In the heart of the film industry, surrounded by large production companies and A-list actors, it is often forgotten that feature filmmaking isn’t the only possible career path after graduation. Kate Rhamey ’12, who earned her B.A. in film and television production, imagined she’d end up as a feature film director, but with a few happy accidents she began a successful career producing and directing commercials.
Rhamey leaned on her mother’s creative writing background to finish a feature film script she began at LMU. This initial collaboration between the daughter, Kate, and her mother, Katie Rhamey, sparked a business partnership: KR^2 Productions. Kate Rhamey wasn’t the only one who relied on her mother’s writing experience though: fellow alumni Ashton Kennedy requested the help of KR^2 Productions for a commercial for Expedia, and hired Kate as the director. This was the first commercial the duo produced.
“What I thought in school has definitively changed,” said Kate. “I discovered my talents through making.” Kate found great satisfaction in the challenges commercials posed. “You have to tell such a cohesive story in such a short period of time,” said Kate. “It really helps develop your longer storytelling ability. If you can tell a story in 15 seconds, you can do a hell of a lot in two minutes.”
In addition to commercials, KR^2 Productions produces branded short films for companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Lionsgate and Disney. They also manage social media and create content for businesses, and are currently building their narrative department. They focus on heartfelt, branded content. “Figure out what your business is and what you can monopolize on, and create a lot of content in that wheelhouse,” said Kate. “Too many people are afraid of being pigeonholed. You want people to think of you and to think of what you do. If they don’t know where to put you, they’ll never call on you.”
While Kate stresses the importance of sticking to your brand, she also emphasizes the No.1 rule of business: The client is always right. “Deal with it,” said Kate. “It’s not yours, so it doesn’t matter if it’s your creative vision. They own it, and you’re just producing it for them.” For KR^2 Productions, this creates an added layer of image importance because the clients are often on set. “Sometimes when we’re making short films at LMU, we’ll take anyone that will come,” said Kate. “But now you’re paying them. You want to surround yourself not just with people that show up. You have to think who is going to represent your brand. Any negativity on the set is deadly.”
For Kate, her crew representatives have been mostly a collection of fellow LMU alumni. On almost every set she brings her key LMU collaborators: Sean Liljestrand, director of photography, her 1stassistant director Karen Schlitt, and her production designer Juliana Collins. The LMU community then brings other people into the mix to join her loyal production family.With a team that’s been together for years, their sets run smoothly and with great positive energy. In a freelance world where gigs are never guaranteed, having that team to rely on is essential. “One time we were doing pick-ups for a gig, and I didn’t have the greatest budget for it,” said Kate. “I knew most of our G&E team was already booked for a job that was paying at least double, so I was just going to get a B Team to come in. Then I looked at the call sheet, and I turned to Sean and asked why is everyone here. He said the whole team wanted to take the pay cut to help me out.”
Kate Rhamey is only seven years out of LMU, but she’s already created a name for herself, started a successful production company and built a strong, loyal team.