Long takes a deep dive into filmmaking

May 4, 2018 — by Eleanor Goh

As Kelly Long watched her own film “The Pool” being played on a big screen at the San Francisco Film Festival in April, she couldn’t help but obsess over other people’s reactions.

“I just kept wondering what the audience was thinking, and I was being pretty critical of my film,” Long said. “Thoughts like ‘this shot should be shorter’ or ‘this music is too loud right here’ were running through my head.”

Immediately after the screening, Long experienced her first taste of fame — even after walking three blocks away from the venue, she was still constantly being approached by strangers and receiving compliments on her film.

Long always had a vague interest in film, though it wasn’t until participating in the San Francisco Art and Film Workshop starting last October that she truly discovered how much she liked writing and directing.

Long’s teacher at the workshop, artist and filmmaker Ronald Chase, encouraged her to approach filmmaking from a more artistic perspective as opposed to one of mere entertainment.

“His approach to film is more traditional, and it’s more based on art too,” Long said. “He really inspired me and got me into film.”

The workshop also provided Long with all of the resources she needed to produce a high-quality film, helping her cast actors and actresses, schedule deadlines and edit clips.

Within a month, Long’s short film “The Pool” was completed. The story revolves around a girl who is haunted by an empty pool — by the sounds within the pool and by being in the pool itself.

“It’s a psychological exploration about the things going on in her mind because nothing is actually shown,” Long said. “It’s more evoked through the sounds and the music.”

She is currently working on another film, centered around a girl who decides against attending her own wedding day and instead goes out to her secret place, a rooftop. The film shifts between two different perspectives: from the girl, who is simply looking out from the rooftop; to a man standing on the street below, who believes the girl is about to commit suicide.

Long draws a lot of inspiration from the filming techniques and cinematography of the surreal and experimental films she likes to watch.

One of her favorites is “Hausu,” a 1977 Japanese horror comedy about seven girls who encounter supernatural events while visiting a haunted house. The film features brightly colored, unrealistic special effects juxtaposed with nightmarish gore typical of horror movies. It’s unpredictable, hilarious and, at the same time, disturbing.

“I loved everything about it,” Long said. “It’s just so bizarre — I didn’t know people could make movies like that.”

Though her parents initially had doubts about the value of pursuing film, Long said they eventually recognized how much she really loved it and gave her their full support. Long does not plan on majoring specifically in film; she will be studying design and technology at Parsons School of Design this coming fall. She does, however, hope to meet film students from New York University and help them on their projects.

Ultimately, Long believes that her success all began with taking initiative and signing up for the film workshop even when she was not completely sure she was interested in film.

“I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did had I not gone to the workshop,” she said. “If you have any inkling of interest in doing art or music or film or drama, just go for it. There’s nothing to lose.”


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