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Meet Karissa Hahn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karissa Hahn.

Karissa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started making these weird, soap-opera like narratives in my friend’s basement in 2003 and have continued this tradition of producing work ever since. It has become part of my daily routine to create something that is based on and runs parallel to daily living. I think this is where the impulse started.

I moved to California when I was 18 to attend CalArts and receive Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in film and video. Since experiencing more ‘avant-garde’ work at the institution, I started to accumulate a body of short-form performative based super eight films. I wanted to keep the momentum going after graduating, and after seeing the high cost of rent in Los Angeles, ended up finding a warehouse to split with other recently graduated artists. There, we built studio/living spaces and were able to keep producing work.

Since then, I have held various jobs in the film industry as a film scanner, colorist, production assistant, videographer, and archivist.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think the most challenging part of being an “experimental filmmaker” is continuing the practice while trying to afford a living in Los Angeles. I go back and forth between full-time and part-time jobs and have been trying to figure out a schedule where I still have some inspiration when I arrive to my studio. I am realizing that the busier I am, the more productive I am in producing new work. If I can squeeze in an hour and have the energy to focus on a film, then I feel accomplished. It has been a real learning experience and I am still trying to figure out how to balance these two realms of reality that seem to run parallel with one another. I try to hold jobs that will prove to be inspiring. I use this time as research and delight in gathering material that I can work with once I sit down to make my own work.

I enjoy working independently and making work that no one has asked me to. This is where I create my own dilemma. I have done commissioned pieces but feel better about producing something in the moment, and funding it with a day job.

I have learned that I need to sometimes use my free time for mindless activities in order to maintain some semblance of sanity. Walking helps.

I daydream often about having a steady income and film stock in the fridge.

What else should we know about your work and career so far? What do you enjoy about your work?
I am an experimental filmmaker, affiliated with no proper business or corporation. I work independently and make work paycheck-to-paycheck. My films are short and often create alternative techniques to employ cheaper methods of making. I have held jobs in film labs in order to utilize their resources and further my body of work. At times, feels sort of ‘undercover.’ I enjoy this aspect of making, to feel as if I have some secret as I am going about my daily mundane life, retreating to the studio to work on what I have salvaged (material and immaterial).

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I try to make the best out of each situation that I am faced with. Currently, I am trying to keep afloat and maintain the energy to produce work. I am fortunate to feel a part of the underground film scene and try to travel to events if possible. I am lucky if I can manage this.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Andrew Kim, Monica Schipper

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