Kelly Hargraves is a choreographer from Canada who lives in Los Angeles. She has made several dance films that have been shown extensively at festivals throughout the world, the most recent entitled Cargo, which is also available on DVD. She travels annually lecturing and presenting programs of curated dance films at festivals. She is a co-founder of Dance Camera West in Los Angeles and a board member of the Silver Lake Film Festival and the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival. An avid, indie/punk music lover, Kelly was an on-air broadcast DJ in Canada for over a decade first at the Windsor/Detroit station CJAM FM and then in Montreal at CKUT FM. Kelly is currently working with the UCLA Live performing arts series at UCLA and with independent film distributor First Run Features as a publicist.
Q. What is your dance background?
I have a BFA in Contemporary dance from Concordia University in Montreal and an MA in dance and film theory at NYU. I danced in Montreal for a while before moving to NYC and starting a family. I started making dance films in university and decided to pursue that further at NYU.
Q. How did you end up working for First Run Features in public relations?
I got a part time job, making $8 an hour at another distributor, and when I left that job (again family) I started freelancing. FRF was one of my favorite clients due to their catalogue and personalities, so I decided to work exclusively with them.
Q. How does your dance background help you in your work?
Well, I still dance daily so it keeps me moving! I work at home now, to make it possible to work on other projects. I approach all my work like a movement improv. I don’t work very linearly, which is good, since I work on several film titles at the same time. I also get to work in performing arts PR, which gets me back in a theatre once and a while.
Q. What are your job responsibilities?
I do the publicity for all our DVD releases and some theatrical releases. This means I make sure the media is aware of our releases and try to get them to feature them.
Q. Why did you move from New York to LA and do you have any Hollywood moments you can share?
I moved to NYC as a temporary plan to escape Winter in Montreal and take some classes—of course they had a historically cold winter that year! I didn’t enjoy NYC so much. Too much work for too little gain. I see NYC as a landscape of vertical obstacles, whereas LA and its horizon line seem to offer endless opportunity. Of course, it isn’t as true as the metaphor. Hollywood moments are not as interesting as you’re been led to believe. Sure I walk past celebrities in grocery stores etc, but the real life here is about the beautiful private spaces and a calm peaceful lifestyle. LA does have a nice amount of cultural events too, so it’s a good balance for me.
Q. What are the films that you’ve made? Where are they now and can they be seen anywhere?
I have made a number of short experimental dance films, similar to those on the Dance for Camera collection from First Run. In fact, my latest, Cargo, is on Volume 2. Cargo has shown at over 20 dance film festivals worldwide, including the Dance on Camera festival at Lincoln Center in New York.
Q. What was your role in the selection process of dance films at First Run Features?
I think the first was Donya Freur’s The Dancer which came to us through one of our Foreign sales agents. I got involved in helping champion dance films, while I was sharing an office with Marc Mauceri and watching films for my thesis. Marc watched them and thought they were really good, so he asked me to put together a compilation. That collections is called Dance for Camera (vol, 1).
Q. How do you go about publicizing the documentaries?
I try to get us listed on all dance related sites and publications. I would prefer to somehow get DVDs to live audiences, in the lobby, etc, but that has proven complicated.
Q. What is your most popular ballet documentary and which ones do you like best?
I liked Etoiles.
Q. What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into public relations?
I started by doing radio work in University and then of course, self promoting my own wok, and then helping friends with their shows. It’s much easier to work on other people’s projects than do your own (I know this from experience). To do PR you need to like to “share.” I really get bothered when people don’t know about a cool event or film! You also have to be brave enough to communicate with strangers, and not take it personally when you hear NO. It also helps to be good at multi tasking since you have a bunch of different things on your plate at the same time.
Q. What are your future career goals?
I would love to teach dance history and/or dance film-making and I want to make another film soon.
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