Good afternoon, YouthMundees!
This week YouthMundus chatted with actress and filmmaker, Kate Shaw about her life as a Canadian artist living in the US and how she hopes to change the way female characters are written.
Shaw grew up running through the six (aka in Toronto, Canada), chasing her dreams of drama at a very young age. Her first memorable interaction with the performing arts is when she took part in, as she describes, a very Canadian musical theatre show where her age group did a rendition of a song from Anne of Green Gables.
Shaw recalls the other potential career paths she wanted to pursue as a child which included being a veterinarian or a scientist. But then she discovered how empowering story telling could be.
"Comedy is something people need, drama is something people love", Shaw explains.
1. What inspires you and your creative process?
Other art! Going to see other shows, performances, stand up, it’s all a great way for me to get inspired to write the next thing. As well, hearing true stories from people is always an inspiration.
My creative process is usually something along these lines...
Trying to figure out HOW that story can be told. Is it an advertisement? A feature film? A Screenplay?
Reaching out to the people I need to work with in order to make that happen.
2. How does not being a US citizen factor into your art process since you are based here in the states? What are the challenges, if any?
It has been a real fire under my butt! I have this deadline looming over my head of how long I’m allowed to continue my practical training here in the US (ie: be an artist in the industry), so I’ve become a yes-woman.
I say yes to every single job that comes my way, paid or unpaid, suited to me or not. I’ve worked as: a Production Assistant, a red carpet host for the Pitch to Screen Film Awards, a volunteer at Nasty Women Unite Fest, a technical assistant for voiceover casting directors, a model for a hair salon, an actor for spec shoots, an actor for student films...you name it!
Doing a bit of everything is the best way to get more gigs, and that’s what the arts is all about! Until you find your niche anyway. Which I haven’t yet, unless my niche is doing it all!
3. What is the connection between your art and social justice? Why?
I hate that female action heroes are the exception to the rule, that a diverse film set is a rare one. It makes me mad. I learned stage combat so that I can be able to do anything that’s asked of me.
Something I see a lot of in character breakdowns is:
She’s beautiful, but has no idea - Definitely a guy’s girl
Or, the alternative character breakdown:
“(insert lead character’s name here)’s girlfriend”
AND THAT’S RIDICULOUS. It’s boring. It’s been done. It’s a lame narrative that young writers have the power to change. I don’t write characters that are boring and outdated. I truly believe my power as an artist comes in my ability to do anything asked of me as an actor, and my ability to write something invigorating and fresh, which is also funny or fascinating.
I love pushing boundaries. On my projects, I like being a little tongue-and-cheek with norms that people are so used to.
4. What inspired you to pursue your art? What were the challenges you overcame in this?
I’ve gotta credit Monty Python and the Holy Grail. My dad has always loved the Monty Python team, and had a lot of their movies memorized. After I watched it for the first time with my family, my dad and I would just start british-yelling at each other - the Black Knight scene “It’s just a flesh wound!”, the Holy Hand Grenade “You must count to three. Four is too much. Two is not enough. Five is out of the question,” and the killer rabbit “it is behind the rabbit? No, it IS the rabbit!”. Come on, those guys are artists.
So it was watching that, and learning how it made the most money per dollar spent on a film (up until Blair Witch Project), which was so inspiring! These guys were funny and had a camera, and BOOM. Iconic movie, made. Of course, with a lot of work in the writers room and some fantastic improv.
Something that has always inspired me and been instilled into my work is that ability to be creative with what I already have in order to create something wonderful. The Pythons didn’t have a budget for a horse, so they used a coconut to make horse sounds, and that’s WAY funnier.
It may sound like a challenge or a limitation, but I’m a very resourceful gal, so I love the creativity and DIY spirit of filmmaking and theatre.
5. What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists?
The most rewarding part of being an artist is meeting other people who do really admirable work, and trying to figure out a way to work with them! Some of my best friends are incredible musicians, directors, cinematographers, singers, dancers, teachers, makeup artists, and all I want to do is create with them!
Being an artist is hard. It’s really hard day-to-day when maybe the gigs aren’t coming your way, you feel like you aren’t accomplishing anything. But someone on the internet gave some amazing advice, so I’m going to pass it along to you, gorgeous reader: No zero days. A zero day is when you do absolutely nothing for yourself or your career.
A non-zero day is when you do something, anything to push yourself forward. Whether it’s a baby step or a giant step. Setting up coffee with someone you want to learn more from - that counts! Applying to a job (or ten jobs!) counts. Networking with people, filming your own work, writing - counts! It’s really easy to have a series of zero days in a row, and those days suck. Non-zero days are so much more gratifying, and so easy to do. Also, work begets work, so non-zero days are contagious! If you do one little thing to help yourself, you’ll maybe do another thing, and another, and before you know it, you’ve accomplished a huge day!
Shows 'n Stuff!
Escape the Doom!, Kate's first produced film is being screened in November and will be running in the festival circuit. & The Wizard of Oz! Get tickets HERE
Thank you for your continuous support and kindness.
Lots of love, #Team IVA
Interview by Tessa M. Dobrow