One-on-one with filmmaker and actress Kerri Lynn Miller on her short film 'Awaken Her'
Kerri Lynn Miller is an award-winning filmmaker and actress. Her short films, Awaken Her, which she wrote and directed, as well as Etymology which she produced and starred in have received critical acclaim as well as numerous nomination and awards including Best Actress, Best Script, and Jury Prize.
iFilmFestival: Tell us a bit about your most important film so far.
KLM: “Awaken Her (The Short) is my directorial debut which I also wrote and starred in. In the wake of the me-too movement, I wanted to explore the power dynamics that play out between men and women in business. Specifically, the gray area that most women try to avoid, however, much like the victims of Harvey Weinstein, there are times when it feels like you have to “play ball” in order to get ahead. Many times, shame ends up being the byproduct of these no-win situations and Awaken Her brings this moment to life in an authentic way that allows viewers to have an up close and personal experience.”
iFilmFestival: What were the key challenges making it?
KLM: “The content is sensitive, so my biggest challenge as a director was making sure that I created a safe space to fully express this idea.”
iFilmFestival: What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
KLM: “I am extremely proud of the authenticity of this piece. There is a rawness that is not only expressed in the acting but also in the way it was filmed. My cinematographer, Cristian Andrews and his team (Olha Kaley) operated two hand held camera’s that ultimately created suspense and unease that worked brilliantly within the scene.”
Trailer for Awaken Her (Short, 2022)
iFilmFestival: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
KLM: “Acting will always be my first love, however, I fell in love with storytelling. I realized I had a lot to say and express and filmmaking gave me that medium to do so.”
iFilmFestival: What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
KLM: “I have a new short film, THE LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE, that will be hitting the festival circuit very soon. In addition, I am developing a feature film that deals with the hot topics of Body Dysmorphia and addiction. Benaroya Pictures (MARGIN CALL, THE WORDS, LAWLESS, QUEEN OF THE DESSERT) is producing the film and we hope to move into production later in the year.”
iFilmFestival: What role do film festivals play?
KLM: “Film festivals offer a platform for filmmakers to share the blood and sweet of their creation with an audience. It’s the reward for the effort and love that is put into independent filmmaking. I am so grateful for film festivals because they not only give us a community to connect with other filmmakers but an avenue to create future relationships and projects”
iFilmFestival: What is your advice to filmmakers tackling the festival circuit?
KLM: “It’s important to research festivals and find ones that jive with your genre and your values. There are so many festivals so it’s a great way to find a place where your work lands on the hearts of likeminded individuals. I would also say to have thick skin, as the competition is tough, but if you stay the course you will hopefully find a place that values you as much as you value them.”
iFilmFestival: How do you see the future of film?
KLM: “I think now is a pivotal time in history. Our industry is under the threat of being taken over by AI. These strikes and renegotiations of contracts are vital to protecting the arts. Artists need to be valued for their work and contracts need to be put in place to protect our humanity, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t want AI creating the art that my heart relies upon to heal and connect. This space is for those who have souls and hearts. I support the WGA and any other union, that is willing to fight not only for fair wages but more importantly, our humanity.”
iFilmFestival: Which filmmaker do you admire and why?
KLM: “Greta Gerwig and Patty Jenkins are two filmmakers that I admire. Greta has such a fresh, feminist take on films like LITTLE WOMAN and LADY BIRD. I also admire that she not only directs, but writes too. I am looking forward to see what she did with BARBIE. Patty Jenkins, is another filmmaker that I admire that also writes. I was first drawn to her work on MONSTER because I loved how she wrote “Aileen Wuornos” with both vulnerability and strength in a way I hadn’t seen female characters portrayed in the past. She directs with a sense of truth and brings out a visceral rawness that I appreciate.”
iFilmFestival: What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
KLM: “Ha! Well most of the films I have watched lately are a mix between Jurassic Park and Marvel movies thanks to my ten-year-old son. The last film that I watched in my movie club was DON’T WORRY DARLING. I appreciated how Olivia Wilde took a popular topic and made it fresh and her feminist take was inspiring as well.”
iFilmFestival: Thank you Kerri Lynn for answering our questions!
Interview by iFilmFestival on June 13, 2023.