Kali Turner, Using Media and Storytelling to Shape the World
May 20, 2019
Kali Turner has never taken the conventional road in her career. After her freshman year at the University of South Carolina, she dropped out to start and run a media company, Aerial Produced, alongside her sister Britnie. Through her years at Aerial Produced, she not only found her love for filmmaking, but she fell in love with storytelling. Her desire to tell stories that shape opinions and influence culture, coupled with the spark of bringing more awareness to the plight of human trafficking, led her to continue her education at the LA Film School. We are continuously inspired by Kali, and hope her story resonates with you all.
In this feature, Kali shares with us her thoughts on figuring out your career at a young age, her work at Aerial Produced, why she chose to continue her education in filmmaking, and her career advice for ambitious women, such as yourself.
When you went to college, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do for a career? Did you have a big dream?
I went to the University of South Carolina for one year as a Business and Spanish major. I knew I wanted to start my own business one day but had no idea what would it would be for. I figured if I learned Spanish I would be useful in the mission field.
So, no, I had no clue other than I wanted to do something that had never been done before and gain skills that made me useful in the world to do good. Not to mention I was very lost in college.
On starting Aerial Produced
What encouraged you to leave college and pursue a career at Aerial with your sister, Britnie?
I had worked with Britnie every summer since I was 14 and after she had put a couple media projects on me (I definitely wasn’t ready for them) that turned out pretty successful, she asked me to quit school to start a media and production company. I figured that by skipping school, I was skipping ahead 4 years in my career.
Another point I’d like to make is that I think it’s absurd people think they have to know exactly what they want to do by 18 and then go into school ready for that. If you do know by that time, that’s awesome, but if you don’t, my advice would be to take a couple of years to go work in the real world, start something of your own, or travel until you find it.
What was it like going into film-making with no formal training? What were your first experiences like?
First off, you really don’t need any formal training to go into filmmaking. As long as you have a great work ethic and you’re a self-motivated learner, you can start from anywhere.
My experience was just a lottttt of long hours, weekends, trial and error, Googling, Youtubing, practicing not being a perfectionist and letting others see/critique my work without getting offended.
I made a TON of mistakes..not just small ones either..I made really big mistakes. But I will say that even though it sucked making those mistakes, I swear I will never make them again. Those mistakes taught me how to be organized, focused and prepared. The skills you learn from your mistakes are what set you apart from everyone else.
Aerial Produced is doing incredible work to support the BVI recovery. How has your work with BVI influenced your career goals?
Working in BVI changed everything for me. I didn’t just find my love for filmmaking, I fell in love with storytelling. Now, I have focused my entire life around how I can tell stories that shape opinions and influence culture.
I want to be able to highlight the worst atrocities through film to influence a culture to be one that isn’t afraid to step into the world’s pain and suffering.
I believe one of our greatest callings as Christians is to face the evil in this world head on and be the ones sent to be a light in the darkest parts of the earth. I experienced BVI as a disaster zone and I got a taste for what that part of my future might look like.
Next step: film school
What prompted you to leave your position at Aerial to further your education in documentary film-making?
Working at Aerial Produced helped me get extremely focused on who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do for the world. In 2018, I started watching documentaries on human trafficking and now I have thoughts and feelings that I can’t shake.
I decided I had to do something about it and I had to start now. So, I decided to continue growing my skills, education and connections in film school here in Los Angeles, CA.
What are you most excited for in the future?
I’m excited to wake up and see that it was all worth it. I’m excited to see the people that we can help and the lives that will change. I’m also excited to think about living in another country to do filmmaking one day. I have a lot of learning to do and a lot of people to meet.
What is your advice for aspiring film-makers?
Ask yourself the hard questions. Media is a powerful tool, how will you use it? Telling truth-filled stories is not what makes money in this world. So ask yourself, what stories am I telling and why?
What is your advice to aspiring business-women launching their careers?
Hey girls! Yes, you have to work a little harder, deal with a little more push back and then deal with your own self-sabotaging at times, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable or worth it. If you don’t try now to do what seems impossible, how will anything change?
I’m an aspiring female director and I’m scared and doubtful every day, so I need the encouragement from you all as well. I need you as an example to see what’s possible for me and YOU are the one who will help me believe in myself.
What did you think? Let’s chat. Comment below!
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