SXSW Review: KING KELLY

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

King Kelly is a movie entirely shot on camera-phones in an attempt to make a commentary on the impact of the internet, camera phones, social media, and the self-centeredness associated with these trends.  Writer Mike Roberts and director Andrew Neel tell this highly relevant story of King Kelly (Louisa Krause), an internet webcam porn star whose 4th of July goes insanely wild as she and her best friend Jordan (Libby Woodbridge) embark on a night of alcohol, drugs, sex and violence all the while trying to be the “stars” of their videos shot on their camera phones. 

Kelly and Jordan enlist the help of Kelly’s biggest online fan, a State Trooper whose online code name is Poo Bare (Roderick Hill).  On this insane night, Kelly, Jordan, and Poo Bare share some experiences they will never forget when things begin to spin way out of control.

I absolutely loved this film.  It is so well written, skillfully shot, and performed beautifully by the cast.  I had the pleasure of interviewing actors Krause, Woodbridge, and Hill, as well as director Neel the following day.  I asked Libby Woodbridge what influenced her take on Jordan, who, in the film plays a sweet and more conscientious character than anyone else in the picture.  Libby replied, “For research, I spent a lot of time on YouTube and on Facebook. You feel really creepy looking at others’ videos, but people post them online. Andrew did a lot of work with me as far as getting into a more teeny bopper way of being. I think of Jordan as someone with a more developed conscience than someone like Kelly.”  I asked Woodbridge and Hill how strictly they stuck to the script as opposed to improvising.  Hill stated, “A lot of the dialogue is improv’d, but ultimately we ended up back pretty close to the intended writing. Mike, the writer, would change things along the way if certain lines didn’t work.”

Director Andrew Neel spoke about the self-centeredness of the modern tech age.  He stated, “When you just hear the language that is used today, the I-phone, me this, me that, it is a very narcissistic approach to life.”  I asked what really inspired him to tell this story and the manner in which it is told. Neel said, “I surf YouTube all the time.  I have watched how it developed and thought, Wow I really need to make something about this. This is strange.  I look at myself in my I-phone and think this is strange what this device is doing to us.  It’s not all bad, and it’s not all good, but it is complicated, and I don’t think we fully understand the ramifications of this device.”

Louise Krause really found the role empowering and enjoyed that strength she found in it.   She is a complex character in that she uses her sexuality to control situations, yet at the same time she exploits herself.  Krause stated, “Kelly is such a schemer, and she gets what she wants and she rules. It was delightful just to be this King.  I could connect to her strength and will power.”  Obviously, the Kelly character is a force to be reckoned with and this film is an excellent testament to the modern age of the accessibility and empowerment of electronic media.

King Kelly opens in New York and is available through Video On Demand on November 30.

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