Filmmaker comes home

She will cast and shoot her next film around Tampa.

By Sheryl Kay Times Correspondent
Published October 19, 2007

After graduating from Blake High School's magnet arts program, Lauren Kinsler set off for college in Texas and a filmmaking career in New York.

Now she's bringing her work back home.

Kinsler, 24, who now lives in Brooklyn, will cast and shoot a short film called Widow in several locations around Tampa. Casting wraps up today at the Jewish Community Center campus.

"I feel really connected to Tampa," Kinsler said. "I'm excited to come back and showcase the city and get the community involved."

Kinsler, whose father, Warren, is a real estate developer in New Tampa, grew up hooked on movies, particularly the more avant-garde variety. Although she received a scholarship to attend a highly regarded film school, she chose to attend the University of Texas at Austin for a more well-rounded education, majoring in humanities.

"I wanted to learn more before I started making movies," she said. "I wanted to have something to make movies about."

While in college, Kinsler took a few film courses and spent countless hours in the film lab. She also studied American Sign Language and became acquainted with a young boy names Calvin Graves, who was the first member in three generations of his family that could hear.

Immensely moved by Calvin's courage and adaptation, Kinsler set out to tell his story in film. Calvin's World, her 13-minute short, won several awards, including an honorable mention at the 2006 Roving Eye Documentary Festival in Rhode Island.

Her new project, Widow, takes place in a Florida town and portrays a few days in the life of 69-year-old Ruth, a Jewish woman who works as a spotlight operator in a theater and socializes with her weekly mah-jongg circle. Creative, intellectual and independent, Ruth keeps a shadowy secret that shapes both her past and her future.

Kinsler based the character on attributes of both of her grandmothers, and the movie will reflect some of Kinsler's own childhood recollections and cultural upbringing. There, however, the similarities end.

"It's pure fiction," she said. The audience is a pseudo character, as it will learn Ruth's secret even though the rest of the characters in the movie never do.

Despite her father's success in business, Kinsler said she is trying to finance her films on her own. "Even if I'm only 24, I still consider myself a professional filmmaker," she said. "You can be sure my parents have helped, and will continue to help, but I don't want to be running to mommy and daddy for everything."

Sheryl Kay can be reached at skreporter@hotmail.com or 813 230-8788.


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How to audition

Auditions for Lauren Kinsler's Widow are scheduled today at the Jewish Community Center, Gunn Highway east of the Veterans Expressway, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, e-mail Kinsler at littleproductions@gmail.com or call the JCC at (813) 264-9000.