An alumna of the University of British Columbia’s Film Production program, Kathleen worked on over 30 documentaries and digital projects in a span of four years while working for the National Film Board of Canada, during which time she also crafted her own documentary, Paradise Island. Set in Boracay, the documentary details the harsh realities faced by a group of children who build sandcastles for a living on the Philippines’ best-known beach. Paradise Island has since been screened at a number of festivals, including the 2015 Cannes Festival, the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival, and Yale Environmental Film Festival, and was the recipient of the Award of Excellence at the Canada International Film Festival, among other awards and nominations.
Kathleen at a film festival
How do you prepare yourself to be creative?
I need a clear headspace, so depending on my energy levels I either work out or take a power nap. My desk must also be tidy. Then I like to get comfy so I like wearing my
What place is most conducive to your work?
My workspace requires a lot of natural light. My computer is next to a window overlooking the mountains and water.
What is one element that is absolutely necessary to your process?
I definitely need to be inspired by a story in order to make a film about it. Making films is difficult for so many reasons that the need to tell a story has to be deeply felt by me. I am passionate about telling meaningful stories.
What’s your go-to snack when working?
A bag of 5-cent candies—there are many breaks to 7-Eleven while editing. The orange sour gummies are my
Are you a morning person or a night owl? What time of day do you prefer to work?
On weekends, I prefer to work during the day. But during a typical week, I have no choice but to stay up late into the night to do my editing.
Who is your
I come from a family of filmmakers. My great uncle, Cirio Santiago, was a director and producer and my
Kathleen filming Paradise Island
What is your
Sarah Polley’s critically acclaimed documentary, Stories We Tell. It is a highly complex layered film told beautifully. To me, it’s the quintessential piece of artwork.
What gets you to procrastinate?
I like watching my
What is your dream project?
This is top-secret information!
What do you do to feel inspired?
I surround myself with other artists whom I respect and admire and who are passionate about their work and are constantly creating. They are my tribe—every artist needs one.
Where do you go to feel inspired?
My inspiration comes from being close to nature, which is not hard, living in Vancouver. The beach and mountains are right
What have you learned from failure?
As a filmmaker, I face some type of rejection regularly, such as not getting the grant I applied for, or my film not getting into a festival. I have to be thick-skinned, relentless, and tenacious. Just get back on my feet and never give up. That’s my motto.
Paradise Island is my first film post film production school. I wrote, directed, edited, and produced it myself. It took me four years to complete while I had a full-time 9-to-5 job.
What are you currently working on?
One of my projects in development is a short experimental film that explores the meaning of memories.
How are you critical of yourself?
There are enough critics out there so I try not to be too critical. But there are a handful of individuals whose input and opinion of my work means the most to me.