making the teaser public and just letting the series hibernate for some time until I can find a viable means in which to bring it to life. I really hoped to make it a brand-integrated concept. I've secured the perfect developers to make the series interactive, but it's no small feat to secure the kind of budget we need. I'm currently in pre-production on a dark comedy web series I've written called, Chelsea's Luck. I'm looking forward to shooting that and getting back to shocking people with my idea of what funny is.


•  For the last couple of years you’ve been a presenter on ABC2. How does presenting differ from, say, acting in Neighbours or Home and Away?

We're about to shoot Season 3 of Sunday Best. There's just a far bigger crew working on a soap than presenting a Doco show. The one constant is crew are always lovely.

 
•  What would be your preference: Working as an actor in Hollywood, doing a big stage show, remaining a career TV presenter, or directing your own feature film?

Directing my own feature film. Acting would come next.

•  Who has had the most influence on you as a filmmaker?

Probably my family. My imagination has been heavily influenced by the experiences I've had and the exposure I've had to the creative and performing arts from a young age. No film was off limits. 
   I remember my mum introducing me to Saturday Night Fever when I was about eight, and renting and re-renting copies of Back to the Future and any dance-based films, or films with Hayley Mills. (I went through a Hayley Mills phase.) 
   I was one of those kids that was glued to a TV and was happy to watch the same film four times over in one day. My parents both had backgrounds in dance, and I trained from a young age, so weekends were spent watching midday movies with Fred Astaire and Shirley Temple. I loved Elvis's movies and started with the Bond films and found my way into heavier, bloodier action and martial arts films. It wasn't until I finished High School that I indulged in world cinema and can easily say my top 10 are mostly foreign films.

•  What are three things you wish someone had told you about filmmaking when you were starting out?

There isn't really anything. I'm no expert and I am the first to tell anyone I work with that. I always hope to learn from every shoot. I like negative feedback, if someone tells me they love something I'll probably never ask for their opinion again. I expected it to be a struggle, both financially and logistically. So to be honest, what I had learnt to be true from being an actor, applied to filmmaking, except with filmmaking I have more choice creatively and I love having that freedom.

•  What one screenwriting advice book would you recommend to a young wannabe screenwriter in Adelaide?

I'm the worst person to ask about this. I'm yet to read Save The Cat!, which I need to do, and I've never read a book on screenwriting. I sometimes read blog posts on American sites, but I mainly write what I think works, which I know I won't be able to do when I sit down to write my first feature. My tip is, find friends that are writers and get them to read everything you do, from treatment to first draft. Pick people that are honest and critical. Like I said before, I want someone to poke holes in everything.

•  What are your ten favourite movies of all time?
Battle Royale (2000)
After the Wedding (2006)
Adam's Apples (2005)
Festen (1998)
Sin Nombre (2009)
The Orphanage (2007)
End of Watch (2012)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
The Wackness (2008)
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1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

Wow, what an amazing achiever! I loved the fish short, I hope she achieves her dream to create her webseries, I think it will be eminently watchable.