Erik and Laura-Marie Magazine 50: Kristin Cato Interview
Where are you from?
St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.
What did you study in school?
I got a B.A. in Semiotics, the study of signs and symbols. This concentration combined bits of anthropology, literary theory, cultural theory, film studies, and artmaking. I began making films my junior year of college. I discovered a passion for filmmaking and later earned a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema Production.
What do you do for work?
I earn a living bookkeeping and managing finances for individuals, businesses and non-profits. I work for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre three days a week and freelance my other days.
Can you tell me about The Lighted Bridge?
The Lighted Bridge is an episodic audio drama distributed on the internet as a kind of interactive storybook. It tells the story of Charlotte, an ancient woman discovered frozen in ice. We follow Charlotte's path of awakening as she melts and retrieves memory. The style is often free-associative and dreamlike. The subtitle, Where History Meets The Subconscious, points to a relationship between the political and personal. Historical references frame Charlotte's travels, and echo like dreams. These references symbolize the collective dream, collective trauma, and collective amnesia. In some ways, Charlotte represents history and our relationship to it. In other ways, Charlotte represents us and our relationship to history. She struggles between being an object and a subject.
What about creating a radio play appeals to you? Are there any special challenges?
I love using sound to activate and draw out a listener's imagination, which it can do powerfully. I have made many short films, but feel the mental images created through radio drama are stronger than those on celluloid. Writing for radio frees me from limitations of realism and small budgets. I can travel to prehistoric landscapes. Books fly, characters leave their bodies and come back to them. I orchestrate wars, shipwrecks, avalanches.I grew up a musician in a musical family so I have a natural affinity with sound. I consider these audio dramas to be somewhere between story and song.
The main challenge for me is finding time to do the work, but that would be true of any creative endeavor. The challenges for audio are smaller than those of film. I do not need much equipment. I do not need big sets, costumes, or a fancy camera. One special challenge is finding an audience, funding it and building a 'career' around it, because radio drama it is not a dominant art form. But that aspect of it has many benefits as well.
What inspires you? Also, what motives you?
Experiencing and engaging with great works of art inspire me. Nature is the greatest work of art and that inspires me too. Tapping into my creative potential unleashes enormous amounts of inspiration. Creativity is so alive and so much of my energy can be found there.
I get deep satisfaction from the creative process and that motivates me to continue. I'm a bit of a mystic. Ideas approach from outside myself. I invite, listen and watch for them, and they come. It feels like connection, relationship and communication. Few other activities give me such a sense of wholeness and peace.
What would be your dream come true?
To be in a state of creative flow every day. To grow as an artist and develop my craft. I would like to make feature films.
What advice do you have for other artists?
Invest in an artist's coach to help you identify your goals, keep you on track and hold you accountable to your dreams. Set realistic goals and follow through on them. If you stall, make projects bite-sized and complete them. That builds confidence, which you need. Don't get caught in fantasies of fame or romantic notions of being an artist, which are pure distraction. Be motivated by your gifts and strengths. Trust your instincts. Study the works you love. Blaze your own path.
I have learned these things the hard way.