Meadowdale student explores feelings in award-winning film

By Marie Haaland | Jul 27, 2017
Photo by: Marie Haaland Kate Graves, 17, had a film screened at several major film festivals.

An aspiring 17-year-old filmmaker from Edmonds doesn’t have to dream about one day having her work shown at film festivals.

Kate Graves’ “The Art of Memories” is already an official selection at several major festivals, including the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY).

The three-minute experimental film, available on YouTube, is a nostalgic journey that looks back at different times in life and the memories we share, as well as thinking about how those memories make us feel.

With it being such a personal project – and Graves’ first real film – she not only shot and edited the piece herself, but also had a starring role.

“I did everything because I’ve never worked with a crew or anything before, and it was my first film that I really got out there and submitted to any film festivals, so it was really special,” said Graves, who attends Meadowdale High School.

In the film, she brushes various colors of paint on her body to represent a particular feeling found within memories. The colorful paint contrasts with black-and-white video clips of her friends, recorded over the past couple of years.

The idea for the film began during her sophomore year at Meadowdale.

“I had this group of friends, and we would all go around and do different, crazy, random high school adventure stuff,” Graves said. “I’d just take video clips of it on the way and, the next year, I liked to look back at those clips and remember those fun times. It made me feel different things, and I thought maybe I should bring them to life in film.”

Graves uses paint to express her feelings, as she enjoys art and exploring her creative side. In addition to film, she dabbles in photography, painting, sketching and writing music.

Even though the video had been an idea for a while, Graves said she didn’t feel like she had the necessary skills to put it all together. That changed when she took a film class this past year at Meadowdale.

Graves said she learned how to make the film visually appealing and edit her shots. She credits teacher Erin Katz for helping get her film shown at festivals.

“She encourages us to submit and get our stuff out there, even if we don’t think it’s the best thing in the world,” Graves said. “She encouraged me to submit it, which I did, and it ended up getting awards and things I never thought could happen. It really inspired me to keep making films.”

“The Art of Memories,” in addition to being an official selection at SIFF and NFFTY, was also an official selection at the inaugural The Future of Film is Feminist festival earlier this month at Neptune Theatre in Seattle.

“I was lucky enough to be a part of that, among all these other great filmmakers and talking on stage in front of hundreds of people,” Graves said.

Graves also won the Northwest High School Film Festival’s Art Film Award of Excellence, Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Video Production from Meadowdale and a Certificate of Excellence in STEM presented by the Edmonds SnoKing Branch of the American Association of University Women.

Out of all of these accomplishments, Graves said the most notable was the film’s selection by NFFTY, the largest youth film festival in the world and held in Seattle every spring. There were 1,200 entries this year; Graves’ film was one of 257 selected.

During this coming school year, Graves wants to start a film club at Meadowdale and hold fundraisers to buy a drone for the school’s film department. She is also looking to create videos for local businesses on a donation basis to help offset the cost.

“I think it (a drone) is a good tool to have as filmmakers because now you see all over the web and the internet people using drones to get these amazing aerial shots and, as a filmmaker, that really intrigues me.”

Beyond that, she is looking at colleges for next year, specifically for one that allows her to explore various areas and genres of filmmaking. She’s especially interested in working to create music videos, but doesn’t want to commit to just one aspect of filmmaking.

While the entire experience of attending film festivals and winning awards for her work was inspiring, Graves said the neatest part of the experience was the positive reaction to her film.

“It was personal about myself, kind of a reflection piece, but in hindsight it was personal for everybody. It hit everybody. I think feelings are something that a lot of people don’t talk about, but everybody experiences them. Seeing everyone coming up to me afterwards saying, ‘It’s such a great film’ and asking different questions. That has to be the best part.”


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