FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT: Amy Goldstein, Director of KATE NASH: UNDERESTIMATE THE GIRL
March 30, 2019
New England Premiere
Saturday, March 30 at 7:10 p.m.
At age 18, Kate Nash reached the stratosphere of pop music, vaulting from a working class family in North London into worldwide tours, a platinum record and a season dominating the music charts. A few years later, she is broken down and nearly homeless.
KATE NASH: UNDERESTIMATE THE GIRL is two films in one: a concert documentary, capturing Kate’s energetic performances from multiple angles and points of views, as well as a cinema verite that follows Nash’s journey from pop wonder to riot grrll to women’s rights avatar. As she regains control of her career, UNDERESTIMATE THE GIRL captures a creative force who redefines success and shows other young women that they can live—and create—on their own terms.
SFF Organizer Brian Lepire spoke with Director Amy Goldstein ahead of the film’s New England Premiere at CinemaSalem on Saturday, March 30 at 7:10 p.m.
Brian Lepire: Where did the idea for this documentary come from?
Amy Goldstein: Music is super important in my work as a filmmaker. It creates so much emotion. I really wanted to make a film in the music world, and I was introduced to Kate at an interesting point in her career. She had been a platinum popstar and the music industry had really beat her up and she really hated it. She had been dropped by her label because she created a punk album and felt unappreciated since she made them so much money. So she was finding her way back, playing at Coachella and creating these large, inflatable vaginas that matched her hair color, and it was a really awesome time in this artist’s life.
After so many stories of iconic women who die in documentary movies—Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone—I thought we could have a conversation that young women could work in music and survive. And Kate felt the same way. She felt it was very important that she could be someone that young women in music could look up to.
BL: As an artist who spent so much time observing Kate during this evolutionary time in her career, what did it take for her to make it through this period and achieve a new level of success
AG: Kate was determined after this tumultuous moment in her career to…do it her way and to not be dependent on other people. She wanted to make use of new ways like crowdfunding and social media to have a direct relationship with her audience. And Kate also has this quality where you can’t keep her down. She’ll just get back up again, and that’s an unbelievable thing to watch.
Kate’s also an amazingly talented songwriter and an incredible performer who engages her audience. She has girls stage dive who’ve never stage dove before. At the end of the show, she has everyone come up on stage and be part of the show. She also created the Rock ‘n’ Roll for Girls After School Music Club to give young women more opportunities.
She’s really an amazing songwriter who brings life and energy to the music she creates. She’s actually working with the team from HAMILTON on a musical right now.
BL: That’s great to hear that her career is doing so well!
AG: And there’s the success of GLOW [Netflix’s hit show about professional female wrestlers in the 1980s.] She is creating this great show with strong female collaborators and it’s made her stronger. She’s physically strong and powerful—throwing people to the ground—and that helped her stand up for herself. Everything came together for her in a really magical way.
BL: There’s so much going on in this film – her struggles in the music career, what happens with her manager, her new acting career with GLOW – it makes me wonder, at the very beginning, what were your hopes for the film? Did you have themes you wanted to touch on or did you go in with a blank slate?
AG: Kate is very funny and non-self important and relatable and vulnerable, so right away she makes for a compelling person to watch.
I always do this thing in my films where I lend someone a camera and they video-diary. You get a very personal, intimate sense of them. And also you get in rooms where a crew can’t get in, but Kate can film. She took to that, and I knew I could make this movie, because she was going to help me make this movie.
There’s another part of it where you just have to trust. She’s giving you the privilege of her writing these songs, but I didn’t know what was going to happen happened…We had now idea. It gave us something for her to address and overcome…it made her face off on some of the darker sides of life. She really stood up for herself.
BL: You shot with her for four years, correct?
AG: Yes. There were periods of time where I was working on other projects or she was filming or working with a producer. There were also times where she was going through some painful stuff so she took a break. We were very fortunate though. Somebody else had followed her around during her earlier career, which allowed us to use that archival footage. He was very generous and ended up filming with us at concerts with Kate. It made it unbelievably possible to cover a decade of this person’s life.
BL: As an artist, what role do you feel crowdfunding plays in creating art such as music or film these days?
AG: It’s huge. It’s both a marketing tool to announce and promote a project at the same time raising money to fund this project. It’s a huge commitment. If you don’t do it right, it doesn’t look good. But if you’re able to build a team and come up with things people want and give them early access, it’s a really exciting opportunity that makes us less dependent on traditional funders.
BL: Does it change the art?
AG: It makes people less concern about financial success and more focused on artistic output. It takes some of the cooks out of the kitchen. So yeah.
Tickets are on sale now for KATE NASH: UNDERESTIMATE THE GIRL and can be purchased online here.
Director Amy Goldstein will be present for a Q&A after the film screening.