March 3, 2011
Side-Hustle turned Full-Hustle
About ten years ago, I spent one of the more memorable summers of my life as a high school student studying at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Down the hall from my single room in the George Washington, I had the great fortune of encountering a young Monique Perreault. It was love at first sight. Monique hailed from Detroit. She had all the sharp, brassy confidence and wit of a woman twice her own age. Despite being only sixteen, I had enough sense to conclude that Mo (a film student at the time) was headed to the top. But back then we were just two dreamy art kids running around Greenwich Village with our friends.
Today Mo is making it all come alive with Casey Levine and their two-woman production company, KWC Productions. When I’m not writing fiction or working on my first documentary, I’m a part-time collaborator with KWC’s online creative workspace: Kids With Candy, a site intended “to create new working relationships among creative people that may not otherwise happen while we’re all hustling.” So, take note from Mo and her KWC counterpart Casey Levine: don’t ever let your dreams from days of yore die (especially if you’re underemployed and struggling to redefine today’s cultural industry by making your own mark on it).
Article by Emilie Allen
Can you describe – in one sentence – exactly what KWC is and does?
Kids With Candy is a two-part deal. KWC is comprised of a full service photo and video production company, KWC Productions, along with KidsWithCandy.com an online editorial outlet for us to work on original stories with our friends and collaborators.
KWC has been under development since May 2008. Now your site islaunched and you are producing shoots, how would you describe the journey of the past two years?
Unexpected. Amazing. Life-altering. In many ways the current incarnation of KWC is totally different than what we had originally set off to create, but at the same time is exactly what we wanted- we just couldn’t have planned how to get there.
One essential thing we learned: you are born a producer. It’s really hard to teach someone how to anticipate problems; most of what we do is intuition and a sensitivity to the people we are working with. If you have those traits you can find your way through anything.
We literally spend about 18 hours a day together, in person or over email, and have still maintained our friendship. In fact, we’re better friends than we were 2 years ago. It’s sort of like we’re married. Which can be a little intense sometimes, but at the end of the day we’ve created the life we dreamed of two years ago.
Where is KWC now and where would you like to be in five years?
We have KidsWithCandy.com in a good place right and we are looking to build over the next few months. We want to keep making great content. At the end of the day we would like to be able to provide the resources our collaborators need to make bigger and better stories, but maintain an environment where people are making things that they love because they love what they are doing.
In terms of production, we want to branch into all different types of creative endeavors and always maintain a connection to collaborative energy. We’ll try just about anything, as long as it promises to be a good time and affords us a reason to work with people we are into. The sky is the limit really. But short term, we would like to establish our place in the photo and video production world, and from there take on the film industry.
So, KWC is a two gal production company with a few collaborators thrown in the mix. Can you tell me how you two met and how you ladies work together as a team? Who does what?
We met at an opening for our friend Kareem Black’s show about 4 years ago. It was pretty obvious that we were on the same trip, which is rare to find once you are out of school. We both went to SVA but never knew each other while there. We were new best friends almost instantaneously. Monique is pretty forward in general but when someone asks “So do you want to be my friend?” it makes it super clear where things are going.
As a team we really complement each other. Casey has a background in artist development and advertising from her time as a photo rep, and Monique has a huge knowledge of the editorial world and photographers from working in publishing. When we first started our skill sets were pretty far apart; over the past two years we’ve learned a lot from each other and have picked up each other’s skills. We have been asked if we are sisters, described as complete opposites, and compared to Laverne and Shirley. We’ve also been told that we would make for great reality TV show (We’re open to offers).
What have been your favorite KWC moments/productions thus far?
There have been so many! We really truly love what we do. There is nothing better than helping people make their vision come to life. Probably the most exhilarating part of our job happens on set; if you’re a good producer a set should run itself, so it gives us a few moments to stand back and watch all of our work come to life.
One of our favorite jobs was a promotional shoot we did with Karaoke Killed the Cat. We had the chance to work with Peter Yang, who is one of the most talented photographers alive. We re-created a famous photograph of Salvador Dali jumping through the air with flying cats and water. So there was water and flying cats on set. That’s how we roll.
Where did you find your creative team for the KWC website?
KWC was formed so that we would have an excuse to work with our friends, who are the most talented people we know. We have been lucky to spend our time in New York surrounded by a real cast of characters! We have worked with certain people sporadically in our previous jobs, but now with the control we have over our site we can work with anyone who is willing to collaborate. It’s a dream.
We have also been lucky to have awesome people come our way through jobs that were totally unexpected; we love meeting people and making new friends. We try and keep an eye out for other professionals that might be on a different trip but headed to the same place that we’re going. Anyone that looks like they are headed for the top, we’re usually pretty into.