Everyday Visionary :: Melissa Kirkendall

The Collaborative No. 12

Today we are featuring Everyday Visionary Melissa Kirkendall, who is a film director, producer, and possiblitarian.  She has worked on a  variety of TV and film productions for FOX, ABC, NBC, TOUCHSTONE and LIFETIME, but it is her documentaries that really shine and show her heart. She has an innate talent for allowing the story to tell itself.  She sees life all around her and directs our view so that we can witness it as well.  There are people everywhere that are leading extraordinary lives and we sometimes look past them. Melissa reminds us to see.

Her latest project,  Little Village, Big Mountain is a documentary about a small  village in Ecuador that is working through challenges and the evolution of ideas to create a self sustaining community. This is a community of true collaboration between varying cultures and philosophies. The people of this village are creating a working template that is for the greater good.  Through the messiness and struggle of figuring it out, people found a way to work together and change not only their present situation, but the future of the village.

Melissa has deep roots in the Texas music industry, where she was the spark behind several venues that are now folklore legend.  It was a natural progression to change the aural landscape to that of film. Her first documentary called Teen-A-Go-Go focused on the '60s garage punk scene in Fort Worth, Texas.

There are more stories to be documented and more lands to be traversed. You can bet that Melissa will find a way to be there so that we can all see it happening.

You can follow Melissa Kirkendall on social media by clicking these links:

 Facebook :: Twitter :: Instagram :: YouTube

The Questionnaire

  1. Where do you currently work?

Filmmaker / Self Employed. Current project is Little Village, Big Mountain

  1. What is your current role?

Possiblitarian/ Producer/ Director

  1. How would you describe to a child what you do for a living?

I help people tell their stories through film.

  1. What do you hope you have a reputation for as a professional?

I hope that I am known for being generous, fair and someone who cares about the integrity of the project as well as the well being of her crew. I hope I am known for being a positive ripple in the world.

  1. What is an accomplishment from your career that meant the world to you?

When my 1st documentary re-ignited an interest in a now bunch of 65 year old musicians who thought everyone had forgotten about them. Seeing them light up at screenings, signing autographs for the 1st time in over 40 years gave me so much joy to know that I somehow had helped make that happen just by telling their story for them.

  1. What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve had to learn the hard way in your career?

Accepting that I cannot do everything myself. Learning how to release and trust tasks to other talented collaborators has been a challenge for me but now I thrive in a creative collaborative environment.

  1. What are some of your go-to sources of inspiration and staying on top of emerging trends that impact your field or industry?

I am constantly inspired. A walk down the street can turn into a moment of inspiration. Going to a networking event or festival always offers up inspiration as we all gather and discuss experiences and ideas. Believe it or not Youtube and social media often offer up inspiration as sometimes the best ideas come from untrained resources. But my favorite source for inspiration is need while in production. In film we often find ourselves in a situation where we don't quite have what we need to accomplish something so we get creative and often experiment. Sometimes those "experiments" come out so well even we are surprised and then, that method becomes the latest "trend".

  1. What is something you need in your work environment in order to thrive in your role?

Being a "possiblitarian". In other words, truly adopting the mindset that anything is possible. When trying to make a film, often obstacles pop up that at first glance appear to be show stopping. But they are really only challenges we must overcome. Keeping an open mind, heart and attitude of anything is possible ensures that we will overcome any challenge we meet through the process.

  1. What you envision for your customers/clients/stakeholders/ patients/citizens/students, etc.?

For customers I strive to educate while entertaining. For investors & sponsors I offer them an opportunity to be a part of a positive ripple in the world. To be a part of positive change. For the citizens of the world, we hope to help inspire more ideas of sustainability, empowering women and true community where people work together to benefit the whole group.

  1. What is one of the biggest challenges you are facing or trying to solve right now?

I am at what I typically refer to as the "hardest part of making a film" and that is raising money to actually make it.

  1. When and where do you tend to get your ideas?

Everywhere! When I walk into the world, I see stories everywhere I go. I have a philosophy that absolutely everyone has at least one good story in them if you will just take the time to know them.

  1. What are three of your favorite books?
  • The Placebo Effect
  • Be Here Now
  • Obabakoak
  1. What’s one of your favorite non-profits?

Mama Sana

  1. If you could collaborate with any group or individual in the world, who would be your top three picks?
  • Ken Burns
  • Agnes Varda
  • Nat Geo
  1. What would you want to collaborate on with the people/groups you just mentioned?

Of course, I want to make compelling, informative beautifully shot films with them telling important stories that inspire positive change.

  1. If you were invited to give a TED Talk (or have given one), what would you speak about?

The every day ripple effect. The Everyday Ripple Effect is based on the understanding that we are all connected. Thoughts and actions are like stones dropped in a pond and they create ripples that travel outward. Each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. We can use the Principles of the Ripple Effect to magnify our actions and their effects.

  1. How do you unwind at the end of a stressful day?

Depends. Sometimes my unwinding involves a bike ride or walk in nature. But it always involves some snuggles from my dog Marfa!

  1. What do you think your 80-year-old self would tell you right now?

Slow down. You have more time than you think.

  1. What do you think your 10-year-old self would be most impressed with about your life right now?

That I really am making movies for a living!!

  1. What does your creative process entail when you're doing what you do best?

Once I run across something that interests me, I first do a little more research via google and peers. Then I answer questions about what makes it a worthy project. This leads to an outline which then allows me to start research on the project to then figure out how visually we will tell the story.

  1. Is there anything particularly compelling that you want us to know that we didn't ask?

Stay curious and be a positive ripple in your pond. It could change the world after all, anything is possible.

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1 comment

  • It’s very important as a filmmaker to be aware of the social, political and economical context. Given the though times humanity is living, it´s important to convey messages of solidarity and to try to influence positively the audience, not just providing entertainment. Thank you, Melissa for helping others throughout your art.


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