From using Legos as props to making his own Harry Potter fan films, Kellen Gibbs figured the DIY approach to filmmaking suited him just fine. “My parents bought me a small digital camera and my interest sort of took off from there,” said Gibbs, who made films with his friends growing up in Pacific Grove on California’s central coast. “In fact, I approached filmmaking the same way I did with sports, in that I didn’t want to just be a spectator, I wanted to play as well”.
To do this Gibbs watched plenty of movies as a kid, often recreating famous scenes from Harry Potter and Star Wars films with whatever props he had available, usually his old toys, enlisting his friends to help along the way.
Gibbs early efforts prepared him well when he eventually enrolled at film school, joining the incoming class at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) branch in Los Angeles in 2013. “I would say I was ahead of a lot of students in there, many students started film school without having made a film but I knew most of the terminology and how to get stuff done.” Gibbs said NYFA added much needed technical skills as well as forming an understanding of the unique language of cinema. “A formal film education definitely broadened my horizons.” he said. “I learned that every shot mattered, the lighting mattered, and character mattered. Everything I put on screen mattered. “
Perhaps Gibb’s most significant achievement at NYFA was his graduating short The Moment I Was Alone, a stirring and emotional story about a young girl left alone in a world where people are frozen in time and space. The nearly 20-minute short is a solid result for Gibbs, particularly given that he was able to produce a work of high quality with a large cast and crew on a limited budget. Lauded by both his NYFA professors and festival audiences alike, the short went on to receive a nomination at the Carmel International Film Festival and picked up major awards at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema and the International Monarch Film Festival in Pebble Beach.
“When people ask me why I made this film, I always feel that I have a bad answer because the film evolved slowly over 3 years from the simple idea of what would the world be like if it was frozen, it’s hard to say exactly where the idea came from, maybe I was a little bit lonely when I came up with the idea,” said Gibbs. He said that the film is more of a metaphor about growing up, letting go and becoming an adult.
Gibbs now plans to continue to build on his recent success, basing himself in Los Angeles and actively writing and preparing his next projects. He recently adapted the novel The Freezing Season by George Norman Lippert, which he hopes to start filming next year with his team, including The Moment I Was Alone producer Rochel Goldsmith and the celebrated Canadian composer Isaias Garcia, who also composed Brandon Slagle’s The Black Dahlia.
“We were so comfortable working with each other with our last film, that we figured if we are going to attack the industry, why don’t we attack it together. Hopefully we’ll make our stamp at some point soon, ” said Gibbs.