TOPEKA – The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is hoping to spark interest in filmmaking, especially among local teens, with its upcoming program “Off Screen: A Conversation with Director Kevin Willmott” Sunday, Oct. 23rd from 3:00 till 5:00pm in the Library's Marvin Auditorium.
Join us as Kevin weaves film clips and other media together to tell the story of his journey from small-town Kansas to Hollywood – working with Oliver Stone, Whoopie Goldberg, Spike Lee, Martin Sheen, Isaac Hayes, NBC, CBS and 20th Century Fox.
Kevin will tell you what he did right – and what he did wrong – along the way on his movie-making journey. He’ll also share his personal passion for filmmaking. He’s aiming his talk at 12-18 year olds, but all are welcome to attend.
“Independent filmmaking is about film, of course, but it is actually more about having a personal vision – having a story to tell and believing in something that keeps you from quitting when it appears impossible,” he said. “That is a message for young people or someone who just retired.”
Learn how the independent filmmaker sells his films, how he works with Hollywood while still remaining in Kansas where he teaches Film Studies at the University of Kansas and how he remains an independent filmmaker during an era of mega-budget, special-effects laden commercial movies.
Kevin’s film credits range from a film about his hometown to a faux documentary account of alternate history, in which the South won the Civil War. His films include Ninth Street, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, The Only Good Indian, and Bunker Hill. His films tackle difficult and serious – often divisive – subjects with humor and great storytelling.
“For me doing my thing is telling the stories that I know Hollywood will not tell. My film, C.S.A: Confederate States of America is a good example of that. CSA has been very successful, but Hollywood would have never made that film. The film challenges those who still celebrate the virtues of the Confederacy to reconsider their position. As well, it is uncomfortable for African Americans and others because it touches the emotions of how we feel about the legacy of slavery,” he said.
Some of Kevin’s films have been selected for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Most of his films are available for check out at the library.
Kevin grew up in Junction City wanting to make films. He attended Marymount College (Salina, KS), receiving his BA in drama. He returned home to work as a peace and civil rights activist, before heading off to New York to earn his MFA in dramatic writing. In 2010, Kevin was selected to receive a Kansas Governor’s Arts Award and was recognized at a ceremony in Topeka.
Kevin’s presentation at the library will encourage audience questions, interaction and engagement. It is part of the Hirschberg Lecture, which is designed to start a “community conversation.” This program is made possible by donations to the Jeanne and Cotter Hirschberg Lecture Series fund.