In the upcoming weeks I will slowly be transitioning my Faith Flix focus. I started off just providing a behind the scenes look at filmmaking, but my new focus will be about encouraging film folks to raise the bar and strive for excellence in all that we do.
Katherine Dudley is a perfect example of someone who’s doing just that. Last year at the International Christian Film Festival she went to THE GOOD BOOK screening and listened to Jenn Gotzon sharing afterwards. As a result, she was challenged to take her film passion to a new level and enroll as a full time student at Full Sail University.
Introduce yourself and your role(s) in the film world.
I am the writer and director of the award winning short documentary, THE PERFECT SELFIE. I am also the writer and director of the short comedy, THE BET (in post-production). I was born in New Jersey. I served five years in the New Jersey Air National Guard. I went to college for several years in North Carolina earning a Bachelor’s Degree in TV Broadcasting (1999) from UNCP, Master’s Degree in Trade & Industrial Education (2005) from NC A&T State University, Master’s Degree in School Administration (2008) from UNCP, and currently working on a Master’s Degree in Film Production (2016) from Full Sail University. I have several experiences working as cast and crew on a variety of television and film productions.
When did you first develop an interest in film?
I first developed an interest in film during the summer of 2012 when I had the opportunity to work as a stand-in for Julianne Hough in SAFE HAVEN.. From 2012-2014 I worked as a background actor on several movies and television shows, BTS videographer, and production assistant. I am one of the associate producers for the movie, ADRENALINE. I worked on set as a production assistant a few days and it reminded me of my passion to be a visual storyteller for encouraging faith-based stories.
What led to the switch from Air National Guard to television broadcasting? When I finished my duty with the New Jersey Air National I moved to North Carolina to be near my grandmother. There were a few years in between where I worked several different jobs while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, then I went to college for television broadcasting. I enjoyed working as a substitute teacher during my last year in college. That experience led to a teaching career of eight years. I taught television broadcasting to high school students. I continued my college education with two master degrees in education and became a middle school assistant principal. I worked in that position for seven years.
After having multiple degrees already, what made you decide to go back to film school?
I decided to go back to school again because I had such a strong passion for film, but I knew I needed to learn more about it. I was working as an assistant principal when I decided to sell almost everything I own, rent a room and save enough money to make the move to Florida and be able to survive an entire year as a full-time student.
What has been the most valuable advice you’ve learned from your college classes?
The valuable advice I have learned is to take advantage of every opportunity, especially at Full Sail because of all the hands-on training that is available. During my eight months as a student I worked on two feature films and several short films as a writer, director, 2nd assistant director, script supervisor, BTS videographer, production assistant, assistant dolly grip, grip, art production assistant, set dresser, casting, and set teacher/tutor.
What advice would you give a high school student or young adult considering a career in film?
The advice I would give is to not be afraid to pursue a career in film if it is your dream. Take advantage of every opportunity to be on set, show up early, be willing to stay late, work hard, pay attention and always be available. People say it’s hard to get into the business, but if you want it, you must show others and be willing to take whatever job you can get on a set to get your foot in the door, because it is like family once you get in.
Which do you think is most valuable for a filmmaker – education or experience?
I think they are both very valuable, because experience is educational. A formal education for film is great, but only if it includes real hands-on set experience. It’s good to be able to mess up and learn from your mistakes during an educational process. The learning process never ends. I plan to continue my education while working on set, attending workshops and any other opportunities that come my way.
How important is it do you think for a screenwriter to be familiar with the filmmaking process?
It is very important for a screenwriter to be familiar with the filmmaking process. I am currently writing a feature comedy based off of my short comedy, THE BET. I constantly imagine how it will be filmed as I write. It’s important to be able to write in a way that someone else can turn your words into a visual story. I think it is easier as a writer knowing the process that a script goes through during pre-production, production and post-production.
What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future include going to New York or Georgia to work on film sets. I plan to attend several film festivals for the two films I directed this past year and talk with other filmmakers. I want to help create a feature film based on what I am currently writing. I want to become a part of a film family for faith-based or other family friendly films. I want to work on films that have encouraging messages. My favorite positions that I plan to concentrate on include writer, director, 2nd assistant director, script supervisor, casting, and set teacher/tutor. I hope to get more experience and become known and trusted in the industry for one or two of them. After several years of working on films my ultimate goal is to educate and mentor future filmmakers.
I am very honored to do this interview. I attended the International Christian Film Festival last year with the team from the movie, ADRENALINE and met some awesome people including Jenn Gotzon. The entire film festival, the movie THE GOOD BOOK and Jenn’s workshop encouraged me so much to continue my dream of film, that I went to Full Sail University and started the admissions process. I went back to New Jersey, finished out the school year as an assistant principal and left to pursue a career in film. I was nervous and prayed about it a lot, but when everything fell into place and became easy I knew it was meant to be.