Aspiring Filmmaker Dakota Kudra: Harnessing the Dream Factory

Dakota KudraIt’s only natural that Dakota Kudra, a fourth-year film student now interning at Paramount, is partial to the work of “Inception” director Christopher Nolan and finds the source of her inspiration in dreams.

“That’s the vision that drives me,” she says. “I dream something and think, ‘hey this will be a cool film,’ then I write the script and find the perfect opportunity to create it. All of the films I’ve done in college have come from dreams that I’ve had.”

Dakota caught the filmmaking bug as a high school freshman and once bitten, “I knew that’s what I wanted to do. The more time I spent doing film and media-related activity in high school, — every day, every week filming school events, football games, and concerts — pursuing filmmaking at the college level became quite obvious. It’s something you really have to have a passion for.

“I love watching someone’s vision come to life,” she says. “That happens when my fellow students and friends create a story they love and improve on for production. And continuing to have that passion for the film during production makes things so much more enjoyable — knowing that they love what they create makes you love being a part of creating it.”

Dakota is partial to horror films and psychological thrillers in a big way. “I love when a film makes me think or has me on the edge of my seat wondering what’s going to come next. Movies like ‘Psycho,’ ‘The Shining,’ ‘The Babadook’ and ‘It Follows.’ They don’t rely on jump scares but go into the story, enabling you to experience the insanity of the characters.”

Her aspirations are as boundless as her energy. “Directing and producing” are her lodestars, with stops along the way to perfect her skills in cinematography, working with a variety of cameras and becoming truly fluent in the tools of the trade.

“One of the things I love about Woodbury is that you learn a little of everything about film, regardless of whether you’re good at it or not,” she says. “The awesome thing about film is that it’s all about networking and who you connect with, so I can meet somebody to help me through my weak points in filmmaking. You can’t be good at everything.”

For Dakota, the opportunity to try all facets of the craft –- and to learn from her cohort –- sets Woodbury’s program apart. “I like that Woodbury’s a small school and that the people in my class are those I work with on projects,” she says. “We all grow together and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we all help each other out, which is what I love.”

On the Paramount lot, she’s currently interning at Di Bonaventura Pictures, the company responsible for “Four Brothers,” “Transformers” and “Deep Water Horizon,” among others. Di Bonaventura is now working on one of her favorite Stephen King stories, Pet Cemetery.

But back to Christopher Nolan: “Nolan is a master of human psychology in his films’ cinematic language and narrative structures. He’s a complex filmmaker, so I’m trying to learn his techniques to better understand what kind of theme I want to produce in my films and how I want the audience to understand my work. As a young filmmaker, I am grateful for directors like Nolan. They inspire me to make psychological thrillers that twist your mind and, in the end, leave you hanging and wanting more answers.”

Sounds like a dream.

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