Kelly Needleman is a creative force that inspires, provokes emotion, and keeps the viewer in the present. The eighteen-year-old is an accomplished landscape photographer who has traveled the world as well as a budding filmmaker. Kelly’s passion and discipline consist of filmmaking told through artistry, nature, and meaningful storytelling. As a filmmaker, Kelly views life through a lens — with the film playing in his mind — it’s part of his daily creative process. He has recently made his latest short film, Wilderness Quest https://vimeo.com/372389961.
Kelly Needleman is a Director, Actor, Producer, Photographer, and Entrepreneur. Needleman’s passion for landscape photography was a natural progression into the film industry. He formed his own company called Needleman Productions, where he showcases his movies. He has made numerous shorts and experimental films. Kelly has been recognized locally as a student filmmaker and has recently won a prestigious award (Best Young Director) for his documentary, MY IDENTITY, in the Hollywood International Independent Film Festival. His goal is to make beautiful movies by utilizing the natural elements of nature, fog, sea, and sunlight as tools in an outdoor studio. Kelly has also directed Lucid Visions and A Magical Journey Within. https://vimeo.com/275641041
Recently, Kelly wrote, directed, and edited a short film titled Wilderness Quest. Wildness Quest is about a teen’s solo journey through a spiritual rite of passage, which tragically changes the trajectory of his life. It centers around two essential topics affecting teens in today’s culture: social anxiety and bullying, as well as the connection between the two. We applaud Kelly Needleman for taking on these subjects. They are essential to acknowledge, speak about, and create awareness. When Kelly had a minute, he talked to Gemma Magazine (for the second time) about making this short film.
What inspired you to make Wilderness Quest?
I wanted to make this film to spread awareness about essential topics in today’s society, such as bullying and social anxiety.
How did you come up with the specific ideas of Wilderness Quest?
I knew I wanted to create a thriller film that exposed essential topics in today’s society. At my school, they offer a course in which students can experience a rite of passage through a solo journey in nature, so I thought, what if I added the concept of an intrusion of this lone journey by a student who bullies his classmate and has gone to far. I wanted to spread awareness about social anxiety and bullying.
How long did it take to shoot the film?
Pre-production took around one month, which consisted of script editing, storyboards, scheduling, and location permits. We had a very ambitious one day shoot, from sunrise to sunset. Post-production took around two weeks.
Do you feel like teens today are experiencing more anxiety; and yet, are unwilling to speak about it due to the stigma. Do you find this to be true?
Yes, because in today’s society, people, teens primarily communicate through social media, which can sometimes be harsh. There seems to be more social anxiety than in other generations because of the internet and how we communicate with each other.
Do you see a connection between social anxiety and bullying?
Yes, there will always be bullies in this world, primarily when they can hide behind a screen trolling anonymously.
How do you like being a Director?
Being a director is fantastic. I love being able to bring my vision to reality. Though I may be very hands-on with my projects, I welcome a collaborative environment with my crew. The Wilderness Quest film crew was outstanding. Everyone was a professional in their field, and I learned something new from each member.
The film is shot beautifully, and it’s in nature (a passion of yours). How did that feel?
It was important to me that we shot the film with natural light only. I wanted to make this film as beautiful as possible with unique compositions and vantage points.
What would you like the audience to take away from the film?
I hope this film provokes a conversation about the impact that bullying may have on specific individuals with social anxiety.
What is your next project about?
I am in pre-production for my film Lost Visibility. Lost Visibility is a prelude to a feature concept. The logline is: Maybe they weren’t as close as they thought they were. Three friends share lucid dreams that bring their secrets to reality.
Do you ever see yourself re-visiting landscape photography?
Lately, I have been focusing on applying to colleges and creating short films. Unfortunately, I haven’t found time for landscape photography, but I am hoping to get back into it this upcoming year.
To watch the powerful film, you can click on the following link: https://vimeo.com/372389961
On behalf of Gemma Magazine, we would like to thank Kelly Needleman for speaking to us. We especially value the awareness he’s bringing to social media and bullying.
You can follow Kelly Needleman on Instagram @kellyneedleman