Kat is a multi award-winning filmmaker who has been making films with independent watchmakers over the last 15 years. Her first film Timepiece, was about master watchmakers Philippe Dufour and Vianney Halter and has been shown internationally. Kat has recently started Halcyon Pictures and is making several films for broadcast.
1. Describe briefly your childhood?
I was born and raised in Hackney, London. I lived for the most part with my immigrant grandparents who moved to the UK from Aden penniless, but with dreams of a better life. Between my grandma, mum, and aunt (who are all quite different), I was encouraged to follow whatever dreams I had, and they gave me a strong enough grounding to believe that I could.
2. As a child did you have any driving ambition? What did you want to be?
I’m guessing I was showing extrovert characteristics at a fairly tender age because I was enrolled in to drama school at the age of 6 and was a working actress till I was 18. I do remember being precocious on film sets and enjoying attention. I was in my first film at the age of 8 and can honestly say I fell in love with the moving image at that point. That grounding in the Arts gave me a real head start in life. By 22 I had started Animal Monday, my first production company.
3. What is your first significant memory as a child?
My memories are more atmospheric than detailed. I remember Sabbath dinners with my extended family as a real fun point. Singing, warmth, amazing food (courtesy of grandma) and also the occasional debate!
4. Have you ever had another profession? What did you do?
In terms of professions, I started as an actress and ended up a filmmaker. The only really significant job I did was whilst building up my first production company was to work as a care worker with non-verbal autistic children. It was a brilliant job for a 24 year old to do. Challenging, grounding and rewarding. I learned how to live in the moment in that job - no planning, no phones, no tech, just the task of helping people (and myself) learn to experience the world to the best of ability.
5. Who have you worked for in the past? What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in.
I’ve only really worked for myself, or perhaps more specifically ‘with others’. I won a commission straight out of University to make a short documentary. I decided, without much thought, to start a production company with dear friends. We made several ‘labour of love’ films that went on to win great accolades. The beauty of that part of my life is that I had no expectations or mouths to feed, apart from my own. I just did what I wanted to do. Despite this, I’ve had lots of great mentors like my mum and dad, who are both business-minded straight talkers, as well as a whole host of creatives i’ve collaborated with over the last 20 years. The thing I love about creatives is the passion they find from within and have the ability to relate. It inspires me in my own creative direction.
6. What’s the worst job you’ve had to do?
I worked lots of casual roles here and there whilst supporting my film career - none were terrible - and often, for me, it’s the people that make the job.
7. What’s been the hardest moment in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?
Hardest moment was last year when my partner got ill. It was pretty tough juggling work and kids. We got through it by accepting support from people and doing lots of research in to the condition. He’s doing well now, but it was a big wake up call - and i’m trying to appreciate everything that bit more.
8. Who has had the strongest influence on you? What are your greatest inspirations?
I’m lucky to have many strong influences in my life so it comes from many places for me - but nothing inspires me more than my children. They influence every decision I make now. I look way beyond myself now - and in to the next generation, and that is what I focus on now.
9. What are you most proud of?
I was encouraged to write my obituary when I was 25 years old and wrote 5 or 6 lines of things that I’d like to have achieved by the end of my life. I’m proud that I’ve got those things checked off. And now I’m working my way through making element as brilliant as possible.
10. What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?
Work hard. And play, of course. Be yourself. Work on yourself. Find your passion. Remember to enjoy it.
11. Name three things on your bucket list.
I’d love to drive across America in an RV
I’d love to sing jazz care-free to an audience (with a pianist playing a white baby-grand piano)
I’d love to learn something completely new from scratch
12. Where do you think the industry is going to be in 10 years time.
To learn more about Kat Mansoor www.halcyonpictures.co.uk