When he’s not making his own art, Austin filmmaker Corey Kline teaches lighting design at the Austin School of Film. We got a chance to catch up with him to learn about his thoughts on filmmaking, teaching, and his future projects.
Quick Elevator Pitch: Where are you from and what has brought you to this point in your life?
I’m from a small town in Iowa, it’s kinda like the Shire. And I’ve gotten to this point in my life with a lot of luck I guess, like hashtag #Blesed you know what I’m saying? I’m lucky to have great parents and brothers and health and America, you know? It’s great. Also lucky to have a lot of failed relationships, a lot of failed film projects, and peeing my pants in the 6th grade during HomeEc. (@blest)
I know you teach our Lighting Design course, but tell us about your experience in filmmaking. What do you love most?
So like I’ve been thinking about this lately and a part of me is: I love making emotional images and asking ‘how should we live?’ with stories. But another part of me is like: I love shiny things, especially if they’re macho or sexy, and I love attention and filmmaking is going to make me famous!!! So somewhere in there is the truth…
How do you approach teaching lighting design?
I really like doing the lighting and making the image, so we’ll spend a bit of time talking about some basics and ideas, but then my favorite part of the class is where we recreate scenes from movies that students like. My hope is that we will learn more with this hands on approach. It’s also a really fun challenge!
Outside of filmmaking, what inspires you to create?
I think deep down, I really want to leave my mark on the world, which isn’t my favorite driving force (it feels somewhat narcissistic), but it gets me outta bed in the morning. Also, films are how I express; how I see life. So often times, I’ll have a really meaningful life experience, and I have this need inside me to articulate that experience in a film.
Going to new places is SO INSPIRING as well. I think everyone should go out and see someplace new. Gas is so cheap! Go! Go now!
Do you have any neat projects on the horizon?
I have a lot of short scripts laying around. Not sure which one I’ll shoot next. I have an outline for a feature film script that I need to write as well. It’s about a father with Alzheimer’s who tells his son to help him end his life, and then the son has to figure out why is father is so hellbent on dying. It’s set in Berlin, so it has a lot of Cold War references.
If 2016 ended today, what would you say was your favorite movie from this year? Why?
Ummm…probably Zootopia, actually. I think it’s incredible what big ideas Disney can cram into an entertaining and kid friendly movie. I liked it so much I went a second time with my nephews because I wanted to make sure they saw it.
Is there a moment, from you experience as a teacher, that sticks out in your mind as ‘really memorable’? Something funny a student said, or profound?
Most of my teaching is with pre-teens, like 9 – 12 year olds. They’re always saying funny and profound things. Everyday before class, I ask the kids how they’re feeling from 1-10. And this week I had this kid start the week with a 9–he’s doing great! And then on Thursday he said 1… So I asked him why he was feeling so low, and he said ‘They put me back on the pills…’ I’m assuming he meant pills for ADD or ADHD, but it stuck with me because it was so honest and real. He’s a really smart and talented kid.
The best part about teaching is that often times I learn as much as the students, I didn’t realize that till I started.
Give me three quick pieces of advice you would have for someone who wants to pursue the creative arts for their career.
Love the work.
Do the work all the time.
Don’t be afraid to tell your own story. I think it’s the only story you can really tell.