Young filmmaker takes ‘leap of faith’

February 22, 2017

Napa Valley Register

With the Academy Awards in the spotlight this week, it seemed timely to talk to a graduate of Napa’s New Technology High, Kyle Andrews, who is on his way to becoming a filmmaker as he finishes his senior year at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Tisch describes itself as “the country’s preeminent center for the study of the performing, cinematic and emerging media arts.” The school in New York City accepts very few new students each year, and the admissions process is rigorous.

Andrew’s father, Jerry Andrews, is proud. “Kyle’s passion and artistic talent led to a partial scholarship and early acceptance into Tisch.”

He noted that his son’s senior year film project at New Tech High, “Pandela,” won first place in the Napa Valley Film Festival’s student division in 2013 over 75 other entries and helped propel his acceptance to the Tisch School.

Before his years at New Tech High, Kyle Andrews had never considered making films. “I took to it instantly,” he said. “I enjoyed the ability it had to bridge such a wide array of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Unlike writing, film is a direct representation of life, and it’s pieced together much in the same way that events are remembered. It’s the art closest to memory, and therefore the most nostalgic.”

Since enrolling at Tisch and moving to New York City, Andrews has been honing his skills, particularly in screenwriting and directing, resulting in two major short film projects.

“My first project was called ‘Chicken Killer’, which was my junior level film,” Andrews said. “(It) is still in editing and sound design after a year, and will be released this May.”

Currently, Andrews said, “I am working on putting together the resources for my senior thesis film, an experimental narrative short called ‘The Transfiguration of Mara.’” This is the story of a young woman named Mara who wakes up in her childhood home one morning with a doppelgänger — an exact double or lookalike that may be real or an apparition — in bed next to her.

“Through her doppelganger, Mara must confront her guilt in her twin sister’s accidental death as a teenager,” Andrews said. “This film is really an amalgamation of all that I have been exploring through film up until now.”

Before this project, he said, “I spent most of the rest of my film school time bouncing between experimental cinema, and occasional short narrative pieces. This film is a non-linear narrative in which narrative connections are made symbolically, through a series of lucid events, much the way memory works when making sense of a traumatic or stressful event.”

The project is a form Andrews has been working on developing for a while, where the lucid presence of the passage of time is a primary subject. “Through this, I want to try to explore grief as it is experienced, rather than making a generalized narrative or statement about it,” he said.

“Out of this project I really hope to solidify my ‘voice’ as a filmmaker,” he said. “I’m trying to make the tools necessary to explore the topics that interest me in film — how memory works, the boundaries of narrative, and the many questions I have that may not be answerable in life, generally.

“It’s a self reflection in a way, but it’s also a truly experimental project, because I don’t know if what I’m attempting is going to work,” Andrews said. “I’m taking a leap of faith and trying to really discover some new uses for the film form. I’m hopeful that it will be interesting enough to spark other people’s imaginations, if nothing else.”

Looking down the road, Andrews said, “Long term, I hope to have the opportunity to direct independent feature films. I don’t really have ambitions to be a rich or famous Hollywood director, I just want to be able to explore the film questions that interest me.”

“I don’t know where that will take me professionally, but I have a fairly stable career in film editing lined up, and in between that I have my team of collaborators and artists that I can work on my passion projects with.”

His immediate goal “is to direct a feature in the next four years or so, but beyond that I don’t really have concrete plans,” he said. “More than anything, I just want to make films that I would want to watch.”

For his current senior project, Andrews said he is fundraising for the film and is hoping to collect around $9,000 to really give the film the attention to detail he believes it requires. Andrews has a fundraising page with a video and some more information that can be reached through the following link: