Join the ‘Wilderness Quest’ with young filmmaker Kelly Needleman
Embark on a Wilderness Quest with 17-year-old auteur Kelly Needleman. Wilderness Quest is Kelly’s latest short film and it’s totally worth your time. Wilderness Quest is about a teen’s solo journey through a spiritual rite of passage which tragically changes the trajectory of his life.
Young director Kelly Needleman’s Wilderness Quest shines light on the connection between social anxiety and bullying, two very important topics that are prevalent in today’s society.
Kelly Needleman is based in Los Angeles and is definitely making his mark with his filmmaking skills and representing the youth in Hollywood. Kelly has also directed Lucid Visions and A Magical Journey Within.
Be sure to check out Kelly Needleman on Instagram as well as the short movie Wilderness Quest on Facebook and Instagram. Let’s get on with our interview with the talented young filmmaker Kelly Needleman.
Tell us about your history as a filmmaker. How did you start your journey?
I began my journey as a landscape photographer. Eventually I started making films about my travels, which was a natural progression into narrative filmmaking. I have been making films for the past two years.
Who were your early influences?
I am inspired by the passion and creativity of indie filmmaking. I have been fortunate in my life to have been able to connect with like minded artists and many have become mentors guiding me through my journey. I learned so much from these professionals and they have helped me find my way to the filmmaker I am today.
How was working on Wilderness Quest? What did you learn from the experience?
Being 17 years old, Wilderness Quest was my first official short film that I directed. Everyone who worked on the film had a strong passion for the story and had the same end goal. It was awesome to work with like-minded people who truly cared about my project. It was an amazing experience overall and I learned so much throughout the entire process, from pre-production to production to post-production.
Tell us about your career before film.
Landscape photography was very prominent in my life throughout my first two years of high school. I was driven by capturing the beauty of nature and honed my photography skills by learning from other photographers sharing their knowledge and experience.
Next, I found myself traveling to photograph the most amazing landscapes in the world. I became a travel junkie. Traveling to other countries opened my eyes to learning about different cultures and motivated me to share the beauty of these places through my art.
Where did the concept come from for Wilderness Quest?
I knew I wanted to create a thriller film that exposed important topics in today’s society. At my school they offer a course in which students are able to experience a rite of passage through a solo journey in nature, so I thought what if I added the concept of an intrusion of this lone journey by a student who bullies his classmate and has gone to far. I wanted to spread awareness about social anxiety and bullying.
Tell us about your creative process.
Before every shoot, it is very important to me that I am completely prepared. So I take pre-production extremely seriously. One of the main things I do to prepare for shooting a film is creating storyboards. These storyboards allow me to pinpoint every detail in a shot so I don’t forget it when I am on set and distracted.
What tips do you have for new filmmakers?
To be honest, I am still learning everyday and by no means know everything about filmmaking. The best advice I can give is to focus on the process and not the end goal.
You’re very hands-on with your projects. How hard is it wearing all the hats?
Being a director is amazing. I love being able to bring my vision to reality. Though I may be very hands-on with my projects, I welcome a collaborative environment with my crew. The Wilderness Quest film crew was outstanding. Everyone was a professional in their own field and I learned something new from each member.
What’s your next project?
I am in the midst of pre-production for my film Lost Visibility. Lost Visibility is a prelude to a feature concept. The log line is: Maybe they weren’t as close as they thought they were. Three friends share lucid dreams that bring their secrets to reality.
What’s your filmmaking mission? Name the most important thing you want viewers to experience when watching your movies.
I want to tell stories that evoke emotions and reveal a life message. I hope to do this in the future and enjoy the journey. I know this will take time and I am willing to wait and put in the work.
Can we expect to see any episodic television from you anytime soon?
I am definitely interested in creating episodic television. I am currently in pre-production for a web series that will contain multiple episodes. Hopefully, I will be working on more projects regarding episodic television in the future.
What’s your five-year plan?
Generally, just consistently creating films that I am proud of. I will be graduating high school in 2020. So, I plan on majoring in film production in college next year. Hopefully obtaining my masters in filmmaking in 5 years.
What filmmakers should be on our radar?
There are so many talented upcoming filmmakers nowadays. A few filmmakers I have come across that are very talented are: Jim Cummings, Ryan Connolly, and Miles Levin.