Rising Star Filmmaker Frederick Keeve: “I aim to make films that will enlighten and lift up the consciousness of audiences on this planet; To bring new ideas of love and light and positive messages to mass audiences”

I believe in making films that will enlighten and lift up the consciousness of audiences on this planet. To make people more aware, to bring new ideas of love and light and good-storytelling with good morals and messages to mass audiences is a privilege and an enormous responsibility and a GIFT. I had the pleasure […]

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I believe in making films that will enlighten and lift up the consciousness of audiences on this planet. To make people more aware, to bring new ideas of love and light and good-storytelling with good morals and messages to mass audiences is a privilege and an enormous responsibility and a GIFT.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Frederick Keeve.

Frederick Keeve has been writing most of his life, either for pleasure, academically, for research, or professionally for the entertainment business. His first short story, The Lost Island, was published in a limited edition when he was in sixth grade. He also has making films since he was 10-years-old growing up in Santa Monica, with his brother, Douglas Keeve, who is also a writer/director living in New York. Keeve’s first film was Maxine Waters EPC, starring Edward Alan Young. This first foray into filmmaking was a documentary film about an employment preparation center in in South Central Los Angeles seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers on KCET public television. He next conceived, wrote, directed, produced and composed the music for the award-winning film From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff which featured many legendary stars and directors, and was Gregory Peck’s last completed film.

Keeve recently completed a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology. His published dissertation is entitled A Phenomenological Study of the Experience of Humanist, Spiritual and Transpersonal Films on Positive Organizational Behaviors in the Workplace. Keeve enjoys combining his passion for film with his long-time interest in psychology, media, music and organizational studies. He is also an accomplished musician, music director, accompanist, and composer. In 2010, he wrote the music, book and lyrics for an original musical, Three: Songs from the Heart, produced in Los Angeles under the auspices of the Festival of New American Musicals. Keeve was fortunate to attract Broadway caliber talent to his project, including Ilene Graff (Sandy in Grease on Broadway), Marcus Choi (Hamilton), and Lance Roberts (My Fair Lady) helming the director’s chair.

Keeve also recently competed a 20-minute multiple award-winning short film, Designated Caretaker Redux, to be shot as a full-length feature film next year. He is passionate about storytelling, filmmaking, and the creative arts. In addition to being an educator, teacher, counselor and actor, Keeve has been writing screenplays for about 20 years. He has had the good fortune to see some of them developed and produced into films. Mr. Keeve’s completed films include the award-winning short Cadillac City, as well as the recently completed feature film, The Accompanist, a fantasy/drama gay love story with magical realism, classical ballet and classical music as the backdrop.

The filmmaker’s vision and theme of the film, The Accompanist, is “using the healing power of art to unite and celebrate who we truly are.” Keeve is very proud of his diverse cast and the portrayal of particularly the gay male experience through realistic, fully realized complex characters, and shines a light into gay relationships covering such areas as domestic violence, sex, career ambition, love and connection. He also delves into family relationships and tragedy, and presents to the audience beautiful classical music and realistically portrayed classical ballet. Mr. Keeve has completed the stand-alone sequel screenplay to this film entitled, The Accompanist Awakening, now in active pre-production, to be filmed Fall, 2020.

Mr. Keeve currently has many feature length, narrative screenplays in development and pre-production. Keeve has a unique voice coupled with a highly-refined artistic aesthetic that fuels his lifelong goal is to elevate people’s consciousness through his art — as a filmmaker, producer, composer, musician, director, writer and actor.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Keeve! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Igrew up on the edge of “Hollywood,” in a beautiful neighborhood in Santa Monica. My Dad was an advertising executive at Max Factor and other companies. He was actually one of the original “Mad Men,” so being in advertising and marketing my parents had friends in “the business.” My brother, Douglas Keeve, a director and filmmaker, and I used to make these elaborate Super-8 productions starting when we were 10 or 11 and up through our teens. For one of them, we had to shrink very small as part of the storyline so we created giant pencils, furniture, and other props in our backyard to make it look like we had shrunk. We also went on location to Yosemite with our parents and my sister and staged a struggle on a bridge over a river and pushed a dummy off the bridge, all in the quest to making our next film production. We would go to great lengths for realism and making the film we envisioned.

To fuel our obsession with filmmaking and Hollywood, my brother, Douglas, and I used to get tickets to the Academy Awards when we were just teenagers. What a thrill to be dressed in our tuxedos and bow ties standing next to Ann-Margret, Raquel Welch, Liza Minnelli, Susan Hayward (ill from cancer, but making a brave last appearance), Fred Astaire (towards the end of his career), and all the big stars during that time period in the mid to late 70s. So I guess my brother and I just got the filmmaking bug early on.

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

I don’t know if there is one single story, but all I can remember since a very early age was that I was fascinated by movie stars, movie magazines, filmmaking and anything “Hollywood.” Certainly the “original” tram tour at Universal Studios was thrilling, and, of course, at any social events that my parents went to that had stars of the day (known actors like John Saxon, and others, that most people wouldn’t know today). Because we grew up in a pretty exclusive neighborhood, we constantly had shows filming there like Sally Fields in “The Flying Nun,” or Mike Connors in “Mannix.” I think I still have Super-8 footage of Mr. Connors walking in and out of a house while on set filming on San Vicente Blvd. in Santa Monica near my house.

I studied music at UCLA and received an undergraduate degree in Music Composition, and then supported my young family (wife and three children and one that was added much later) by teaching for LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) and eventually getting my Master’s Degree in Counseling and Guidance and working as a High School Counselor for many years. But during this time period I was always involved in some way in the entertainment business, and I also did a lot of writing, developing several screenplays. I began acting more seriously in the 90s, as well as becoming more active as a writer/director/producer. I joined the Producer’s Guild of America in 2003, which is a fantastic organization that has afforded me many opportunities for networking and learning over the years.

I guess the biggest thing I can think of early on was in 1995 when I began filming a feature-length documentary about two very influential acting teachers, Michael Chekhov (who died in 1955) and George Shdanoff, his professional teaching partner, who was still teaching acting in a small Brentwood apartment in his 90s! That was really the start of something big, but little did I know that I would have stars like Gregory Peck, Jack Palance, Anthony Quinn, Patricia Neal, Leslie Caron, Robert Stack, and on and on who appeared in my film, From Russia to Hollywod: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff which took me seven years to make, travelling the world to capture interviews with notable stars and directors. The film closed the Hollywood Film Festival at the Paramount Theatre, getting a rave review in Variety. I guess that really headed me into actively wanting to write, direct, and produce films.

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

I guess the one I just told you. About the genesis and creation of my award-winning documentary From Russia to Hollywood. It all started with a small ad in Dramalogue (a magazine/journal for actors) stating that Master Teacher George Shdanoff who with Michael Chekhov coached Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Clint Eastwood, and listed a Who’s Who of Hollywood legends was accepting new students. So I called up and asked if I could audition to be in George’s acting class. When I got to his Brentwood apartment, the door opened, and Ia Parulava, his gorgeous, but devilish assistant from Georgia, Russia, and an actor herself, looked me up and down before letting me enter and proclaimed: “If you study with George, it will change your life.” And she was right — it did!

Not only was George Shdanoff a consumate teacher, always dressed respectfully in suit and tie, and had the utmost respect for acting as a craft which he and Chekhov passed on to all the great stars they worked with, but I realized early on that he was a hidden gem tucked away in his tiny Brentwood apartment and that his story and that of the great actor/artist Michael Chehov needed to be told — and “From Russia to Hollywood” was born.

I approached Ia with the idea of making a film about George and Michael Chekhov’s lives and their techniques of acting, and she immediately got on board. The first thing we did was “borrow” George’s “black book” which literally had the phone numbers and addresses of every legendary star in Hollywod, from Gregory Peck, Jack Palance, Leslie Caron and all the rest of them. I began approaching the actors, telling them that I was going to do a film on the great Michael Chekhov and his teaching partner George Shdanoff and without exception they all signed on, because they felt they owed their film and theatre careers to these amazing acting coaches or as they were known in the inner circle — “private directors,” and these legendary stars that were still alive at this point bought into the project. Thus my career as a writer/director/producer was born.

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?

The first thing that comes to mind is that when you’re young, you tend to take things lightly, and although I loved acting and wanted originally to be a movie star and then later a “working actor,” I just went to auditions and got a lot of them, because I wasn’t to “attached” to the outcome and was just having fun with it. The first role I ever had was when I was very young, barely out of my teens, in Francis Coppola’s One From the Heart, and I got hired as a dancer (and I am definitely not a dancer), choreographed by the late, great Gene Kelly.

When I got a little older and took my career more “seriously,” it was much harder to get roles, I think because I wasn’t having “fun” with it anymore. And that is when I decided to switch to writing/ directing/ producing, so I could have more control of my projects, and then sometimes put myself in my projects as an actor, but at least I could write good dialogue and had a knack for storytelling, so I knew I could create good roles for myself. After all, who knew me better than me, myself. So it all seemed to work out.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m very excited to be helping with the marketing and PR for The Accompanist, a movie very close to my heart, not just personally, but because of the themes of love and loss, gay sexuality, family tragedy and family dynamics, and that sort of thing. And of course my love of the arts — classical music and classical ballet. And the fantasy element (and my own spirituality) is also intermixed in the film, with magical realism and magic elements. And that has now led to my next film, The Accompanist Awakening, which I am casting and raising money for now, with bigger and better production values, known actors, and more bold and beautiful ballet dancing in it. So I’m very excited to be filming that in late Fall this year or early in 2021.

We are very interested in 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?

That was definitely one of my goals in The Accompanist. I am very proud of my diverse casting for the lead role Brandon Wykowski, and also for casting Angelle Brooks, a wonderful African-American actress in the role of Nadine, the ballet studio Earth Mother and Studio Manager.

We are a nation of immigrants, and one of the strengths of America is the diversity of races, ethnicity, religions, cultures right here in this country. We have a wealth of talent, different ideas and viewpoints, rich cultural heritages, and amazing gifts that can be shared among all communities here, and especially in an industry as influential and far-reaching as the film and television industry.

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

1. There are no “rules” in Hollywood.

I just sent a script (my current film project) to the biggest agency in town and asked if a legendary star would read it. The agent, without blinking an eye, immediately sent it to the star and she read it. I didn’t make an “offer” or have to do anything, but write a letter describing my project and why I wanted that star to be in my film. It happens. Timing, a bit of luck, destiny and really your positive attitude, belief in yourself, and presenting your ideas professionally and in a genuine and authentic way. People respond. And if they don’t, they not meant to be a part of your project. It’s that simple.

2. Don’t be attached to the outcome.

In spiritual work, you make the effort and authentically, surrender the outcome, and do the hard work. That’s ALL you can do. Don’t drive yourself crazy living in your head about what you did or did not do right in auditions or in your career.

3. Stay (be) in the present moment.

Past and present actually do not exist in our linear reality. So being simple (like a child) and staying present and listening (key to good acting) is the best one can do as far as immediate effort.

4. Be “Kind” to others.

I believe kindness is a spiritual quality and really shows how evolved a person is. I could think of many examples, but not one specific one for this article.

5. Pay It Forward.

Some people believe there are angels guiding us in our lives. Regardless what you believe, it is good “Karma” to do the right thing, and when you have good fortune in life, pass it on to others through mentoring, teaching, helping those in need.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Be kind to yourself and others. Stay positive. Do something as a hobby or a passion that has nothing to do with the “industry.” For example, I have a passion for motorcycles. I have two right now — a Yamaha Super Tenere (1250 ccs) which is a big “adventure” bike on which I have taken two really long trips last year on my own and they were wonderful adventures, and I have a racing bike, a Yamaha MT09 (900 ccs), which I bought specifically for racing. I obtained my racing certificate through FastTrack at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana last year. I enjoy nature, hiking, tennis, and lots of things that really have nothing to do with the movie business. I think it’s important to work hard at what you do, but to not make it your whole life, because your “life,” in all facets of it, is what informs your career as actor, writer, director, filmmaker, producer and so on.

You are a person of enormous 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe in making films that will enlighten and lift up the consciousness of audiences on this planet. To make people more aware, to bring new ideas of love and light and good-storytelling with good morals and messages to mass audiences is a privilege and an enormous responsibility and a GIFT.

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?

Well, Gregory Peck for one. He worked with me closely for several months helping to shape his narration for my first feature-length film, From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff. He was a pleasure to work with when we were filming the documentary, had a great sense of humor and was always so kind after that when we would meet socially at events, where he never failed to introduce me as a “very talented filmmaker” whom he had the pleasure of working with. A class act, a mentor, and an inspiration.

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

You do it here, you pay it here.

Meaning, do the right thing in life, because if you don’t, Karma (in my belief system) is very exacting, and you will have to pay for what you do some day, even if it is in some other lifetime.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Angelina Jolie. She doesn’t follow the herd. She’s extremely intelligent and a gifted actress who uses her celebrity to help refugees, children, and women around the world. And nobody can do action pictures like she can!

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram @fkeeve

And please follow the instagram for The Accompanist


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

Thank you so much for this opportunity to share myself and my passion for film making!

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