If there is one thing that I could commit to doing on my weekends, it is sitting down and watching a nice movie. My many years of watching feature pictures in the theater to sifting through the “Trending Now” list on Netflix have allowed for a high level of appreciation for the process. So when I get to see local filmmakers come out with work that you would think a movie studio would only be able to create, I wonder, how? With six years of movie-making under his belt, director, Michael Kumar has it answered.
What started as a hobby has turned into a long-time devotion that has expanded into new ventures for this visionary. Kumar talks to me about what got him into the craft, his latest short film, and how he turned a recent loss into a passion project for the community.
You’re very talented! What did the moment look like when you realized film-making was for you?
“It’s hard for me to remember when I decided to be a filmmaker. I used to skate with friends in high school and we made skate videos, I loved filming the skate videos more than being in them so I think that’s when I started. After that[,] I began making short films and after making one I pretty much knew that was it for me because I couldn’t stop.”
Energy 95.3fm was able to preview your latest short film during a limited screening. Is it hard to refrain from sharing your work on a wide scale due to the constraints of film festivals?
“Not for me since these are projects meant more to build a solid director’s reel that will eventually be used to hopefully get a large studio to fund my feature films. The feature films I am writing are what I really want to share with everyone.”
Your latest short, An Average Poet, features some familiar spots in Bakersfield. In what other ways have you used parts of Bakersfield to your advantage?
“I use everything about Bakersfield to my advantage and I think filmmakers not from here do not because they don’t know Bakersfield as well as people from here do. There is a lot less hassle filming here in Bakersfield than there is in LA ranging from the limited people walking around the downtown streets to how open business owners are to letting you film inside their location and so on.”
How important is music in relation to film?
“I pride myself in picking a good soundtrack and it is in my opinion the most or second most important thing about a film relative to audio.”
You recently announced that you and your team have started your own Bakersfield film festival. Can you tell us more about that?
“We are a long ways away from getting this film festival off the ground but yes we are in the process of creating the Wink Film Festival. This festival was created and named in honor of our dear friend[,] Clayton Winkler[,] who we lost this past year. [H]e inspired all of us to do something great in Bakersfield and to help fight against the drug problem that we have in the city. We hope this gives Bakersfield a better reputation and the benefits this would have on the city is enormous if done right so I hope we can really get this going as soon as possible. The Wink Film Festival will be a Non-Profit organization.”
What drives you to continue to do what you’re doing?
“I love film and cinema more than anything, I can’t stop. Even if I knew my films were terrible, even if everyone in the world hated my films, I would still make films.”