The London Office speaks to: Kara Smith
Award-winning screenwriter, director and producer Kara Smith takes time out of her busy schedule to gives us some insight into her journey of establishing herself in the film and television industry. Though no easy feat, Kara has been perfecting her craft here in the UK, and has garnered international attention for her work. Her short film Life Anonymous was screened at the internationally renowned Cannes Films Festival, which Kara herself was invited to attend, and she is also noted for her work on BBC’s children’s series Rastamouse .
Kara is also the first Bermudian short-listed for the Emmy Peter Ustinov Award.
Here Kara she shares with us what inspires her work, her goals for the future, and her advice for the creative up-and-comers.
In a few sentences can you describe who you are and what you do?”
I am an independent screenwriter, director and producer for film and television.”
What would you say inspires your work the most?
People – their stories, their histories, their complexities.”
What made you relocate to the UK?
Opportunity – both educational and professional. While there has been some movement within the Bermudian film market, there weren’t many opportunities for screenwriters in Bermuda at the time. I wanted to go to university and experience the world and I saw relocating to London as a big opportunity to do that.”
What do you love most about the UK? What do miss most about Bermuda?”
I love the freedom of being able to travel the world so conveniently, I love being able to network with others working in film and television and love being able to spend a day exploring dinosaur bones with my son.
What I miss the most about Bermuda is the weather, the people and the history that comes with being from a community. At the end of the day – there’s still no place like home. ”
Do you ever use your Bermudian heritage/culture as inspiration for your work?
“There have been occasions where I’ve included something that’s inherently Bermudian as perhaps a personality trait to one of my characters or I might use a specific incident as a plot. But I think overall my approach to storytelling is very much influenced by Bermudian heritage.”
What has been your proudest moment thus far?”
In relation to my career, my proudest moment was being shortlisted for an International Emmy Peter Ustinov Award. It’s a prestigious award for tv writers under 30 and to have been shortlisted for that was just awesome. Also they had never considered a Bermudian applicant before – so that was cool.”
Personally, I’d have to say raising my son is an ongoing series of proud moments.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
” I’d like to be a showrunner – which is have a TV series that I wrote and created aired on a network station. I’d like to EGOT (become the winner of an Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar and Tony). But most of all wherever I am I see myself being happy doing what I love. ”
Has being Bermudian ever been a benefit or a hindrance to your career?”
It’s always a benefit because for the most part people remember the Bermudian they met at lunch or at a party – because it’s not something that always happens.
On the other hand there are a few occasions where being Bermudian has been a hindrance – mainly when it comes to experience – there’s a lot that goes on in the world outside of Bermuda and it’s important to make sure you think and understand globally.”
What has your experience been like in the UK so far, in regards to establishing yourself in your field?”
It has been a lot of hard work. The entertainment field isn’t easy and it isn’t an exact science. Just being talented doesn’t guarantee success nor the access to money and connections – it’s a matter of balancing the two in a way that works best for you and what you’re trying to achieve. I spent months working for free to get experience – not just in an office, but also volunteering my skills on set or for a producer. It wasn’t always glamorous or fun but it’s worth it. And interestingly even after all those months of working flat out– I still work just as hard.”
What advice would you give to aspiring Bermudian artists and creative students in the UK?”
Master your craft – and by that I mean, whatever your vocation or talent, respect it enough to learn everything you can about it. Try your best, then try harder and don’t compromise your integrity or vision for anything that isn’t absolutely worth it. Also show kindness – some of the biggest breaks I’ve gotten has simply been through a small act of kindness or generousity.
Probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to never let the success or failure of a colleague or friend be a marker to where you are on your path. I know that’s a bit cliché, but here’s the thing, you’ve got find what works for you – for some that’s a marathon, for others it’s a sprint – but it’s all in good time.”
You were invited to the renowned Cannes Film Festival last year, could you tell us what got you invited, and what the experience was like?” Cannes was cool – basically you have to submit your film and hope they select it for screening – it’s the same process for most film festivals – but the competition is stiff. There were a lot of great films there so be screened among them was an amazing experience. It’s kind of hard to explain the experience – it was kind of like Coachella or some other major festival where instead of major bands it’s major films and all kinds of famous people walking around.”
What can people in Bermuda and the UK expect from you in the near future?”
I’ve been selected for a prestigeous talent lab here in London for my latest project which is a transmedia web series. I’m also working with Lucinda Spurling and Karli Powell on the Berkeley documentary.
I’ve also just completed a new short film which will making its debut in the next few weeks.”
When you tell people in the UK where you are from, what kind of responses do you get?“
Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be on a beach somewhere?”
How often do you hear the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ reference, and what is normally your response?”
I don’t hear it as often as I used to but when I first arrived it was always the reference people came up with when I mentioned Bermuda. My response to reassure them that by my being in front of them”
Where can people find out more about you and your work?”
I’m in the process of launching a website – however I’m also working on a documentary project for Berkeley along with Lucinda Spurling and Karli Powell, so you will be able to see more of my work shortly. Watch this space!”
Swizzle, dark & stormy, or ginger beer?
“Ohh…hmm… can’t I have all of them?”