Welcome to the latest “Getting to know…” questions that need answering. It’s based on the old Getting to know you threads that I occasionally post on the message boards here on TORn, so those familiar with them will know that the questions can be a little crazy and the answers even crazier.
This month we’re asking questions of director/producer/actress of Born of Hope, Kate Madison.
Kelvarhin: Thanks so much Kate for agreeing to take part this month. I thought we’d start with grammas old favourite…
What was your favourite cartoon to watch when you were growing up?
Kate: I think I probably had a number of favourites. I’m not a morning person nowadays but I remember getting up very early at the weekend to watch cartoons. I really enjoyed shows like The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Dogtanian, Pigeon Street, and Thundercats.
Kelvarhin: What is it about Arathorn’s (and Gilraen’s) story that interests you most, and was this the reason for you making the story?
Kate: I came across this story when reading through the appendices. Tolkien gives us just a few intriguing tit bits and it made me want to know more. Aragorn is a hugely important character who goes on quite a journey from unknown Ranger to King yet we know nothing about him. Somehow this strange guy sitting in the corner of a pub in Bree ends up King. I wanted to know where he came from, what his life was like before he met the Hobbits and what his parents were like. What made him the man he was? I wanted to find a way to show qualities in his parents that would make him the man he became.
Kelvarhin: If you could, how would you incorporate Arathorn and Gilraen into The Hobbit and or the LOTR films (via flashback, perhaps in Rivendell etc.)?
Kate: Well I guess in LOTRs they would be flashbacks or ghostly memories. However in the Hobbit you could always show Gilraen and Aragorn at Rivendell. In a way I kind of hope that PJ doesn’t do that because it’s nice to have my actors unique to those roles. It’s one of the things people like about BoH and why you can watch my film alongside PJ’s. Of course PJ could always cast us! 🙂
Kelvarhin: What is your favourite book, and would you consider making a movie out of that one?
Kate: If you’re referring to other books by Tolkien then I have to admit, shamefully, that I’ve not actually read many of Tolkien’s other books, although I do own a number. For someone who spent many years making a Tolkien fan film I’m not actually very well versed in all of Tolkien’s wonderful stories which I’m always ashamed to say in front of Tolkien fans.
Now if you are being more general than I would love to make a movie about Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern. Also, one of my recent projects was to make a promo about Anne Bonny and Mary Read the two famous female pirates of the Golden Age and I think James L Nelson’s The Only Life That Mattered that explores their story would make a great movie.
Kelvarhin: You have been granted an infinite amount of money and time. Which Middle-earth story would you film/produce next, and why?
Kate: Well as I’ve just admitted I’m not well versed so I couldn’t really say. Tolkien wrote so many great stories but I think I’d be interested in exploring things that he has only hinted at – kind of like I did with Born of Hope. For example, Halbarad is a character featured in Return of the King and I briefly show him in BoH too. It might be nice to learn more about him. Maybe show his quest to gather the Grey Company and ride to Aragorn’s aid.
Kelvarhin: Wouldn’t mind seeing that too, I was always disappointed that Halbarad and the Grey Company were left out of the LOTR films.
Kelvarhin: If you could travel to anytime and anyplace in Middle-earth’s history, where would you go, and would you take Arathorn or Gilraen with you?
Kate: Gosh well there are so many great places and probably a huge amount I don’t know about. The Shire would be a great place to kick back with a beer and good friends, whereas the Gray Havens are probably beautiful. I’d love to visit Aragorn and Arwen and family in the fourth age. If I could bring Arathorn and Gilraen to visit them too that would be amazing. If I had the chance to make my own piece of Middle-earth then I have dreamed of building my own Edoras ever since I saw PJ’s version.
Kelvarhin: You’ve said that your next project will not be Tolkien related, and I am wondering what it will be….can you tell or give a hint? You did such a great job on BoH that I am wondering if the next film will be fantasy based or not?
Kate: I do really love fantasy. My next major project is a fantasy web series called Ren. It tells the story of Ren who is possessed and her face branded by a powerful ancient spirit, which leaves her feared by all who see her. Far from home and hunted by the powerful ruling order of the Kah’Nath she refuses to accept her fate and journeys across the land to discover what she is and if there are any others like her. Joined on her perilous quest by a small band of outcasts, led by the charismatic Hunter, she discovers that the truths she has been taught may all have been a lie.
Ren will tell a serious story with amazing fights, epic scenery, a strong female lead, a splash of humour and fantastic characters we will all fall in love with. I’m really excited about this new project and I hope that you guys will be too. I’m running a Kickstarter for the project, which will go live in a week or so and there’s also a FB page you can like https://www.facebook.com/rentheseries.
Kelvarhin: And, are you considering a future Tolkien influenced film?
Kate: I think any fantasy project I do will be influenced by Tolkien but as getting the rights to make films of Tolkien’s work is so difficult and expensive I doubt I will do an actual Tolkien film.
Kelvarhin: Could you give us some background about your company, what inspired you to start it, where do you find actors, etc.?
Kate: I started Actors at Work Productions back in 2003 when I wanted to start producing work. I came up with the name after an acting class. The teacher mentioned that he loves it when an actor suddenly does more than just what’s on the page and he’d say “Oh, actor at work!” I thought this would work well for me, as an actor wanting to do more. It’s actually not officially a limited company, more a name under which I work, and there’s no team, it’s just me. 🙂 I have just set up an official company called Mythica Entertainment Limited for producing Ren.
Regarding finding actors. I have never yet worked with a casting director so there are a number of places in the UK that I use. Websites like shootingpeople.org, Casting Call Pro, and Mandy are places that I have advertised in the past. I do also use my mailing list and various FB pages to advertise castings.
Kelvarhin: Do you know if Christopher Tolkien watched BoH? Or if Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens have watched BoH and did you get any feedback from them?
Kate: Regarding both of these questions I’m afraid I have never heard from any of these people. I would love to know and I’d be surprised if Peter Jackson has not at least heard about Born of Hope even if he’s not actually watched it. I have a friend currently working on the Hobbit pickups and am very tempted to send her the film to hand it to PJ.
Kelvarhin: You wore many hats for Born of Hope, and according to your IMDb page you have worked behind and in front of the camera, in the thick of production, and in locations. (I’m sure you can guess where I’m going here.) What aspect of film making interests you most, and do you think you will ever settle into a specific role in the production process?
Kate: Lots of people, including close friends, have asked me this question and to be honest I still don’t know. I really enjoy acting but it’s such a hard field to compete in plus it’s sometimes hard to turn my filmmaker head off when acting. Producing and directing is hard work but it’s great to bring a project to life. I must have a bit of a control freak nature as I can find it hard working on a production in a smaller role with no power to change things if I think it’s not going right 🙂 One area that I’ve not worked in much but I do feel I would enjoy is the art department. I love sets and props and costumes. I never studied art but I do enjoy it and I find that the visuals of a project I’m working on is a very high priority for me.
Kelvarhin: BoH was a noble effort. It is true that most professional film makers don’t often have the luxury of following their passion. Even GDT said recently that “your [film] career is what happens while you’re making other plans.” I’m wondering, has Born of Hope made breaking into a film career more difficult, or has it opened some doors for you that were not open before?
Kate: It’s hard to tell really. It’s not like Hollywood has been calling since BoH has been online. I think there are a number of people in the industry who know about BoH even if they’ve not seen it just because of all the publicity we had. Even if people don’t know of the project, being able to say that I’ve made a film that has been seen over 20 million times is pretty amazing and should get some attention when used to promote me and my work.
Kelvarhin: A related question, how were the politics of doing what you guys did (ie an all volunteer feature length production)?
Kate: For BoH it wasn’t really a huge problem. Obviously everyone deserves to be paid for their work but we had such a limited budget and as the film was not commercial and would never be making any money, everyone understood why it had to be non paid. Luckily making a fantasy film and a LOTRs one at that, attracts attention and most people just loved the idea of working on such an unusual and ambitious project.
Kelvarhin: It seems Born of Hope was inspired as much by Jackson’s films as it was by Tolkien’s writing. As far as production design goes, did you envision a film that fit seamlessly with Jackson’s films?
Kate: Absolutely that was exactly the point. The genesis of Born of Hope was right around the time of the Return of the King and Jackson was the person to really introduce me to Middle-earth. The story was chosen to be able to fit with the Trilogy and not overlap characters.
Kelvarhin: If you haven’t already, why not can check out Kate’s film at www.bornofhope.com and follow her on Twitter @ActorsatWork
As always thanks to all our message board regulars, DanielLB, SirDennisC, Glaurung63, Hun200kmh, grammaboodawg and Rosie-with-the-ribbons, for this months’ questions.
If you would like to ask any questions yourself, just head over to our Message Boards, the sign up process is pretty painless. A lead post for questions is made at the beginning of each month on the Main board. Or you can just check Main for each months interviewee and email me your questions at email@example.com.
Till next time from TORn’s resident Tiger.