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The Makers Dozen: Multidisciplinary producer Kristin Peterson Kaszubowski

May. 3, 2020 at 2:46PM

Kristin Peterson Kaszubowski is a multidisciplinary producer, whose credits include No Studios artist in residence, the annual Medusa Monologues (a collaboration with Mary Chuy), My First and Last Film, Ringolevio, and Corridor. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

Why are you creative?

Everyone’s creative, right? We don’t have a choice in that. But I’ve chosen to practice channeling my creativity into a few pockets. Most of these pockets include daily writing and examination of conversations I’ve either observed or participated in. So maybe the question “why are you creative?” might more closely mean “what gets stuck in your craw so often that you have to use your practices to try to figure out?” I am oftentimes perplexed on why certain people do or say certain things. And I am often perplexed on why I do or say certain things.  

Maybe the answer to “why are you creative” is that I am a solution oriented person and sometimes the only solution to the problem of “what the hell is happening?” is to write about it, or replay the events, or distort the events into fiction. And eventually I hope the fiction is entertaining, or thought provoking, or affirming for the audiences.

What is something you do outside your job that keeps you creative?

Currently, my “day job” is inherently creative. I assist a Milwaukee based documentary director and now a podcast host Tracey Thomas in producing media that is centered around this question: What happens after you turn 60? Or, maybe this is the question: how can you live your best life after you turn a certain age?  

There’s so much in this adventure with Tracey Thomas that has stimulated my brain and heart, and it has encouraged me to add even more layers of intention to my life and daily tasks. While I may have been pretty willy nilly with my personal projects before, this documentary and podcast has helped me create more structure around my creative process.

So, outside of these projects, I am dedicated to two daily acts: acts of service and the cultivation of my voice. A successful day for me includes a meaningful act of developing my community (be it by producing a fellow filmmakers’ project, checking the to do list off for the Medusa Monologues, or giving feedback to a fellow writer on their work in progress) and gaining momentum on one of my writing projects.

I am really struggling with a play I am so close to finishing. I think I am going to consider today a wash after all I’ve done so far is write in my notebook, “do I have it in me to write more?” over and over and over.

I might need to create a different system someday soon. But, this is working for me for now.

What’s something you saw recently that inspired you?

I squeezed a cut blood orange into some ice water and the way that beautiful orange red juice spread in the water was mesmerizing. I am inspired by this image as much as it has me obsessed.

But you’re probably looking for another type of media as the answer, ha! I saw Fantastic Fungi at the Oriental Theatre on Farwell Avenue. I immediately ordered books on the secret networks between trees and fungi and animals afterward. I am excited to dive in and think more about how I perceive the world in an anthropocentric way and want to think more outside of my species from now on.

But, really, that blood orange juice in the ice water was really something.

What’s one thing you’ve created that defines who you are the most?

I am resistant to answering this, and I am resistant to the thought that what I create defines me. What I make is what I am thinking about at the time. And, as thoughts come as quickly as they leave me, I am not sure any one of my projects does a great job of showing all of me to people who experience them.

But, two things come to mind that might get close.  Vegetarian Alcoholic Press published my first full length poetry collection last summer called somnieeee. This collection includes poetry as old as 2013 and as new as 2018, which means what is written in that book spans enough of my time and experience that it actually is a “complete”ish cross section of my thoughts, my moods, and my memories.

Name an influential or inspirational book everyone must read.

I feel everyone would benefit from a read of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. He does an incredible job of uplifting himself and the reader while not shutting us out with lofty concepts or language play.  

One of line from this book that pops in my head often is:

“I am large, I contain multitudes”

Oh, and also!:

“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”

What do you carry around with you every day that is indispensable?

I always have a pen and my current notebook.  I keep one notebook where I write my to do lists, my thoughts, and current writing works’s scribbles.  I like to keep all these things in one place because I think chronologically about where I was, what I was feeling, and what I was thinking. It’s an interesting analysis to see what I was doing near what I was feeling at the same time.

As for pens, I am very particular about my pens and oftentimes choose a pen that matches my mood or energy level of that day.

Most influential person in your creative life?

Bethany Price, who told me when I was 20 and had just moved to Milwaukee, “just call yourself a writer. You write, you’re a writer” in an equally aggressive and loving way. Today, she’s the first person I send my work to and the first person to help me out of my existential slumps when I have too many days of writing “do I have it in me” over and over in my notebook. Bethany Price is an incredible poet.

How do you silence the doubts?

I never know what I am doing and it doesn’t usually bother me. The most I doubt is when I’m writing or directing a film and, you know, I just barrel through the experience and hope my collaborators are smarter than me. Which, so far, they have been.

Maybe I just believe what my dad repeated to me when I was a kid: “leap and the net will appear!”  And these nets are usually my loved ones telling me when I’m off base or when something doesn’t make sense.

This all said, my husband Marty Kaszubowski is a vocal supporter of mine. He rarely holds his tongue when he sees where something can be improved and I rely on this.

What’s your morning routine?

Honestly, no morning is the same. But what is consistent is that my dog Otto needs a walk and Marty and I politely deciding who has to walk him that morning.

Another minor thing that is consistent is my desire to get my inbox to zero before I can focus on the harder tasks like cleaning up an edit or writing a new scene.

Favorite or most productive meeting spot?

Vennture Brew Company on North Avenue is such an excellent place for my brain.  It’s light, airy, and the coffee is so good. It’s also a little bit of a commute from my place which helps me clear my head and get to a good mental place to tackle the day’s work.

If you weren’t a multidisciplinary producer, what would you be?

I’d like to be a mother of 108 children, teach writing and literacy to late-in-life students, and interior decorate homes in heavily wooded areas around the world. I’d also like to be a hospice nurse.

Realistically, I can’t imagine a different life for myself at the moment. If it was different, I’d like to be a VR film and game producer or a novelist. 

Greatest piece of advice you ever received?

Anyone can have an idea. You have to make the idea a reality.

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About the author

Livia Peterson

Livia Peterson is an arts and entertainment writer, based in Milwaukee.