I recently shared a coffee and a chat with KATIE UHLMANN, the delightful host of the “Katie Chats” webtv show who has created her own unique niche in the online media universe. Katie interviews celebrities and filmmakers in a casual manner that puts all her guests at ease. Her knowledge of their careers, filmographies and bios is impressive and even the most casual online viewer will see how passionate this 20-something webtv trail-blazer is about bringing informative and entertaining content to “Katie Chats”. With over 1,200 interviews already “in the can” and available online, Katie seems well on her way to rivaling TVO’s late, great Elwy Yost as the Canadian interviewer with the golden microphone!
What is your professional background/education? I have an undergraduate degree in drama and psychology from Queens University and I also took a summer program in Entertainment & Media Management at UCLA in Los Angeles.
What or who inspired you to create your own webtv interview show? I was initially working for a TV network out of Boston, TTN HD, for a couple of years and was given the opportunity to attend the Oscars a couple of times and covering all sorts of entertainment news. Then about 10 months ago, I decided to come home; there was so little coverage and support for Canadian filmmakers so I decided to launch “Katie Chats”. This was a real turning point for me – if you have your own name on something then it becomes real – I now had a forum where I could channel my passion for film and the entertainment industry as a whole and share it with others looking to be inspired by and celebrate Canadians achieving excellence in film and television.
How did you promote the show & build a following? I really took advantage of social media; I’m an avid Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn user so really I just used those tools to get the news out to people about the availability of online interviews for Canadian filmmakers, producers, writers, actors and even musicians. These people usually already have their own fan social networks so they post links to my “Katie Chats” interviews and then the fans become the viral ambassadors.
How big a crew do you use? (Katie giggles) It’s just me and my mum, Joanne Uhlmann. Mum is my camera operator, producer, editor, craft services (she sometimes picks up coffee and munchies, so…)
How do you pick your interview subjects? Sometimes through referrals, often through publicists who now know who I am. I love the Toronto Int’l Film Festival when I get to interview filmmakers with films in the festival. I love discovering the young up-and-comers from, say, Ryerson or the various universities with film departments. I like to say “yes” to interview requests as I feel it’s important to help others who really don’t get a lot of opportunities to promote their work. I understand the struggle to get that first “yes” so I strive to make it possible for others now. A lot of the major studio publicists now know about “Katie Chats” so I’m now on the media hit list for interviews, thank goodness. Also various publicists such as yourself know about me and are calling me with guest proposals and I’m thrilled to welcome these new and talented industry people to my show.
What is the most exciting interview you’ve done? There have been a few, most recently I interviewed Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Freida Lee Mock who brought her film “Anita”, a documentary about attorney Hill’s infamous sexual harassment accusations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to this year’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto. She was so inspiring. (right)
Canadian TV comedian, Kenny Hotz, was hilarious and a real pleasure to chat with and a really nice guy. (below)
Who would be your ultimate interview & why? Sarah Polley! I have been a fan of Sarah’s ever since Avonlea – she is such an inspiring filmmaker and is so loyal to Canada. She is so committed to good filmmaking and remaining in this country so I would like to find out her view, opinions and dreams for the Canadian film industry.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I hope to continue interviewing and supporting Canadian artists. I want to stay true to my beliefs for entertainment reporting and elevating the craft above the tabloid exploitation standards that currently seem to permeate the world of network television. I want to make sure I remain genuine and offer my guests a platform where they can share their work and their opinions honestly and openly.
What life lessons have you learnt from doing “Katie Chats”? Well, I guess it’s all about the passion – my interview subjects have all been passionate about their work and their lives. I want to live my life that same way and not do anything by halves or settle for mediocrity. And not to take “no” as a final answer, ever!
What would you advise young aspiring TV hosts to do to get started in the business? Know your stuff! Take every opportunity to learn, volunteer at your local community tv station or film production company; they’re always looking for interns. Film your own projects, even with your camera phones. Interview your own family and learn how to edit. Don’t expect anyone to hand you a career. If you work hard for what you want, you will appreciate even more.
Favourite TV show, movie and song? Seinfeld. I love watching the re-runs now and laughing all over again. My favourite movies include Home Alone, Mean Girls and I especially love the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth…yummm). And my favourite song is With or Without You by U2
Favourite colour to wear on-camera? RED! I love how that looks on camera and it makes me feel very confident.
Favourite activity when not on camera? I’m a bit of a gym rat – I love to work out, especially with weights. I find yoga very relaxing, and I love to socialize and hang out with my friends.
Katie is covering the Female Eye film festival in June so if you spot Katie and her mum around Toronto, give her a thumbs-up and tune in to her webtv series, “Katie Chats”.