Alaska filmmakers win Netflix and Adobe competition

Alaska filmmakers win Netflix and Adobe competition
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 9:46 AM AKDT
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HEALY, Alaska (KTUU) - Becoming filmmakers was never something that Keara and Keziah Anderson imagined for themselves growing up in the small community of Healy.

The sisters had many interests as children — they grew up playing piano and doing ballet in Healy, but working with cameras was not part of their childhood.

“We definitely had imaginations for stories and stuff, but we never like, really used any kind of digital cameras. We didn’t know how any of that stuff work,” Keara said. “We never made films before going to college.”

It was in college when the interest in filmmaking first popped into the picture, five years ago when Keziah enrolled at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. At first, Keziah said, she began studying filmmaking and cinematography as a minor degree, before switching it to her main focus.

Keara followed in her sister’s footsteps.

In June 2021, the two sisters decided to enter the Netflix and Adobe film competition, “The Great Untold.” Contestants were in charge of creating a TikTok trailer of a movie they wanted to create.

“Keara and I had been talking about doing this one film in Alaska and so, I was like, why don’t we do this? Why don’t we film a trailer for it?” Keziah said.

The sisters, who are currently living and working in the film industry around Albuquerque, New Mexico, flew back to Alaska to create their film. They submitted their video at the end of June and waited.

It was in July, while on set for a production they were working on in New Mexico, that Keara got a notification.

“I was like Keziah, I need you to come over here, because I think this might be a really big email,” Keara said. “... I got an email from Adobe and Netflix saying, you are one of the three selected winners for, you know, The Great Untold competition.”

Keara was selected as one of three winners of the competition, beating over 16,000 applicants. Her sister, Keziah, worked alongside her as her co-creator, focusing on the cinematography and editing.

“Just knowing that she was in the top 25 was like, so crazy,” Keziah said, remembering the competition elimination race.

Things moved quickly from there.

“Originally we didn’t like, read the fine print, and we thought it was just like you win $10,000, which we were going to put towards making a film,” Keziah said. “We weren’t planning on filming it the same year that we made the trailer. We were like, going to get more funding.”

Keara attended a two week Zoom boot camp about filmmaking, with the other two winners from the competition. The camp focused on teaching them concepts such as scriptwriting and storyboarding.

Following the camp, Keara flew back out to Alaska where she began location scouting with her father, gathering a crew and determining costumes. Keziah later joined them to prepare for the big shoot.

With the help of fellow Alaskan filmmakers, Keara and her sister created their short film, “Last To The Wild”. The film focuses on telling the story of a young Alaskan who is faced with a conflict of not being sure if he is ready to leave Alaska, as many of his friends start to make their journey down to the Lower 48, a conflict that Keara has seen many locals face.

“Just because of the connection, with the people and the land,” Keara said. “... It’s like a big commitment and like a huge change to move.”

With her story, Keara wanted to capture Alaska from the views of the people who helped make the film a reality behind the scenes.

It’s the leading motivation for why she chose to have a primarily Alaska-based film crew.

“For us, this was a really big opportunity because we really want to, you know, grow connections and have Alaskans tell their own stories, instead of people telling their stories,” Keara said.

For the Andersons, it’s all about bringing a little bit of Hollywood magic to rural interior Alaska.

The film, “Last To The Wild,” is available to watch on the Netflix YouTube page.

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