Most filmmakers understand that writing from personal experience can be beneficial when trying to create an honest and believable world. When that personal experience is combined with a passionate cause, the result can be a pretty powerful movie.
At least that’s what Kathy Kolla was aiming for when she started developing her upcoming feature film, World’s Littlest Brat, a comedy about a vegan outcast who stays true to himself despite his negative surroundings. Kolla based this story on her life experiences as a vegan and her strong commitment to environmental sustainability. She’s also taking her passionate cause beyond the script by instituting a green set during production.
Although this marks Kolla’s feature debut, she’s no stranger to the business. With a background in acting (she’s been a SAG member since 1997), her first film, Another Day Another Dime, had an impressive festival run, including an Audience Choice award at the Flint Film Festival.
World’s Littlest Brat is set to begin production in early 2010 with plans to be festival ready by the end of the year. In November of 2009 I had the opportunity to talk with Kathy Kolla, in detail, about her exciting new project. Per her suggestion, we agreed to limit our carbon footprint by conducting the interview over the phone.
WILL PRESCOTT: So, World’s Littlest Brat. Where did the idea originate?
KATHY KOLLA: Well, being a vegan myself for over ten years and caring about the environment, I wanted to make an informative, highly humorous and entertaining film regarding these issues. We came up with a character idea about an outsider who manages to stay true to his beliefs and keep his intentions really positive despite all the criticisms and negativity in the world. I wanted to make something that was informative about certain issues that I care about, but do it in a very humorous, intelligent and comedic way.
WP: Can you expand a little bit on some of the negative things that surround him? Maybe discuss some of the challenges he faces?
KK: Basically, just people who don’t understand him. Not understanding the types of foods he eats and being uninformed about nutrition in general. Also, a lot of people believe that one person cannot make a difference to the environment. They’ll throw away their plastic water bottles, thinking they can’t make a difference. So, we have a lot of interesting facts in this film that really show that every little thing we do does make a difference. If we all can take those little steps, we can make a much better future.
WP: That’s interesting. So he’s going to be dealing with co-workers and parents who don’t understand him?
KK: Yeah, co-workers, parents – just everyone in his life. Trying to make new friends, trying to find love. People who don’t want to change their lifestyle or who refuse to accept someone who’s a little different.
WP: So I assume this script is somewhat autobiographical?
KK: It is a little bit. But you know, as with any movie or script, it doesn’t put out a true picture of life. It gives you the idea of some experiences I’ve been through or experiences my friends have been through.
WP: Do you have a specific premiere date or festival you’re trying to hit, or is this one of those “we’ll put it out when it’s ready” kind of situations?
KK: We want to get on it right away. We want to start post production immediately (after shooting) and we’re hoping to get it done by September and screening at festivals by the end of 2010.
WP: From what I understand, you’ll be using a SAG Ultra Low budget contract. Is that right?
KK: Yes. We’re going to keep the budget under $200,000. We have a lot of companies that are donating products to us, which we’re really excited about. That’s going to offset a lot of the cost of shooting. We have Amy’s Organic Kitchen. They’re offering a lot of vegan, vegetarian and organic food to feed our crew and cast members. Also, Glacia Icebox is offering us bio-degradable cardboard water boxes as an alternative to plastic. People (crew and cast) are going to bring their own water bottles and refill them, but when we go on location or something when we need to have portable or disposable water we’re going to use Glacia Icebox.
Also, whenever we’re not rewashing metal tableware, we’re going to use Eco-Products compostable tableware that is made out of PLA, a corn derived polymer so instead of throwing it away, we’re going to collect all of it and return it to a commercial composting facility, where within 80 days it will biodegrade.
WP: Wow. This isn’t just a film about a person who is environmentally friendly, you’re actually going with a green set.
KK: Right. And we’re not just going to have a green set, but we’re also going to highlight these products in the film.
WP: That’s great. Some environmentally friendly product placement. I like it.
KK: We have another one. GT’s Kombucha. It’s a tea with a lot of health benefits. They’ve already donated quite a few boxes for our crew members.
WP: I’m curious as to what, specifically, made you do a green set? Because you wanted to save some money or it was true to the story? How did you ultimately decide to pull the trigger on doing this?
KK: Well, I have to tell you that I originally just wrote in some of these products that I’m passionate about and that I like myself. I wrote them into the script just to get the word across. Then we contacted these companies and they were more than willing to be part of the project and donate. I originally thought I would purchase these products for props or whatever. Then when they wanted to offer all of this for our set, it actually made it a lot easier and less expensive for us, by offsetting so much of the cost.
WP: That’s great.
KK: We’re doing other things too, just to make it a green set, which also saves money. We’re shutting off idling vehicles. We’re using double-sided photocopying. We’re being selective on the distribution of copies. You know, just doing whatever we can to make the film more earth friendly. Bringing the consciousness to the set as well as to the audience.
WP: I imagine you’ll have some crew and even cast on set who haven’t experienced this kind of stuff. They’re probably more familiar with more traditional and, sadly, more wasteful movie sets.
KK: That’s the main thing we’re going to tell people when we hire them. These are the rules and you really have to follow them, but feel good about it in the process. We don’t want it to feel like a chore. We want them to feel like they’re dong something good.
WP: Are you doing vegan meals too?
KK: Yes. Because of Amy’s Organic Kitchen, we’re going to offer a lot of vegan and vegetarian meals. We’ll have an abundance of that as an option. We’re not going to say that you have to eat that kind of food. We’re just going to offer healthy alternatives.
WP: Good to know it’s not an ultimatum if someone is a die hard carnivore.
KK: [Laughs] Of course not. We don’t want anyone getting light headed because they didn’t get their cheese or meat or something.
WP: As I’m sure you’re aware, indie filmmakers have traditionally had a difficult time getting their projects off the ground. With this recent economic climate, it’s been tougher. During your process thus far, do you have any good advice or inspirational words of wisdom that you’d like to impart to other filmmakers?
KK: Find something or a subject that you believe in and that you’re passionate about — something positive. Focus on it, put all of your energy into it and people are going to see how passionate you are about it and they will want to help out and get involved.
WP: Any other words of wisdom in terms of taking care of our planet?
KK: It’s important to think about the effects that our everyday choices have on the earth. And that environmental sustainability does really begin at an individual level, which is so important for everyone to know. We need to preserve the planet for future generations and remember to do simple little things like recycle, riding your bike instead of driving to reduce your carbon footprint, and eat and purchase organic foods. By doing this, we’re sending a message that we care about the world and we want to continue our existence on it.
WP: And even better when you can involve that mindset in your career and in your passion as you’re doing with your film. Well, I’m really looking forward to seeing World’s Littlest Brat and wish you the best of luck with shooting.
KK: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
For more information on World’s Littlest Brat or Kathy Kolla, visit Cola Kat Productions. If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent filmmaker we should interview, email email@example.com for consideration.