As a freelance filmmaker living in New York City, I wear many hats. Not literally (well, sometimes) but depending on the day I might be:
- directing my award-winning web-series Climate Countdown
- FILMING A HIGH-LEVEL EVENT AT THE WORLD BANK FOR CONNECT4CLIMATE
- editing a project for The Juilliard School with Unreel Films
- managing archive content for the PBS documentary Power to Heal
On other days I might be lobbying congress for carbon pricing as a volunteer for Citizens' Climate Lobby OR advocating for womens' empowerment with CARE
But this 'wearing many hats' thing is not new...
Kaia is a freelance filmmaker based in New York City. She is the creator and director of Climate Countdown, an award-winning web-series that maps out the ecology of climate solutions, and believes in the power of stories to enact change. Kaia is a media consultant for Connect4Climate at the World Bank, filming high-level events and editing videos focused on climate action; she shoots and edits for Unreel Films, working on dozens of videos for The Juilliard School and editing both short films and documentaries; she is the archive manager on an upcoming PBS documentary about how Medicare helped desegregate American hospitals; and creates content for web-series, theatre shows, educational groups, and organizations such as 350.org, Pathway to Paris, the UN Foundation, and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Before becoming a New Yorker, Kaia lived in the UK where she was the lead producer and studio manager at the BAFTA-winning production company ArthurCox. There she produced and production managed commercials, shorts, TV shows and feature films for such companies as Disney Jr, Aardman Animations, the BBC, the UK Film Council and 20th Century Fox TV. Kaia is a co-founder of the non-profit Craft Film Society and a graduate of the University of Bristol.
- Mac & PC literate
- Microsoft Word & Excel expert
- Google drive/docs/sheets expert
- Proficient in Adobe Photoshop and graphic design
- Proficient in Movie Magic Budgeting
- Understand tech specs and competent at transcoding
- Typing speed: 70 words per minute
- Skilled with social media
- BA (hons) in Drama: Theatre, Film & Television from the University of Bristol, England
- Degree in Drama: Technical Theater from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, CA
- Certificate in The Age of Sustainable Development with Jeffrey Sachs at Columbia University
- Certificate in Climate Change Science & Negotiations at UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network at Columbia University
- Certificate in How to Change the World at Wesleyan University
- Certificate in The Power of Macroeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World at UC Irvine
- Certificate in Financial Programming & Policies part 1: Macroeconomics Accounts & Analysis from IMF
- Certificate in Introduction to Neuroeconomics: how the brain makes decisions from the Higher School of Economics
- Trained in Alexander Technique at The Juilliard School
- Trained in Clowning at Busqueda de Pantomima-Teatro in Guanajuato, Mexico
- Studied Spanish at Plateros Spanish School in Guanajuato, Mexico
- Personal Camera Kit: Canon C100 Mark 1, Canon 5D Mark IV, GoPro Hero 3
- Personal Sound Kit: Tascam DR-70D recorder, Rodelink Wireless lav, Rode NTG2 shotgun
- Familiar with: Zoom H1, H4, H6 sound recorders and operating boom mics
- Familiar with: glidecams, sliders, jibs, gimbals
- Experience working on set as a camera op, AC, boom op, 1st AD, and as a 'one-woman band'
- Final Cut Pro X (expert)
- Adobe Premiere (intermediate)
- Adobe Media Encoder
- Been editing for over 15 years
- English (native)
- Spanish (conversational)
- Volunteer Lobbyist & Congressional Liaison for Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL)
- Volunteer Advocate for CARE and chosen for Leadership Summit 2017
- Media Team Advisor for Pathway to Paris at COP21
- Consultant and Contributing Producer at COP21 for Citizens' Voice
- Consultant to Sustainability Media Lab at Columbia University
- Canvassed for the 2016 Hillary Campaign
- Founded a citizen activist group in Washington Heights
- Volunteer at New York Cares
- Experience teaching university students at undergraduate and graduate levels
- Comfortable speaking in front of crowds, on panels, and on camera
- Valid NY Driver’s License, been driving for over 15 years
- Award-winning and published photographer
- Familiar with a Steenbeck 16mm machine
- Experienced traveller & Couchsurfer
- Can juggle balls and clubs
- Professional schlepper
Education & Training
Originally, I wanted to be an astronomer, but that's going way back to when I was homeschooled as a Californian kid. Skip forward to Carpinteria High School where I discovered a love of both theatre and film. During my senior year, I directed the mainstage production of Macbeth and an all-senior-girl production of Steel Magnolias; simultaneously, my brother and I undertook the epic project of creating a senior video that had in it footage of every single student in our graduating class. So epic was it that we missed our final American History exam due to rendering problems, but that didn't stop me from graduating as a Valedictorian. On graduation day I gave my speech and then rushed off to sell VHS copies (yes, VHS) of the senior video to teary-eyed parents.
As a recently graduated seventeen-year-old, I travelled to Guanajuato, Mexico, where I studied clowning at the Estudio Busqueda de Pantomima-Teatro with Sigfrido Aguilar in a month-long intensive workshop. After taking some film and Spanish classes, I trained in Technical Theatre at the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts and was awarded the Jack Shouse Scholarship upon graduation. I have always been a bit of a 'schoolie' so while backpacking around Europe the following year, I started playing with the idea of finishing my degree in England - since they spoke English there and I'd heard they were pretty good at the whole theatre thing. I had a wander around Bristol and thought "Yeah, I could live here" so I moved to the UK in 2007 to study Drama: Theatre, Film and Television at the University of Bristol.
The course at Bristol University allowed me to pursue both theatrical and cinematic endeavours and to my delight I found myself studying screenwriting with BAFTA-winning director Esther May Campbell, Dogma-95 obstruction-style filmmaking with Richard Misek, and Shakespeare with Martin White, an academic advisor to the RSC and the Globe in London. I was one of only five students in my class to receive a First Class degree at the end of the Bachelor's programme and the Drama Department awarded me the John Lavender Award for significant off-screen and off-stage contributions. I was also shortlisted as one of the Top 10 Media and Arts Graduates in the UK, all of which made me feel that my decision to move to England had been a good one.
Film & Television
When the Iraq war began, the only way I found to channel my anger into something productive was by making a documentary about how people my age were feeling about the prospect of war. We went around to college campuses across California and asked young people like us how they felt about the invasion and what they thought the consequences would be. This impulse to use film as a way of interacting with the world around me continues to drive my work today.
From 2010-2014 I worked with BAFTA-winning production company ArthurCox as their main producer and day-to-day manager of their studio in Bristol. Because of the variety of content that they produced, I was able to work in many different styles, including: archive, 2D Flash animation, stop-motion, live-action, CG, mixed media, oil-on-glass and traditional hand drawn animation. Throughout my time there, I worked closely with the Aardman Animation commercials department and produced such exciting projects as the TV series Nina Needs To Go for Disney Jr, the pilot series Storeys of Thomas for 20th Century Fox TV, and sections of the animated feature A Liar's Autobiography for Bill & Ben Productions. More of my work with ArthurCox can be found on www.worldofarthurcox.com.
While working in Bristol, I was chosen to be one of BBC Bristol's on-call Assistant Production Managers, I created 'Making Of' documentaries for Electric Shadow Company and Bristol Film Office, and I worked with Scratchmark Films on the football documentary Kingsmeadow that aired on Channel 4 and ESPN. I have been invited to be on panels in Bristol, Exeter, Venice, New York, Washington DC and Marrakech to discuss my work as a filmmaker. My 2010 short film Looking Forward to Yesterday premiered at Rooftop Films in New York City and my web-series Climate Countdown was awarded the Put a Price on Carbon Award for Best Short Film by the World Bank as part of their global Film4Climate competition. I frequently freelance for Unreel Films as an editor and camera assistant/boom op, am currently working on the PBS documentary Power to Heal about how Medicare was used to desegregate American hospitals in 1966, and recently edited the short films Game Night, Sizemic, and Alistair's Wednesday (NYCIFF, Laguna Film Festival, LA Cinefest, The Open Door).
The godmother of modern American theatre Hallie Flanagan once said, "The theatre, when it's good, is always dangerous" - and I’ve come to realize that that's why I like it. There is a particular phenomenon that occurs when an audience experiences a live performance that speaks the unspoken, emotes the repressed, makes conscious the unconscious – their minds begin to expand and think. And a thinking citizen is a dangerous thing for those who don’t want the status quo to change.
I have performed clown acts in a drained concrete pool in Mexico, spent a fair amount of time pushing scenery around backstage across California, and devised work to be performed on fly floors, in dressing rooms and in all corners of the Bristol University Drama Department in England. At the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts I learned how to sew, weld, paint, mop floors, build furniture, focus lights and call shows; at Bristol University I learned how to devise, analyse, collaborate, contextualise Shakespeare and move like Pina Bausch. In my professional life, I have stage managed large-scale musicals like Beauty and the Beast for PCPA Theaterfest, which included over 500 cues, and touring shows like The Odyssey for Boxtales Theater Company, which used masks, movement, music, AcroYoga, jumping stilts and aerial silks to tell Homer's classic tale.
As a university student, I directed the Brechtian Cradle Will Rock and the musical The Last Five Years along with sitting on the committees for all three theatre societies and producing/ managing theatrical events, shows and productions of all sizes and types. When I was a teenager, I directed my fellow students in Macbeth and we took home the top two awards, Best Scene & Best Performance of the Tournament, at the Henry Kemp-Blaire Shakespeare Festival, a competition between other Shakespeare nerds from high schools all across California. I believe I was the only student director there that day.
A few months after graduating, the University of Bristol asked me to return to the Drama Department to do some teaching for them. Over the next three years I acted as a Teacher and Associate Teacher for:
- MA Film & Television students, teaching “Producing Documentary” sessions and supervising a small group of producing students on their fiction films.
- Final Year Undergraduates, supervising their independent study projects and industrial placements, which included marking final 5,000 word essays and conducting viva voci.
- First Year Undergraduates, teaching “Producing Film & Animation” sessions and editing on Final Cut Pro 7.
I supervised numerous student internships during my tenure at ArthurCox and am currently assisting the Film Coordinator at Montclair State University in organising summer internships for their students at New York-based production companies. I also spent many summers (ten to be exact) teaching and managing Lobero Circus Camp for children aged 8-12 and a few summers at Boxtales Theater Camp that focused on theatre using masks, movement, and music. If you want to learn how to juggle or some basic African drumming rhythms, I'm your woman.
I find that when I have a camera in my hand, I look at the world differently. I find myself hyper aware of my surroundings, my eyes carefully examining the world for what would make a good photograph. Sometimes they find a wall spattered with different colour paint and the forked prongs of a crack stretching across it; sometimes it's a look passing between two people or a moment of affection or anger or loneliness etched on someone's face; sometimes it's a bird silhouetted against a dramatic landscape or a tree lit as if from within.
Most of my photos capture something real out in the world - the magic of photography is its ability to compress an ephemeral moment into a static image that you can visit again and again. From 2015-2016 I was the assistant manager of LA Photo Party East, an event photography company based out of LA and NY, and have also worked as a freelance photographer, placed in several competitions over the years, and had photos published in magazines and in an obscure Italian novel. In the year preceding my 365 days / 365 videos project, I embarked on a 365 days / 365 photos challenge with my brother (also a photographer), which resulted in a self-published book.