On Experimental Visuals and Accessibility in the Film Industry: Filmmaker and Programmer Jenni Kaye

As we prepare for BABES FEST 2019, we’re sharing interviews with some of the creatives on our lineup. Today, we’re featuring words from filmmaker and programmer, Jenni Kaye. You can catch a curatorial selection of Jenni’s works at the BABES FEST film showcase on Day One, September 6.


who: Jenni Kaye

Jenni Kaye is a filmmaker and programmer in Austin, Texas. She's deeply passionate about facilitating accessible opportunities for indie filmmakers to create and present their work. She has over a decade of experience leading arts organizations in Florida, New York, Seattle, and Austin, including co-founding HIVE, Hyperreal Film Club, and new immersive film series Lifted Traces. Her own work spans short films and music videos to experimental visuals for musical performances. 

How did you start creating films?

I started in college with my close friend and experimental filmmaker Ariana Dominguez. She sparked that energy in me which lay dormant for a long time until coming to Austin. I always had an interest in film but felt overwhelmed by the technical hurdles I had to overcome to make what was in my head. It took befriending filmmakers like Melissa Cha and Chris Rusch to really convince me that making my own films were possible. They’re incredibly talented and accomplished but took the time to mentor me on my first short film, giving me space to make mistakes and patiently guiding me towards solutions. When I realized that a lot of women are just one patient mentor away from making their first film, it ignited a passion in me to do that for others.

What excites you about  a festival that celebrates and amplifies women and nonbinary artists so intentionally like BABES FEST.

We’re not going to get to a place where women and nonbinary artists are treating equally in the arts unless we all support each other so I think BABES FEST is a beautiful thing. 

How did you become involved with Hyperreal Film Club?

I co-run Hyperreal Film Club with David McMichael and Tanner Hadfield, who met in college. I met them through friends three years ago and they reached out to me with this idea to start screening films in the basement of Co-Lab’s space downtown. At the time I was co-running Hive Arts Collective as well as tape label Pleasure Cruise Press. Hyperreal became so much more than just screening films and eventually I left all my other projects to focus on it and we just celebrated our 3-year-anniversary last week! 

Under what circumstances did you 'arrive' in Texas? What propelled you to continue making work here?

I’m originally from Miami/Sarasota, Florida but was living on an island off of Seattle working at YES! Magazine before coming to Texas. The lack of sun really got to this girl from the sunshine state so my boyfriend at the time and I packed up our car and drove down the coast, visiting friends in various cities we considered moving to along the way, with a final destination of New Orleans. 

I had never been to Austin but we arrived during SXSW ‘12, not knowing it was SX week and feeling very overwhelmed, but we never made it to New Orleans. I kept finding reasons to stay in Austin and was extremely grateful to have found a place where the barrier of entry to participate in the arts community here was low and accessible. That may not always be the case in the future but I’ll stick it out as long as people are still willing to collaborate and take creative risks here. 

How do you see your work in the future? Is there something you would like to explore?

I’ve facilitated creative projects for others for a long time. It’s brought me immense joy but as I entered my 30s, I am trying to carve out time for my own ideas as well. One of them is Lifted Traces, which is the live cinema experience I produce with my partner Joey Postiglione. This series has given me the opportunity to work with incredibly talented artists building out spaces into the worlds of the films we love. I’ve taken some of the ideas from that event into my film work as well, creating films that interact with the spaces they’re presented in. I’m currently working on my first short of this nature with Shannon Wiedemeyer and Ursula Barker that will premiere at BABES FEST.

Do you have any upcoming shows, projects or works?

Next Friday, July 19 is the next Lifted Traces event, which I’ve spent all summer working on. We’re doing a live cinema experience for Dario Argento’s DEEP RED presented by MUBI. I worked with a team of artists to transform Dimension Hall at 1500 E 4th Street into the art deco streets of 70s Italy. Joey Postiglione and Patrick Edwards will perform a live, original synthesized re-score alongside the film. We’ll have an immersive photo booth with Jinni J., themed food from Austin Daily Press, and drinks from Goodnight Loving Vodka, Red Bull, 4th Tap, and Balcones Distilling. Dressing up encouraged. And of course you can catch my next short film at this year’s BABES FEST!

BABES FEST is an ~ annual convening of minds ~ in Austin, Texas, celebrating and amplifying women and nonbinary artists. As a weekend-long exhibition, our performances, panels, pop-up markets, film screenings and networking hours span music, film, art, creative education and comedy. Our daily schedule, 3-day passes and one-day passes for BABES FEST 2019 are available now.

~ everybody’s welcome. ~

Jane Claire Hervey