Filmmaker Fiona Kida reached out to me through this website’s Contact form (after she saw a comment I made on a crowdfunding campaign site in support of a project). She wanted to talk to me about a film she’s working on, “Blue Hour.” In one of our early conversations, she mentioned that “Blue Hour” is a passion project and I said that Support Our #creatives® is my passion project. How cool is that? In our interview herein, Fiona talks about “Blue Hour,” her journey in the film world, and her take on writing and rehearsals. As a bonus, we get to see samples of her work.
Meet Fiona Kida!
1.Introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you got your start in the entertainment industry.
Fiona Kida: Hi, my name is Fiona, and I got my start in the industry from attending USC’s [University of Southern California] School of Cinematic Arts with a focus in Film & Television Production. While attending and working on short film projects, I better honed my craft for storytelling and met collaborators that I still work with today. I was also able to intern at production companies and studios I’d admired during the summers, which gave me the invaluable experience of seeing how it was done from an inside professional standpoint too. Both of these worlds helped guide me to learn how to navigate post-grad, where I kept in touch with friends and the network I had built while cultivating my skills as a writer and working a job as a front desk worker at a notable mini-studio.
2.What types of projects do you produce? What discipline is your specialty?
I predominantly work on dramas, but I just finished directing a short comedy and love to combine the two – they’re necessary acts to show both dimensions of humans. I like to say that as an artist and filmmaker, my personal passion is to tell bittersweet stories that hold a catharsis in their complete vulnerability. It’s those moments where you can laugh through sadness that I find the most moving. I aspire to make work that leaves the audience, actors performing, and myself (the creator) leaving the theater or screen feeling changed, and that they cannot view life the way they had before in the same manner.
And for me, this discipline begins with good writing. Every great film, at heart, comes down to a great story and actors that can make the audience believe it and your vision. Whether I direct or produce, this fundamental work of understanding the story arc, character motivations, and script thoroughly is what drives everything else.
3.What is the “WAVE Grant” and how has that benefited your filmmaking career? Is there anything special about the organization sponsoring the grant that grabbed your attention so that you HAD to apply?
I was gratefully one of the 2021 WAVE Grant recipients [Author’s Note: for Fiona’s film “Blue Hour”], which is a grant formed by Wavelength Productions to support first-time filmmakers. The acronym for the grant stands for “Women At the Very Edge,” and although I’ve been able to garner a lot of experience as a producer, this is my first real production to show my capabilities as a writer and director too.
I cannot say better words for the people at Wavelength; they have only been supportive and without this grant this project simply would not be feasible, or exist. I found their website and the grant last year while doing a deep-dive search for grants that would support short films, and it was surprisingly not that long of a list – but when I found them on some other website I was searching through for places to check out, I knew that my project would be a perfect fit to apply for. Their goal to support up-and-coming female filmmakers to tell their own “great f*cking story” really spoke to me, and I knew I had to apply!
4.Let’s talk about one of your current project-in-progress, “Blue Hour.” Provide a brief logline or plot summary. What is the driving force that inspired you to make this film and what message are you presenting?
“Blue Hour” is a passion project of mine that I’ve honestly wanted to make for a little over three years now. Last year, after the pandemic hit, I was able to take time to bring it into a writing workshop and properly cultivate it to what I have now, going down from about 19 pages from when I started to a little under 8. The logline is:
Mel’s plans to confess her love to her close friend June are soon upended.“Blue Hour” logline from Fiona Kida
The story follows the emotional journey of when you love someone, and they love you too, just not the same way. And the imaginations our mind comes up with when we don’t get what we want. The driving force behind making this film derives from my first real experience of heartbreak based off a relationship that never existed. When nothing happened on the surface level, but so much on an internal level.
What I learned is that there’s a redemption in those moments where you don’t get what you want. Because even though there wasn’t a tangible experience you could call back to, it was still an experience nonetheless that transformed who you are as a person. That you felt something, rather than to have felt nothing. As bittersweet as these moments may be, in heartbreak your heart still breaks open in a way that allows you to be vulnerable to yourself, sometimes more than you could have gotten to had you gotten what you’d wanted.
5.Where is it currently in the filmmaking process timeline? What activities do you have to complete as you approach the production phase?
We’re currently [Author’s Note: This interview is from March 25, 2021] only three weeks out from production weekend! We’ve had to do so much in pre-production, from crewing up, going through several rounds of casting, location scouting, storyboarding the script, coming up with the shot list, getting all of our SAG [Screen Actors Guild] requirements fulfilled, several drafts of the budget – the list is probably four times as long but these are the most immediate things we’ve done, and we’re submitting for permits next!
6.Tell us about your writing process. What is your “definition of done?” Do you make constant revisions to the script up to shooting time?
Writing is a process that could honestly go on forever. There’s always a way you could say a line better, a new idea that just pops in your mind that fixes something you couldn’t see a way around for months, and so forth. It really does feel like at some point, you feel when it’s right to put the pen down. It really is just a gut feeling, as long as you know you can answer your character’s wants and character arc clearly, and what the film is about at its core, and that every beat and moment in your story is enforcing those important elements and isn’t redundant.
Even with my script that’s locked, I can look back now and see spots that are great for reading, but can be better if I visually communicated them in the directing and actions. I already have ideas of where I’m going to make some modifications, but with my current style I don’t find the need to go back to the script, because now I’m in the directing mind set – and although there are some spots and things in the script that I know must be said or done a certain way in order to properly guide the viewers, I must also keep an open mind to some great lines that will come from the actors bringing life to these characters – now we’re collaborating and seeing how much further we can take the idea. Filmmaking’s a bit crazy because, to paraphrase Guillermo del Toro, it’s like preparing for accidents to happen.
7.When we talked in preparation for this interview, you showed me “director’s notes” added to the “Blue Hour” script. Explain the purpose of such notes.
The purpose of those notes was to try and more clearly articulate my vision for how I will translate the script into a moving picture. Each filmmaker comes with their own style and preferences, their own ways to view the script and determine what’s the most important or interesting core to the story, and each of these preferences will greatly affect the outcome of what we actually see on the silver screen. For this reason, I wanted to give more insight to how I will approach this project, and what mattered for me to highlight as the core storyline.
8.When we talked in preparation for this interview, you mentioned the term “very light rehearsal.” What does that mean? How does that compare to what might be done in other projects?
I believe I mentioned that before we had locked in our production schedule, but the way I plan to approach this film’s rehearsal is to take a day for just me and the actors to sit down together and discuss the materials in an open and comfortable manner with each other, just so we can build a strong bond of trust between us. Then I want to read through the script and cover/identify the most important beats, but only take them to 75% as far as I know we can push them – that’s to leave room for them to explore and get that initial first takes of what it will feel like when I push them to 100% and get more detailed about every line when we get to set.
I’ll also try exploring improv scenes where they can just play and be in the moment more so they can feel free to explore different perspectives to the work than I’d even thought of myself.
I say this all because I don’t want to capture the best moments of their acting in a rehearsal day, but when they fully feel the raw emotions of what their character is going through to the max when the camera is present – this is film, after all!
9.What is the most exciting thing that has happened in your entertainment career?
Oh man, I don’t know if I can pinpoint just one thing. There are so many experiences and situations I’ve found myself in that have behooved me to think, “How is this happening right now? How am I speaking to this person, they see me??”
But if I’m to pick one, honestly, it’s that crazy moment when you’re watching two actors with such believable chemistry depict life so truthfully, it shocks you awake. Watching talented actors carve themselves out and bring in an entire other being into them – how naked they make themselves in front of the camera – I am always impressed by that ability, as it admittedly goes beyond me.
10,What other project(s) are currently underway? What are your plans for future projects?
I’m in post[-production] for a short comedy called “Alpha Vagina,” that has an extremely different tone from “Blue Hour,” but was something I wrote, put together, and directed in four days in order to warm back up to directing before I jumped on this larger production. It taught me so much about listening to actors’ ideas and suggestions, being able to improvise blocking/communicate with the DP [Director of Photography], and how sometimes a simple funny idea, as long as it still has a strong emotional core/purpose and arc, can be almost as good as the project you think about for a much longer period of time. It just depends on what each project needs and requires.
For the bigger picture, though, after I’m done shooting “Blue Hour,” I have a feature that I want to revise and a TV pilot idea that I want to write out the first draft for this summer.
11.What do you want to tell our readers that will inspire them?
Persevere – none of us are going to make our magnum opus on the first try, but as long as you keep working on that thing you love and seeking help from people who know better than you that can help guide you, it’s going to work out. You’ll make it, it’ll just come down to how much work you’re willing to put in to actually be as great of an artist as you think you are 😉
12.How can we get in touch with you?
Fiona Wants Us to See Samples of Her Work
Here are samples of Fiona’s work in directing and producing.
The first video is “Tell Me the Truth,” directed by Fiona, an adaption of a scene from “Angels in America.”
The second video is “Party of Two,” and Fiona is one of the producers.
Over the course of one night, Maxine encounters a carefree woman who helps her discover a reason to live.“Party of Two” IMDb
This conversation provided valuable insight into Fiona Kida’s views into what makes a great work of entertainment and how she realizes her vision. I’m glad Fiona recommended the examples of her creative work to augment the discussion.
Creatives out there, if you want me to interview you, please contact me. This will give you exposure to an audience in my “circle,” that you may not have reached before.
To my readers, please provide feedback or questions in the Comments. I would really enjoy hearing from you. And let me know if there are any topics you would like me to cover.
Disclaimer: Although the author has made a donation, solely to contribute finance to the budget for the motion picture “Blue Hour,” he is not being financially compensated by anyone associated with any project mentioned, for this post.
The interview was edited for readability and formatting.
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