Interview with RTF Lecturer Kat Candler, writer and director of “Black Metal”

Elizabeth Williams

“Black Metal” is a narrative short film following a singer in the wake of a murder committed by a teenage fan in the name of his music. The Daily Texan sat down with the film’s writer and director, radio-television-film lecturer Kat Candler to discuss “Black Metal” and her approach to filmmaking. 

The Daily Texan: Why do you make short films?

Kat Candler: I think making shorts is a little bit more difficult than making a feature in that you have to compact a story within six to 10 minutes ideally, and it takes a lot of crafting to put that together and really connect with an audience or punch people in the face, metaphorically speaking. I love short films and I’ve definitely immersed myself in that world a little bit more over the last couple of years having made two shorts. But it’s because it’s cheap and you want to constantly hone your craft and keep making things, regardless of [whether] it’s a minute short film or a 90-minute feature fiction film.

DT: Do you instantly know whether an idea will develop into a short film or a feature?

Candler: With “Black Metal,” I had been writing a feature script about a metal band that was publicly blamed for their music being linked to this murder. But for whatever reason it wasn’t quite working, and so doing this short was actually me getting to immerse myself more so in the metal scene and with these characters and kind of figuring out who they are and how they live and the realities of it. So now having done this short, I’m going back to the feature script with very different eyes and with a different approach to it as more of a drama. 

DT: Why have you used metal music in both “Black Metal” and your recent short “Hellion”?

Candler: I’m a huge music person, my husband more so … And for whatever reason, he started getting into metal and started feeding me CDs and buying books and doing all the research. We started watching all these documentaries and so we just became really fascinated. I love the idea that what we see onstage can be so drastically different from what life is like offstage. I find that really interesting and fascinating, what the reality of, maybe not a Metallica, but maybe a band that’s popular within a state but not necessarily so nationally and what they have to go home to every night. They’re just normal human beings, whereas fans put them up on a pedestal. It’s such a fear-based genre of music, so then when you see what life looks like at home, it can be so strikingly different, and I love to see the humanity in what’s offstage.

DT: Why should college kids see your film?

Candler: You can’t ignore that there’s something really great going on in the state of Texas when it comes to filmmaking. What I love about Austin in particular is that you have so many great filmmakers who have [such] varied voices. Everybody’s very different and very distinct in what they do and the stories they tell and the visions that they have on-screen, and I think that’s why you see so many eyes on Texas from outside of the state. We all support each other. Everybody is very supportive and very open to each other. There’s nothing competitive about it. Everybody enjoys each other’s successes and benefits from each other’s successes, you know, trying to help each other do the best work and tell the best stories.