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Tag Archives: women calling the shots

Thank you NYWIFT for profiling me in the new column “What’s in Your Toolkit?”  Entertainment publicist Margarita Sophia Cortes asked me…

What is the one thing you can’t live without in production?

I LOVE a wipe board.  Worlds are created on wipe boards. Recently I went to a meeting at Viacom, and the conference room had an entire wipe board wall. My fingers nearly tingled as we covered it in color-coded ideas by the end of the brainstorm session. Read More

Death Row Stories explores the fallibility of the ultimate criminal penalty, capital punishment. Told by current and former death row inmates, each episode of Death Row Stories seeks to unravel the truth behind a different capital murder case and poses tough questions about the U.S. capital punishment system. Sundays at 8pm, ET/PT on HLN.  My episode “Body of Evidence” premieres June 30.

I directed two episodes of the series for Jigsaw Productions. This was my first foray into the true crime genre, which I’ve been following as a growing phenomenon over the past few years.  Studies show that women consume the most media about true crime.  There are many theories about why: whether it’s escapism or it’s a way to interact with our worst fears, many people are looking for reasons to why bad things happen. Death Row Stories premiered in 2014, and has since been at the forefront of true crime’s popularity exploring capital punishment in a way that’s more palatable for people who might not think they’re interested in social justice issues.

On the set of “Death Row Stories” for CNN.

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Happy Women’s History Month!

This year Mellini Kantayya and I focus on women making history in our series for New York Women in Film & Television.  Check out these inspirational women!

 

Ai-Ling Lee.  (Photo credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Ai-Ling Lee: first Asian woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for sound editing for her work in “La La Land.”  She was nominated again this year for “First Man.”
 
“Ask for what you want because sometimes people may not be aware of what you are capable of.”
 
 

Ruth E. Carter.  (Photo credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Ruth E. Carter: first African American woman to win an Academy Award for costume design for her work in “Black Panther.”

“Women still have to fight to show people that we know what we’re doing. That change is still in the works, but at least there’s more of us.”

Rachel Morrison.  (Photo Credit: rachelmorrison.com)

Rachel Morrison: first woman nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography.

“I try to see what is at the heart of the story and the character at a given moment, and let story and emotion be the factors that inform the technique.”

 

Jessie Maple.

And back by popular demand…

Jessie Maple: filmmaker, director, editor, producer, writer, cinematographer, and pioneer.

Maple is the first black woman to join the union of International Photographers of Motion Picture & Television (IATSE) in New York.

“You can’t stop progress. You can hold it up for a minute, but you can’t stop it.”

2018 Muse Honorees: Ellen Burstyn, Tricia Brock, Maysoon Zayid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lisa Nishimura. Photo by Flor Blake Photography

For 38 years,  New York Women in Film and Television has organized the Muse Awards annual gala holiday luncheon to celebrate women of vision and achievement.  And each year, remarkable and accomplished women are honored with this prestigious award.

Backstage lineup: NYWIFT Board Members Margarita Sophia Cortes, Rachel Watanabe-Batton, and KOK with honoree Lisa Nishimura of Netflix. Photo by Rowena Husbands

It was my great pleasure to accompany one of the honorees, Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary and Comedy.  With the success of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” on Netflix, this was a full circle moment for me.  We hadn’t yet met when I greeted Lisa at the entrance, and her first words to me were “Congratulations on the show!”  What a classy lady.  Also attending on behalf of Netflix was Zana Lawrence, who played a big role in our series as an EP.
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UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who came out last month to hear Annetta Marion and me talk about show running and directing. We had a blast sharing our stories with you.  Thank you New York Women in Film and Television for supporting women calling the shots!  Special thanks to Roz Murphy and Duana Butler for organizing the event at such a lovely space.

KOK and Annetta Marion, October 25, 2018. Photo: Katrina Medoff


This Thursday, October 25, I’ll be speaking with my friend and colleague Annetta Marion about directing and show running for nonfiction television.  For more information, see below.  It’s nearly sold out!

This intimate conversation between director/showrunner Annetta Marion and director/producer Kathryn O’Kane will highlight the unique roles and creative inspirations of directors and showrunners who bring stories to life on screen.  The discussion will give a behind ­the­ scenes look at the craft of filmmaking, explore culture and creativity in their body of work, as well as allow these producers to share their passions for the work, both on and off the screen. Read More

Becoming the Showrunner of a Netflix Food Series

Host Samin Nosrat and DP Luke McCoubrey. Liguria, Italy. 2018.

When I was 13 years old, part of my allowance came from preparing dinner for the family once a week.  This corresponded to my mother returning to work that same year, so it helped her to have a night off.  I loved it, in part because it meant that I didn’t have to do the dishes, a loathsome duty for the rest of the week.  That summer I also had a steady babysitting gig. The oppressiveness of Tidewater heat and humidity made it impossible to stay outside for very long, so the kid and I were often cooped up indoors with the AC on and the shades drawn. But the mother had a stack of Southern Living magazines filled with beautiful photos of recipes both traditional and fancy.  From those each week I’d develop the menu and add ingredients to my father’s grocery list, which he bought without question. My mother remembers the first dinner – meatloaf roulade with a swirl of broccoli and cheese.  Armed with Jacques Pepin’s step-by-step illustrated cookbook, La Technique, I tried my hand at choux pastry, and voilà, my first cream puff swans were born.
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This summer Mellini Kantanyya and I created #SummerHours, a series about fun books, movies, and television shows by or about women.  The series is running all summer long on the New York Women in Film and Television blog.  Below are excerpts of my TV picks, and you can click on the links to read the full postings.  Be sure to check out Mellini’s picks in her category “Book to Screen…and Back Again.” Read More

NASA Mission Juno Project

I’m thrilled to announce that my commercial reel is now being hosted on the #Freethebid website. Special thanks to the folks at MAKE for making that happen.

Only 9.7 percent of rostered directors on the Adage Production Company A-List are women – only slightly higher than the seven percent of women who directed the top 250 movies in 2016. 

#FreetheBid is an initiative guaranteeing women directors an equal opportunity to bid on commercial jobs in the advertising world. The initiative “calls for brands to encourage their agencies to include female directors in the bidding process and asks production companies to add more women to their rosters.”

The #FreeTheBid website hosts the reels of women directors, both signed to production companies and those without representation. It tracks the work that women do as a result of the initiative and will organize agency screenings featuring female talent as well as events to showcase work done by those who are a part of the platform.

Coca-Cola, McCann, JWT, BBDO, FCB, Mother, Ebay are among those pledging to include women directors in production bids.

#FreeTheBid founder and award-winning director Alma Har’el :

“I’m starting #freethebid so the ad industry can come together and take an affirmative step towards addressing what stops advertisers from working with women directors. I couldn’t have been an independent filmmaker and make the films I love if I didn’t make a living directing commercials. I want to make sure other women filmmakers have the same chance to sustain themselves while being creative and shaping the way women are represented in advertising. We have to start the change right now in the only practical and effective way – let women be heard.”

So yeah, let’s do this!

 

Special thanks to Bill Winters for many of these behind-the-scenes shots and for always making our collaborations look so beautiful.