Alessandra Pinkston is an accomplished actress, writer, producer and creative force behind her company at KindredQuest, Inc., an award-winning production film company that has produced noteworthy short horror films with a refreshing twist, mainly employing women of colour and featuring primarily talented minorities in leading and supporting roles in their fright films. Ms. Pinkston looks to stimulate the horror genre by ensuring the inclusion of multicultural fresh faces in her production company’s film projects.
Pinkston, in collaboration with Developmental Producer Jennifer Walters, is hopeful that their creative juices at KindredQuest, Inc. can propel the overlooked notion of featuring minorities as reliable leads in horror films as a desired challenge to add distinctive scope to horror in general and change the landscape in the way horror or any other kinds of cinematic genres is perceived in the entertainment industry.
Among the notable accomplishments that are credited to both Pinkston and Walters at KindredQuest Inc. is recognising the bestowed honors for their first horror short film in 2011’s The Testament of Karma winning the Black Harvest Film Festival’s Audience Award and the IBFF’s Curator’s Pick.
As Walters summarises, ‘Our goal is to employ more women and persons of color in the entertainment industry, in front of and behind the camera. The Sorrow will cast actors of Hispanic, Asian, African-American and Caucasian descent in the leading roles. We want our films to reflect the beautiful variety of America.‘
In this interview with Alessandra Pinkston we will delve into the mission of KindredQuest, Inc.’s initiative to support strong women of colour and minority leads in their horror showcases. Also, we will touch upon the upcoming film project ‘The Sorrow’ as KindredQuest, Inc. prepares for its November 2016-driven campaign. Now let’s hear from the thriving film production’s talented and multi-tasking Alessandra Pinkston…
Frank Ochieng: First and foremost, thank you Alessandra for making yourself available to the SFCrowsnest readers for this interview. I want you to describe the degree of expectations set for your film production company KindredQuest, Inc. to take on the special role of advocating the long deserved push for women of color and minority leads to popular your produced genre films.
Alessandra Pinkston: Thank you for interviewing me, Frank. My team and I greatly appreciate this. My goal is to make KindredQuest, Inc. a household name. I would like for the company to be able to produce films that truly make people think, films that touch people. Everything that I create has something deeper going on inside of the film. I create films that I have always loved: sci-fi, horror, action, supernatural. And sometimes, when people watch films like these, they watch it without seeing the bigger picture. I want to touch people, make people laugh, make people feel good. Let people know that just because today was a bad day, it doesn’t mean that tomorrow won’t be great. And I want to do that with women and minorities not being portrayed as stereotypes. You’d be surprised how many underlying themes you can find in popular film genres like that. Now I want to bring in a new era of where I get to create films like that with people you aren’t expecting to see on screen.
FO: So when did you and your talented collaborator, Emmy Award-winning producer Jennifer Walters, become a competitive force at KindredQuest, Inc.? Were you both at the helm of your film production company’s start of inception?
AP: I had already produced ‘The Testament Of Karma’ and the short version of ‘The Final Days Of The Law’ before I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jen, and Jen was working on her own projects and receiving numerous Emmy award nominations (laughs). When I wanted to start working on the feature version of ‘The Final Days…’, I began searching for a female producer who was brilliant, hard-working, relatable, talented and someone who I could work with for decades to come. Jen and I hit it off from our very first conversation. The drive that she has is unmatched and she’s one of the most loyal people I have ever known. We have learned so much from each other and having Jen around has made things so much easier.
FO: Why is it so important for the representation of women of colour to be so emphasised in KindredQuest, Inc.’s produced entertainment showcases?
AP: My goal is to help open up doors for all women. You would be surprised how many of my female friends who are not women of colour have had to struggle to get producing jobs, writing jobs, even acting jobs. These women are the same ones who stand alongside women of colour like me and try to help us with the success of our projects. However, women of colour don’t always have the best representation in film and television. Not even in the media. I recently spoke to a friend who has an associate from another country and this associate watches a lot of hip-hop reality television shows and was under the impression that all African-American women are loud, neck-rolling, uneducated women. Well, when the associate came to America, he was surprised that most Black women in America didn’t act this way. Images such as those needs to be changed. All of my friends have college degrees. I know how to speak proper English. I don’t roll my neck. Even some of my Latina friends, who are in the entertainment industry, feels that the media doesn’t always portray Latin women as who they truly are. It would be so valuable to the world to show women as who they are without holding on to a negative perception of that woman just because of her ethnic background. The differences in our ethnic backgrounds should be used as educational tools to link everyone together, not to create a caste system.
FO: Can you describe the pride and prominence of the fare that KindredQuest has produced over the years such as your award-winning short horror film ‘The Testament Of Karma’ from a few years ago?
AP: Receiving the recognition means so much to me and my team because what we are trying to do is going to be faced with opposition. Portraying women, especially women of colour, in a positive light on screen? Some may be very fearful of that. Can you imagine having a Native American Katniss Everdeen? Or a Black Harley Quinn? What about an Asian Ellen Ripley? What if the director of ‘Transformers’ was a tall, beautiful blonde woman in her early 50s and her name was Michelle Bay? (laughs) Some people aren’t ready for that. So the fact that we are blessed to be able to communicate with people in the world, like yourself, who are understanding and open-minded to what we are trying to accomplish is the most beautiful thing of all.
FO: There is the November 2016 campaign underway for the arrival of KindredQuest’s produced ‘The Sorrow’. Can you give us an insight as to what this latest narrative entails in its theme and storyline?
AP: Of course! My team and I are all super excited about this. We are going to be raising a portion of the funds for our upcoming horror film, ‘The Sorrow’. ‘The Sorrow’ is about a group of anti-paranormal investigators who go into a house to prove that there is no such thing as a paranormal being. But once they are inside the house, they realise that they don’t know as much about the afterlife as they thought. Our plan is to go classic horror for the film, and we really want to produce a product that horror fans will enjoy. The film will scare people, make people laugh, make people afraid to go to sleep. We are going to raise $25k through our on-line marketing campaign and we are also hoping that women and minorities who have had trouble finding jobs due to inequality reach out to us, as we would love to work with them. We want to build a safe community for those who need it.
FO: In returning back to the positive and uplifting notion of inclusion when prominently featuring women of colour and lead minorities in your produced films, what can you expect from outside contributors responding to this particular movement? And better yet, what can one do in order to help out with parlaying KindredQuest’s intentions to showcase diversified performers in its artistry?
AP: We really want people to be a part of this. Men, too. You would be surprised how many men that I have met who are in complete support of this and love the idea of what I will accomplish. So many men have found out what I was doing and literally went above and beyond to introduce me to other people who could help or even contributed to things financially out of their own pockets. There were times when I needed some things done for a film but it was out of the film’s budget and these men would cut some of their salary down for me and my team. So we are looking to build with people like that, who support what I do and believe in my vision. Contributors can help by keeping in touch with us, keeping us updated on their success, work with us on some of our films, and contribute to our marketing campaign.
FO: In potentially attracting fellow artists that may be interested in becoming part of the creative culture at KindredQuest, Inc. what kind of commitment, skills and experience should they bring to the proverbial table to make your film production company worthy of their involvement?
AP: We are definitely looking for women and minorities who are writers, producers, directors, graphic artists, etc. If you are an artist in the entertainment industry, we want to connect with you. It is so important to build up this community that we have. It’s so important for us to stick together and bring in this new era of filmmaking. To work on our films, we want those who have a minimum of three years experience and they have to be willing to commit for a film from pre-production to post-production. However, we still want to connect with those who have less than three years experience, as we would like to bring them on set to teach them things that they may not be able to experience on other film sets.
FO: It is very admirable and gracious for you and other handlers at KindredQuest to adhere to the ‘wide open arms’ policy of welcoming new, struggling, curious or established artists or backers from all different walks of life to come aboard at your film production company and offer an amazing opportunity to apply their craft in genre cinema. Specifically, how can one get in touch with you and express an interest for becoming part of the collective community at KindredQuest?
AP: They can definitely reach out to me on personal Facebook page. Also, they can write to me and Jen on our website at www.kindredquestfilms.com. We’d love to hear from new folks interested in growing with us.
FO: Do you have any other parting words that you care to share about the past, present and future cinematic scene at KindredQuest, Inc. that resonate soundly with your high expectations?
AP: I honestly would like to speak to those who have been struggling in the industry: never give up on your dreams. The path to get here has been a very hard one, but it is an experience that I will never forget.
FO: Well, Alessandra…again, I thank you for your time and attention in bringing to the forefront your film production company’s motivation for giving a fresh face of diversity to your produced short horror films and encouraging others to get involved and support the continued artistic strides for KindredQuest to excel and make its profound mark in the entertainment industry. Good luck and much obliged for your insights and introspection.
AP: Thank you, Frank. It has been a pleasure.
(c) Frank Ochieng 2016