Kellee Marlow: “Day one or one day, you decide”

I wasn’t planning to become a documentary filmmaker. I didn’t arrive on location with a script and started shooting. The entire Art of Courage film was created backward. I took the raw footage from the art-activist event in Paris and built upon it. I learned that you can create anything, if you set your mind to it. […]

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I wasn’t planning to become a documentary filmmaker. I didn’t arrive on location with a script and started shooting. The entire Art of Courage film was created backward. I took the raw footage from the art-activist event in Paris and built upon it. I learned that you can create anything, if you set your mind to it. You don’t need to start with any set process like attend film school, write a prefect script, scout for the ideal location, etc.

Asa part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kellee Marlow.

Kellee Marlow built her career by embracing disruption and identifying innovative concepts and technologies that challenged companies and people to think differently. She has survived and thrived through virtually every life-altering social and economic crisis over the past 20 years, including 9/11, the 2008 crash, and now the recent global pandemic. By welcoming, rather than fearing change, she has created a mindset focused on empowerment, innovation, and inspiration that guides every personal and professional decision she makes.

Her career spans corporate, entrepreneurial, and advisory roles across technology, business services, consumer products, real estate and retail verticals and she has experience in practically every functional area, including finance, marketing, business development and public relations. Following corporate stints with well-known brands, including HealthNet, Royal Cruise Lines, Burson-Marsteller, and Sun Microsystems, she ventured out on her own and founded private funding group Lion Ventures Group, after her development focus at the venture accelerator, O2 Venture Partners. In these businesses, she evaluated potential acquisitions and helped emerging technology prospects crystallize their value proposition and source investors.

In 2016, Kellee pivoted Lion Ventures Group towards creative content funding to focus on her passion for health, wellness, spirituality, and the arts. She forged into totally unchartered waters, and despite no previous experience in filmmaking, created the vision for, co-directed, and produced a social impact documentary (Art of Courage) that was featured at 11 top national and global film festivals. This success inspired Kellee to help others realize they could change their mindset to achieve goals they once believed were out of their reach.

Now, Kellee’s mission is to empower others to trust their instincts, take risks, and discover their path to personal and professional happiness. As the Founder of curated content platform Spark, Kellee informs, inspires, and ignites her audience by sharing her thought leadership and that of experts and influencers in business, psychology, technology, art, and wellness. Topics tackled include gratitude, discovering your authentic self, career reinvention, combatting negative self-talk, and dealing with loneliness. This resource has connected thousands of people with the narrative they need to move forward and realize their goals with guidance and support.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Iarrived on the planet with a creative streak where I was doodling on the walls of the house as a toddler and getting in trouble for it. Over time, my creative streak was suppressed as my parents pointed to the struggles of artists and created enough fear that I shifted to a more practical focus like graduating with a business degree.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started experimenting creatively by interviewing those practicing alternative arts. I was interviewing an art-activist. She said to me , “If I make it to Paris for the United Nations Climate Summit (2015), will you come and produce the film for my art-activist event?” I said, “Sure.” The art-activist arrived there and called me. As I was about the depart for Paris, terrorist attacks took place in the city of light that shook the world. With the intersection of the UN Climate Summit, the terrorist attacks and international activists, my instinct was that I needed to be there to witness where humanity is heading. All these intersections led me to making a documentary film that I hadn’t planned. It gave birth to my documentary film, Art of Courage, showcased at 11 film festivals and currently, screening on Amazon Prime.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I wasn’t planning to become a documentary filmmaker. I didn’t arrive on location with a script and started shooting. The entire Art of Courage film was created backward. I took the raw footage from the art-activist event in Paris and built upon it. I learned that you can create anything, if you set your mind to it. You don’t need to start with any set process like attend film school, write a prefect script, scout for the ideal location, etc.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I didn’t know where to begin and trust that I could make a film. I left the creative direction in someone else’s hands. Then the person fired me because I didn’t agree with her direction. I alone, in my direction made me realize that I know how the narrative or film needs to unfold. You need to trust that you know where you are going even if the steps aren’t always clear in getting there. Sometimes, you need to take a step back, to be able to see the next two steps forward.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband. He was traveling for work and returned to take care of our children so I could make it to Paris. I don’t know many people who would cut their trip short to encourage a loved one, to head to a city that has been under siege and fulfill a creative destiny. Having a supportive home-front creates the foundation that anything is possible.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

I was talking to someone who said to me, “Writing your story will change your life, even if it doesn’t become a best-seller.” I think it is true of anything. Once you start creating, it empowers you to know that you can create. If you don’t start, you will never know what you are capable of.

What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

There are so many amazing stories and experiences that can transform how people see the world. What needs to change in the industry is filmmaking based on a profit formula and it is why there are so many sequels. They are mind-numbing.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I don’t get tied up on any one platform. I am curating stories and experiences on a radio/podcast platform now called Spark. It enables me to see new possibilities, trends and where we are heading. Eventually, I can see how these stories intersect and become a docuseries.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

— Diversity opens your eyes to new perspectives and ways of looking at the world.

— Diversity makes your idea stronger or resilient. It is more likely to appeal to different people.

— Diversity pushes your creative genius as you create new connections from disparate facets.

— Our youth can’t imagine a world without diversity because they are living it through this art form. It makes them curious to seek experiences different from themselves. More importantly, it teaches them empathy.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Be prepared to fail and fail quickly. Basically, you need to be ok with failing and quickly recover from it. Then figure out what went wrong and revamp or tweak your failure. Also, you have to be grateful and accept feedback. If you are wise, you ask for it. Then you need be prepared to iterate over and over until you reach your best version. There were parts tied to my film that I had to iterate a few times and it wasn’t about what I thought. It was about innovating smart which meant I had to ask for feedback and quickly solve what wasn’t working. I would repeat this cycle until the version reached its full potential.

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

— I start each morning with a two-mile walk. It gives me a chance to clear and organize my thoughts as to what is important now, what are the challenges I need to address and where can I make the most impact in my efforts. I believe in starting the day with a good self-talk.

— During the day, I look around for inspirations of awe, whether it is a beautiful flower, a heron staring on the field, etc. These moments are there if we look for them. It creates a sense of wonder and connection to world, by taking us out of focus on ourselves.

— I end the day with the practice of gratitude. We are built with a negative bias. It is important to train our mind and heart to focus on everything that went well for the day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Day one or one day, you decide. — Anonymous.

You decide your destiny. It was like my documentary film calling out to me to make it when I had no experience making a film. I had to decide whether I was going to give birth to this creative calling or not.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Everyone would have equal access to the arts, whether it is painting, singing, dancing, writing, filmmaking, etc. Each person needs an outlet for self-expression. I believe that when people aren’t able to creatively self-express, it leads to both emotional and psychological decline. Creative self-expression is part of what keeps us emotionally fit and psychologically engaged. It feeds both the mind and heart.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Jane Goodall. She is an inspirational maverick who saw possibility in connecting with world of chimpanzees when other people didn’t understand or see it. She created her own experience and expertise. Jane didn’t wait for institutions to tell her what she can or can’t do.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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