A rising star in the new media, Kat Webber is one to follow. After years of honing her unique style as an editor of international broadcast campaigns, feature films and award-winning music videos, Kat has kicked off her directing career with an explosive start. Already directing music videos for the likes of DaBaby, G-Eazy, Kiana Lede and more, her viscel style and luminous talent is undeniable. We were lucky enough to sit down with the Toronto native who now resides full-time in Los Angeles.
BW: Hi Kat! How are things? Are you super into the holiday season?
KW: Bah Humbug I think the holidays are a bitter-sweet time for a lot of people. Sometimes it can feel like a warped, performative, consumerist cabaret, but what the heck – I’ll sing deck the halls and decorate a tree with the best of them, I truly enjoy the quality time I get to spend reminiscing on the past year with my friends and family.
BW: As a director, your point of view is so captivating and fun. We love the Levi High video you did for DaniLeigh and DaBaby. What was a highlight of that process for you?
KW: I loved working on Levi High because the creative process was really special. I was given the opportunity to write the concept and collaborate with Dani in a super organic way. I was interested in playing with the audience’s expectation in regards to genre – setting up a Bonnie & Clyde style robbery that transformed into a sci-fi abduction. Having a cinematic narrative to ground the artists in their memorable performance moments and killer dance sequence made for the type of video I love as a viewer – so being able to helm that style of video as a director was a moment for me.
BW: You studied acting in college, but quickly found yourself as an editor for the likes of Drake, Coldplay, and SZA. How did you find your way into editing and how has it informed the work you do now as a director?
KW: My mom gifted me my first camera – a Canon 7D – when I graduated from the Acting Conservatory at York University. Coming out of acting, I already knew I wanted to direct. Since I now had a camera, I started shooting. But once I had all this footage, I needed to learn how to put it together. Learning how to edit became like a 4am love affair – I wouldn’t sleep. I would just be up all night playing with Adobe Premiere. Eventually I landed an internship at a post production house in Toronto. Four years later I was an editor on the roster at that post house and met Karena Evans, who directed the pieces listed in the question. Editing informs my directing in so many ways, but one of the ways that has been shared with me by some crew I’ve worked with is that, in their opinion, I don’t overshoot. I have been told they appreciate that I know what I need, what my cut points are and where to pick up a scene. Having an innate sense of how the puzzle pieces fit together from editing, helps me visualize the final piece while I am executing on set.
BW: Editing is a job that can be equal parts creativity and tedium. What are some of your ideologies or work habits that are integral to the way you approach the job?
KW: My editing collective COVEN talks about this all the time & we have a lot of tips and tricks that we share with each other. When it comes to starting a job – an empty timeline can be scary. Sometimes it can push an editor into procrastination paralysis. Our advice, stop over-thinking, stop worrying, stop trying to find the perfect opening. Throw your favourite selects on the timeline and just dive in! The best way to do this is SET A TIMER! It doesn’t matter if the timer is 10 minutes or 1 hour. Just set it and start! Once the timer goes off, give yourself a little break. Drink some water, make a snack and realize you’ve already started which is the biggest battle. Then SET A TIMER again basically until you don’t have to! This is a sure-fire way to get you into that zone – the edit zone – where hours feel like minutes because you are just so far in. This also works for writers with empty page anxiety.
BW: In 2020, you made the move from editing music videos and commercials to narrative television with P-Valley on the STARZ network. We’re there new or unique challenges in working on that show?
KW: Probably the most unique challenge for me was moving from working in Premiere to working in AVID, which I hadn’t touched in years. But as soon as I got my shortcuts programmed and was reacquainted with the program – it was like riding a bike. Because I was working on specific montages and dance sequences, it was also cool to be a part of a larger team of editors. I was sharing my sequences remotely from Toronto to the edit team in New York. It was truly an incredible experience and I was so honored that Katori Hall brought me onto the team for multiple episodes, after we had worked together on some development content for the series with pilot director Karena Evans.
BW: The “Hate the Way” music video you directed for G-Eazy tackles drug and alcohol abuse head on. Often these darker themes can come off awkward in the music video space, but you executed the subject matter in such an organic and effective way.
KW: Honestly, this was one of those moments where I heard the song, was so inspired, and a story just poured onto the page. I wrote my concept from the heart and pitched it with no real expectations because it was truly a cattle call pitch to a lot of director’s for the track. I guess it struck a chord with G-Eazy and his team and from there I got on a phone call and we started to collaborate. Right off the bat we chatted about a favourite movie we shared – Requiem for a Dream – and just started hashing out how Aronofsky’s choices made such a powerful impact on both of us as viewers. We knew we needed an amazing actress to carry the video. Having edited Bria Vinaite in Drake’s “Nice for What” and absolutely loving her performance in The Florida Project, she was my first choice for our lead. When I found out she was willing to be in it, I was so excited. Working with artists who love movies and are into cinematic videos is such a treat for me since my true love is narrative filmmaking. & I think that is where the authenticity comes from – it’s an alchemy between the track, the performers and the filmmaker.
BW: It’s no secret that succeeding in this industry requires a great deal of strategy and resilience. What is your advice to other young creatives who are thinking about diving in?
KW: Take the time to find your voice. What are your values? What do you believe in? What have you lost? What have you triumphed over? How are you an agent for change? What do you have to say? There is no other you in this world so find your truth. That is what we are interested in as viewers. & once you find that, or while you are looking, surround yourself with others who are asking themselves these same questions. Be in service to each other’s stories. This is a collaborative art form. Find the people who create the way you like to. Find the one’s to play in the proverbial sandbox with – and remember this is a marathon not a sprint.
BW: You’re a bright light in an industry that still really needs more female leadership. What do you feel are some of the biggest ways the industry needs to make strides in terms of equity and inclusion?
KW: Add lines to the budget for apprentice and shadow positions for keys (Director, DP, Production Designer, Wardrobe & MUA, etc.) to create specific training opportunities for POC, Women and LGBTQ+ folks at higher levels of entry than PA. Personally, I have taken it upon myself to act as a mentor for emerging female creatives and founded a collective of female editor’s called COVEN. If all of us individually can act in our own ways to create space we can collectively make a lot of change.
BW: We truly appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. What is next for Kat Webber?
KW: I just signed a lease for my first apartment in Los Angeles, which has been a dream of mine for a long time. There are a few exciting commercial projects on the horizon, but what I am most excited about is a personal project. I am currently workshopping the script of my first feature film as a Director entitled, little tongues. I am looking for funding for this film to move into production next year!
Follow Kat on IG: @katwebber_