(Photo by Kristian King)
Kristian King’s Twice As Good is part of the Scene in Color Film Series, presented by Target, which shines a light on incredible filmmaking talent. As part of the series, three emerging filmmakers will receive mentorship from producer Will Packer, and their films are available to watch on Rotten Tomatoes, MovieClips Indie Channel, Peacock, and the NBC App.
The story of filmmaker Kristian King’s film Twice As Good, which premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival this year, mirrors her life’s journey. Like the film’s protagonist, she had been on a traditional track to success – college and a “good job” – and like the film’s protagonist, she dared to do something different.
King, who is from Fayetteville, Georgia, was on a path to med school, studying at Duke University and working at a breast cancer research laboratory, when she began to take an interest in film, something she says she “didn’t even know was a real job.” At Duke, inspired by filmmakers that would come and talk, she made her first short film, got involved in theater, and decided she wanted to go to film school.
It was a big call, but the right one: King recently graduated with from NYU’s MBA/MFA dual degree program with Stern School of Business and Tisch School of the Arts – Graduate Film, where she collected the 2019 Media Services Award for her work as a producer on more than 15 shorts. But she recalls the pressure and anxiety she felt about telling her parents that she no longer wanted to be a doctor.
For Black kids, King says, “there’s this feeling sometimes of needing to be perfect, and needing to excel, in order to be accepted into the world. And I think that the underside of that is: What about your mental health? What do you want to do? Those are the type of things I wanted to talk about more.”
While she may not have known that movies were a job option, she always had a passion for the medium, and growing up would seek out interesting films from the likes of directors like Wes Anderson. But she says she rarely saw herself or people she knew on screen. With her work, she wants to portray Black joy and the wider spectrum of Black American life.
It’s why it was important for her to show high-achieving Black students in Twice As Good. “Often you’ll see one super-smart Black character [in a movie],” King says, “so it seems like they’re an anomaly and not the norm. [In Twice As Good] we see different students announce where they’re going to college, see other students in the hallway, see other students who are also struggling with where they want to go to school.”
King says her work is about “creating more mirrors to see myself and people to see themselves.”