Spotlight Interview: Writer/Director Katie Cokinos of “I Dream Too Much”

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I Dream Too Much is a heartwarming coming-of-age film that illustrates the challenges that women and families experience from the perspective of three different generations…”
idreamtoomuch.com

Last month I wrote an in-depth review of a new indie feature film called I Dream Too Much. If you missed it, click here to catch up on the buzz before diving into the mind of writer/director Katie Cokinos below!

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How did your journey as a filmmaker begin?

My journey began as a moviegoer back in the 1970’s and 80’s seeing Reds, All That Jazz, Play it Again Sam, Star Wars, and ET. Also my Dad was constantly filming us with his Super 8 camera – he wanted “to capture the moment.” So I think I’m still operating from that space; sitting in a dark theater being captivated and wanting to “capture the moment”.

Did you always have an interest in film, or was this something you developed over time?

I always had an interest in film but the downside of growing up in the 70’s was that I never saw a film made by a woman. I didn’t think women could make films until I attended college and my professors, thankfully, turned me on to Maya Deren, Agnes Varda, Chantal Akerman, and Shirley Clark. And then I started to believe that I could do it too.

Did you go to film school?

I got a degree in History with a minor in Philosophy from Texas A&M University. My “film school” was being the Managing Director of the Austin Film Society, working as a location manager and making lots of short films.

When starting out, did you see yourself already as a creative-multi- hyphenate, or did you start in one area and then later branch out to various avenues of the industry?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do in film, so I decided to do it all.

Between writing, acting, directing, producing, and location managing, do you prefer one over the rest?

I love writing because of the solitude, but then after a year and a half (I Dream Too Much) I am anxious to see the story come alive with actors.  I found the casting vital to the script as well and so much fun.  Early on I leaned towards producing (produced Texas filmmaker, Eagle Pennell’s fim, Heart Full of Soul)  but I quickly realized that I’m not aggressive enough nor can I keep all the facts and figures right in my head (I’m easily distracted). Location managing, although exciting ( Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is a tough job because a film shoot is charming for about 10 minutes then production wants more and the owners want it over. I think I’ll stick to writing and directing.

Tell us about your first experience writing/directing your feature film Portrait of a Girl as a Young Cat vs. your latest film I Dream Too Much (both of which premiered at SXSW!) How have you evolved as a writer/director between the two projects?

Yes, I have evolved from Portrait; we shot without a script – will never do that again to IDTM – I wrote about 25 drafts. I also played MeMe, the lead in Portrait, and I really don’t want to do that again either. It’s hard to be thinking about a million things as a director AND worry about your hair and makeup – no thank you.

How did the inspiration strike for I Dream Too Much?

I wanted to capture the time right after college when you don’t know what the hell to do with your life. The world seems huge and Dora feels “plain and small”. One life has ended and another has not taken shape yet. Post college was one of the most stressful times of my life. I also looked to Jane Austen for inspiration. Poorer relation comes to live with wealthier relation and things begin to happen – although, IDTM has no Mr. Darcy.  And of course the Gilmore Girls.  But how to make the personal cinematic is always my main goal.

What is one key lesson you hope your audience takes away from watching the film?

You’re never too old to come of age. Dora, Helen (her Mom), Aunt Vera, Abbey – they are all in a transitional phase of their lives. IDTM is a sort of  love letter from me to the post college, 20-something generation; it’s my way of saying don’t succumb to parental and societal pressures, take time to get in touch with who you are, that inner voice – that’s what your 20’s are for. Dora awakens to herself.  Great quote by Colette – “You will make mistakes but do it with enthusiasm.” Here’s to following your excitement even if it’s filled with fear and trepidation.

Is there a piece of advice or wisdom you wish someone had told you before you embarked on creating your own projects?

It’s blood, sweat and tears but mostly sweat and tears (but it’s worth it).

What was your favorite part about making I Dream Too Much come to life?

Working with the actors. Next film I want some rehearsal time!

Is there a specific genre you’re drawn to?

I love screwball, romantic comedies and musicals. The Awful Truth, Auntie Mame and GiGi.

In the future, do you see yourself leaning more towards writing or directing, or do you plan to continue doing both?

I want to do both, fingers crossed!

Lastly, how best can people learn more about your work and the film?

Follow IDTM on Facebook. I post daily about all sorts of things that inspire me!

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Kaytra Parkman

About Kaytra Parkman

Actress. “An old cosmic soul disguised as a 21st-century earthling”. Kaytra has no recollection of “catching” any acting bug... it was always there. At the ripe age of 3, she pointed to the television enthusiastically and declared, “I want to be IN THAT!”. After her parents jokingly reminded her she would have to be really small to fit in there, Kaytra skipped and tripped her way through adolescence until she landed a coveted spot at the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCSA). There she spent 4 years studying everything from stage combat to documentary filmmaking amongst a wide variety of young artists. A professional nerd on the side, she also freelances as a social media manager/video editor/techie, and spends her free time Netflixing and obsessing about space. Kaytra hopes to combine her love of acting, filmmaking and activism to evoke positive change both individually and globally.