Kidd (left) and Moreira (right)
On West Main Street, in downtown Durham, Beyù Caffè bustles during Sunday brunch. From the front wall of windows to the stage at the back of the house, voluble guests occupy nearly every one of the burgundy-accented wood table sets, animating the elegantly decorated space in the Art Deco Snow Building with lively conversations. Established in 2009, Beyù is a combined coffee shop, restaurant, bar, and live jazz club and has attracted a diverse clientele in its five years of operation. Visit for brunch or anytime, and you could meet business executives, hipsters, doctors, and hippies, all part of the diverse community that Beyù has become.
Last Sunday, I made my way to Beyù to join two young filmmakers, Evan Kidd and Kieran Moreira. Kidd, 22, graduated from ECU in May and is the writer, director, and producer of “Displacement Welcomed,” a short film that was recently selected for the Viewster Online Film Festival. Moreira, 25, graduated from NCSU in 2011 and is the co-writer and director of “Harbinger,” a short film, produced by Drawbridge Media, that recently won the Best of Festival award at the Carrboro Film Festival. Over coffee at a small table along the goldenrod wall of Beyù’s interior, Kidd, Moreira, and I discussed their experiences as independent filmmakers in North Carolina.
Me (BB): One feature that your films has in common is strong female characters. Evan, your film is about a young woman who befriends a homeless woman, and they both end up helping each other in different ways. Kieran, your film is about an African American boy and his adoptive mother. What inspired you each to make a film about people who don’t look like you?
Evan Kidd (EK): For me, I watched a documentary called Miss Representation, which talks about how, in traditional media, a woman’s goal is often just to get married or find a husband, which is fine—don’t get me wrong—but I do think there are more stories to tell with female characters. And I think, a lot of the female audience, they’re not seeing stories that are akin to what they deal with. As a male filmmaker, I think we need to be more aware of that trend, and maybe think, when we make our stories, what can we do to create not only more true female characters but also more true characters in general.
Kieran Moreira (KM): It’s about challenging social norms and also focusing on characters that are different from what you would typically see in Hollywood. Because independent film is very different, where you have more flexibility to tell these richer stories, these stories that are more real. You can actually find these people—they exist—you’re not making them up. They just aren’t featured in Hollywood films.
EK: Yeah, it’s unfortunate. Like Kieran was saying, these are people you can walk out and meet every day, but a lot of times people don’t think about that because that’s not what’s traditionally shown. But there’s definitely a yearning for those types of stories to be told.
BB: So what does it really mean, to you, to be an independent filmmaker as opposed to being a Hollywood filmmaker?
KM: For me, it comes down to what story you are trying to tell. Does it have a commercial purpose? Or are you just trying to tell a story? I’m not knocking Hollywood—there are some fantastic films made in Hollywood—but independent filmmakers have the freedom, and are liberated in many ways, that we can tell more unique stories.
EK: When I think of what a filmmaker does, I think of myself as a storyteller. At the end of the day, it’s about telling a good story, and I don’t make a film that I would not want to see myself.
KM: It really does come down to that story because, for independent filmmaking, you might not have the budget to pay your cast and crew what they deserve, so you really have to create this world that they love and that they’re willing to spend their evenings and weekends coming to work on. For “Harbinger,” I really think people did that because we had this community who believed in the story we were trying to tell. That’s what makes a successful film—that you have a story people are attached to and want to tell.
EK: As a director, your job is to kind of be that fourth wall. You’re stepping into that fantastical world that you’re creating with your actors, but you’re also taking a step back, balancing your crew, making sure everything’s technically proficient. So you’re dancing a fine line between reality and imagination, and it’s your job to keep it real and keep it going. If you’re doing an independent film like we were, you want to create a world that people want to come into, like Kieran was saying. Even if it’s a dark place, or a happy place, or a scary place, you want to make something compelling that people want to visit, whether it’s your actors or your crew. Low-budget films, in a way, can be kind of liberating. Once you embrace it, I think you can do better work because you don’t find yourself worrying about anything getting lost down the chain, because your whole crew is only a few people.
BB: Is that why you two choose to stay in Raleigh instead of move to LA or New York?
EK: I don’t really rule anything out, but, for the moment, I really saw something special happening in Raleigh-Durham. I want to see who’s out there and see who wants to get involved and collaborate. I’ve been hearing about Kieran for a couple of months, and it’s cool to finally meet him today in this interview. If you ask the average person on the street if stuff like this is happening, they’d probably tell you no. So I just think it takes a few more people to raise awareness.
KM: Ultimately, it comes down to, if you want to move to the bigger cities, you move there because you want to be part of the system—you want to be a cog in the machine, part of the industry. If you want to tell your own stories, your best chance is to do that with a community outside of those places. If you do projects in North Carolina, you can build up a community of independent filmmakers who aren’t part of the system, who just want to tell great stories, and they’ll support you. That’s ultimately what I found here, a really supportive community.
EK: Yeah, I second that. Everyone here has been super kind, and people really want to help share your work. I think it’s really cool to find that kind of community, because I don’t think a lot of places have that.
BB: To conclude, can each of you share what you hope for yourself and what you hope for the local filmmaking community in 2015?
KM: For the local filmmaking community, I wish and I hope that the bar is constantly being raised. That was one of the goals for “Harbinger,” to raise the quality of work in the area. There are a lot of talented filmmakers here, and I hope we have more people that we can show to the rest of the world. Personally, my hope is to continue constantly pushing myself to keep making films and keep improving my work.
EK: On the local, North Carolina level, let’s make 2015 a big year. To the indy filmmakers, as well as those in the industry, let’s be more creative. Let’s add to the scene. On a personal level, I have a documentary I’m working on, and I’m going to keep promoting “Displacement Welcomed.” My big goal is to finish writing a feature I’m working on and maybe even get it shot in 2015. I definitely want to keep pushing myself as an artist and filmmaker to keep telling stories and making compelling work.
North Carolina may be unlikely to attract blockbuster movie productions any longer, due to the state legislature’s recent elimination of the incentives program, but the Triangle’s independent film scene remains dynamic. Evan Kidd an Kieran Moreira are talented young filmmakers whose respective contributions to that scene show promise. The two filmmakers are committed to improving their craft as storytellers. Furthermore, their early experiences demonstrate the efficacy of community. For the small community of cast and crew that makes a particular film, as well as the larger community of local filmmakers and film lovers alike, mutual support among community members is key to creating and promoting compelling local film. Our thanks to Beyù Caffè for providing a stimulating venue where two filmmakers and a writer could share their passion for local film and hopefully bring more people into the community as a result.
One way to contribute to the local film community is to come to Motorco, in downtown Durham, this Sunday, December 28. At 7 PM, Kidd will be there with the Raleigh Rescue Mission to screen his film “Displacement Welcomed” (along with his short documentary “Spazz Out!”). Admission is free, but suggested two-dollar donations will be collected to benefit the homeless. “Displacement Welcomed” is also available online.
Moreira’s film “Harbinger” is not yet available for wide distribution while he and his production team at Drawbridge Media submit the film to more festivals, but they hope to make the film available after traveling the festival circuit. Visit the film’s website for more information.