Kestrin Pantera is a force of nature. She’s an actress, musician, director, style icon, mother of a one-year-old girl named Elektra, and an all-around rock star. She’s a jack-of-all-trades in the best way possible. Her previous accomplishments include performances with Beck and Weezer (she plays rock cello), a feature film she directed and stars in (which debuts in LA on January 31st at the Arena Theater - buy your tickets here) and she is the owner of the coolest party bus you could ever dream of (The RVIP Lounge).
We sat down with Kestrin, picked her brain, and are now officially obsessed.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Kestrin Pantera: writer, director, and animal lover. I’m releasing my first feature, “Let’s Ruin It With Babies” in LA Jan 31 - Feb 6, and it’s available now on nationwide VOD. It’s about being afraid of having kids and in an art-imitates-life-imitates-art situation, I got knocked up by my husband mid-production. We now have a 12 month old daughter (who ruined NOTHING) and is a perpetual life-enhancement. I’m currently directing commercials and preparing my next film and TV show… and running the RVIP Lounge, a mobile karaoke lounge housed inside a customized RV.
Where is your workspace?
I run my company, RVIP, Inc., out of my home in Los Feliz as we prepare to move into a real-live office. I also love working at Caffe Vita, on Sunset.
How did you get to where you are now?
When I first moved to LA I was a professional rock and roll cellist. I had freakish dumb luck and got to work with rock heroes that I loved and admired. I managed to make a career out of it, but my passion was always to make my own films. A director friend, Jonnie Ross, told me to get a camera and learn Final Cut Pro and to “always be shooting and editing.” I followed his advice and honed my skills touring with bands, shooting videos and editing them together while backstage or in the car. It got to the point that filming & editing myself— and those around me— was a state of being.
What made you turn directions?
To be clear, it was fucking amazing for a LONG time. I was very, very lucky. But at a certain point, it became unfulfilling. I was frustrated by being a back up cellist. Living an endless supporting role in someone else’s vision can be unfulfilling. The turning point was when I was offered a gig touring Japan with one of my favorite musicians, and I said no. It was the “I know the world sees me as a cellist, but I see myself as a filmmaker,” moment. I started to write & shoot narrative pieces, asked friends for help, and failed until I succeeded.
Was this always your dream job?
I always wanted to be a young girl Clint Eastwood- by which I mean, a writer/director/producer/performer— who can also score a movie, in a pinch.
How much of the work is play, and how much is work?
Other than hang out with friends and family, there is nothing I’d rather do than write, shoot, perform, and edit. I DO have resistance around editing- that’s the only part that feels like actual “work.” Once in the zone, though, everything outside Final Cut disappears and the universe goes into a state of timeless flow.
How do you find inspiration and how do you stay organized?
I write every day, even if I don’t have anything to write about. I’m deeply inspired by those who pull off multiple creative leadership roles in TV and film— the Louis CK, Clint Eastwood and Tina Fey-types. Though extreme outliers, they are biological evidence that one person can truly bust several big jobs with success. I appreciate their very existence— especially when faced with someone trying to convince me I can’t/shouldn’t do it. Organization-wise, I use geek techniques like “Getting Things Done” (David Allen), Asana, Dropbox, and Google Calendar. Super nerdy: right now I’m focusing on “leveraging” and “chunking”… if you know what I mean.
How important is your work? Does it define you?
Yes. My work, my family, and my relationships define me.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done with your work and what dream situation would you like to find yourself in?
Most exciting/terrifying experience so far was presenting “Let’s Ruin It With Babies” to a 400 seat jury of my peers. I was scared shitless and sat on the floor, by the door, to see if people stayed. They did. At my favorite part of the film there was a huge, full-audience belly laugh & spontaneous burst of applause. That was a Top-5 Life Moment.
I dream of making heartbreakingly beautiful and hilarious films that connect with global audiences. I’d love it if they were also profitable, so I can keep making them! I dream of making artistic, commercially successful TV show(s) with networks like FX and companies like Pig Newton. Essentially, to do great work with my heroes and create avalanches of good. I also want Dolly Parton to star in one of my projects— I constantly fantasize about kick-ass roles for her.
How do you define your personal style, work, clothing, etc?
When I wear awesome clothes, they come to me like a vision; be it a flowing caftan for a day on the beach, skintight black skeleton leggings for dirty work, or a tulle dress with shimmering headdress for ladies brunch. For now, let’s call it, “Yves Saint Laurent meets Indiana Jones.”
Do you listen to music during your work day?
Depends on if/what I’m editing. I wake up every morning to the slow funky groove of “Aquarius” from Hair. Musical go-to’s are Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Zero 7, and The White Stripes. I’m really into Random Access Memories, by Daft Punk. God bless those guys.
What’s something someone might not know about you?
I fucking love Tony Robbins.
Anything else you’d like to say/let us know?
Come see my movie, nerds!!!
Let’s Ruin It With Babies premieres in:
Austin on January 29th
LA January 31st - February 6th
SF IndieFest on February 8th and 10th &
Oakland on February 17th.
Follow @kestrin on Twitter and see about all of her projects at www.kestrin.com
All photos (except Elektra eating the movie invite above) by Suzanne Strong
- Katherine Aplin