Katie Featherston made the Hollywood leap
during her early 20’s armed with an SMU Theater degree and unshakable resolve. She arrived in Los Angeles with no safety net, no back up plan, no escape hatch to slip through in case things went south.
“There’s something freeing about being young and naïve and jumping head-first and knowing you will make it out of the other end,” says Featherston, a certified theater geek during her Bowie High School days. “That’s something you have to do when doing creative work. You just have to take that leap.”
Leap she did,
with a not-so-bad landing. After only a short while in town, she snagged an audition for a little-known, small-budget ($15,000) independent film about a couple who sets up cameras in their home to document what they saw as some sort of ghostly haunting. “Paranormal Activity,” shot in a kind of realistic “found footage” style, scared the daylights out of moviegoers to the tune of $108 million in U.S. box office receipts.
Featherston would show up in the other “Paranormal Activity” moneymaking sequels, but mostly the franchise served as a calling card to land other work, which she did, in ABC television series such as The River.
Now Featherston is leaping again.
Her latest project is called “Becoming,” and it’s a rather moving short film about a bride-to-be questioning life’s choices. Featherston was co-director and producer along with her creative partner, David Shotwell, who wrote the script.
“Becoming” is what brought her back to Texas recently as one of the short film entries at the Dallas International Film Festival.
For those who know Featherston best, getting behind the camera sounds about right. Ever since she was a little girl in Arlington she was always outreaching her reach, moving on when she’d tackled whatever mountain she was scaling. Acting, singing, performing – it wasn’t just something she did to show to her parents. “It’s what I was.”
So, of course, theater arts became her go-to extracurricular while at Barnett Junior High and later at Bowie, where she performed in dozens of plays.
”I was a very shy kid, actually,” says Featherston. “I remember sitting in class that first day of my drama course, and it was so thrilling and fun. I said right then, ‘this is it.’ I never wavered.”
“Bowie had this amazing theater program that was quite extraordinary for a public school. We did eight, nine plays a year. At SMU I just soaked up even more knowledge. After graduating, though, I knew I had to go to New York or Los Angeles.”
Featherston says her collaborative nature with theater is what nudged her toward directing. Actors are often solitary figures when it comes to the overall filmmaking, the final parts of a rather large puzzle.
”A lot of what happens in storytelling happens in editing and happens in the script. It’s not just the actor. The person who has the most influence in telling the story is the director. So I realized as an actor I had very little control over the story being told.”
“I love acting. I’m passionate about it. But as a director I think I want the opportunity to tell stories in a bigger way.”
Big is coming. Featherston has set up her own production company and is already working with Shotwell on the feature film “Some Girls,” as well as working on a web-based series. Watching her on the red carpet during the opening of “Becoming” at the Angelika Theater in Dallas, it’s clear that the resolve is still quite unshakable.
“Nothing has changed,” she says. “I still have zero doubt about my path.”