Alumni Achievements: OKC 48'er Signs With Hollywood Management CompanyMonday, July 29, 2019
"Los Americanos" by Dark Horse/Kyle Kauwika Harris
"Set small goals. Imagine you're climbing a tower and at the top is your dream but each step you take to reach your dream, is a small goal. So achieve the small goals and each one gets you closer to the top."
--Kyle Kauwika Harris
It's the dream of many writer/directors all around the world--write and direct your own films, get signed by a big Hollywood management company, and get a deal to direct a feature. Well, for Oklahoma City 48HFP filmmaker Kyle Kauwika Harris, that dream is becoming a reality.
Harris is a two-time participant in the OKC 48HFP. His 2018 film "Los Americanos" (made under the team name Dark Horse) was the city's Best Film winner and screened at our most recent Filmapalooza in Orlando. Since the time that film was made, Harris signed with Hollywood management company Mosaic Management, who manages A-listers like Chris Pratt, Kate Mara, Will Ferrell, and writer Jude Apatow.
Mosaic has been able to get Harris opportunities that aren't generally available to people outside the tight-knit circle of Hollywood insiders, including many meetings with LA producers about some of his spec scripts. One of these meetings with was Craig Perry from Practical Pictures, the Hollywood production company responsible for the Final Destination and American Pie franchises. Perry watched several of the films Harris had directed, including his 48HFP winner "Los Americanos". Perry was impressed enough to offer him a deal to direct a feature film for Practical Pictures, that Perry himself is producing.
We were able to connect with Harris to talk about his experiences with signing on with Mosaic, his feature with Practical, and his advice to other aspiring filmmakers and writers.
Can you briefly give us some background on your writing and directing experience?
I started writing and making films about six years ago but I've been preparing for it all of my life. Ever since I was a kid I've loved the cinema and am always seeking out a great book or film to get lost in. To date, I've written 17 feature screenplays, written, produced and directed a dozen short films and documentaries.
How did you initially get a meeting with Mosaic--did they find you, did you submit scripts to them, etc.?
A couple of years ago, I submitted two scripts to a Hollywood script consultant and within a week I was contacted by him and he suggested that I allow him to share my scripts with producers he knew, and I agreed. Another week or two went by and I was called by a producer named Joe Carnahan who was interested in one of my scripts and he wanted to discuss it further. After being contacted by other producers, Joe recommended that I protect myself by getting a manager, and he introduced me to several different management companies. I met and spoke with them all and eventually went with Mosiac because they supported the writer/director combo work that I really wanted to do.
Tell me a little bit about the actual process of signing on with them--did you go to LA and meet with them? What sorts of things did they ask you about in the meeting?
Yes, I met with them in LA before signing and had several conversations with them too. They were adamant about writers writing though. That's the deal. But they sent my script to an indie producing duo who had just come off the awards circuit with Tangerine. I met with them and they said they were looking for material to sink their teeth into, and jumped into my project. We spent a year in development and are now packaging the film with talent.
Now that you're signed on with them, have you been getting some opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise?
Many opportunities, mostly with producers. My managers chose a few scripts I had written and sent them out over town. I've taken over 30 meetings in LA since but Hollywood is fickle. They aren't buying specs at the moment because of the recent changes in regard to writers and agents. Now, everyone is developing stuff and just rebooting old intellectual properties, making sequels or superhero stuff. Independent cinema is tough right now. Films are either being made for $40 Mil and above or $4 Mil and below.
How did you connect with Practical Pictures?
Craig (Perry) at Practical was the producer who initially took me to the managers. He is also producing my film.
Can you tell us anything about the feature?
It's a crime drama much like Out of the Furnace meets Hell or High Water. It's about a reformed ex-con who returns home after serving ten years in prison to find his family in turmoil. He is forced to do one last criminal act for the criminal who put him away, to save his family.
What about participating in the 48HFP has been beneficial to your career?
The 48 Hour Film Project forces you to think quick and be on your toes when making creative decisions, when otherwise you might have more time to consider your options. It's more of a run and gun challenge but it takes me back to my foundation in filmmaking and allows me to see how far I've come when put under the time constraints of the challenge.
We have many 48HFP filmmakers who also have aspirations to get signed and to get hired--what advice can you offer them?
I always tell filmmakers to constantly hone your voice. It'll help inform the way you do things and help you move faster. Be authentic and don't try to be Tarantino or Scorsese but be yourself and develop your own style. Tell stories that impact you first. Don't try and write or create something that doesn't speak to you.
Also, set small goals. Imagine you're climbing a tower and at the top is your dream but each step you take to reach your dream is a small goal. So achieve the small goals and each one gets you closer to the top. That could be anything. For instance, write a short film, then produce and direct it. Afterwards, write a feature. Then take a class. Tour the festival circuit, network, do film challenges, take meetings, be a producer to your own work. Just always taking those steps.
Where can people go to learn more about you or see your work?
Most of my work can be seen on http://vimeo.com/warrenbros. Austin and Colton Warren are my camera operators and editors on all of my projects.
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