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ZOI: An Interview with the Director Zoey Kriegmont

Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist? I was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska. A stunning yet isolating place. From a very young age, I found myself creating to fill the space - from writing and singing songs while climbing trees to directing and acting in plays I would put on in the driveway. I always dreamed of bigger things, and when I had the chance I moved to California. While pursuing a mathematics degree at CSU, Monterey Bay, I found myself quickly embedded in the rich artistic community there. I acted in school plays, as well as in performances by the Eclectic Collective, an ongoing production team specializing in multimedia art performances; I hosted a radio show with my best friend,I worked as an art model, runway model, catalog, and lifestyle model.

Whatever the art is, I find myself there. What was your first job in the art field? My first job in the art field was modeling for a heroic-sized sculpture, ‘Diana: Earth and Moon’ by Richard MacDonald in Monterey, California. As a young 19-year-old, freshly having left Alaska, that moment was life-changing. It was the first time I thought, “I CAN dream big.” What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work? I tell stories to find people that can relate. I tell stories to create a community. I tell stories to not feel so alone and to hope that others feel less alone when they hear my stories. Those that interest me are perception, self and otherwise, acceptance, confidence, vulnerability, love, human connection, non-verbal communication, and the art of a picture. Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project. My vision has always been strong, but my method has not. This film, ZOI, was the first time I followed through and made the damn thing. There was a time crunch involved, and a lot of helping hands like my wonderful co-cinematographers and editor. But now that I have done one, I see how to make others. There is a level of planning and all that, but really it comes down to believing in yourself and just doing it anyway. Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you? Some of my influences, especially for this project, include Fernando Trueba (The Artist and the Model), Wes Anderson, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire to name a few. I tend to pull influences from my day-to-day, or books or music. Feelings are my biggest influence. How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

I’m not sure how I feel about the way the industry is changing. While the self-tapes make things “more accessible”, I feel it takes away from the in-person chemistry that used to exist.I also feel that most of the films and shows being produced are…well it’s fast fashion for screens. It’s rare that I watch something made now that makes me really stop and think, and return to it over and over. But I like the heavy, philosophical things.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

I think the biggest piece of advice, and a cliche for a reason, is to believe in yourself. I held myself back from so many opportunities because I didn’t think I had it. Most people don’t have it, they just do it. And don’t be afraid to ask for help! We are connection-based beings, the right people out there want to see you succeed.

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

I do! I really really do. Our culture, as humans, flourished into what it is by the Art of Storytelling. Stories become ideas, conversations, ideals, and even laws. A truly moving piece can spark a fire.

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

I think streaming has utterly taken over. And understandably so, it’s just so easy. Especially with the pandemic, when we were made to feel scared of human interaction, staying home on the couch was The Right Thing To Do. Also with the pandemic, and the onslaught of terrible things always occurring, I think people want to watch things that will take them away, that will make them forget the reality they live in. So that’s trash reality tv, or Marvel movies, or a sci/fi fantasy world, things that go in and go right back out. Not something to really sit with and digest. But it’s all a pendulum, I think people will be bored of the easy eventually.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

I’ve got a few things that are still in the drawing board phase. I also sing and model so I’m leaning toward that as my main form of expression right now, especially with the strikes in Hollywood. And ZOI isn’t finished, it’s only the beginning!


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