reel time l BY ANITA NEAL HARRISON
Hometown girl Katie Mustard garners international acclaim for her films.
he’s shown films at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Munich, Toronto, Berlin and Edinburgh — and that’s just this year. In November, film producer Katie Mustard will be coming home to Columbia, where she will have not one, not two, but three films in the Citizen Jane Film Festival. “Katie’s amazing,” says Paula Elias, Citizen Jane festival director. “She is one of the most hardworking filmmakers I have ever known, and for someone so young, she has an amazing résumé. It’s cool that she’s a hometown girl.” Mustard’s mother, Columbia’s not-forprofit champion Cindy Mustard, proudly notes that her daughter’s achievements include nine film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival and an upcoming award for women in film at the St. Louis International Film Festival on Nov. 22. Local film buffs may remember “American Shopper,” a mockumentary about the fictitious sport of aisling, filmed at Schnucks in Columbia and featured on the April 2007 Inside Columbia cover. That, too, was a Katie Mustard production. We caught up with Mustard before her return trip to CoMo for a conversation about filmmaking and the joys of coming home.
Why did you choose a career in film? There were four key teachers in Columbia who guided me on my path. I will never forget Mrs. Bard from West Junior High, who bravely took a group of seventh- and eighth-graders from the drama class to New York City, where we went behind the scenes of “Phantom of the Opera”! In ninth grade, I took a drama class from legendary acting teacher Joyce Walker at Hickman, where I quickly learned I was a terrible actor but enjoyed the behind-the-scenes production. In 10th grade, I met the most inspirational teacher, who would change my life — Sara Riddick, who taught a film study class at Hickman. I feel extremely
INSIDE COLUMBIA NOVEMBER 2014
fortunate to have had access to this class and to have had a high school teacher so passionate about storytelling through film. Mrs. Riddick guided me in starting Hickman’s first film club in 1994, and she informed me about summer filmtelevision classes at North Carolina School of the Arts, Northwestern University and UCLA. I attended all of these universities in the summer between 11th and 12th grade. These programs taught me that film and television expand and encapsulate experience, seize real life and explore the interiors of the mind. The final teacher who influenced my career was John Mitchell. During my senior year, I did a work-study program at [Columbia Public Schools Television] Channel 16, spending two to four hours a day learning practical video production and editing. Without such classes and supportive teachers, I would not be where I am today. I am truly grateful for the public school system in Columbia and, of course, my parents who supported my
unrelenting desire for filmmaking.
What happened once you left Columbia? I majored in film-television at the University of Southern California. USC provided me with the education and industry contacts I needed to succeed. After college, I spent years climbing the production ladder from intern to production assistant to production coordinator to production manager and now to producer, working in every form of content in which I could get involved — commercials, music videos, reality TV, short films and feature films. I cannot cite a specific “break” in my career where I felt like I had truly arrived, but there have been dozens of moments of elation when festival acceptances were announced, awards were won, a movie star signed onto a project and financing was found. For me, filmmaking is the most intriguing art form ever invented. It can transport the mind and soul of the average person a million miles away or deep into himself. Today, I lead the crew that makes those transports possible.