Kristi is a dual NZ/British genre screenwriter and script consultant. She’s been hired and commissioned by producers on various genre projects. She produced the first movie rolled out over Twitter with a pioneering transmedia project called Hurst (aka@KarenBarley). Her short script Cuckoo won an L.A Comedy Short Award and was given a NZ Film Commission Fresh Shorts grant.
Her horror 39 Days has been sold to NZ production company Libertine Pictures (NZ) and is in active development with Neil Cross (Mama, Luther, Crossbones) as Executive Producer.
Kristi also won the Grand Prize of the Stage32 Family Feature screenplay competition and is actively working with NZ directors and producers on her genre screenplays.
How and why did you get into the screen industry?
I went to film school in 1999. I trained mainly as a video camera operator. In about 2008 I came to a kind of mid-life crisis where I realised that my life had become stagnant. I'd been working for a TV company as a camera operator for too long where I was simply being told what to do and there wasn't much creativity. I felt like I hadn't achieved much with my creativity, so I decided to teach myself screenwriting because I went to film school to be involved with filmmaking, but took the technical route. I always wrote short stories as a child, so it seemed natural to turn my love of storytelling and my love of genre films into a career.
What strengths do you need to do your role?
Persistence, motivation, collaboration and independence. Know how to diplomatically endorse your themes and fight for the battles you think are important.
What are the things you love about it?
I love creating stories that move people. Whether it's scary, funny, exhilarating or sad. Having the ability to get people to emote with the power of your words and storytelling is wonderful. Finishing a screenplay is a thrill. Also, working with like-minded people who understand your messages within and or come up with their own that you empathise with, is a great feeling because it shows someone is passionate about your story! And knowing that, is beautiful.
What advice would you give to other women who want to direct/write for the screen?
You need to learn structure, and understand storytelling. But mostly for film scriptwriting, one needs to understand how films cut together. If you can begin and end scenes, like an editor would think... and use your literary skills to describe the scenes, then your screenwriting will stand out. Because it will read like a movie in someone's head.
Learn about contracts. How to read them and understand the terms, and how you can negotiate them. Female writers are taken for granted and if one knows all this, it will empower you and your career.
Try to have something to say within your stories, even if it's subjective to you. Never be afraid to push for your themes and messages within your story. Theme may feel like a feminine part of the storytelling process and action/plot is the masculine side. Both are necessary. Theme is what will make people remember the film, so don't let anyone who doesn't identify with theme, tell you it's not important.