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Kira Bursky on her new project Big Little Filmmaker

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Kira Bursky at All American High School Film Festival.jpg

"The biggest thing I found at Cannes Film Festival is that every single teeny tiny moment is potentially a big moment of networking."


Kira never ceases to amaze me with her enthusiasm and ability to be at the right place at the right time. Her next project, Big Little Filmmaker (due to launch on the 1st of November), is a website and company devoted to young filmmakers and film festivals for students as well as job opportunities for young filmmaking talent and crews.

We wish her the best with her new venture and hope she still has the time to continue making the creative films she's best known for.

Read our latest interview with Kira and if you're between the ages of 12 and 22 go to the link below and add you name and email address to be notified of the launch and other activities.

 

 

Big Little Filmmaker logo.png


Also visit Big Little Filmmaker on Facebook.


Here are some of Kira's recent accomplishments:

Best Emerging Female Filmmaker at National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY)

Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner - Screening of Tree Hugger

3rd Place in the 24 Hour Film Race including Best Editing and Best Sound Design

Best DirectingBest Ensemble Cast, and Best Sound Design at the Seattle 48 Hour Film Festival

Both the Audience Award and the Jury Award for Best Youth Film at the Laguna Film Festival for Tree Hugger

Best International Short Film 15-19 Year Olds at the Brighton Youth Film Festival in England for Hattie

Best Academic Film at the Made-in-Michigan Film Festival for Girly

Guest Speaker at All American High School Film Festival in New York City

Hello From Malaysia screened at The White House Student Film Festival


 


Kira Bursky and Dennis Kim at the All American High School Film Festival in New York.jpg
Kira and Dennis Kim in New York

It's been a while since we talked. What have you been doing?

Kira  So I went on a vagabonding adventure for 8 months and just returned to the Carolinas a few weeks ago. It all began in New York City where I interned in post production for Warrior Poets, documentarian Morgan Spurlock's (the guy behind Supersize Me!) production company.

I worked there for 3 months and learned so much and made many wonderful connections. After that I went to NFFTY in Seattle and won Best Emerging Female Filmmaker. I become a finalist in a competition through San Diego Film Festival and shot [for] Qualcomm a short film called Hattie (which just won Best International Short Film in the 15-19 year old category at Brighton Youth Film Festival in England!) utilizing their 4K-shooting mobile phone.

Then I flew out to Cannes Film Festival where my film Tree Hugger was accepted into the Short Film Corner. Then I went to Spain and finally met my composer who I've been working with for more than 3 years.

Then I flew to Michigan and went on a 2 week train trip with my best friend Abbey from Michigan to Seattle. During the adventure we competed in the 24 Hour Film Race. We ended up winning 3rd Place (along with Best Editing and Best Sound Design) in the world! It was just the two of us in Montana... so we were pretty happy. Then while in Seattle we competed in the 48 Hour Film Festival. Out of about 80 teams we won Best Directing, Best Ensemble Cast (we were actually 2 of the 3 actors!), and Best Sound Design. So that was again quite exciting.

Then I traveled to Vancouver (to meet up with a cinematographer friend that I met at a film festival in Alabama), then Portland (where I volunteered on a farm for a week), then I went to San Francisco (where I united with many film friends), and then ultimately I ended up in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks.

As of recent months my main project is a short film for European fashion eyewear company Massada Eyewear. And this Friday I fly out to San Francisco to co-direct a piece for Tesla. And then next week I'll be in San Diego going to San Diego Film Festival- then in early October I go to All American High School Film Festival in NYC to be a guest speaker- then at the end of October I compete in the Seattle Horror 48 Hour Film Project- then November 1st I officially launch Big Little Filmmaker (my current big big project)- then early November I shoot my Massada film! So Big Little Filmmaker is an online community geared towards young filmmakers ages 12-22. I am extremely excited about this project. That sums up some of what I've been up to....


Whew! Let me catch my breath busy girl. Tell me about the Qualcomm 4k phone. You shot the whole film with a phone?

Kira  Yes! So I heard about this unique opportunity that was through San Diego Film Festival and Qualcomm. They were looking for proposals for 4 minute films that would be shot utilizing their new 4K-shooting mobile technology. So late one night while living in NYC I filmed a video pitch. I was fortunate enough to be picked as one of 15 finalists. So they sent me the phone, I wrote the script and shot the movie! Since then I've submitted the film to a few fests and it's screened in both Minneapolis and Brighton, England. It was quite eye opening to see what could be done with a simple little phone! 

Here's the film: 



What a beautiful film. It is amazing what's available now is such small packages.

Kira  Thank you!

 

Was this shot in Asheville? I think I recognize that bamboo.

Kira  It was shot in Asheville/Weaverville. That's the bamboo forest I used in my film Clean... but this time we shot in the day time. Completely different vibe!

 

I also recognize Aislin Frey-Pax and Faye Foley. Is Blaque Fowler from North Carolina?

Kira  He is indeed!

 

And I see Nicolas Martin who scored Tree Hugger also did a great job on this one as well.

Kira  Yes indeed! So when I went to Spain it was Nicolas Martin who I finally met! He and his wife hosted me for a few days in Majorca. When I was there I got to see his recording studio and he opened up the files to the scores he's done for me. It was fascinating and so inspiring.

 

Kira Bursky in Spain with Nicholas Martin at his studio.jpgKira in Spain at Nicholas Martin's Studio













4K is coming on faster thn I anticipated. Is this something you like to use? Is there more effort/time in editing 4K footage?

Kira  Well, 3 of the most recent shorts I've done (Togetherness [the film I co-directed with Abbey], Tree Hugger & Demons in Disguise) were shot in 4K using a Red. I really do love the quality of footage that I've been able to get out of that. There is more time involved with editing with 4K because the files are so large, so you need to do additional conversions / renderings. But higher quality and more flexibility in post is something I find to be quite worth it.


Kira Bursky at the Cannes Film Festival.jpg
At the Cannes Film Festival

 














What was the Cannes Festival like?

Kira  It was oh so surreal. Every moment was so amped up... and fancy. The red carpet events were mind-blowing and every person you passed had the chance of being a celebrity.

I met my favorite director, Guillermo del Toro... he's the director behind Pan's Labrynth. And I touched Amy Pohler's shoulder after attending a panel for the new Pixar film Inside Out. It was surreal to be in France (it was my first time in Europe) and I thoroughly enjoyed the food and cultural-immersion. I picked up a bit of French. The biggest thing I found at Cannes Film Festival is that every single teeny tiny moment is potentially a big moment of networking. You really don't know who you are talking to and who they might become in your life.


Kira Bursky at the Cannes Film Festival with Guillermo Del Toro.jpg
Guillermo del Toro and Kira at Cannes

 

The photos of Spain are wonderful. That must have been fun. (Tell me about that.)

Kira  Oh wow, yes. It was so inspiring. So my composer and his family invited me to stay with them in Majorca after my trip to Cannes Film Festival. So I stayed in Majorca for about 4 days.

Each day Nicolas and his family took me to a different town. My favorite was Valldemossa. Chopin had actually lived there for a year. Anyways, this town flooded me with profound inspiration. The streets were so picturesque - truly like being in a movie. I had never been to a place quite like it. And every day Nicolas' wife Susana cooked delicious meals. My favorite was probably her homemade tortilla. Speaking of Nicolas: as of earlier today he will officially be scoring my current film for Massada Eyewear! I am overjoyed to be collaborating with him once again!

 

Kira Bursky on set with Wayne Culpepper, Terron Vawter, and Brad Hoover 7.jpg
On Set with Wayne Culpepper, Paul Anderson, and Brad Hoover

The film you are doing for Massada Eyewear. What kind of film will it be?

Kira  It's a short narrative film... with fantasy elements, naturally. It's about an installation artist who is struggling to figure out what the missing piece is to her current project. I'm currently casting the film and will be shooting in November.

 

Do you know how they will use it?

Kira  Not entirely sure yet, but here's the section of their website where they promote their branded content: http://www.massadaeyewear.com/massada_art_projects.php

 

What was Massada's interest in having you make this film?

Kira  I was invited by my amazing actor friends David & Tina to the Massada Film Festival in Brooklyn. (David and Tina are the owners of Bright Star Touring Theater in Asheville. They were the ones who hired me for that touring acting job I had a year ago. David also acted as the lead in my film The Beckoning and Tina acted as Alexis' mom in Demons in Disguise). They had a film there so I came to support them.

I absolutely love the two of them. Anyways, when I was there I met the owner of the company and gave him my card. He checked out my work and then got in contact with me. They were looking for comedic works but also artistic, more experimental work. So I pitched 6 concepts after they told me more about their brand & image, and then they chose the one they wanted me to make- and now I'm in pre-production!

I would love to go back there again.

 

Tell me about how that collaboration works. At what poing in editing does he become involved? Do you hear in your head what you want and then challenge him to make it or does he surprise you with his own ideas?

Kira  Nicolas is the only composer I've worked with and our process goes as follows:

Before I even have a script I tell him a bit about the story. Once I have a screenplay, I send it to him as a .pdf with notes about where I want music, what vibe I want, and any specific instruments I may imagine. Separately I'll give him notes of the overall tone for the film. Once I have a rough cut I [immediately] send it to him so that he has visuals to inspire him further. And once the cut is locked then he can start really working on the music. I am always surprised by what he creates because it is not what I imagined, but rather, BETTER than what I imagined! His music is so unique and so magical.

 

Kira Bursky and Bill Nye at the White House Student Film Festival .jpg
With the Science Guy, Bill Nye at The White House Student Film Festival



I'm a big fan of Tesla cars. What are you doing for them?

Kira  I'll be co-directing an instructional piece. I was approached by one of the top leading instructors in Advanced Extrication (the process of removing a person from a vehicle accident), and he brought me on board to co-direct a video with him. I'm looking forward to seeing how they'll go about cutting apart a car this weekend...!

 





What has Miss Whimsy been up to?

Kira  Miss Whimsy during her vagabonding travels did a lot of beat boxing, vocal improvisation, and throat singing practice. When she arrived back in the Carolinas she began to record some more tunes once again. Miss Whimsy's inspiration is running wild and she would like to release another album hopefully soon... but in the mean time she will continue to release new little tunes.


Kira Bursky in New York City for the All American High School Film Festival.jpg
In New York City for the All American High School Film Festival

 

Tell me about your new project Big Little Filmmaker.

Kira I had an epiphany a couple months ago. All of my passions came colliding together... filmmaking, supporting other young filmmakers, blogging, meeting inspiring filmmakers, etc. I have been working on building the site for my new company Big Little Filmmaker.


What can we expect from Big Little Filmmaker as as website, group, and company?

Kira  When I was first getting involved with filmmaking, film festivals didn't even cross my mind. I just kind of assumed that film festivals were for "professionals" - a.k.a.: people who were older than me. But what I soon discovered is that not only is this not true, but there are film festivals that are specifically FOR young filmmakers out there. In fact, there are many! So one of the exciting features of the website will be curated listing of all of the film festivals out there that are for young filmmakers.

I've met many young filmmakers who are the only filmmaker in their town. This can feel isolating and it can feel like it's hard to find help. A big feature on the website will be the social media aspect to it. On the website young filmmakers will be able to network with one another, ask for advice, find local young filmmakers to join their crew, etc. In addition to this there will be interviews with talented young filmmakers. I've found that sometimes the boost I need to take a step forward is to see that what seems impossible, is possible. These interviews will do just that. There are so many inspiring stories and inspiring bits of advice that need to shared!

The biggest hope I have is that Big Little Filmmaker will help young filmmakers achieve heights that they didn't even see before! I want to help as many young filmmakers as I can to make the films they've been dreaming of night after night, win free trips, meet inspiring people, and live a life full of adventure & magic. Big Little Filmmaker will provide the secrets, tips, tricks and toolkit to do just that.

 

When does the fun begin?

Kira   It will be launched November 1st!  The website is currently a countdown. People can sign up now so that they are informed right when it opens up!


Kira Bursky and Abbey Sacks at the Seattle 48 Hour Horror Film Project.jpg
Kira and Abbey Sacks at the Seattle 48 Hour Horror Film Project

 













Thank you Kira. We wish you continued success with your filmmaking, songwriting, and BigLittle Filmmakers.

Kira  Thank you, Dan!


Kira Bursky portrait.jpg



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