Kobe Cowell: Teenage Filmmaker, Actress, and Storyteller
Kobe Cowell is a current high school-aged actress who has been working on a film for the past five months. She wants to tell stories similar to the way she has experienced films and was inspired to emulate that style.
Kobe has always been a creator and storyteller- she had created many stories before, but had never pushed herself neither to finish them nor share them with others. That is until now.
Her film titled, "Mixed Signals" tells the story of the life of Alison Price, who encounters many obstacles when she searches for her "deceased" twin brother, Andrew Price. She says that it took her a long time to come up with the “perfect storyline” and even since her initial idea she has worked to alter and refine the concept. While writing Mixed Signals, she’s found that she’s had to take a break and de-stress, especially on the days where she finds herself lying in bed wondering if it’s even worth it to continue working on it. However, she is motivated by the thought of the end product.
Kobe: I don’t think every creator is going to be absolutely in love with everything they make, and certainly not the first thing they make. Over time, I’ve critiqued myself and my writing style by keeping past stories I have made. It takes lots of going back and changing in order to be at peace with what you put out for the world.
Other than working on her film, Kobe enjoys theatre and acting herself as well as art. She loves storytelling and continues to carry on writing her stories to show others how determined she is to make things happen that she cares deeply about. She hopes her audience enjoys her forthcoming film and takes into account the hard work and time it takes to make an ideal film.
Make Muse: What provoked you to write and direct your film “Mixed Signals”?
Kobe: I remember creating many stories over 2016-2017, and I wanted to create them in many forms. (Comics, books, podcasts, animations, etc.) But none of them were working out for me. The stories never stuck. Eventually writing really stressed me out because I felt as if I would never be satisfied enough to finish. No one would ever believe I would. So I went into a "writer's block". After a couple months, I started watching more and more films, and I was really interested in the plots they created! I was so inspired that I wanted to create my own film. I wanted to create a story just as great for an audience to enjoy watching.
Make Muse: What is your film about?
Kobe: "Mixed Signals" is a film about two twins, Alison and Andrew Price. One day after a date with his girlfriend, Vanessa Belle, Andrew is reported dead for "overdosing." Alison is shocked to hear the news, as she had an incredibly close bond with her brother. After a year passes and she has a dream about him, she finds out Andrew's death wasn't really what it seemed to be. She goes on to find him, with many obstacles that block her path.
Make Muse: You’re a teenage girl who is involved in film - do people find this rare? What kind of reactions do you get?
Kobe: A lot of people think what I'm doing is really great!! I get a lot of positive reactions from my peers. However, people who have known me longer feel iffy about whether or not I'll get to finish the series. But I'm making it a must that I will! Being a female director will hopefully inspire other girls who have the same dreams as me.
Make Muse: What advice do you have for girls who want to produce their own films?
Kobe: I say go for it! Let your dreams for the future take off! I will say that if you're having trouble coming up with a plot/idea, don't give up! It took me almost a year and a half to come up with my ideal plot. Of course, not everyone is going to be in love with the first thing they create. It takes time. But just because you don't come up with something right away, doesn't mean you should give up! A huge factor in creating the perfect film is pursuing and persevering, no matter what anyone tells you.
Make Muse: Do you prefer to act or direct?
Kobe: If I'm being honest, I love doing both! It's super fun for me to get up with other actors and act out a scene. Yet it's also super exciting to see visions of mine start to come to life. Both just fill me up with so much joy, and I love doing them whenever I can.
Make Muse: What has been your favorite part to play as an actress?
Kobe: I had the privilege of playing Katherine Minola, from The Taming of the Shrew. Katherine, or Kate, is a strong female who is forced to marry but does not feel as if she needs to revolve her life around a man. Kate was such a fun character to play. I got to stand my ground with my character, and be immensely confident and strong. Afterward, (audience members commented that) I stuck to the character the entire time and that it was so great to see my scene partner and on stage.
Make Muse: What is your proudest achievement in your life thus far?
Kobe: Actually, a lot of my achievements are more acting based rather than filmmaking based. At my past three acting competitions, I've won an award for all three. Although some may not say it's much, they really mean a lot to me! As for filmmaking achievements, I've been getting rights to use certain songs for my film from certain artists. Every time I hear that these individuals would like to work with me, it fills me up with such excitement! It makes me feel glad to be getting closer and closer to finish my series.
Make Muse: What is your favorite film?
Kobe: Oooh this is a difficult one! I would have to say my favorite film is Heathers. A movie that stars Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. Winona plays a female named, "Veronica Sawyer". Veronica is one of my fictional role models. She isn't afraid to make any decisions and doesn't let her life be held down by a boy. Veronica will fight for what she believes in. She's so strong and powerful, she's not nervous to get the job done.
Make Muse: Who are some females in film who inspire you?
Kobe: I have so many! My favorite actress of all time is Winona Ryder. She's one of my icons when it comes to film. Her work in everything she does is just absolutely amazing! However, if I had to choose an actress closer to my age, I'd choose Millie Bobby Brown. Her work is so inspirational, and I look up to her in every single way. I hope to meet and be just as amazing as these females one day.
Make Muse: Do you have any thoughts on the underrepresentation in female directors/producers and the roles that women are given to play in traditional movies?
Kobe: I think in films females are starting to be more recognized and given roles that break social standards. For example, I think we are moving towards female characters having an "I don't need a man to save me" presence. I think directing is a very male-dominated industry. Don't get me wrong! The work and time these men put into their films show very well, as their films are incredibly made and put together. However, I don't believe there is enough female representation when it comes to directing. Looking at some movies that are out right now, a majority, if not all, are directed by men. I'm not sure why this is... but I think in this field of work, it is important for young girls to understand they can be just like these other directors if they wish to be. Women can create stories and films just as great as those today. I believe this message should be shared with many girls.
Make Muse: Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
Kobe: I do consider myself a feminist. Even though some may argue how "Women have their rights" there is still prejudice that exists that is experienced by young girls. In middle school, boys would often joke around saying how "Women should get back to the kitchen" and how they would never have jobs men have such as being president. And although these were jokes, they would make me furious and would make me want to stand up. However, I felt as if I couldn't because there were mostly boys in my class, and I knew I was going to be heavily made fun of. I believe girls hear these things being fed to them like food and hear it so much they almost start to believe it. Soon these "harmless jokes" become constant reminders that aren't true but are always there. Hearing these things can’t help but make one feel defenseless. We start to believe these lies. To this day in high school, I go out wearing my P.E clothes and will get dirty remarks made at me that make me feel gross inside. But it takes rising above it to see that girls can do so much more than what society has set up for us. We can be anything we want to be. We are so much more than a cat call, and a punchline for a joke. I believe I am a feminist for this reason. To show society that others are wrong for thinking that's all we were put on earth for. I am fighting for social clichés to be broken, and for the empowerment of girls to be strengthened.
Make Muse: What are your thought on the need to have more multi-faceted female roles in film?
Kobe: I think it's super important! I believe young girls need to have more female role models, especially in the film industry. If you look at a majority of films out right now, you'll find that almost all of them have male directors. So sadly, there aren't many female directors for young girls to look up to. If girls see more female independent roles and more female directors, then that will inspire girls to grow up to aim for those goals. But as of now, we must let the message be clear, we can achieve anything we want to achieve! Any and all dreams are possible.
Make Muse: How does feminism play into film?
Kobe: There are many females in this film. All the females are very powerful and take charge. They don't let their lives be dictated by others. They do things for themselves. If they need to stand to get to their goals, they will. Especially Veronica. She fights for what she believes in. She fights for equality, amongst everybody who gets put aside due to society. She crushes social standards with an iron fist. They are most definitely girl bosses.
Make Muse: How can we empower females in film?
Kobe: We will inspire more females by getting rid of social clichés. We must let every actor have the same opportunity as the other, it won't be determined by race or gender. In film female characters shouldn't be based around social clichés. They must have independent personalities, rather than what society paints them out to be. Such as Alison in Mixed Signals. She is determined to find her brother no matter what the cost. Sure she uses the help of her friends to work her way, but she'd pursue her journey to find him by herself with her hands tied behind her back. She cares about her friends and would do anything to ensure their safety. She uses her strong will and intelligence to fight her way through any discourse.
Author: Maura Sheedy