Interview: Kim Rocco Shields from "Love Is All You Need?"

Photo Credit: Kim Rocco Shields
June 17th, 2014

Kim Rocco Shields is one of Hollywood‭’‬s brightest young directors.‭ ‬She has had a great career so far doing dozens of films and working with top directors like‭ ‬J.J.‭ ‬Abrams and Gore Verbinski.‭ ‬One of her latest films is a short called‭ ‬“Love is All You Need‭?‬” and is about bullying in a world in which homosexual relationships are the norm and heterosexual people are the outcasts.‭ ‬Kim was kind enough to sit down with us here at The Movie Network and tell us all about her new film.‭

Nick Leyland from The Movie Network:‭ ‬Why do you have the question mark at the end of the title‭? ‬Love is All You Need‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬It's kind of reciprocal,‭ ‬like‭ "‬Love is all you need,‭ ‬is it‭?" ‬Because this girl,‭ ‬all she wanted was love,‭ ‬but in the end she took her own life,‭ ‬so it's kind of a satire on the entire concept of the film.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for writing the film‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬I have a company,‭ ‬we're dedicated to make films that make a difference,‭ ‬or make media that makes a difference.‭ ‬We all love what we do and we vie to do that in this day and age.‭ "‬Love is Al You Need‭?"‬...‭ ‬The inspiration came in‭ ‬2011‭; ‬I was watching the news,‭ ‬and all these reporters were saying,‭ "‬How is this possible‭? ‬How are young‭ ‬11-year-olds and‭ ‬12-year-olds taking their own lives‭? ‬We don't understand how someone so young and innocent can be driven to such a tragic‭ ‬place‭!" ‬and I thought to myself,‭ "‬Well,‭ ‬if the tables were turned,‭ ‬they would totally get it.‭ ‬And if they could see what it's like to be a‭ ‬12-year-old and be tormented in social circles and status quos,‭ ‬everything at that age,‭ ‬because you're so innocent,‭ ‬that's really all you have to worry about.‭ ‬When that gets taken away from you,‭ ‬kids will do some pretty drastic things.‭ ‬So I created‭ "‬Love is All You Need‭?" ‬to kind of shine light on that and to give the world the ability,‭ ‬that age old adage,‭ "‬If you walk‭ ‬a mile in someone else's shoes,‭ ‬then you'll understand.‭" ‬Well,‭ ‬this film gives you that opportunity.‭

TMN:‭ ‬In the film,‭ ‬the norm is the homosexual relationship,‭ ‬and the heterosexual relationships are more of the ostracized,‭ ‬I guess.‭ ‬Was it awkward for these kids to do this film‭? ‬Did you have to sit down and discuss with them what this was about because you're working with seven to‭ ‬15-year-olds or something,‭ ‬right‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬Absolutely.‭ ‬Actually,‭ ‬I was working with one to‭ ‬15.‭ ‬As the director,‭ ‬everyone's like,‭ "‬You don't wanna work with kids or animals.‭" ‬But I love working with kids‭; ‬they're much more intelligent than anyone would think.‭ ‬For this film,‭ ‬we had to put up a disclaimer in the casting process,‭ ‬what it was about,‭ ‬why we were doing it,‭ ‬and‭ ‬so only people that came to audition,‭ ‬parents were ready for those kids to get it.‭ ‬And before we shot the film,‭ ‬we brought all the kids in for an old fashion table read,‭ ‬in which I talked to them all,‭ ‬with the parents there,‭ ‬about why we're making the film,‭ ‬and every single kid understood it.‭ ‬Our little four-year-olds and the youngsters,‭ ‬they are not allowed to watch it quite yet until they get a little older,‭ ‬but they all know they were part of something very important.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Why do a short‭ ‬20-minute film‭ ‬when you could have done a full feature maybe‭?

‬Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬Actually,‭ ‬we created the short in order to create the feature.‭ ‬The thing with this concept is it's never been done before‭; ‬it's never been done in this way.‭ ‬And people say,‭ "‬Oh,‭ ‬I'm making a bullying movie.‭" ‬It's a very narrow audience when you think about it,‭ ‬because audiences want to be engaged and taken away and that's our society right now.‭ ‬But I knew with this concept and this twist,‭ ‬that it could bring audiences to see something they‭ ‬had never seen before,‭ ‬but Hollywood only invests in what they know will sell.‭ ‬So I knew I had to make a short to prove that it could be a viable concept,‭ '‬cause most people also think that it can only be used for comedies,‭ ‬and I really believe in the power of drama,‭ ‬and two,‭ ‬that it would be well received internationally.‭ ‬And that's exactly what the short has proven,‭ ‬so I'm hoping through that,‭ ‬I'll be able to make the feature.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬you've won tons of awards,‭ ‬right‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬It's not only won awards,‭ ‬but it's been viewed by‭ ‬30‭ ‬million people on the internet,‭ ‬and it's been self-translated into‭ ‬15‭ ‬different languages,‭ ‬which not only is there a market for it,‭ ‬but there is an international market for it.‭ ‬And this is a short film that's never‭ ‬been marketed‭; ‬it got picked up and leaked,‭ ‬put one on one article,‭ ‬and then it just went like wildfire from there.‭

‬My vision for the feature is to get celebrities that are recognizable,‭ ‬so that we can bring in even more audiences to see these performances.‭ ‬And by doing so,‭ ‬it will heighten the visibility of this film and in essence,‭ ‬spread its message.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Now,‭ ‬did you intend to specifically target bullying for sexual orientation or was it for a whole spectrum of bullying‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬I always‭ ‬stand by the fact that this is a film about bullying.‭ ‬This is a film about exposing bullying,‭ ‬and it exposes human rights in a different lens.‭ ‬And ultimately what I'm trying to get at is that people should not be prejudiced against because of what they look like or who they love.‭ ‬That doesn't define a person‭; ‬what defines a person comes from within.‭ ‬And so that's the ultimate message of this film.‭

TMN:‭ ‬I found it interesting that you put women into men roles.‭ ‬Like with the woman priest that you had and with the girls football team.‭ ‬What was your decision on that‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬That is really interesting.‭ ‬David and I,‭ ‬my co-writer,‭ ‬David,‭ ‬really sat down upon creating the short and feature and thought,‭ "‬Okay,‭ ‬if David's straight and his friend was gay,‭ ‬what are some of the things that would be different‭?" ‬I could have went even more extreme,‭ ‬but I didn't wanna ostracize the audience by putting them into a sci-fi world.‭ ‬I wanted just to put men and women on an equal playing field,‭ ‬if you will.‭ ‬So what‭ ‬we envisioned is that men and women would be on that equal field.‭ ‬They probably would've,‭ ‬in ancient times,‭ ‬fought on the battle field together.‭ ‬And by stemming from that,‭ ‬we thought that since football is derived from ancient battle,‭ ‬we thought they would‭ ‬probably be playing football too,‭ ‬with the boys‭ '‬cause,‭ ‬again,‭ ‬it's an equal playing field so we just wanted to level up in that regard.‭ ‬Priests‭? ‬The same.‭ ‬I'm sure there would be men and women priests if the tables were turned,‭ ‬and men and women were just more on an equal playing field,‭ ‬I'm not saying that the roles would be reversed,‭ ‬like men would be like women,‭ ‬and women would be like men‭; ‬we're very careful not to do that,‭ ‬but there would just be more of an equality all around.‭

TMN:‭ ‬I also enjoyed the narration in the film by Ashley.‭ ‬It gave the audience a lot of knowledge.‭ ‬Is that what you were intending‭?

‬Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬That was...‭ ‬There's always that criticism of voice-over‭; ‬you gotta know when and where to use it.‭ ‬But ultimately,‭ ‬I crafted this‭ ‬20-minute film to show Ashley's life from birth to death,‭ ‬and ultimately,‭ ‬what the narration comes from is her looking back upon her life after her death and that's what the film is.‭

TMN:‭ ‬With the topic of bullying,‭ ‬can you tell us some of your thoughts on bullying in the US today‭? ‬You split the film in half,‭ ‬kind of with the bullying,‭ ‬with the in-person and the cyber bullying with the text messages and things like that.‭ ‬What makes the cyber bullying and all these new things so dangerous today‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬The main danger of cyber bullying and Internet-based bullying is the anonymity.‭ ‬With cyber bullying and online bullying‭; ‬people can hide behind a computer and they could say whatever they want.‭ ‬It eliminates the face-to-face confrontation which allows for an even greater presence when it comes to bullying.‭ ‬Because the Internet is not specifically regulated and there's no like,‭ ‬someone watching over it,‭ ‬kids are allowed to and able to interact and find things in a way that they've never been able to before.‭ ‬It's the sad reality we live in today.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Can you tell me a little bit about stuff that you've done in the past‭? ‬Because you've been a part of so many movies.‭

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬I feel I've always wanted to be a director ever since I‭ ‬was little,‭ ‬and music was always my calling as well.‭ ‬I've always been a fan of the arts.‭ ‬So I started in the business as anyone would,‭ ‬as an assistant,‭ ‬and then I started editing.‭ ‬Editing really gives you a sense of how to piece a story together.‭ ‬That really gave me the basic foundation of film,‭ ‬and how to craft a story.‭ ‬And I found myself in the back room looking at a script supervisor notes,‭ ‬and thinking,‭ "‬Wow,‭ ‬I wish I could be on set right next to the director,‭" ‬and as I looked at the notes,‭ ‬it kind of‭ ‬all clicked.‭ ‬So I switched careers and started script supervising,‭ ‬which went extremely well very quickly,‭ ‬and I got to work alongside some of the most talented directors in Hollywood,‭ ‬and also work on a lot of indie films where directors have problems dealing with budgets and other conflicts.‭ ‬So I really got to learn what to do and what not to do,‭ ‬which eventually led to me opening my own company and having the tenure of sitting on set,‭ ‬and really knowing what every position does has made me a better producer,‭ ‬director and writer.‭

TMN:‭ ‬I saw that you were part of Pirates of the Caribbean:‭ ‬At World's End,‭ ‬and you worked with JJ Abrams.‭ ‬Your Career seems to be going very well.‭

‬Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬I sure hope so.‭ ‬I feel like I've only done a small amount and‭ ‬there's just so much more to do and I'm just really excited to make a difference through my craft and really tell some stories that have not been told.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬what can we look forward to seeing from you then in the future,‭ ‬now that this film is out‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬I have a bunch of projects in development over here at Genius Pictures.‭ ‬I've got a feature film that I'm working on called‭ "‬Exposure,‭" ‬which chronicles a female marine who returns from Iraq as an amputee and falls in love for a struggling photographer,‭ ‬who has her pose nude for a series of wounded warrior portraits.‭ ‬This is a very interesting film,‭ '‬cause not only it looks at women's rights,‭ ‬but it looks at women in the military,‭ ‬and also questions what is beautiful.‭ ‬What does our‭ ‬society look at as beautiful‭? ‬I'm also working on a top secret TV show called,‭ "‬The Deep Web,‭" ‬which explores the Internet as we were just talking about,‭ ‬and its ripple effect on society and how it's changed society in so many ways over the past‭ ‬10‭ ‬years.‭ ‬I also have a bunch of other projects,‭ ‬all of them are kind of spun around social issues and creating social change through them.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Wow,‭ ‬you are busy,‭ ‬busy,‭ ‬busy.‭

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬I try.‭ [‬chuckle‭] ‬It's all about the films.‭ "‬Black Swan‭" ‬took‭ ‬10‭ ‬years to get off the ground.‭ ‬You need,‭ ‬as a film maker,‭ ‬you need to not just have one project,‭ ‬but several projects because as soon as you get the opportunity to make one,‭ ‬the rest,‭ ‬I believe,‭ ‬will follow.‭

TMN:‭ ‬Wow.‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬congratulations,‭ ‬and I really appreciate you talking with me.‭ ‬And I enjoyed the film.‭ ‬Everyone can see it on YouTube,‭ ‬right‭?

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬Yes,‭ ‬you can pick it on YouTube or simply‭

TMN:‭ ‬Thank you so much for your time.‭

Kim Rocco Shields:‭ ‬Thank you so much.‭ ‬I really love your website.‭ ‬I use it all the time.‭ ‬I'm honored to be a part of it.‭