We had the good fortune of connecting with Katherine Waddell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katherine, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When Em Johnson and I started talking about creating First Bloom Films together, we knew we wanted to create a production company that not only focused on work we were actually excited to create, but was also a space where women could thrive. It’s been our goal from the very beginning to lift up women in the entertainment industry, by either advocating for the work they’re creating on their own, or inviting them to work with us at FBF. We do our best to have mostly female sets, ranging from female producers to female department heads, to making sure that any scripts we option are from female identifying writers. We want, more than anything, to be champions of women both on screen and behind the scenes. Moreover, Em and I have always dreamed about creating a work place that was the antithesis of what we have experienced in the past in the industry: we wanted to create an environment that has a foundation based in respect for everyone and treating others with kindness. It’s our philosophy that even though the work can be hard, we don’t have to be hard on each other. We really do believe in “team work makes the dream work,” and we always make sure that anyone we bring on board to work with us believes in that as well, from production assistants to directors. Basically, we just wanted to create a business that we ourselves and others would be happy to work at!
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
For me, this journey has been a winding road, with tons of bumps and roadblocks, but that’s not to say I don’t feel successful in many ways. Professionally, I would say one of the things that I am most proud of is that I am very adaptable and my love for film and theatre has made me into a chameleon. I remember very vividly before going to college my dad asking me what I will do with my career if I cannot succeed as an actress, and I simply responded that I would find something else to do within the industry, because I just love it too much to do anything else. I feel I have followed through on that promise. Not to say that I don’t think I’m an actress or will continue to be one, but this industry is hard, and at the end of the day you find yourself having to wear many hats to keep things afloat. A lot of people refuse to do certain work within the industry, or stray from the path of their passion. However, I consider it all under the same umbrella, and I never feel above certain types of work. I love being on set, and that means I’ll be a PA even if as an EP I had a film at Sundance in the same year (“Dinner in America,” 2020). I just find such extreme joy being on set and being surrounded by a film family. I think that’s what I want people to take away from me professionally – I’m happy to be here and happy to collaborate. I think once you get into that mind set, the challenges of this industry become easier to stomach. My dreams have changed over the years to adapt with the reality of this business. What I’m most excited about next is Em and I’s next film under FBF, called “Balloon Animal.” It’s a story about a girl named Poppy who has grown up in a travelling circus and makes balloon animals. We are set to film in the spring and we couldn’t be more excited! In addition, as an EP, I have another film coming out called “We Need to Do Something,” starring Sierra McCormick, Vinessa Shaw, and Pat Healy. You can find a Hollywood Reporter link with more information below!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This one is a little difficult for me because I didn’t get to live in LA for too long before the pandemic shut everything down, but I’ll try my best! If you have someone coming into town who is a little more adventurous, my best friend and I love to hike through the old LA zoo. This hike isn’t too challenging and has some great views, and getting to see all of the old cages is trippy! For eating, I love the Korean fried chicken at BBQ Chicken in Little Tokyo, Gigi’s Cafe Cubano for pastries and fresh juice, and Natalie’s Peruvian Seafood Restaurant for the best bisteck apanado of my life! I would also check out Farmer’s Market LA next to the Grove for tons of cool shops and food choices. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Without a doubt I always have to mention my parents. My parents have been supportive of me non-stop throughout this entire journey, and they are by far my biggest fans. My mom has never missed a single theatre show that I have ever been in (for example, that means she sat through Cabaret six times when I was just in the chorus). All of my endless pursuits are in the hope of making them proud of me. And of course, there are countless friends and family who have supported me, and continues to do so, who have my eternal gratitude. I don’t think anyone in this business can say that they’ve gone at it alone. However, I would be remiss not to mention once again my creative business partner, Em Johnson. There can be a lot of misery in this business, but it has been invaluable to have a friend and partner like Em to walk by my side through it all. Working with her, and being her friend, has been one of the best choices of my career and personal life.
Michael Ori, Maria Kanevskaya, Nunnally Rawson