I’ve never cared for bios in the third person.
They feel removed--
I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and grew up in a small town nearby. The town was predominantly Mormon. I never quite felt like I fit into this place.
Both of my parents love movies, my dad watches old westerns, but my mom loves action and adventure movies. From a young age, I was allowed to watch anything I wanted, unlike my friends, some of whom weren’t allowed to watch any television.
In high school, I got my hands on some camera equipment, I got in a fight with a kid, but after we made up, he mentioned he had editing gear. We partnered up and began making films, really derivative, shitty movies… And it was awesome.
I took a job at a grip and electric rental house in Salt Lake City called Moving Pictures LTD. The owner, Troy, was never shy about crushing my delusions of movie directing grandeur. But he gave me access to every piece of gear, which helped me learn fast.
The University of Utah had a film program, and for my first film class, our assignment was to create a short film. I went all-out, a 20 minute masterwork committed to a two-disc DVD set that had cast/crew bios, director commentary, and the soundtrack CD. When I turned it in, I set the disc on a pile of other student films, all on VHS-C tapes with handwritten labels… I had over shot the mark by an order of magnitude.
Surprisingly, my film teacher wrote me a note that ended with this sentence “You are a cut above the rest, take your tuition money, move to Los Angeles, and start making movies now.”
Messaged received, I dropped out and lucked into a job working on Disney’s High School Musical. The experience changed my life, I made friends with the director, Kenny Ortega. I came back to work as Kenny’s Director’s Assistant on High School Musical 2, I handled the shot list, casting tapes, rehearsal notes, and relaying decisions between departments. Kenny was extremely generous with his knowledge too. He let me time out dolly shots and work with the choreographers to pre-set shots for him to review and approve. He’s an excellent leader and a phenomenal mentor.
After this experience, I began to take the writing process much more seriously. I read and wrote, read and wrote, until one of my scripts won a screenwriting fellowship. I joined the Writer’s Guild and began working as a script doctor. Then I would get hired for rewrites, revisions, a polish draft here or there. I had a talent for adapting work to the screen, I have a strong compass for staying true to the original intention of the work.
After moving to Los Angeles I would tour with film festivals to screen the short films I was writing and directing. I began directing music videos, which lead me to commercial directing, which eventually lead to me show running a series for YouTube Red called GameLab.
GameLab was a great success, and the billboards for the show were all over Los Angeles.
GameLab also brought virtual reality into my life. I realized early that the big push for VR and 360 was mostly by tech companies, not creatives. I saw an opportunity and jumped. I’ve created VR experiences for Google, Daydream, and YouTube Red. I won a Streamy Award for Best New VR series in 2016.
My mission as a storyteller has and always will be to create an experience for the audience. I am not an auteur, and while I respect heavily stylized filmmaking, I’m personally more interested in the “directing” disappearing into the fold of the story, so the characters and meaning can shine authentically through.
- Kelly King