By Ozzi Ramirez
Please join us in welcoming new NYWIFT member Katrina Montgomery!
Katrina is an NYC filmmaker with an affinity for the Bronx, the neighborhood where she grew up and still considers home. Having spent her early years buried in books and engaged with television shows and movies, she eventually developed an interest in photography through a Kodak FunSaver, her first camera. While enrolled in high school and during her undergraduate years, Katrina continued to develop her passion for photography through various courses. She earned a BA in English Literature from The City College of New York and began her career in film as a certified producer at BronxNet, a local public access network in 2016.
From 2016 to 2017, Katrina served as both Director and Director of Photography for Get Away For A Day with Allyshia Renay, which aired on BRIC, MNN, and BronxNet. Subsequently, she was a finalist for the Black TV & Film’s Collective Producers’ Fellowship Cycle, and her short film Quotidian was selected to show at the 2022 MicroMania film festival.
Some of her other film projects include Troutman Smash, Saint Marks, and Two of Diamonds. Currently, she is studying film directing at Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema and will be receiving her diploma shortly.
Katrina spoke to us about her inspirations, using comedy to tackle tough topics, and lessons learned from a successful fundraising campaign.
Tell us about yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!
I’m a filmmaker from the Bronx who loves using comedy in my work because of its viability as a vessel to explore important sociological topics such as racism, sexism, etc.
It’s wonderful when filmmakers can successfully blend multiple genres into one film. When it comes to Two of Diamonds, what aspects do you feel propel the comedic and dramatic elements of the film to work together seamlessly?
I think what blends the comedy and drama in this short film is the sheer absurdity of the situation the characters find themselves in. One of their immediate relatives recently passed and her widowed husband copes by strongly suggesting to his family that they should play cards. His wife’s death is the catalyst for the drama and the ways each character responds to the card playing provides the comedy.
Although it’s imperative that more African American voices are expressed through film and television, the existing canon of Black cinema is impressive. Are there any films or television shows whose depiction of Black culture influenced your approach while creating Two of Diamonds or was the inspiration drawn more from your personal life?
It was twofold; the film is largely inspired by my personal life, but I was also influenced by many Black sitcoms such as The Upshaws, Family Reunion, and South Side.
Some films that inspired me were Dee Rees’ Pariah, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, and George Tillman Jr.’s Soul Food.
For your short film Saint Marks, you launched a successful fundraising campaign that included donations from the hilarious Nick Kroll, Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records), and Kate Tsang (Marvelous and the Black Hole).
In retrospect, what factors do you believe made this a triumphant campaign? Do you have any words of wisdom for filmmakers who continue to encounter red tape while attempting to raise money for their productions?
The film’s premise led to our success in our crowdfunding campaign for Saint Marks. Sheherzad Raza Preisler and I wrote and directed a film that is unlike anything done before that is unique to our experience growing up as alt-teens in NYC. This excited people and compelled them to support us.
One major lesson I learned from that campaign was that you must reach out to everyone beyond your family and friends, while focusing more on building an audience that will follow you and your work. Be persistent in reaching out to people and make your experiences personal. This short was a labor of love for both of us and helped us grow as filmmakers.
What brings you to NYWIFT?
While seeking to connect with more filmmakers in the city, I heard about NYWIFT and the events and opportunities it provides its members. I wanted to be a part of it!
What is the best and worst advice that you received?
The best advice I received is to take it one day at a time; tomorrow has enough worry of its own.
The worst advice I received was to say yes to everything that is offered to you.
How did the pandemic influence your professional life?
The pandemic heavily influenced my personal life since I was furloughed partially from my full-time job. The extra time on my hands drove me to think about my future, and it was during that period I decided to apply to grad film school again. I realized I couldn’t allow my fears and insecurities stop me from pursuing my lifelong dream.
PS: I got in and will graduate soon!
What is next for Katrina Montgomery? Do you have any upcoming projects in the works and/or stories that you look forward to sharing?
Graduation! I have a few projects in the works that I look forward to working on post-graduation.
Connect with Katrina Montgomery on Instagram at @IndieCindyPOV
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