Hatsephi Kushma, a seasoned film maker and professor of Cinema, is the CEO of HK Films. She is well known for her artistic and all-rounder abilities, and has successfully produced entertainment, public affairs, sports and live broadcast series with an extended run of over 25 episodes. Professor Kushma is a graduate of Washington University.
Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Could you briefly introduce yourself?
I am Hatsephi Kushma, artist, entrepreneur, filmmaker, and professor of African American Cinema. My company is HK Films LLC in St. Louis, MO.
How and why did you get into film making?
I have always been interested in broadcast, concert, and theater productions. So, I studied broadcasting in college and began building my career in Arts & Entertainment by working at local radio stations and theaters as an actress and technician. Then ABC network, KTVI Channel 2 gave me an internship that launched my career into television. I worked in television as a technician, Program Coordinator, and Production Manager. Transitioning into films was a natural move for me. Shortly after that, I enrolled in grad school, choosing Liberal Arts as major, so that I could develop my scriptwriting skills.
So what and where do you teach?
I teach the History of African American Cinema at St. Louis University in the spring. I’ve been there five years. I first started teaching this course at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This fall, I will teach this class at Webster University. The class examines African American Cinema from a social, political, historical, and aesthetic perspective, covering subjects ranging from actors in Black-face to special effects editing.
Tell us about your acknowledge at Black Filmmakers Hall Of Fame?
That honor was given to me at Paramount Studio in California for a documentary I directed called The Role Model Experience at a film festival. It was at this same weekend festival that the feature film, Panthers, premiered. I was truly honored to be featured and recognized among filmmakers such as Mario Van Peebles, the director of Panthers.
What is your one best achievement or gig thus far?
One of the best achievements gained was working on the feature film Up In The Air, that received an Academy Award Oscar nomination. Another exciting achievement was having a commercial I worked on featured as a Super Bowl commercial.
Any upcoming projects or initiatives you would like to discuss?
Currently, I am Stage Managing the dance concert Muddy River that opens May 11, 2012 at Cardinal Regail Center. However, HK Films next biggest project is The Legions Film Series that documents events and profiles historians in various careers. Immediately following the screening is a question and answer session with a filmmaker or historian featured in the film. The target audiences are high school and college students in an effort to educate and entertain via of Arts and Entertainment utilizing motion pictures and the electronic medias. Anyone interested in being part of the creative team is encouraged to contact me to get involved.
Talk to us about your mentors or role models?
Spike Lee is my favorite filmmaker and role model. I have followed his career from the beginning, always appreciating his desire to elevate the consciousness of the audience. Although his films have often been considered controversial, it is that controversy that intrigues people to come see Spike’s movies. When I first met Spike I got him to autograph my copy of Making Movies film-making book. He simply wrote, “Make Em.” That was enough said for me.
Quick advice for aspiring storytellers?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Sit still to let the characters speak to you. Simply show up in front of the blank page and write whatever comes to mind. Remember every story is in search of a writer, which is to say, “What you are searching for, is searching for you.”
What are your leisure time activities?
What leisure time? No, I’m just joking. I love live concerts, dancing and travel.
Cats or Dogs?
Neither. I truly enjoy both. Nevertheless, I have tropical fish. People don’t mind coming over to feed them when I’m away.
For more details visit www.hkfilms-stl.com