January 10, 2010

Budding Racine filmmaker needs our votes

UPDATE, Jan. 21: Close, but no cigar. The winners have been announced, and Kat Clark isn't among them -- although she was encouraged to see a clip from her entry used in the finalists announcement video and promises to keep working on film projects.

A budding filmmaker from Racine needs our help in winning the opportunity to film a short movie in New Zealand for Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which earned something like $3 billion and 17 Academy Awards. (No pressure.)

Kat Clark, a 2008 graduate of the Prairie School (she edited the yearbook) and now a college student, has written a screenplay and made a short video clip as part of her entry for Jackson's 100% Pure New Zealand Your Big Break competition. Five of the hundreds of worldwide entrants -- four chosen by a panel of Academy Award-winning filmmakers and one by the popular vote (which is where you come in!) -- will receive $75,000 to make their three-minute movie in New Zealand.

Clark, 20, is a sophomore at Swarthmore studying English literature, photography and film production; she hopes one day to be a film director. "I've loved writing and film since I was a little kid, so it seems natural for me to go out and make my own movies," she says. "Other girls would imagine getting an Academy Award for Best Actress, but I wanted the Oscar for Best Director or Best Screenplay."

She wrote in her entry that filmmaking "has been my passion since the age of 14, when I started directing shorts with whatever resources I could find... and it is my dream to keep doing so until I am too old and decrepit to handle a camera."

She told us, "I think great films have the power to invoke change and to truly move people. I've always wanted to move people that way. I have an incredible drive to do so and I'm not quite sure where it comes from."

Clark said she "stumbled across Your Big Break while searching for film opportunities in New Zealand. "I took a break from the grueling search to check my Facebook, and there in the sidebar was a little advertisement that said, “Come film in New Zealand!” So here I am. Thank goodness for creepy intuitive advertisements."

Clark's entry, entitled Proof, is designed, she wrote, as a stand-alone film, and also a promotion for New Zealand, in keeping with the contest's instructions to write a screenplay that "captures the spirit of New Zealand -- 'the youngest country on earth.' " It is "an illustration of how many people function inside 'the box,' whether that be a job, a way of living or a state of mind -- and how the spirit of New Zealand (and the environment in general) serves as a way to get outside that box." You can read her screenplay and view the storyboard HERE. Besides air fare, a film crew and funds to make the movie, winners will see their films on U.S. TV "and will become famous," the contest promises.

Two young children, a boy and a girl, make up the cast of Clark's proposed film. She writes that she has "a lot of experience working with children," and she does: for the past three summers she has worked as a counselor for the developmentally disabled at Camp Kinder at DeKoven Center.

Clark, knows how tough the competition is, but thinks she has a good shot at being a finalist because of the number of views her entry has received (12,418 at last count, a lot more than most entries) and positive comments. "It's exciting!" she says. "I need as many people as possible to vote by this Friday at 1:59 p.m. CST."

To vote, go HERE.


  1. Best of luck - great work!

  2. Good luck. You got my vote.

  3. Very creative. Wish her the best of luck.

  4. The best of luck to Kat! Even so, my neighbors want to know why the kids from a certain elitist private school seem to get the breaks while equally-deserving youngsters from public schools are ignored.

  5. The following comments are not an attack on a fine young lady and her achievements. Even so, my friends wonder if Carnauba cash and clout helped her to launch her career. (The way that golden opportunities find their way to solvent kiddies whose parents serve a powerful corporate clan irks the heck out of working class Racine residents. The time has come for all of our students to compete on a level playing field.)

  6. Hi, I actually never did film at Prairie. They didn't have it as a class. I used my dad's old camcorder and worked outside of school. At college, I've had a chance to use nice equipment because I work in the media center. My father is a family doctor and my mother is a Presbyterian minister, and they didn't even know I was doing this interview.

    If any kids (at any school) would like to learn more about filmmaking, I would love to talk to them! It's all about hard work and having a passion for what you do. I still have a lot to learn.

  7. PS,
    My career has not "been launched"! At least not yet. :)

  8. It will Kat - just be patient and work hard....you'll get there.

    Good Luck!

  9. Good luck Kat! This is a great story. For those of you who are used to seeing locals getting Master's and PhDs from such powerhouses as Kaplan and night school classes at UW-Milwaukee, Swarthmore is a fantastic school. Just don't try to get a job in Racine when you're done,

  10. Kat - Congratulations,good luck and nice response. Don't listen to the knuckleheads out here. They never have anything positive to say.

  11. If you win, don't call Peter Jackson "my precious". He really hates that.

    Also, do not say "gollom" when you cough. He totally knows what you're doing and doesn't think it is funny.

    If Peter is reading this, then I'd like to say that I'm sorry and I didn't know that hunting orcs on his property was illegal.

  12. i don't understand this bitterness. the very act of entering this contest shows that kat is trying to succeed through her own efforts -- not relying on her rents. it's not like she stumbled across this because she goes to swarthmore and not kaplan, she was on facebook! anyone can enter this contest! i don't understand how anyone with any form of critical thinking skills can read this any other way.

    good job, kat! congrats!

  13. I hope no one is crticizing anon 7:45 (me) - I think this is a great story and I wish this talented, intelligent young person the best! My point was that there are some (many) in this area with dubious talent and suspect (or fake) credentials and it was great to see a story about someone like Kat.

  14. As a former student at Prairie and one who did not come from the "Carnuba Clan" of families, I can assure you that every student at that school was treated the same.

    My father worked for the RUSD and my mother as a hairdresser. Outside of my needing a scholarship to afford to go to school there, no-one treated me any different than the students whose parents had million dollar homes, and the salaries to match.

    If I would have stayed on there, yes, there would have been more opportunities available as the student/teacher/counselor/etc ratio is far far lower than the RUSD. Because of that, it's harder for RUSD students to recieve the help needed to gain admittance to the higher levels of education.

    Has nothing to do with the cost of the schools, more with how much the schools had access to help the kids out. Even as the son of a Unified employee, I was not given preferential treatment in the RUSD either. But the District just can't handle the needs of graduating seniors in their post-HS life because there are just too many kids and not enough funding to allow for more assistance.

  15. Mick W from Pacific Sands is into film maybe he can be of some help

  16. With that face your on the wrong side of the camera! Good luck on either side.