KC Film Spotlight: Laura Kirk

 In Blog

We are so elated that talented filmmaker and professor, Laura Kirk, sat down to answer a few questions for us this month. Check out her KC Film Spotlight, which spans her career (thus far), below!

I graduated from the University of Kansas and spent my career in New York and Los Angeles. I co-wrote and co-starred in one of the first digital films released in theaters: Lisa Picard is Famous. That meant a huge part of our budget went into transferring TO FILM to project at the Cannes Film Festival where it premiered in Un Certain Regard. After that, I continued working on many different projects as an actor, producer, and writer. I kept getting drawn back to this very community doing films with Kevin Willmott.

When my husband died in 2009, I found my career tough to balance with two young children, so I called Kevin and he helped me get an adjunct position at KU. I co-founded Women of Lawrence Film with Marlo Angell, Misti Boland, and Christie Dobson, to remedy the lack of women on sets in this region through mentorship. I produce readings of new work and mentor a summer writing group with students. I’m a founding board member of the amazing Free State Festival curated by Marlo Angell. I’m proud to say a new campus film club is now run by a group of young women.   

I ended up getting my MFA from Stephens College after learning about their program at the Citizen Jane Festival. I also met Catherine Dudley Jones there and ended up working on her feature Parallel Chords. Once I had my MFA I went on the higher education market and got a couple of offers but decided to stay at KU. I found my scholar identity, plus KU supports creative efforts as our research so…Rock Chalk!

I continue to research and write about female screenwriters. I contributed two chapters to When Women Wrote Hollywood and am presenting papers on Joan Didion and Andrea Arnold at the International Screenwriting Network Conference: Gender and the Female Gaze.

I’m thrilled to be here in this community. Influenced by Kevin Willmott, I love telling untold stories, and from my research, understanding how underrepresented groups are MISSING from all written and recorded history. I work on projects like my current screenplay, Tipping the Scales, which was a Screencraft True Story Finalist. It’s the untold story of Marie Porter who was savaged by the press and was executed in a miscarriage of justice. It explores her downfall largely shaped by her physical appearance not conforming to societal expectations. 

I’m impressed and thrilled by the growth of the creative arts here. It’s grown exponentially in the ten years I’ve been back. We need tax incentives in both Kansas and Missouri…but: GO MISSOURI! My film is set in St. Louis! I’m ready to go!

I worked on American Honey as an actress and was proud that when a filmmaker as lauded as Andrea Arnold came here to do her critically acclaimed film, we had an impressive, local support structure in place for their production. I have been thrilled to watch the success of many students I work with such as Sav Rodgers, and Adler Moss, who has a film at the upcoming Tallgrass Film Festival.

My mentor was Dolly Hall who produced that first digital film along with the brilliant Mira Sorvino, and I try to pay it forward as much as possible. Dolly told me I could call her anytime with any question and I tell my students the same thing. We’re here to support each other as we strive for representational equity both in front of and behind the camera. 


Laura, thank you for sharing with us this month. We are so happy to have you as part of our regional filmmaking community, and are excited to continue to follow along and support you in your journey!

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