Interview with Filmmaker Kristen Batko (A LOVE STORY)

A LOVE STORY was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2020 Female Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Starting at age eleven, I noticed that adults around me did not realize how smart and perceptive people my age at the time/teenagers in general are. Adults dismiss sexuality, relationships, etc. in favor of ignoring it, or thinking that because of their age they cannot have “serious” problems worth worrying about. Also the insidious abstinence-only education just means that teenagers have sex without conversations about how to be safe. I vowed to myself that every year, on my birthday, I would remind myself what it was like to be that age, so I’d never adopt that amnesiac attitude toward the younger people around me. I’m 27 now and still remember as a result. So I made a film with teenagers dealing with problems that seem like only much older people deal with.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

About a year and a half—this film was entirely self-funded and many people were working at a steeply discounted rate or were professionals donating their services for free. That meant we had a lot of waiting around/downtime, but of course we were so grateful to get the opportunity to work with these people at all.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Dark and hopeful.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Honestly, money. I wish there was an “artsier” answer to give, but I think this is such a huge roadblock and obstacle to overcome in indie film and for artists in general. I self-funded, as said, and sold as much of my personal belongings, like a sword, my PS4, and cut back as much as I could in day-to-day life. Even doing that, even having services donated, and so on, there are so many hidden and unexpected costs that come up, and you’ve got to decide, hey, credit card debt or ruin this part of the film? I acknowledge that I am very privileged to have been able to take the risk to self fund, but do wish in general that there were more ways for lower income filmmakers to get in the game, beyond very competitive grants.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Touched! It was amazing to see people have an emotional response and to really understand what the film was about—it does require some interpretation to see how certain things in our protagonist’s life bleeds over into other aspects, so I’m glad people were watching and interpreting.

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Most of it is based on real life experiences, though there are fictionalized pieces to the puzzle. For example, it took me about 8 more years and a lot more bullshit to get to where our protagonist does in the end, but the important thing is that she and I both got there, and people facing those situations can get there too.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Clue (1987). It is just always a funny, feel-good, film. As I mostly write dark stuff I think people
expect something else, but nope, it’s just Clue.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I have really liked my experience on FilmFreeway. It’s nice to have an organized hub for submissions, where you get acceptances, rejections, know the due dates, and can find the best festivals for your project all in one place.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

That’s a tough one! I don’t think I have an answer for my whole life or one song, but I do listen to
a lot of Chelsea Wolfe.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I am primarily a writer, and currently my reps and I are pitching an animated project I’m very excited about. However, when COVID clears I would like to do another short film. Something very contained, one location, an intense conversation.

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