Laura Kennedy is an actor who recently starting working behind the camera as well, working as a Locations Scout for the indie film Over/Under. Find her and connect on Facebook, here. How did you get started in the film industry?
It’s funny, I went to school for theatre. I got my BFA in Acting, and I never really saw myself getting involved in the film industry. As somebody who is classically trained, I just didn’t think that I would ever venture over because it was intimidating, honestly. But recently, kind of after that dip in the pandemic, I toyed with the idea of location scouting. I had no idea what went into it, completely ignorant to the in’s and out’s, so in my head, I was like ‘well wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do a job where you just go where the work is? Learn a town or a region and get paid to make connections there.’ I learned pretty quickly that that’s not how it works. But then, I was at a friend’s birthday party and I just happened to say in passing to a mutual friend that I was interested in location scouting and he was a location scout for a project and he was like ‘you can come with me for a couple of days and just ride along and see what it’s like.’ So I did and it was incredible and a couple of days later he texts me ‘I just got a different offer that I can’t pass up, would you take over my job on this project?’ I had no formal training, just those two days in the car with him and I ended up enjoying it and excelling at it. I spent the next couple weeks driving around Rhode Island and Massachusetts finding the last handful of residential locations for an independent feature film-- the working title is Over/Under-and at the end of the scouting process the producers called me and asked me to come on as the locations manager for the rest of production, which was insane. Obviously I said ‘yes’ and that’s how I got into it, it was the sort of thing where it just fell into my lap and I ended up really, really enjoying it.
A location Laura found while scouting at Jetty at Bevertail State Park, Jamestown RI.
What do you love about the work that you do?
The first thing that I really connected with when I was scouting was -- I noticed the requirements of that job are sort of like this mishmash of hobbies of mine that I have. I’ve got a really good eye for architecture, I love design, and I have a really good memory when it comes to places and people and things like that, so those were really beneficial. These little aspects of myself that I found were being nourished by going out every day, driving for hours on end, and meeting people, seeing houses, taking photos, and referring to the lookbook so I could make those aesthetic choices and give the producers what they were looking for. It was cool to supplement those parts of my personality. Then when it came to the managing aspect, my favorite part was being at the convergence of every aspect of production. Dealing with G&E and production and design-- hair, makeup, wardrobe--, and my producers and everybody, even the town a little bit. Just being at that crossroads where you get to interact with everybody and make relationships with people from all different kinds of backgrounds, I thought that was insane. It also meant I was pulled in a lot of directions at once because it was a small production and I didn’t have any PAs under me. But I loved it. It’s nice to be involved and I don’t want to say needed, but I appreciated the fact we were all as a production unit able to rely on each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better job to come in and be introduced to the industry on. What has your experience as a woman in the film industry been like?
This was an incredibly fortunate first experience with the film industry because all four producers were women, the writer and director were women, and it was about the childhood friendship of these two girls who happened to be the writer and the director. It was still intimidating because I came in with no prior experience, so dealing with people who were not only women, but my age too, was incredible. To see these creatives out there, doing a passion project-- it made it really easy to get up every day and go to work and want to do my best because I could really relate to them and connect to them in a way that would have been terrifying if I had come onto a project that was headed by people who were maybe older or more experienced or dudes. How has covid impacted or changed your work?
I work at the contemporary theatre company in Wakefield as an actor and a frequent collaborator for a lot of different projects. We had a season lined up that we had to scrap because the pandemic hit and I’ll never forget, once we felt comfortable enough to sit outside in person, I sat down with my friend Chris (the artistic director), his wife, and a couple of other friends all of whom had gone to college for various theatre degrees. We were talking and discussing how , ‘You know what’s so funny? We got into this business thinking theatre withstands literally everything. You can be in a war torn country with political upheaval and theatre has to go underground, you could be dealing with some really nasty social change, and obviously this is all happening at once while we’re having this discussion, but like theatre is essential and it’s always needed and it’s always happening and it can’t be stopped.’ The only thing that gets in the way of it is a literal plague and none of us had counted on that. It was really difficult for, I would say, the first eight months, waking up every day and being like ‘oh my god, I have nothing to do.’ You don’t know where to put the energy, not that you even have it looking at the world completely in shambles in so many different ways and wondering when is it gonna come back and when it does how has it changed forever. Inevitably we’re gonna start thinking about the way we interact within performance spaces and with each other, and I think that’s a natural response to something like this.
The pandemic put a temporary hold on my life as an actor in the world of theatre, but at the same time I was able to get this incredible opportunity and start working in film. For me it’s a fresh start. I think I experienced it in a way that not many people did, it was so detrimental to so many people, but for me the door opened, which is something I never expected and I’m so grateful for.
A location Laura scouted at Horseneck Beach, MA
Why are you a member of WIFVNE?
I love the idea of getting my foot in the door in a way that’s not-- I feel like so much of the industry is male-dominated-- and I thought it would be really nice to be building connections with people that I felt more comfortable with and have more connections with just by virtue of being women, so that was really exciting. It can be intimidating dealing with men in the industry. I also just find the creative processes for men and women are very different and I kind of just dig the idea of being involved with a bunch of like-minded people.What are you currently working on?
Right now I am kind of free, open schedule. My friend who got me this first job asked me if I would be available to do a film on Cape Cod at the end of October through the end of November, but I haven’t heard from the line producer yet so I don’t know if that’s happening. I’m focusing on is building myself a locations kit and interacting with as many people in the industry as I can. For example, I got a wonderful email from a another WIFVNE member who wants to know more about locations-- she happens to work in hospitality at a national hotel chain. It’s super cool that people are already willing to start these dialogues with me and talk to me about the industry. What advice would you give to other women in the film industry?
I think there’s this concept of having to ingratiate yourself to people and do the work grind, which is to make yourself visible, be your own advocate, be your own press team or your own agent or whatever. That’s true to a point, but I think that the best way for people like me, for women my age to get involved, is to sit down with other people who are in the industry if you know women who are in the industry-- just sit down and chat with them. It’s so much more organic to sit down with people who are of a like mind and have spent time doing these things in the film industry than it is to, say, do email blasts or go to cattle call auditions. I think that can be really intimidating. What I like about WIFVNE is that it’s inclusive and you don’t have to hunt down people to make a connection. The point that I’m trying to make is my advice to young women or any woman wanting to break into this half of the film industry is just do it. That sounds so reductive, but if you know somebody, reach out. If you are interested, ask questions. It is an industry that makes room for people who are curious and hardworking and want to learn because that was my experience having none prior to Over/Under.