Backstage: Making films about subjects people don’t talk about

Katherine Roselli
Katherine Roselli

Katherine Roselli will present her documentary film “OLD?!” tonight at the Varsity Theater as a fundraiser for the Ashland Independent Film Festival. Beautifully photographed and smartly edited, the film includes such local notables as artist Betty LaDuke, playwright Julia Sommer and fitness expert Andy Baxter, plus lots of charming children. The film is refreshing joyous and emotionally compelling. I met Roselli at the Boulevard CafĂ© in Ashland.

EH: What is your process of movie making?

KR: I go out with my camera, use natural light, have the concept and do the interviews. But I could not make a movie without my stellar editor, Claudia Ballard; my sound engineer, James Abdo; and Steve Brown, who color corrects and make the DVDs. I put it all together, but they make it a movie.

EH: Your previous movie was about breathing?

KR: It was called “Breath in Three Verses.” What I realize is that I’m drawn to subjects that illuminate things that we don’t always talk about. Obviously, we breathe all day long, but are we that conscious of our breath? We age every moment of every day, but do we really pay attention? I’m attracted to those subjects.

“Old?!” is my first feature film. There is a short film called “Portrait of Isabelle” about a young girl with Rhett Syndrome. She’s non-verbal and very disabled, but she really has a lot of joy in living. I wanted to share her story. I also made a film called “Free Voice – Free Spirit” about Mona Wilson who is a master voice teacher here in Southern Oregon.

EH: How did you get into movie making?

KR: I was a pediatric physical therapist, and I’ve always enjoyed photography and film. After I retired, I started taking classes at the local community college in Weed, where I was living at the time. I took courses in TV studio, audio and directing. It got me going. I just kept having ideas and making basically a film a year for the past four years.

EH: How do you finance your films?

KR: There is a category called zero-sum filmmaking, which means they are self-financed. My films cost between $5,000 and $12,000, paying for excellent support. Making a film for me has that organic feel. Putting together a team of people that really help out has proved to be quite an organic process.

EH: How long did it take you to do “Old?!”?

KR: It took 18 months of shooting and editing. My process for filmmaking is: I’ll do a sequence and edit it and edit as we go, instead of having hours and hours of editing at the end. That really works for me. Sometimes we have to go back to some of the things that we edited out (because we need it for the flow) but on the whole, that really works well. I’m pretty decisive about, “I’ve got what I wanted here, so let’s use this.”

EH: What does filmmaking give you that nothing else does?

KR: I think that we are inherently creative as human beings. One of the tricks is finding out the avenue. That’s what filmmaking is to me right now. It’s important to nourish the creative process within each of us. It’s very nourishing to the soul.

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