Studio Spotlight: Katia Ganfield


Posted by Trigger

Studio member Katia Ganfield is an artist and award-winning filmmaker from London. The subject matters of experience and emotion are key to her work, often making the audience the subject of the film. Katia repeatedly breaks with convention and makes us contemplate our own screen presence with often unsettling results. Katia’s VHS creations have made her one of the most sought-after directors in the alternative music scene and her films have been screened across the world, with clients including MTV, Vevo, Channel 4, Dazed, i-D, ICA, Domino Records, Warner Bros Records, Sony, Transgressive… the list goes on.  This week she lets us in to her weird and wonderful creative world.
Hi Katia, how are you?

I’m great thank you, and how are you 🙂

I’m good thanks. Its great to be talking to you! Can you tell us a little about what you do and describe the style of your work?

My work is based around playing with themes of object and subject, making the audience as important to my work as the visuals on screen. My films are heavily based around feeling and different techniques that can be used within cinema to allow the screen to be a mirror of the audience’s inner psyche. If my films make people think in a different way, or feel a different way, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

Can you let us in to a week in the life of Katia? What do you get up to?

I work from the moment that I wake up to the point I crash out. It’s all I ever want to do and I love wandering through different worlds and ideas and finding a way to translate that through visual forms. No two days are ever the same, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I think it’s really important to find balance as a creative through finding the right time to isolate yourself and process/focus to then put yourself out there and exchange ideas and collaborate and download some more information. I often find it’s similar to the past where travellers would go around place to place telling stories that are passed down through generations. Story telling has been a part of our culture since the beginning, and it’s a lovely thought to think of carrying that tradition through the new digital age. It’s important.

How do you find inspiration?

Every single thing, whether it be a £5 note or a person, has a story, a background…. a beginning, a middle and, eventually, an end. I love being able to walk down the street and build my own characters inspired by ones that already exist, noticing details like bin bags floating in the wind or rain aggressively bouncing off window panes. Inspiration is everywhere, it’s just connecting to it and appreciating it. I love being able to have the opportunity to interpret the world in that way and build other worlds and meanings from that.

How did you get in to filmmaking? Did you study it or teach yourself?

I have always loved films, when I was a young’un I’d call in sick to my school and lock myself in my room watching movie after movie after movie.. sometimes for a few days at a time. I loved watching different genres consecutively, so a horror, a comedy, a documentary then a sci fi and being taken on a journey through that. In that way I really studied film, by watching it all. I didn’t ‘officially’ study film, and I don’t think you need to nowadays, if you have the eye, the hunger and the passion, then you can be whoever you want to be. I actually started off as a music journalist, and my directorial career naturally evolved from that. Making mistakes, acknowledging them and then carrying on was a big part of jumping into the deep end of film. It’s an incredible industry filled with incredible people who essentially want to support each other, but rejection is a big part of it and you’ve got to learn how to not let it deflate you or let it define your approach/belief in your own work

Can you show us about a project you’re particularly proud of and tell us a little about it?

Most recently I directed a Random Acts for Channel 4 (OTHER CONSPIRACIES) which was my first proper short. I’d experimented with other ideas through that, a moniker I go under called NO TAPE INSIDE, which was lots of experimental VHS analogue home movie type films. That helped me find my style and the themes I wanted to artistically focus on through my work.

OTHER CONSPIRACIES is a surrealist glimpse through the key hole at the creative process when framed by mental health. Musicians are trapped in a room, starved of nourishment, becoming agitated, stuck in an endless loop of ritual repetition. Time passes. Emotions fluctuate. The spotlight awaits, but is the other side any better?

The film is a visual interpretation of creativity and madness and how we are the ones who have the ability to trap ourselves within ourselves, we are our own GODS. And to break away from that, sometimes the hardest thing to face is ourselves. It was inspired by the quote that “you have to love yourself first, before you can expect anyone else to love you”. Film is a therapy for me too, it was a dark time and that film was what got me through that.

Mental health is a big focus of a lot of your work. Why do you think film is such a good medium for addressing this subject?

Mental health is an important conversation to be had nowadays, and film is powerful in being able to have the ability to really make the viewer ‘FEEL’ the subject matter that might help them understand it better. It’s also a great tool to be used across social media and allow others the opportunity to also engage. I feel like mental health is still a territory that is misunderstood and as a film maker it is my duty to be sensitive to issues at hand and help in whatever way I can. It’s a very very sensitive subject but I’m happy that more film makers are creating work centered around trying to explain their experiences of mental health. It’s a very subjective topic.

At Trigger, we think that working with freelance creatives can bring so many benefits to any business. What would you say are the key benefits of working with a freelancer such as yourself?

Working with freelancers are great because they’re energised and inspired through working on such a variety of projects. The majority of those who work within film are freelance, and it’s great because you work for yourself and push and drive yourself. You really have to love what you do and deal with the ups and downs of being a freelancer – but it gives you great strength through the freedom! You can also be selective about the work you do and help build your career as an artist that way.

Do you have any words of wisdom for any aspiring creative freelancers out there?

Just DO, DO, DO. Get yourself out there, talk with like minded people, find events where you can meet those people, engage with other artists via social media and keep producing work and finding ways to expose it! Things don’t happen if you sit around and wait, no matter how good your work is. Get out there and get it seen – that’s why we make art in the first place, right?

The Trigger Studio is our curated community of over 3500 hand-picked content creation professionals. To find out more about how Trigger can help you find the right creative freelancer(s) for your project, call us on 0203 865 2176 or email hello@thisistrigger.co.uk