RIDING WITH SUNSHINE AN INTERVIEW WITH KRISTIAN COMER

Kristian Comer is a director born in Bronx NY, who later moved to Rockland NY. After attending Rockland Community College, she continued her education at Empire State College for acting, theater, and film. 

Harnessing her experience as an actress in theaters across the US states and later in the UK, Comer also starred in numerous movies and TV shows. In 2017, Comer decided to try out a director with her first short film titled Riding with Sunshine

Besides her experience as an actress and a director, Comer is an all-around filmmaker. Throughout her career, she worked as a cinematographer, art director, editor, casting director, and even stunt coordinator. 

Cult Critic Magazine reached out to Comer to ask about her rich career that seems to have just started.

CULT CRITIC – Hi Kristian, hopefully, you’re doing great. Let’s start with a couple of questions about your career. What made you want to start filmmaking? First as an actress, later as a director.

KRISTIAN –  Hi! I’m doing well. Thanks for asking! I hope all is well with you and the readers. I was a big fan of Kenneth Branagh, Groucho Marx, and Mel Brooks growing up and still am and I remember their impact on me as an artist. All three of them were actors, directors, and writers. I knew I wanted to create work as they did and if I was really lucky to create a work just as special as they did and if I was really really really lucky then I could create work that would inspire others as they did with me. Especially, Kenneth Branagh, he is a big reason why I fell in love with Shakespeare and why I am currently set to study in the UK at The Shakespeare Institute. 

CULT CRITIC – You have both filmmaking experience and experience in the theater. What would you suggest to young actors thinking of replacing theater acting for film acting and vice versa?

KRISTIAN – That’s a great question. I feel that both have their strong suits to help actors in different ways. With film and tv, you learn to memorize scripts really fast and learn how to emote much more subtle than you do with theater. Whereas with theater you have much bigger spaces to occupy and your acting and intensity have to match it. But I have to be honest I will always favor theater over film and tv just a little more because I feel that there is nothing quite like acting on stage. It’s in the moment and you only get one shot and the stakes and rewards are at its highest. Also the high you get off a live audience too is truly memorable. I would suggest doing theater first just so you can get that rush, that feeling, and bring that intensity to set with you for your next film or tv role.

CULT CRITIC – You have an all-around filmmaking experience. What specific job in filmmaking stands out for you and why? Do you have any preferences?

KRISTIAN – I would have to say acting and writing. I love to act, it’s what brought me into the business but surprisingly along the way, I fell in love with writing. It became a release for me as an artist. Once I got over my shyness, I just kept on writing. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested. Once you take the first leap it will bring you this weird sense of accomplishment because it’s yours. It’s your ideas and your style. There is no wrong way to write. I always had a deep respect for the written word. I’m a big fan of The Masque of the Red Death, The Tell-Tale Heart, Alice in Wonderland, Hamlet, Tristan and Isolde, Much Ado About Nothing, Dracula. A Fine Balance, Beauty and the Beast, The Vampire Lestat, and The Joy Luck Club. I grew up on comics and manga too. Stan Lee and Rumiko Takahashi are my all-time favorite comic/manga artists and they have deeply influenced my film work.

CULT CRITIC – Can you describe for our audience what inspired you to create Riding with Sunshine?

KRISTIAN – Riding with Sunshine is based on real-life events that happen to myself and a dear friend. It deals with the heavy topic of racial profiling. I was coming home from my JR college and my friend was driving. We got pulled over and he got arrested. It was a very intense situation because he didn’t do anything wrong and when they couldn’t find anything to “arrest him for” they released him. After the police left, my friend confided in me that this happens to him almost all the time and apologized for the situation. At that moment I knew I wanted to do something to help my friend because this should never have happened to him. He is such a great guy, and he shouldn’t be apologizing for it either since it wasn’t his fault. So I reached out to another mutual friend of mine, JT Maguire. I told him what happened to our friend and we decided since we were both artists to collaborate and take our friend’s story and make it into a film to show our support for him. It’s one of those things. When you see an injustice you have two options: walk away and cower in fear or be brave and do something to change it. I chose to be brave and change it and stand by my friend. Human-kind popped into my mind when writing the film. I wish to be both human and kind and hope that message resonates with my audience and that they are moved by the injustice of my friend’s story.

CULT CRITIC – How close is the story in the movie to your real-life experience?

KRISTIAN – I wrote it to be as close as possible to what happened. I switched in and swapped out some of the films or tv shows references that Vikki and Mario were talking about but everything else pretty much is what happened.

CULT CRITIC – Can you let us in the meaning behind the color contrast in the movie and why the colors change for the female protagonist in the end of Riding with Sunshine?

KRISTIAN –  Sure. It’s a play on Vikki’s loss of innocents. At the start of the film, she is so innocent about the world and after the incident, she becomes woke to the world and struggles that her best friend is facing day-to-day.

CULT CRITIC – What kind of impact do you think movies have on making our society a better place?

KRISTIAN – I believe that movies can show and give people perspectives that they would normally never have or think about. A movie is an expression of the artist’s soul in a very intimate and passionate exchange with us. It is very beautiful and profound. If done right it can shake someone at their core and inspire them to greatness.  

CULT CRITIC – Let’s focus a bit on the current state of filmmaking. How easy or difficult is to create your own independent film these days?

KRISTIAN –  I think it’s a lot easier to create films now these days then it was in the past. Especially with the rise and demand for independent film culture. The money will always be an issue for any filmmaker but with the advancements of technology too it’s much easier to start filming and getting your work out there.

CULT CRITIC Finally, can you tell us what you have in store in the near future?

KRISTIAN – Sure, once it’s safe for traveling I am heading off to the UK to obtain my master’s degree in Shakespeare with the University of Birmingham and The Shakespeare Institute. I also have a couple of short film projects lined up. Hoping to get a few of them done before leaving. Once I’m done with my master’s degree I am looking to tackle my first animated feature film which will deal with Shakespeare in a very cute and creative way with my super talented co-director Sean Collishaw. After that, I’m jumping into a full blown adaptation of the bard co-directed with the phenomenal Sam Harps from Shades Repertory Theater. I’m gonna be pretty busy but looking forward to working with such talented and awesome people and getting my work out there.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram @ kc_krispie for all my film updates and it was a pleasure speaking with you today. Thank you so much for your support.

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