When it comes to being well-connected in the film industry, they don’t come much more connected than Film Connection mentor Kevin Sharpley. As the owner of Kijik Multimedia in Miami, Florida, Kevin has worked on projects alongside such industry pros as Danny Glover, Darryl Hannah, Josh Brolin, David Lynch and many others. He’s also chairman of the board for the Miami-Dade County Film and Entertainment Advisory Board, a judge at the Miami International Film Festival, and is even friends with the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But perhaps the best part of all this is Kevin’s willingness to involve his Film Connection students in all that he does, and even giving them film credit when they take the initiative and contribute meaningfully to his projects. In a recent conversation with RRFC, Kevin chatted with us about everything from the importance of networking to his thoughts on mentoring in general, and even took a few minutes to brag on some of his students’ accomplishments. We’ve mined some of the best nuggets from that conversation to share with you below. Enjoy!
Film Connection mentor Kevin Sharpley
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HIS THOUGHTS ON THE MENTOR-APPRENTICE APPROACH AS OPPOSED TO TRADITIONAL FILM SCHOOLS:
“No knocks to traditional film schools—I went to a film school. I got a lot from it…but there’s one thing that I didn’t get from the film school that I graduated from, which is the real world experience. More often than not, especially in this industry, it’s the real world experience that counts.
ON HOW HE STARTED HIS OWN PRODUCTION COMPANY:
“While I was [in school], I really wanted to do real work, so after my first couple of months I got a gig to do a music video. Low budget, maybe seven grand or five grand or something like that. I hired a producer, I just wanted to direct. I hired a whole team. No one did what they were supposed to do, and I ended up doing so many things. The editors that I had they tried to squeeze more money out of me because they had a little more knowledge than me. I’d only been in film school for a couple months. It was just not a good situation.
“My next project, I really pulled my britches up and produced, directed it, sold it…From that point after I produced that second project, I just said, ‘Look, if I can produce a project, let me just start my own production company.’ That’s when…I formed my company to be able to work in that type of environment.”
CHATTING ABOUT ONE OF HIS PET PROJECTS:
“I’ve always been a big believer in storytelling across multiple media platforms, being able to tell the story in time and space. You can tell a story in two minutes, you can tell a story in five minutes, 10, 15 a half an hour, 10 hours or 12 hours which would be a television show—but you can also tell it in the written word. You can tell the story auditorily. You can tell it just visually with a comic book. I’ve always been a big believer in this. We formulated a project to showcase this ability. That project is called The Beach Chronicles. It’s one of- now my company’s bigger projects. It was a small little tiny, baby project and it just exploded.
“That one I wrote as a novel first. My creative director did these animated graphic novels vignettes…We put four of them together, entered them in film festivals, they got picked. That short got passed around to a bunch of celebrities, next thing you know we had all these celebrities on board…We set about actualizing those pieces and they kind of happened organically…David Lynch has his non-profit organization, so the music faction of his non-profit organization had a radio show, [and] they asked us to make a show…We did six episodes. In those, we have everyone from Tommy Flanagan from Sons of Anarchy, Nancy Sinatra, Jimmy Jean-Louis from Heroes…Then the decision was made to do the comic books…so now we’re working with the comic book company and we debuted the comic at Florida Supercon…The list goes on.”
ON THE INDUSTRY EXPOSURE HE’S ABLE TO GIVE HIS STUDENTS:
“I do a lot of different things. I run two non-profit organizations, I’m the chairman of the Miami-Dade County Film and Entertainment Advisory Board…And then I run my production company. I do a few different things, and I have had the ability to involve my students in a lot of different areas…I’ve had students that have worked on projects with celebrities that are in a lot of my company’s projects. I have a student [Rocky Shores] who is a producer on a documentary short that’s part of a big documentary series that my company has [Ayikodans Rise]. One of them is narrated by Danny Glover. The other one, we have footage of Josh Brolin and Diane Lane and Paul Haggis and Madeleine Stowe and Maria Bello, Jimmy Jean-Louis from Heroes…
“[At the Miami International Film Festival,] I had Omar [Johnson] shadow me the entire time, so he was able to do a lot of different things…He was able to have a face to face with Cheryl Boone Isaacs herself. And even though she runs the Academy Awards, she was one of the biggest marketing executives in Hollywood, period. When you have that kind of situation, and you’re able to have a direct one-on-one with the woman that runs the Academy Awards—he had the ability to ask anything that he wanted to ask.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING IN THE INDUSTRY:
“Networking is more important now than ever, than it’s ever been…The industry is changing so much everyday. It’s like stepping on a floor that has squares on it, and then…
Film Connection apprentice Brian Kennedy
with Jimmy Jean-Louis of Heroes