9th October 2020 | Community

Coffee Chats: Katie Hadaway

By Clarissa Sandejas

Coffee Chats are conversations with the FiliFest Community that take place over a cup of coffee. Today, Katie and I talk about a short film she worked on in the Philippines called Sari-Sari.

Katie Holopainen Hadaway is a second-year BASc Arts and Sciences student at UCL. She’s an intern at a social enterprise in the Philippines, as well as in Qube Gallery, where she produces podcasts. Katie is one of the Media Officers at FiliFest and is a member of the Film Society at UCL and of Pi Media, UCL’s student journalism society.

Since you have so much going on at the moment, how do you balance all of your responsibilities?

It's a lot of productive procrastinating on my part. If there's something that I'm looking forward to, I’ll work on that first, even if it’s not the most urgent thing on my list. I do a system of organisation which is like a to-do list with the most urgent things on top and less important things on the bottom.

What made you join the FiliFest Community?

I'm half Filipino! But throughout my life, members of my family would emphasise the Australian side of me. They never really spoke to me about the Philippines. So, until I was about six years old, I didn’t consider myself Filipino - I didn’t even know what Filipino was! When my family moved to the Philippines, I finally got to experience Pinoy culture firsthand. It finally clicked - this is where I’m from. Learning about our history and resilience, I finally became proud to say I’m Filipino.

I guess what really pushed me to join FiliFest was being with my family over the summer. When I would eat with a fork and spoon, or sometimes with my hands, my family would tell me to “eat more Western.” I also tried to pick up Visaya but my family would say it’s not worth it. I wanted to join FiliFest Community to learn more about where I’m from and share the often ignored culture, and this finally got me to go for it.

Tell me more about your experience as half-Filipino.

Because I look like a white person, classmates in Manila would tell me that I “wasn’t Filipino enough.” The first time I felt secure in my Pinoy identity was when I first came to London. No one questioned my Filipino-ness. People would say, “oh, that’s the Filipino girl,” and that made me feel really validated. I grew up as a Third Culture Kid, but I consider the Philippines my home.

My favourite thing is spotting Filipinos in London and having that interaction which goes, “oh, are you from the Philippines? Me too!” I’m trying to learn Filipino (Tagalog) so that I can have that connection more often.

Did making Sari-Sari help you in the process of discovering your identity as a Filipino?

While it didn’t help me discover my Filipino identity, it did help me solidify it. When I would talk to the kids on the street and tell them I was Filipino, they instantly welcomed me! They didn’t care that I looked white nor questioned my Filipino-ness.

You did the cinematography for Sari-Sari, which was shot in Manila. When you set out to film, did you have any goals in mind for how you wanted to present the city?

We did a lot of research on socio-realistic films because we wanted it to look as realistic as possible. Instead of using actors for our film, we asked real street children to star in it. Our goal was to highlight that this is a real situation that can happen. With the cinematography, I used a lot of eye level shots and close-ups to humanise the characters.

Since we were filming in an open environment, we were able to capture authentic Filipino life. Many of the shots are just me grabbing the camera from my side and filming. I thought that was really cool!

How did you get into filmmaking? Where does that passion come from?

I had an amazing teacher who watched a video reflection that I made. When she saw it, she told me to take IB Film. I was really uncertain because I was still new to Film, but she even got the Film teacher to convince me to take it. So I did!

How do you pursue your passion while on campus?

Well, now I’m the marketing communications officer for UCL FilmSoc but last year, I applied to be the Director of Photography for one episode of their web series. It was such a cool experience because it was my first time using the kinds of cameras they have. I got to learn so much about the equipment they use, and what makes them suitable for filming.

Do you have any advice for current freshers or aspiring cinematographers in the FiliFest Community?

Join societies, don't be scared to sign up for events, always be open and keep learning!

Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to promote?

I started a new Instagram account @curatedbykxtie for some cinematic vignettes I make every now and then. Oh, and if anyone’s interested in making a film, I have an idea that I have been planning for two years now. I’d love to pursue it, I just would like people to work with!

Finally, in keeping with FiliFest tradition, if you were a halo-halo, which ingredient would you be and why?

Milk, because I’m good at blending in and adapting to different situations. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about film, it’s how to adapt - to schedules, actors, weather, etc. Milk is the basic ingredient in a halo-halo, and my style is definitely classic.

You can reach Katie on instagram @katiehhadaway.

Would you or someone you know like to participate in a Coffee Chat? Join the FiliFest Community, or email us with the subject “Coffee Chats” at [email protected]


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