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Q&A With Filmmaker and Director, Keyleen.

How did you get into Filmmaking and Directing?

In terms of career path, I started out working as an assistant (often on the production side) for several commercial and music video agencies before deciding to go freelance. Before that, I briefly went to art school because I wanted to be able to play around with as many creative outputs as possible. This approach still very much informs my decisions as a filmmaker, I love to experiment whenever I can.

I know that life is crushingly short and it would be impossible to live out all of my fantasies and take all these different paths, yet with writing and directing, it felt like the closest I could get to experiencing it.

Why did you start Newler Films?

The main reason behind Newler Films was to be able to put both our commercial and narrative endeavours under one roof.

It felt like a natural progression for us, my partner Jeremy and I have worked together for over 10 years. He’s a true cinephile, it’s nearly impossible to find a movie he hasn’t already watched. The first thing he did was ask me to do a voice over and add music to a short clip he had shot at my flat. At first I thought it was some kind of test but I think he was trying to show me I was already a filmmaker.

What has been your favorite project to work on so far?

We are currently editing our first self-funded feature film, this was a real challenge but it was also an incredibly liberating thing to do. On one hand, it is very difficult to sell a feature that wasn’t commissioned in the first place but on the other, we got to do exactly what we wanted, despite our shoestring budget.

We know how intense it can be to run a company while taking on directing and filmmaking opportunities. How do you and your colleague Jeremy decide on what work to pursue? And how do you delegate the workload between you?

I think we always look for a reason to say yes to a project. Usually it comes down to our experience and what we can bring. In fact, I’d say we actively enjoy being out of our comfort zone and ultimately, we want to avoid being pigeonholed.

As for our workload, Jeremy is a DP and I’ve come up through commercial production, we both direct and edit so I feel we’re fairly well-balanced in our skill set. Sometimes I do find the admin side of things draining but then I remind myself that I’m also a producer and fairly efficient once I tackle something (but please don’t let Jeremy read this).

You said “right now we are focusing on expanding our narrative and commercial work”. What is it about Narrative Film that interests you?

I feel that Narrative Film is a powerful medium when it comes to getting people to understand each other. The current climate feels so incredibly divisive, making films is a way to build bridges and to me, it’s also an attempt to get audiences out of their own echo chambers. We all consume a lot of media and there are so many algorithms to ensure we get angrier as we do and end up misunderstanding each other. With film, you’re (hopefully) pleasantly trapped in someone else’s point of view and it can bring you an experience you wouldn’t have otherwise thought about.

You started the Queer Filmmakers Network which aims to connect, support and champion LGBTQIA+ filmmakers and actors, we would love to know why creating this safe space was important to you?

Just like Bluebird Pictures, I have always felt it was vital to bring marginalised groups to the forefront and support filmmakers from all backgrounds. Being freelance can feel a little lonely sometimes too, so I think I wanted to create a space that could bring these two communities together. It all started by a simple call-out on Shooting People to find out if there were any queer filmmakers out there who would be interested in meeting up, the uptake was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided to make this a permanent network.

You said there’s a big difference between basic representation and truly enabling queer creators to thrive. Are there any Directors and/or Films that you think truly embraces LGBTQIA+ stories?

Absolutely, I think the future is bright for queer creators thanks to so many paving the way and normalising queer characters. Pedro Almodóvar and Céline Sciamma spring to mind (amongst many others!). Sciamma’s debut film, Water Lilies, was like watching my entire childhood play out on screen. Ryan Murphy’s output is also impressive and showed us that stories centered around queer characters have their place in mainstream media. Schitt’s Creek also did this for sitcoms as did Bros for the rom com genre.

When’s your next event and how can people get involved and support you?

Our next event will likely be towards the end of the month, it will be announced via our monthly newsletter. Anyone interested in queer stories is welcome to join, non-filmmakers and allies are all welcome. To join the group and receive future events info you can register on: www.queerfilmmakersnetwork.org.

I am very grateful to Bluebird Pictures for helping us spread the word about the Queer Filmmakers Network. We have exciting plans to collaborate with other existing groups in order to expand our reach and offer support in other areas outside of London.

1 thought on “Q&A With Filmmaker and Director, Keyleen.

  1. I had the pleasure of meeting Keyleen through the Queer Filmmakers Network and it was a great experience. She’s a fantastic artist and collaborator. I’m so grateful to her; I don’t know how else I would have met other queer filmmakers! I very much look forward to all our events and welcome everyone to join. It’s fab!

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