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#sparkchamber 022017 Kum-Kum Bhavnani

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In the #sparkchamber today, university professor by day, filmmaker by night, Kum-Kum Bhavnani. Kum-Kum merges her scholarship with efforts for social justice through the combined lenses of critical research and the movie camera. Born in India, raised in London, and a professor at UC Santa Barbara since1991, her filmmaking, teaching, and research reflect and shape her politics constantly, heavily weighted toward creating a more livable planet through anti-racism, feminism, and movements that foster greater economic equality. Learn more about her work at mirrorandhammerfilms.com

Her current project is just getting underway — a look at the people who live and work on the Galapagos Islands, and how they protect and preserve the ecosytem there. Check out the Galapagos Life Kickstarter campaign — http://kck.st/2klPqFz — and Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/Galapagosdocumentary/

1.] Where do ideas come from?

Where indeed?! Mine seem to come when I am chatting with friends about random topics — usually with a leaning to making the world better — and I realise I could make a documentary about the idea. That serendipity is how I develop my ideas. I also love going to lectures and films, of course — Maya Lin was the most recent — so inspirational and I developed a TON of ideas after that brilliant presentation.

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

Trying to make the world better — and I do it through my academic life (teaching and research) and making films based on my research; it is much more than an itch, I have to say — it is my reason for being, and what gets me out of bed every morning!

3.] Early bird or night owl; tortoise or hare?

Both an early bird and a night owl — and I have to say that, for me, slow and steady works well. I am enthusiastic about my projects, but in terms of allowing them to come to fruition I do it in a steady way. I try to get critiques on my work from a wide constituency, and I have to be sure that even if I feel it is incomplete, I won’t be embarrassed when it becomes public. It could be incomplete, it could be many other things, but I never want to be embarrassed by my work.

4.] How do you know when you are done?

Because my projects get completed in stages, until the whole film is done — I know I am done when I raise some funds, then when I go on location, then in editing room, then raise money again, go on location, then in editing room — you get the idea … that is the only way I can make my films — and I LOVE making them! And then, OK — I know I am not done because I have another idea that I want to develop that has been residing in the back of my head until then.