Plains native stars in original film

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Plains native Lindsay Katt made and starred in her film, “The Avant Gardener.” The film was recently shown at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest. (Courtesy photo)

Plains native Lindsay Katt, known to locals as Lindsay Catalanello, was a featured filmmaker at the recent Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC).

“The Avant Gardener” features 10 original songs, each with its own stand-alone filmtrack, tied together to make a powerful story of an artist’s life.

As director, composer, and creator, Lindsay brought together a talented team of dancers, actors, artists, musicians, puppeteers, film experts, directors, and others to create a rich explosion of music, color, and depth of life understanding.

As a nice touch, she included her grandmother, Betty Ann Catalanello, acting in the final segment.

The film won Grand Prize for “Experimental Short” at its 2017 premier at the Flickers’ film fest in Rhode Island. Now in its third and last year on the international film festival circuit, “The Avant Gardener” has collected dozens of awards for many categories, including “Grand Prize Winner,” “Best Producer,” “Best Original Score,” “Best Experimental Film,” “Best Cinematography,” “Best Director,” and several more. It received wide audience acclaim at FLIC and was nominated for “Best Original Score,” and “Best Cinematography.”

“Nobody is more surprised by this than me,” Lindsay says. “My vocational background is not in filmmaking.”

Lindsay cut her performance teeth in Sanders County Community Theater in the 1990s, including as a Von Trapp child in “The Sound of Music,” along with the rest of her musically-talented family.

At age 16, she directed and produced her first show, the hugely successful “Annie,” starring an all Sanders County cast. This experience had a big influence on her and helped her find what parts of the art world resonated with her for the future.

It also taught her the value of leaps of faith.

“You can have no idea what you’re doing,” Lindsay said, but “you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying things.”

Being the one person willing to say, “I’m interested, who wants to be interested with me?” can be enough to draw together other talented, enthusiastic people to help make something big happen.

“It was a huge collaborative effort,” she says, with over 50 people working on the production. It was that collaborative spirit that made Lindsay’s film debut possible, she says.

Lindsay moved to New York City at age 20, supporting herself as a nanny as she undertook a singing/recording career. With the goal to work for herself rather than a record company, she saved her earnings and paid to produce her own works.

Her first CD, “Picking out Boxes,” (2008) was balloted for a Grammy, and has been used for background in many advertisements and videos. She has since produced a five-song EP, and now the outrageously successful movie/album, “The Avant Gardener,” soon to be released for the public.

The movie was three years in the making, much longer than Lindsay’s planned timeline. This led to difficulties such as losing an actor when his work visa ran out, but also brought serendipitous additions to her talent team, including puppeteer Aaron Haskell and producer/editor Daniel Madoff.

The lesson for her, she says, is “Have strong convictions, loosely held. Be flexible. It can end up working for you dramatically, in ways you couldn’t predict.”

Her gratitude for the many people’s efforts is manifest as the 39-minute film includes nearly three minutes of credits.

Lindsay’s biggest lesson may be that her creativity stems from what was thought of as “learning disabilities” when she was young. She found her own voice once she was able to embrace who she was rather than feeling bad about things she “should” be able to learn, because people told her they were “easy.”

She says each person’s gifts contribute, whether simple or complex, and she encourages them to allow their uniqueness to define them rather than “boxes that are only really used to try and measure worth.”

Far more important to ask of someone is “What do you have to contribute that’s yours?” she says.

Lindsay is currently performing a live street art program and working on a play, another project she never expected to do.

To follow her latest, find her on Facebook as “Lindsay Katt (The Plotting has begun)” and see many performances on YouTube.

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