We recently got a chance to sit down with LA based writer, director and singer/songwriter KAT GREEN at the Hollywood Roosevelt to talk about her extraordinary and quite brave journey in the making of her first short film THE BIG SWIM.
Screening at the 2017 IFS Independent Film Festival this weekend on May 7, 2017 @ 7:15pm at the Beverly Hills Music Hall, the film is about a young women Rachel (Kimberly Leemans) who finds out she might have terminal breast cancer and sets our on an adventure to Cozumel Mexico to face her fears of swimming with sharks and inevidably learning that sharks are not as frightening as falling in love.
After vacationing in Cozumel Mexico, Green was inspired by how beautiful and relatively cheap shooting what would become her first film as writer/director, could be. Having rallied up a group of mostly unknowns to her in the business with the exception of one dear friend JARED DAY who helped with casting and also appeared in the film as an actor, Kat set out to produce a film that not only offered an impressive and stunning underwater filming sequence using real live wild sharks, no stunt people or FX, but also did a great job telling an engaging message of hope and courage.
Q: Congrat’s on your success your film The Big Swim! What inspired you to write this story?
A: Well, I knew I wanted to make a romance because that’s what I”m naturally connected to, but I wanted to not just make a fluffy love story but rather make a movie that had something to say. Something that was inspirational, that had a message and something unique and close to me — fear of sharks and the topic of breast cancer woven together. I’ve always had a fear of the critters in the ocean and JAWS was one of my favorite movies that scared the heck out of me as a little girl. I’ve also had a many friends effected by breast cancer over the years and a dear friend in particular that lost her mother to the disease seemed to resonate with me when developing this story.
Q: Tell us about the casting process.
A: I asked a dear friend of mine JARED DAY, who also is talented actor (NCIS: New Orleans), to help me cast the film. We specifically wanted to find our lead actors that both had diving experience. We read many great actors, but when KIMBERLY LEEMANS (Walking Dead) came in, Jared really liked how she might be a great fit for the part. When I saw her demo reel she really was a very talented woman and could be a great fit for the lead part. Ironically, she told us that diving with sharks was on her bucket list which also resonated with the actual story. After we signed Kimberly, we proceeded to build the rest of the cast around her. Originally the male lead of Luca we were looking for was Mexican and had to have dive experience. But we didn’t have much luck in LA merging those two and had to reach out to the pool in Mexico City. But we just didn’t like what we saw in those casting tapes. Then Kimberly actually recommend her boyfriend FALK HANTSCHEL who actually was a real life certified dive master and not to mention an incredible actor (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and The Flash) So it happened to work out just right casting both these amazing actors.
Q: You filmed most of the film on location in Mexico. What was your biggest challenge you faced?
A: With filming in Cozumel, we knew we needed to hire someone on the ground that would be out condiut with gear rental understands the filmmaking logistics with permits, etc. , customs and language. So we found someone that fit the bill, but sadly ended up going MIA before shooting began. So we quickly had to spring into action and become very creative on how we were going to do all this. We winded up bringing all our gear in multiple suitcases down to film. In fact, we had to get much of the crew business class seats because they could bring more bags without additional baggage fees. Speaking of keeping the challenges under control, we really were blessed to have producer MEGAN WOEPPLE on our team. She truly was one of the production teams biggest assets. Not only has she been dive certified since she was 12, but she was a total pro with everything and a brilliant problem solver.
Q: What kind of camera did you shoot the film on?
A: Because we needed to be very moblie and low profile, we shot on the A7S Mark ii camera. Our DP FIORELLA OCCHIPINTI was brought onto the project because her impressive work particularly he awesome ‘run and gun’ style of shooting.
Q: What’s the message you are in hopes the audience will walk away with after watching your film.
A: Don’t wait until it’s too late to live your life–BE BRAVE! Life is about love, relationships and sometimes facing the fear to press on after heartbreaking life experiences. Don’t be afraid to fall in love.
KAT GREEN also wrote and performed the films song BREATHE ME IN. Her music can be heard HERE