Kala Monet Bradford is our most recent graduate of the Camera Ambassador Apprenticeship Program! We sat down with Kala to get to know her better! Enjoy.
CA: As a Digital Media Artist, Producer, Director, Editor, and a billion other artistic identities, what do you think inspires you and drives you creatively?
KMB: Ah. There are so many things that ignite the passion within me. I think it's having the ability to tell a story that resonates with humanity. Storytelling is the basis for all human connection and connectivity. So, the opportunity to create, you know, anything I want- I think there’s such freedom in that. Art can't be regulated or stifled and it's totally subjective. It's one of the freest forms of expression.
CA: Yeah. That makes sense. The freedom piece is super relatable. So, what drew you towards filmmaking?
KMB: Film came to me in little pieces and then slammed me in the face. I started off out with broadcast journalism and set out to be a reporter. When I went abroad, I learned that there was something so much more profound and deeper about community and people that needs to be tapped into. Oftentimes, the news doesn't really go into emotional storytelling or things that really go in-depth into what people feel and I needed that type of work. I had to do something that ignited that. So, at first, I was working in marketing as the videographer for a school district. I found students who were phenomenal beings - like, I found kids who were prodigies in music, dance… stuff like that. I could see visibly how everybody came together as a community over that one person's story. It's just so powerful.
CA: That’s such an amazing experience.
KMB: Right. So, when I moved to Chicago, I was looking for videography jobs and assisted video editor jobs. I ended up on The Carbonaro Effect as a Production Coordinator. At that point, I had never worked on set. So, it was like getting thrown into the deep end because I didn't even know how to use a walkie or any of the jargon. I knew nothing. So, it started off as me piecing together the whole thing and I got by for maybe a month. Then, my-boss-at-the-time-now-best-friend fired me and I was brought back on by the Line Producer as a PA to learn everything from the ground up. Set was my film school. I knew I loved cameras so I would purposefully set myself up near the camera team and ask questions all the time. I would make it a point to connect with people on set and network. Since then, I’ve worked on commercials in Chicago, national television shows, and feature films. For me, getting into film was like a slope-like progression, but also I was kind of shoved into it. It found me and slapped me in the face and I realized that I really, really, really love this.
CA: Sounds like a crazy education to have. So, what projects are coming up for you that you're most excited about?
KMB: My personal passion project is the Executive Barber documentary. I’m hoping to release it later in 2022. The short follows the connectivity between a Haitian-born Chicago barber on the south side and his community. The story explores the effect and impact he has on client's lives. He has a diversified client base. What sets him apart from other barbers is that he uses this formula that he follows to a tee - a formula that teaches others to stay true to themselves and that self-love and self-care are the most important things. He's big on spirituality and energy and tapping into those caveats that usually aren't usually covered in that space. The story in itself, as he says, is bigger than both of us. This documentary is going to be something that everybody - of every shape, size, color - will be able to connect with and relate with.
CA: Having now been an apprentice at Camera Ambassador for several weeks, what's something that you're looking forward to doing more of in the future?
KMB: I'm looking forward to creating more on a much higher level with the knowledge that I've had the opportunity and have been blessed to gain from working here. It's such a fantastic opportunity to be able to work with all of this equipment and with such a supportive and inclusive group of people. With the knowledge that I've just been like picking up and everything that I've been doing, I'm ready to bring everything when it comes to filmmaking in my life to the next level. And it's given me that confidence to kind of step out there and do so, you know what I mean?
CA: I'm loving the swagger. It's a good look for you.
KMB: Right? Thanks. Especially as a black female filmmaker, I’d like to sharpen my skills as much as I can and go out there to make a splash. There aren’t many of us out there. So, it would be awesome to be a part of that group that paves the way. The more of us that are out there, the more people we will inspire. Seeing diversity is a good thing and it makes the environment feel safer.
CA: Yeah. With extraordinary trailblazing humans like you, I’m sure change will happen for sure. So, my last question, just for fun - what’s something that’s been exciting for you, art or otherwise, in these past few days?
KMB: I just rediscovered my passion for Sidney Poitier over a bowl of Edamame noodles.
CA: How do those two things link together?
KMB: I think there’s something about the richness of the Edamame noodles, just like kind of synced up to the richness of Sydney Porter's acting skills and chocolate skin. I dunno. That was weird. That was weird.
CA: I kinda love that. Well. This has been so much fun.
KMB: This was a blast.
Kala Monet Bradford is a southern-belle, South Carolina native turned Chicago city hustler. Her cinema roots started in broadcast journalism from Indiana University Bloomington. With nearly ten years of experience in video production, she believes storytelling is the basis of human connection, and video editing can be one of the purest art forms out there.