By Kate Sheridan
The hash-tag says it all: Respect Her Hustle. It’s the mantra of Kristen Lucas, a Massachusetts producer, as well as the motto for her company, Goldilocks Productions. And, with her first full- length feature, GIRLS NIGHT OUT, in development and a position as Marketing Director for Worcester’s brand new Mass Studios, Lucas is ready to hustle her way to the big time.
Born and raised in Peabody, Lucas started working in retail her senior year of high school, and hoping to move up in the company (the largest off- brand retailer) to a buyer position, she attended Framingham State for fashion merchandising. After an unfulfilling year, she transferred to Salem State to major in Communications and was placed in random prerequisite courses- one of which was a class in television production. Kristen admits she never would have chosen the class for herself, but luckily, she was bit by the bug.
While maintaining a major in Communications, she threw herself into film studies – taking classes in everything from cinema history to filmmaking and even started the first TV production club on campus. When fliers went up looking for help on an NYU student thesis film that was shooting nearby,Kristen hustled–asking for permission to miss her classes for a week to work on the film set. Of the work, she said: “It wasn’t anything glamorous. I was picking up the actors, running to the gas station- but the rest of the time, I just got to sit on set and I really started to understand how a film got made.”
After college, Kristen applied to UCLA for graduate school (at the time, thinking she’d like to direct) but was not accepted. She went back to retail, eventually moving up to the brand’s corporate offices, but stayed active in the film industry with every bit of her free time- hustling to learn the skills on her own. She did PA work for local films on the nights and weekends, co-produced shorts and music videos, and even took vacation time from her corporate job to be a Production Manager on a feature film. “That was film school for me,” Lucas said, “just volunteering, networking, finding ways into projects and learning as much as I could from them.”
It would seem Lucas had the best of both worlds – her marketing job was stable, but still creative, and she was continuing to grow and move up in the film world on the side. However, in 2001, walking through her local Blockbuster, she found herself struck by how many bad independent movies were on the shelves- and how few came from a woman’s perspective. She started to develop the idea for SNOWFLAKE, a drama about a white, female rapper fighting to make it in the hip-hop world (before Eminem’s “8 Mile”) – but when she couldn’t find anybody to write the story, Lucas once again took matters into her own hands.
As a single mother with a four-year-old at home and a full-time job, Kristen decided to attend the graduate screenwriting program at Emerson College. After working for many years on rewrites and searching for funding, she managed to shoot SNOWFLAKE as a short in 2009- and four days after completing the filming,after twenty-two years of working for the off-price retailer, she was laid off.
Instead of caving into the fear of unemployment, Kristen went full-time film, and hasn’t looked back. She has continued production work on music videos, corporate promotional material, and develops her own projects with Goldilocks Productions, especially the promising GIRLS NIGHT OUT. Inspired in part by the misadventures of Lucas & friends’ own girl’s nights, the teaser of the same name won an Audience Choice award at the first Central Mass Film Festival and promises the real, sassy female friendships of “Sex & The City” mixed with the hilarity and ticking clock of “The Hangover.” Like her previous projects, GIRLS NIGHT OUT explores a women-centric version of an already successful formula: “I like to take something you’d expect and flip it – see what it would be through the female perspective.”
Lucas is hustling harder than ever to make GIRLS NIGHT OUT her biggest project yet, working with a development team of experienced producers to secure funding and attach actors for a full- length feature to be filmed entirely in and around Worcester. “I don’t need to go to LA. LA is coming to us. If Worcester is good enough for David O. Russell, it’s good enough for me!”
While the booming New England film industry certainly boosts Kristen’s visibility, her passion and dedication are what really make her stand out. “I love it when someone says ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do for you’. Hustling means putting yourself out there. All they can say is no!” But who could say no to someone like Kristen Lucas?
Respect her hustle, indeed.
Kate Sheridan is an actor and writer living in central MA. In addition to a B.A. from Holy Cross, she has trained in comedy and musical theatre at The Second City Chicago and North Shore Music Theatre, respectively. She is a regular contributor to Crazytown Blog (http://www.crazytownblog.com) and can be found on Twitter at @ahhkatesheridan.