Fall Reading Series wraps up with screenwriter Kristin Burke


Sara Meadows

Burke was the last speaker in this year’s Fall Reading Series, following Saddiq Dzukogi, Reginald Dwayne Betts and Jaye Viner. Image courtesy of UNO College of Fine Arts and Media.

The Fall Reading Series wrapped up on Dec. 1 with California-based screenwriter Kristin Burke.

The last event was held over Zoom, where Burke screened a few short films she has recently made through Warner Bros. Emerging Film Directors Workshop. The first film was called “Urban Myth: Nest,” now available on HBOGo.

The second film she screened was a short documentary, “This is Why We Walk,” which featured an extraordinary young woman from Montana named Marita Growing Thunder, and her work with the MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) crisis in North America.

The third film she screened was a “sizzle reel” for a movie she is currently working on — it is a marketing and sales tool to get buyers, distributors and financiers interested in backing the project.

“I want to show a range of different filmmaking that describes the different utility of the medium,” says Burke.

Burke has been writing her entire life and even kept a journal as a young child — screenwriting is something she worked on at Northwestern under the guidance of her awesome professor, Aurthor Morey. He encouraged Burke to raise her voice and was incredibly supportive throughout her journey.

“Writing has proven to be an essential tool to help me process the world, and to understand this experience,” says Burke.

In 2016, Warner Bros. Studios announced the Emerging Directors Fellowship Program. The program was for participants underrepresented in the director’s chair. This meant: women, people of color, disabled people, LGBTQIA+ people and more. They were offering $100K to write and direct a short film using all their amenities.

“When I heard about it, I just about fainted,” says Burke.

This was her chance — she did not tell anyone she was applying — she had to be secretive about it at the time. But she got her application together and submitted it, and when she found out she was accepted, it was a huge deal for her. Finally, she had the chance to accomplish what she went there to do.

Burke had been shadowing directors for 25 years as a costume designer, so directing the short film for Warner Bros. made Burke feel like she had broken loose from a cage, and she was finally free.

“It was life changing, I felt like I could fly, and I knew I could never look back,” says Burke.

Over the years of doing costume design, Burke has designed costumes for over 50 feature films and TV series. This includes seasons one and two of “Sleepy Hallow 2,” the feature films “The Conjuring,” “Insidious,” “Running Scared,” “The Cooler” and “The Slaughter Rule.”

Burke explains that as someone who is entrusted with a high level of personal confidence, she has witnessed the best and the worst of the business and frankly, humanity. As a costume designer, it is all about trust. You see all the actors in their underwear and you help them build characters from the ground up.

“I had a front-row seat for some of the best performers and directors in the world,” says Burke.

Burke is currently working on several different projects — so many that it is hard for her to remember the exact amount.

You can find more information about her work here: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0121768/