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Kimisha Renee Davis

Kimisha Renee Davis is on the Dean’s List at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, majoring in Cinematography and minoring in Directing. Kimisha is a filmmaker on the rise, artist, social media influencer and charity volunteer.

 

Tell us about your interest in film, when did it start? What inspires you most?

 

First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity to share a part of my world with the filmmaking community. I’ve been captivated and mesmerized with films ever since I was a little girl. I absolutely loved adventuring into different worlds. My first experience and love of film was in front of the camera. I majored in acting, vocal music, and musical theatre in high school at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. I majored in acting at Carnegie Mellon University and I also majored in Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Over time, my interest shifted from being in front of the camera to being behind the camera. What inspires me most is helping women to become more empowered and creating diversity in professional, political, and social spaces. Additionally, I am vegan. Supporting a healthy and sustainable environment is very important to me and I am excited to emerge this in my filmmaking.

 
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Can you tell us about your current studies, and what really gets your creative juices going?

 

I’m a Film student on the Dean’s List at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, majoring in Cinematography and minoring in Directing. Creativity involves all of the senses as well as a healthy dose of optimism that one person can make a difference. I am committed to excellence and making films that leave others moved and inspired. It’s so awesome that at ArtCenter Film I get to create my own films and see my vision come to life. I really enjoy watching action, live action, fantasy, science fiction, and super hero films. I’m so looking forward to creating ones that put strong leading female characters in the forefront.

 

Can you tell us about your approach to learning and how you adapt your work with new techniques and equipment?

 

My foremost approach to learning is that there is always more to learn. The second most important consideration is that you can learn something from everyone, so I keep an open mind. Technology is constantly changing, and I love staying current with the newest techniques and equipment. That’s why
you’ll find me at cine demos, seminars, workshops, trade shows, and launches across the country.

 

Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to in the industry?

 

To me, a hero is someone who’s improved the human condition; someone who will leave a legacy long after they are gone. My personal heroines are Reed
Morano, ASC; Ava DuVernay; Rachel Morrison, ASC; Jessica Lopez, SCO; Oprah Winfrey; Nancy Schreiber, ASC, Natasha Braier, ASC; Patty Jenkins; and Shonda Rhimes. I look up to these women because they are leaders, innovators and are performing at the top of their craft. These women inspire me to keep going and, by their example, make me believe I can make a difference in filmmaking as well.

 

What’s your view of the industry right now? What challenges and positive changes are you seeing?

 

The industry is changing rapidly and in unpredictable ways. Technology is moving us to places that were unimaginable a few years ago. Social changes, with the empowerment of women and people of color, are also rapidly shifting the landscape. Filmmakers have a huge opportunity to help change the lives of people all over the world. As a woman of color Cinematographer/Director on the rise, I’m excited to be part of the change happening right now. Honestly, I wish I saw more women on set. Sooner than later I hope to see more initiatives to make that happen.

 
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What impact are female filmmakers having on cinema?

 

Women are 50% of the population, but have an unacceptably small representation in the film industry. There are wonderful, trailblazing female filmmakers making a huge difference - but there needs to be more! We are creating opportunities and laying the foundation for other women to follow and build upon. We are on the new horizon of filmmaking, and women are the face of that change. We are just at the beginning, and I encourage female filmmakers to use #femalefilmmakerfriday on social media so we can make even more of an impact.

 

What advice would you give to young aspiring cinematographers starting out in their careers?

 

My advice for aspiring cinematographers is to be persistent! Always see the glass as half full. No matter what, keep going. Surround yourself with people who empower and support you. Spend time at camera houses and go to seminars demoing new lenses, and lighting and camera equipment.  Reach out to filmmaking unions and societies and attend their events. Discover filmmakers that have a different style than yours and learn from them. Read as many scripts as you can, watch as much film and TV as you can, create as much as you can. Take time to find your voice, and tell stories that make a difference. Never give up. Never give up!

 

What Vitec brands have you used? Which of these brands has had an impact on your work and why?

 

I was very excited to find out that several of my favorite cine brands are owned by Vitec. I’ve used Anton/Bauer, Small HD, Teradek, Wooden Camera, O’Connor, Sachtler, Litepanels, and Lowepro for years. Anton/Bauer is my go-to for power because their batteries are durable and always reliable. When you’re on the move filming from location to location it’s important to know that your batteries will hold a charge and last.

Having a sharp, clear image on set is imperative, that’s why Small HD monitors are my favorite. I like that they are portable, the display has stunning colors, and there are options for image analysis. Teradek Bolt’s wireless technology is the absolute best in my experience. It provides real-time, wireless monitoring and has zero delay. Additionally, the wireless lens control of Teradek RT is fantastic. It supports three channels, is easy to mount, and requires little power. The lens motors are silent and have instant response. I love their precise control and dependability.

This summer I used Wooden Camera accessories on pretty much every set, so I decided to check out the store in real life. When I first visited their store in Burbank, I was kid in a candy shop. Baseplates, handles, shoulder rigs, matte boxes… you name it, they’ve got it all, and the quality is first-rate. Having a support system you can count on is so important, that’s why I always reach for O’Connor tripods. The fluid head has smooth, intuitive control and the legs are rock-solid, able to withstand the most hostile filming locations with ease.

I see my frame as a canvas, and I adore painting with light. Lighting impacts the mood in a deep, visceral way. I especially enjoy using Gemini lights because they work for so many applications. They have accurate, full-spectrum Daylight and Tungsten temperatures, and you have full control of hue, saturation, and intensity. They also have many useful lighting effects and wireless capabilities.I use my Lowepro backpack at film school on a daily basis. It’s great because I can easily transport my laptop, tech accessories, DSLR camera and lenses all in one bag. Whether I’m writing a script, location scouting, on set, or editing, it’s convenient, comfortable and sturdy.

I was very excited to find out that several of my favorite cine brands are owned by Vitec. I’ve used Anton/Bauer, Small HD, Teradek, Wooden Camera, O’Connor, Sachtler, Litepanels, and Lowepro for years.Anton/Bauer is my go-to for power because their batteries are durable and always reliable. When you’re on the move filming from location to location it’s important to know that your batteries will hold a charge and last.

Having a sharp, clear image on set is imperative, that’s why Small HD monitors are my favorite. I like that they are portable, the display has stunning colors, and there are options for image analysis.Teradek Bolt’s wireless technology is the absolute best in my experience. It provides real-time, wireless monitoring and has zero delay. Additionally, the wireless lens control of Teradek RT is fantastic. It supports three channels, is easy to mount, and requires little power. The lens motors are silent and have instant response. I love their precise control and dependability.

This summer I used Wooden Camera accessories on pretty much every set, so I decided to check out the store in real life. When I first visited their store in Burbank, I was kid in a candy shop. Baseplates, handles, shoulder rigs, matte boxes… you name it, they’ve got it all, and the quality is first-rate.Having a support system you can count on is so important, that’s why I always reach for O’Connor tripods. The fluid head has smooth, intuitive control and the legs are rock-solid, able to withstand the most hostile filming locations with ease.

I see my frame as a canvas, and I adore painting with light. Lighting impacts the mood in a deep, visceral way. I especially enjoy using Gemini lights because they work for so many applications. They have accurate, full-spectrum Daylight and Tungsten temperatures, and you have full control of hue, saturation, and intensity. They also have many useful lighting effects and wireless capabilities.

I use my Lowepro backpack at film school on a daily basis. It’s great because I can easily transport my laptop, tech accessories, DSLR camera and lenses all in one bag. Whether I’m writing a script, location scouting, on set, or editing, it’s convenient, comfortable and sturdy.

 
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How important is having the right gear to create your vision?

 

Having the right gear to create my vision is essential. In a fast-paced and competitive profession like filmmaking, I will only rely on brands I know to be well-made and reliable.

 

What does the future of cinematography look like?

 

Until recently, the tools for creating professional-level cinematography were beyond the reach of all but a few. Now, new technologies allow someone like me, a woman storyteller of color, to realize my dream of making a positive contribution in the world, and telling stories of people who, for far too long, remained unheard and unseen. I believe the future of cinematography looks a lot like people such as me!