Artpace Teen Council: An Interview with Up-and-Coming Filmmaker Kayla Whittaker

Artpace Teen Council: An Interview with Up-and-Coming Filmmaker Kayla Whittaker

by Fabi Cepeda

Kayla Whittaker is a San Antonio-based filmmaker, becoming known for her eye-catching media and playful aesthetics. By combining all of her talents, she is able to create pieces that are not only pleasing to the eye but also influential to your mind. In terms of influences, one of the main things Kayla draws from is music; she finds it plays a huge factor on how emotion is moved around. “Seeing a creator make something so deeply personal, not because they want to, but because they have to, will always inspire me.”

As an artist Kayla finds herself in the glory of it all, by finding herself being consumed by every aspect of film. The emotion, the intensity, the drama. It’s hard not to fall in love with something so theatrical yet so close to home, and this love for film plays a huge role in her filmmaking. With a goal of creating meaningful work, Kayla reaches into various emotions, so the audience can really experience her work. I do want people to feel seen with the work I make. To take a scary thing, such as an emotion or the fragility of our lives, and make it something you can play with objectively is important to me.”

Kayla Whittaker, “Don’t You Feel Better.” Video still. Courtesy of the artist.

With Kayla’s career as a filmmaker just starting, she has been putting in hard work to market and brand herself, allowing for her work to gain more attention. When commenting on her experiences as a developing filmmaker, she stated, You’ve got to be prepared to fail, to try a million lighting setups and find out they all turn out bad, to write a script and realize it needs a lot of work, to be the driving force of a personal project and take credit for it if it sucks. It’s definitely not a one-man job, and I’m lucky enough to have friends willing to help me when I need them. However, it is nice to look back at previous works and see how far I’ve come. I think the greatest development comes from just allowing yourself to do things you’re scared of and finding your own vulnerable courage.

Being based in San Antonio lets Kayla be comfortable in her own creative skin, allowing her artistic talents to thrive. “It’s like this huge cultural hub where you’re free to do and make whatever you want, so I felt confident enough to carve out my own identity within myself and in this city.” Being in San Antonio also allows Kayla to experience the amazing art community in this colorful city, “There’s a lot of talented people here. People tend to gravitate towards each other easily, and once you’ve found your group, it feels like a little family. So, in a lot of ways, I think we have a strong community, people are really connected, especially the art scene, and I think it’s important to find like-minded people to surround yourself with.”

The latest piece Kayla was able to share was a music video for the song ¨Space¨ by Semiset & Unsweet. In a world where attention can be hard to grasp, Kayla works hard to create media that is pleasing. “The stakes were higher too. This wasn’t just a passion project for me. It was a video for someone else essentially, so I felt a lot of pressure to bring something mystical to life, and I really didn’t want to let anyone down. Working with indoor spaces and more professional lighting was even something new to me! I still feel very, very amateur all of the time, like I’m trying to constantly prove to myself I can do this, and with this music video, it was sort of an indication that maybe I could.”

Kayla Whittaker, “Semiset & Unsweet, Space.” Music video still. Courtesy of the artist.

Kayla is currently working on a few projects, and she is hoping that by the end of November her projects will be completed. You can find more of her work on her Vimeo and follow her on her Instagram @kaylawhittakerr.

This year, Teen Council members will research and write an Artpace blog entry about the innovative art and artists that make up the thriving San Antonio community.

Fabiola “Fabi” Cepeda is a 17-year-old senior at Douglas MacArthur High School. This is Fabi’s first year participating in the Artpace Teen Council.

The Artpace Teen Council is a nine-month, paid program designed for San Antonio area high school students (15-18 years old) to become advocates for contemporary art and young leaders in their community. Teen Council members work with Artpace staff and artists to develop teen programs, support Artpace events, and create community-based projects throughout the school year.

To learn more about the Artpace Teen Council, visit the Teen Council page on our website.