Podcasting The White-Angle
“My hope is that the podcast will show that we can have difficult conversations,” says Kacie Willis (M.F.A., sound design, 2013). A Fall 2020 SCAD Alumni Atelier ambassador, Willis is speaking of White-Angle, her new podcast exploring “empathy in documentary filmmaking, dissecting how perspective and privilege factor into storytelling in our modern time of civil unrest.”
Born in Detroit and based in Atlanta, Willis is a founding producer at Could Be Pretty Cool, has worked at the Center for Puppetry Arts and 7 Stages Theatre, and was one of 10 participants in last year’s Spotify Sound Up program, an initiative to amplify underrepresented voices in the podcasting world. Boost the levels on Kacie for maximum effect.
Of the pitches I submitted to the SCAD Alumni Atelier program, I was surprised that White-Angle was the one selected. I’d submitted three or four fun and quirky ideas, but this was the topic that I was asked to explore.
White-Angle is a podcast that pairs a white documentary filmmaker who’s made a film about Black trauma with a Black filmmaker in conversation. It’s a podcast about storytelling, agency, ownership, and about who should be telling stories. It’s flipping the script in the sense that the documentarian is now the documentary subject of the podcast.
I’m primarily a theatrical sound designer. Since COVID-19 shut down live theater, a conversation has been presenting itself in the theatrical world about the future of race in theater and how to address those issues. I was on a panel where someone said they didn’t think a white director should be allowed to direct plays by Black writers. I felt really conflicted about that.
I have friends from all different backgrounds who take their work very seriously, including several cis white male friends who have made feature length-documentary films on Black trauma. One has a film premiering at the Atlanta Film Festival next week that was based on a cold case in Griffin, Georgia. Another made a film about a black male who was having a bipolar episode and was killed by police in 2014. I thought, what can I do to speak to this moment?
Two members of my White-Angle team are also SCAD sound design alumni: Cooper Skinner (M.F.A., sound design, 2013; B.F.A., sound design 2010) will be doing the mixing and mastering, and Jacob McCoy (B.F.A., sound design, 2010) is cutting together a video trailer for the show.
Everything is going to be hosted on a standalone website. There’ll be three episodes, each one about 30 minutes. The first episode will feature Stephen Robert Morse, director of In the Cold Dark Night and filmmaker and puppeteer Raymond Carr. Episode two will pair Roee Messinger, director of American Trial: The Eric Garner Story with screenwriter and producer Nakia Stephens. The third episode will feature Erik Ljung, director of The Blood is at the Doorstep, in conversation with filmmaker Derrick Jones.
Part of my Alumni Atelier project is figuring out my target audience for this podcast. This means strategically marketing a difficult piece of work at difficult time where people are looking for levity. It means figuring out how to spark important conversations about difficult topics. As a creative community, we can help one another to tell these stories.
Visit Kacie at her excellent website. Stay tuned for more about the launch of White-Angle, coming October 2020.
The SCAD Alumni Atelier, conceived and endowed in 2015 by SCAD President Paula Wallace, supports select alumni with time, space, and resources to facilitate the creation of new work.
Interested alumni applicants should email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.scad.edu/success/alumni-programs/alumni-atelier for details.
Photography by Kelley Raye
Story by Peter Relic