EXCLUSIVE: From the Highlands of Scotland: A Conversation with Kai Henderson
Kai Henderson is a Writer, Actor and Musician from Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. Kai has performed professionally since the age of 15 across stage, film, TV and radio. Kai recently performed the role of Benedict in the Musical Comedy Cabaret Getting Married Today at London’s iconic Phoenix Artist Club. On vocals, guitar, bass and drums, Kai has performed in a wide range of original rock, metal, folk and jazz bands, featuring on regional radio and is a recurring international touring cast member of Buddy Holly and The Cricketers, the world’s longest running Buddy Holly show.
Kai’s writing focuses on sassy heroines and thrilling plotlines. Having recently completed a stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Kai also writes short films and feature length screenplays. Vida Fantasma Part I – Dark Room is Kai’s first full length novel.
Kai holds a first class BA(Hons) in Marketing and Economics and has top-level experience of theatre and performance production, most notably at London’s Royal Albert Hall, helping to book world-class artists such as Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan to perform at the iconic venue. He has also worked with the Antenna Theatre team to establish the Magic Bus Theatre experience as a permanent and incredibly popular tourist attraction in San Francisco, California.
Kai acted with Screen Rebels in 2016 and is thrilled to debut his new scripts as a writer for the 2017 series…
Was there a defining moment for you to get into the film industry?
As an actor I’ve always been interested in working in film. My background is definitely as more of a stage performer, but through working on a variety of short films over the past couple of years I can certainly say that my love and understanding of screen acting has grown immensely. As a writer, I began sketching out film treatments and basic script ideas in 2011, but it wasn’t until after I’d completed my first novel that the screenwriting bug really bit me, around 2015. Since then I’ve fallen in love with the medium – efficient, elegant, impactive. What’s not to love?!
How did you first get involved with Screen Rebels and what was it about Superheroes that appealed to you?
I first came to watch some friends perform in Screen Rebels Episode V, and fell in love with the concept, and the vibe of the community surrounding it, immediately. I got to know Lorenzo [Founder and Creative Director] better after that and he kindly cast me in Episode VII in a couple of cracking roles. The organisation was expanding quickly and I jumped at the chance to get involved on a more strategic basis. It allows me to combine my experience of marketing and running arts organisations and my insight as an actor an writer in a way that no other organisation could.
Superheroes was a concept for a show that inspired us straight away. My childhood idols were the Spice Girls and Batman, so I was thrilled at the idea of creating a whole new pantheon of superheroes to entertain our audiences with. Not sure Lorenzo’s quite sold yet on my Spice Girls themed showcase, but you never know.
What can you tell us about your story and what was the inspiration behind it?
I wrote the second part of our Superheroes story arc, Justitia: Justice is Done. The story revolves around Justitia, a superhero-version of Lady Justice, and her brother and sister. All three arrived on Earth from the mystical planet of Olympia – I obviously took inspiration from Superman’s history of arriving on Earth from Krypton, but, as I normally do, I wanted to explore the story of a female title character – specifically with Justitia, how she tries to assimilate with a world of humans. I’m also a huge Metallica fan and had their album …And Justice For All pretty much on repeat at the start of this year, so I think that must have had something to do with it. Inspiration comes from anywhere!
Lorenzo and I co-wrote the final screenplay in our showcase, Two Jacks, which was really an opportunity to see how far we could take the concept – how crazy can we make this, how crude can we make it, how real can we make it? We wanted it to be very funny and leave our audiences on a high – and I hope we succeeded!
What do you have coming up next with Screen Rebels?
Our next series of showcases are titled The Odysseys and we’ve got three new short screenplays about epic journeys ready to whisk our audiences away from the summer heat of London and out into worlds unknown! Think adventure, suspense, thrills, romance and mystery! As well as a lot of laughs along the way of course, too…
Outside of Screen Rebels, what do you have coming up that you can tell us about?
Before acting and writing, my first serious artistic expression was as a guitarist and a singer. I’m absolutely delighted that I’ll be travelling back home to Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland this summer to begin work on recording my debut album. It will be a rock/pop record with loads of bluesy riffs, singalong choruses and moments that will make you want to dance your socks off.
Fandoms are a big part of the industry, what are some of your favourites?
I’m a bit of a nerd, and definitely fall into the fantasy camp with the rest of the Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones nutters. There’s a wonderful escapism that comes with the idea of waging great battles for huge concepts like honour, truth and justice. In contrast, I’m also a massive James Bond fan and will never tire of the franchise. My party piece is naming every Bond film and the year it was released in chronological order. I can also recite the alphabet backwards. I’m really fun at parties.
What advice do you have for someone aspiring to embark on a career in the film industry?
Just start. There’s no better advice for anyone who’s uncertain about how to set off on what is, almost certainly, going to be a very long, but incredibly rewarding, journey. Be prepared to try new things, be prepared to suck at stuff until you do it enough times to become brilliant at it – that’s how it works with anything, I suppose. Keep at it, be confident in yourself and remember that everyone started from the bottom. Apart from Nicholas Cage – when you’re the nephew of the guy who directed The Godfather, it’s probably quite easy to catch a break… so if you’ve got an aunt who’s a Studio Exec, just take her out to brunch.
SCREEN REBELS: THE ODYSSEYS COMES TO THE PHOENIX ARTIST CLUB ON AUGUST 6 + 9