Film, Imagination, and Miracles - An Interview with Kimber Leigh
By: Darida Rose
Im“Ocean”ation is a short quarantine film with a run-time of approximately 3 minutes featuring Kimber Leigh. She is the author of Greta Gar Bitch, a true story of resilience and resolve in the face of emotional and physical abuse. Kimber is a well-known talent in the Arizona film and media circles having worked as a producer, TV host, model and actress.
Im“ocean”ation is a film that follows the theme of resilience and resolve. Set in quarantine, the main character reads her own book on finding a path to serenity, highlighting praying and giving yourself a chance to belong in the beauty of the world. Ironically, this scene is followed by an inner struggle to find something to do—after all, pretty much all active options are off the table as a result of quarantine life. The main characters uses her imagination to go diving, in her tub. Once she’s submerged in the water, we enter into visuals of the deep ocean, being exposed to its wondrous and majestic habitat. Once the character comes back up, she finds a beautiful shell in her tub. A strong message—during a time when strength is needed and people are looking for miracles to help them stay above the murky waters of their inner souls.
Kimber Leigh joined Phoenix Journal for an interview regarding her process in the making of Im“ocean”ation.
Darida Rose, Phoenix Journal (PJ): Can you take us through the process of making this film while in quarantine?
Kimber Leigh (KL): Aloha! Thank you for these wonderful question! I live on the Big Island of Hawaii with my husband. We had just started to quarantine like the rest of the world in March of 2020. Weeks prior to the start of isolation, a film festival that I had been entering since the year 2006, called, THE A3F ALMOST FAMOUS FILM FESTIVAL, located in Phoenix Arizona, (where I used to live) decided to hold a 72 Hour Six Feet of Separation film challenge. I heard about the challenge and just shrugged off the idea of entering because I had no film equipment, no crew and more importantly no IDEA of a story concept.
The day before the film challenge was to close for submissions, I was out walking and felt a deep desire to enter anyway. I mean it is a film challenge and I had MANY challenges to overcome. The first challenge was getting an editor for the film. I called my friend, Jay Lee, who is also a very talented filmmaker in his own right! I asked him if he was interested in being the editor for this challenge. He gave me the green light! Next, I needed an idea. I went home and started a storyboard of anything that would come to mind. (the storyboard was really bad) Next, I needed HELP. When my husband came home for work that day, I asked him if he wanted to make a film with me. He said yes. Together we came up with the title Imoceanation. We had to keep using our imagination to make this film work! From the title we were able to make our story come alive. That night I found the courage to enter the film challenge, still not overcoming the lack of our equipment needs. ( I would work on that later) I had heard in the past of some filmmakers actually filming on their iPhones. My next thought was…why not me? Why can’t I try to film that same way? So, we shot the entire film on my iPhone 7 Plus! To overcome the sound issues, I used the voice memos app on the iPhone to use for voiceover work for the film. Once the clock started to tick for the start of the 72 hour film challenge, we wrote the story as we went along. We needed the girl in the hammock (me)to have something to do for an action shot while filming her. That is when I came up with the idea of using my own book and taking a paragraph out of the book to deliver a timely message to the audience. The entire time we were filming we were sending the footage to our editor, Jay, on the mainland. He would offer his suggestions for blending the scenes together. My husband would be sending emails or we would face time back and forth with Jay, while setting up shots and shooting. The underwater filming was the most fun. We had to pray for consistent weather on the Big Island of Hawaii during the 72 Hours and the island God’s answered our prayers. My husband is a dive instructor and I am an advanced diver. With those skills we incorporated the ocean scenes into our film. We shot the ocean footage early in the morning and were so pleased that the sea cooperated with us. Once the filming and voice over work was complete we sent the files off to the mainland for final editing. Without our editor, Jay Lee and his many suggestions there would be no film. I do believe that we could do a few more tweaking edits to make the film even more magical, but for now we made an award winning film in just 72 Hours!
(PJ): How did your background in being an author translate into film art?
(KL): I giggled at this question. You see, I was a film artist first turned author. I have been acting in, producing and directing films since the year 2000. I believe I had a great advantage being in film first and then turning that skill into authoring a book. When writing a book, you still have an audience. The only difference is that your audience cannot see you. They can only feel you. You job is to translate your story with a feeling instead of actually being there with visual entertainment. You find a way to describe to the best of your ability, your story, ensuring your reader will feel like they are on your journey with you. Then allow the story to flow through you, rather than from you to experience your greatest success!
(PJ): The shell found at the bottom of the tub is the emotional climax of the film. It is the miracle of which you speak of in the beginning of the film? For those who haven’t read your book, can you offer us a glimpse of what the shell signifies?
(KL): The shell that is found in the bottom of the tub was the only way I could find to translate how the woman in the film, who was wanting to slip out of her reality by using her imagination of a better experience from the tub to the ocean and back, was the only way to show that she actually HAD that real experience. She used her imagination to find a way to escape from quarantine to live life again with zest and it worked! We wanted the audience to see that her ability to create a different reality was possible for her, with hopes that the audience would realize that the same would be possible for them! We humans sometimes want a different reality and try our best to create different only to find frustration when nothing happens right away. The shell represents that new created reality. She actually DID change her outcome and the shell that she finds in the tub becomes indicative of her desired outcome. I believe even she was a bit surprised that when she used her imagination believing to receive her desired outcome, that MIRACLES do happen! All things are possible for change singularly in your life or as a collective group of society, as long as you believe.
(PJ): How can we help ourselves tap into our imagination to achieve the sense of bliss and reach a sublime state of presence as portrayed in the film? What advice would you give?
(KL): This is a great question! The answer is, believe in your heart mind and soul that success is the ONLY option available to you. If you knew beyond any doubt that you could not fail, you would keep manifesting your desired outcomes. The way to tap into the formula is to ASK for the universe to work through you. You need to understand that it is not you that is doing the creating. There is a greater force outside of you using you as a vehicle or an instrument for creativity. Then your job is to BELIEVE this to be true for you. After your done creating (whatever you want to experience) know that you will RECEIVE your state of bliss, success, or relief from the force fed reality you were living in prior.
(PJ): Can you tell us a bit about how you think quarantine can actually help people recover from trauma and stresses that have been a source of resentment for them throughout their lives.
(KL): There was a time that I wrote about in my book, where I isolated for 4 years after a breakup after 18 years of sharing the same house with my common law husband. I thought we would be together forever. After he left me I fell into very deep sadness, fear and felt great loss. I did not want to surround myself around others because I felt my energy would bring them down. My isolation was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a time for reflection and great renewal. I stripped myself down to the deepest core of my being. I looked at myself, my life my very existence, with a magnifying glass outlook. I saw that every choice I made brought to the very moment of my current experience. I took action and accepted my responsibility for the outcome of my creation.
I looked at my life like a movie script. I fired the director (me) I fired my co-star (my common law husband) and I fired all of my featured actors (friends and family that we shared on his side) and I fired all the extras (the outside acquaintances) in my life. I stripped it all down and started to rebuild a better life for myself. I wrote a new script and hired new actors (new love, new friends and a new location to live)
I met my husband while on vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. I went back to the mainland, sold everything I owned, and moved to Hawaii for a fresh start after 4 years of a self induced quarantine.
I actually miss those days of deep self-reflection. If you are reading this and are under quarantine and suffering right now, know “this too shall pass.” That life is ever changing and growing all the while giving us an opportunity to see life in a new way. There is a great saying, “Its not what happens to us that makes the greatest difference in our lives, but rather how we react to what is happening that makes all the difference in our life.”
(PJ): Now that you have had a major hand in creating a film do you think it’s an avenue you would like to explore more of?
(KL): Since creating films since 2006, I would have to say that I did choose this as an avenue in my life. My challenge has been to find a way to get my work seen. The age of Covid has brought this opportunity to me. The world before Covid was fast and furious and people were moving at a fast pace with no real direction. Now that everyone has slowed down, taken a deep breath and are reassessing their life’s direction, I am taking advantage and using this time to find outlets to get my work out into the world. Life is granting me those outlets. Such as yours! Mahalo, for this opportunity to share a tiny piece of me with you.
(PJ): Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you worked on creating this film with family members. If so, how was the process? What are some of the joys and perhaps challenges that come with working on creative projects with members of your own family?
(KL): Yes I did work with one family member! My husband. I LOVED the experience. One of the rules for the 72 Hour Film Challenge for the A3F Almost Famous Film Festival was that we could only film with members of our household. The only member of my household is my husband, Richard Brown, Though Richard is a wonderful underwater photographer/videographer, he has never work on a film before. While I was giving him a crash course on set we were not husband and wife for that short time. We were 2 creative people with a common goal.
My husband worked the camera (my iphone 7 plus) and was crew at the same time. The only challenge for us was having Richard learn set language on the spot! We had a few laughs when he said, “ Well, if you would have just said that the first time!” I would reply with, “I did honey!” Lol
We will be working together again on a true story that happened on the morning of Saturday January 13 2018, to everyone on the Big Island of Hawaii.
(PJ): Can you tell us about your film background and your book, Greta Gar BITCH?
(KL): I debut in my first commercial in 1995. I was a flight attendant at the time for the first deregulated airline in the world, America West Airlines. They were looking to expand their cities and wanted to shoot a national commercial. I auditioned and got the part as a featured actor in this national commercial, I was bit by the acting bug! The rest of that story is told in my Best-selling book, Greta Gar BITCH sold on Amazon.
This book is the journey of my life, with its many tragedies as well as its great successes! My grandfather (on my fathers side) would tell me stories at the age of 7 of the famed, first silent screen actress, Greta Garbo. He used to say, “You are going to be just like her when you grow up!” I was so excited and could not wait to go home and share this story with my mother. (my mother was a raging alcoholic and drug user) When I ran up to my mother to share this news with her, her reply was, “You will never be ANYTHING but a BITCH, a Greta Gar BITCH. This is a story of abuse, suicides, beatings and how to overcome. The book is also a story of love, light and contains formulas for great success! The book is sold in Kindle, Paperback and Audio form.
(PJ): What does the future hold for you on the creative front?
(KL): For my very immediate future, I am waiting on the release of my new coffee table book called, KU’ U ALOHA. This book contains a very select collection of my images that I have taken while living on the Big Island of Hawaii for the last 3 years, as well as what the meaning of Aloha is to me and some other sweet secrets! As far as the rest of my future, I cannot wait to see what the Universe has in store for me. My life has always been a delicious plethora of ever unfolding miracles, because I ASK to BELEIVE so that I can and will RECEIVE!
This has been a very fun interview. One of my favorites so far! Many island blessings to all of you! Mahalo ~