Rochester film students works with Oscar-winning director Spike Lee

[anvplayer video=”5173864″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – When you think of Yellowstone, you might think of the national park. For one Rochester, film student, that place has a whole new meaning.

Rochester native Kayla Arend has always had a passion for film. After attending Montana State University for her BA in Film and Photography, she went on to NYU to get her MFA in Film and Television Writing and Directing.

She wrote her thesis project, “Leaving Yellowstone” based on the true story of one of her college friends. To help fund her film, she applied for Oscar-Winning-Director Spike Lee’s production grant. Fast forward, the “BlackKkKlansman” and “Malcolm X” director chose Arend for the grant.

“Just kind of diversifying the way you raise finances is the key to making independent films,” said Arend.

“If I didn’t have Spike Lee’s support, I would still make this film. It would just be on a different scale or meeting with different actors.”

Not only does Lee’s name make the credits, but he’s also inspiring Arend as she continues her film career.

“To stay true to myself and find my creative voice. I would say. To kind of hold to my guns because if I have a clear, creative vision, I should be strong enough to stick with it. For me, I’d say that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from being his student.”

The film was chosen for several festivals including the 2023 Female Voices Rock Film Festival, and the 2023 Julien Dubuque International Film Festival. Once it’s done with its festival run, you’ll be able to watch it, and her other films, on her website.

As for what’s next, Arend is in post-production for a short film called “HashtagMelissa.”