A Career of Creation

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A Career of Creation
Kimberly Steward at Sundance Film Festival

(NEW YORK) - When the film Manchester by the Sea premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, it was met with rave reviews and was quickly acquired by Amazon for $10 million dollars.

The film's credits list Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler in starring roles, and Matt Damon as one of the producers, but there’s also a Webster University connection: School of Communications alumna Kimberly Steward is also a producer through her company K Period Media.

“Some people naturally love to sing or naturally love to draw, well naturally I love to create, tell stories, and create opportunities for others around me,” said Steward.

Steward graduated from the School of Communications in 2003 with a degree in broadcast journalism. She began working in publishing with jobs at national magazines such as W and Real Simple before branching out and forming her own business, Kess Agency in 2010. This foray into entrepreneurship inspired Steward to think about where her passions and talents combine and she then formed K Period Media in 2014. 

“One of my favorite sermons that truly inspired a lot of my decision to move forward producing movies was called ‘Your Passion is Your Purpose’ by Bishop Noel Jones,” said Steward. “I didn’t stumble into this line of work – it was similar to putting puzzle pieces together to figure out the entire portrait. I believe your work should inspire you and others around you and I am truly following my heart. I am now able to work and leverage my creativity and my connections in order to create strategic relationships with some of the most prolific people in the film industry.”

She attributes her education at Webster with a good basis of production knowledge that has been helpful in her career in the film industry.

“Not only was [professor] Eileen Solomon an amazing mentor to me, but Webster’s broadcast journalism program really helped prepare me for multiple areas of production, from digital editing - to print media,” said Steward. “Most schools make you wait a couple of years before getting into the nit and grit of production. The additional time really helps prepare for finding a job post college or creating one."

While Webster University prepared Steward with the confidence and skills for her professional life, nothing could prepare her for the pride she felt in premiering a film at Sundance.

“I loved listening to the audience’s reaction and hearing the moments when they laughed or the sniffles and rustling of the tissues when they cried,” she said. “When you are in production you hope once the film is completed that all the moments that made you laugh, or made you emotional when you read the script will resonate with the audience as well.”

Cast & crew of Manchester by the Sea
Cast and crew of Manchester by the Sea

Brian Jun, a visiting assistant professor in the film department in the School of Communications, agrees that it is a huge milestone to premiere a film at Sundance. He debuted his film Steel City at Sundance film festival in 2006 and said that it’s important for people to understand the importance of the festival.

“Sundance is a platform for launching the year’s most sought after independent films by marquee directors but also discovers untapped talent that so desperately needs and deserves exposure,” said Jun. “Their commitment to diversity and pushing the boundaries influence what films are given the opportunity to reach a wide audience; a quality very few film festivals possess."

Manchester by the Sea certainly received the right kind of exposure and Amazon picked up the North American distribution rights for a reported $10 million dollars. The website will release the movie in theaters and then has exclusive streaming rights.

Once the film hits theaters, awards season will be the next hurdle. As for Steward, she’s using her passion to create and has another film in development ensuring this is just the first of many successful deals for K Period Media.  

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