Thursday, June 13, 2024

Emma Kidd Combines Her Talents and Gets Behind the Camera for New Film

On the set of “Paper Moon,” a short film by Emma Kidd, about the unlikely connection between a teenager and the school cleaning lady.

A natural performer since age seven, Emma Kidd recently moved out of the spotlight and behind the scenes to write, direct, and produce her film “Paper Moon.” She has fond memories of performing with the students in Miss Kullmann’s Advanced Performing Arts Class at Coronado Middle School after her family moved to Coronado from Virginia. At age seven she started in talent competitions and she began writing songs at nine. As an 11-year-old, she recorded her original song “Invisible For a Day” with ’80s musical entertainer Debbie Gibson singing back-up at her Electric Youth Summer Camp. Emma has even auditioned for “The Voice” and has performed at a variety of venues. Locally, she worked as a performer at Legoland and starred in the CoSA film “Daydream Hotel” which was shot at The Del in 2015.

After hybrid classes and online schooling to accommodate her acting schedule, Emma graduated early from CHS in 2016 and was accepted into the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. But they wouldn’t let her work as an actor and be a freshman simultaneously, so she chose to attend The New School ~ School of Drama, where the Actors Studio was founded, which allows students to work while attending classes. While she was ready to leave quiet Coronado and explore New York City, she found that film and TV opportunities were not as plentiful. So Emma took a gap year in Los Angeles, worked as a nanny, and graduated in 2021 from Mount Saint Mary’s University, where she majored in film and media.

Emma was a Coronado Film Festival volunteer.

Emma was previously represented by the former Abrams Artists Agency and has a long resume of acting credits, including starring in ABC’s “Speechless” with Minnie Driver, her first feature pilot; “Perfect Women,” roles in Lifetime movies, and more. She commented that often people don’t realize that you don’t have to be a big name star to be successful in Hollywood, you can play lots of smaller roles and earn a good living.

Life got incredibly hard for actors during the pandemic. She points out that it changed the art of auditioning, still to this day, where most auditions are sent in on tape, not done in person. Emma feels she is better when she gets into a room for an audition, when most of the time she’d get the part.

As her love of acting was waning a bit, she returned home to Coronado in 2022 to pivot, which she believes is a natural part of life for many college graduates. Having been a performer her whole life, she wasn’t sure what was next.

“Everything happens for a reason. I was looking for what clicked,” she commented. During this time of reflection, she revisited a three-page scene she had written for her Columbia MFA application that got her waitlisted but ultimately not a slot in the program.

From that scene, she fleshed out a script in 30 minutes for her five-and-a-half minute film “Paper Moon.” Taking a leap of faith, she spent her entire $6,000 savings, some of which she’d earned working for minimum wage as a host at Coronado’s Il Fornaio, to self-produce the film. She hired the actors and crew and filmed it in just one day in a Los Angeles studio. She recently held a GoFundMe campaign and reached her $5,000 goal on Easter, to help recoup some of the costs and to finish paying for the film.

It’s a wrap for the cast and crew of “Paper Moon.”

Emma’s working title for the film was “Locker Room,” but she kept searching for the perfect name. She found it with the help of her Grandpa Cappy; after he passed away, she had selected his Navy band songbook as a keepsake from his study. She willed him to help find the title for her film and when she saw “Paper Moon” as one of the songs in the book, she felt things fall into place with the movie’s theme – because the moon represents feminine energy, as well as secrets and illumination, with paper representing fragility. It’s also the name of a 1973 film starring Tatum and Ryan O’Neal, and she saw some similarities.

An interesting side note is that while the Kidd family did not move to Coronado for any military affiliations, her ancestors have a storied Navy history, with three Navy ships named after her relatives, including the USS Kidd destroyer.

On writing, directing, and producing the short film, she expressed, “I felt that storytelling came naturally. It was gratifying to know that I was good at this.” Having been in front of the camera gave her insight to assist the actors in their authentic performances, guiding them towards the best outcome. She relates to Greta Gerwig, of “Barbie” movie fame, who pulls the magic out of actors on her films, because as an actor herself, she intuitively understands them.

Not wanting to give away the whole premise of “Paper Moon,” she shared that the story is purely from her imagination about a high school girl getting “dolled up” in the locker room after school, when the cleaning lady then walks in. Emma shares that the secret of why she is primping is revealed, and the woman saves her and a kinship is formed. It’s a powerful narrative about the complexities of growing up and the transformative power of unlikely connections.

She mentioned that her mom says that the film has an ’80s retro vibe to it, which makes sense since Emma loved the influential John Hughes coming of age movies like “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty in Pink,” and also Gary Marshall’s “Princess Bride,” while growing up.

Emma enjoyed being behind the camera.

Recently, Emma reapplied to Columbia with the finished product of her film and felt fairly confident that she would get accepted since they’d liked her previous submission. But it was not to be. She did get accepted into the USC MFA program this fall. She feels validated that this is her new path. “I’m excited to be in class with the future leaders of the entertainment industry,” she notes.

For now, she is working at Coronado’s sister boutiques Avenu and Paris + Me on Orange Avenue, and said the owners and team are the best, and it allows her to be around her favorite hobby: fashion. She also plans to submit “Paper Moon” to the Coronado Island Film Festival, and is researching other film festivals, including international options like Stockholm and Berlin, in which to enter. The ultimate dream would be Cannes Film Festival, and she is thrilled to be hosting a screening for family and friends in three weeks. You can follow her progress at, and @emmackidd on Instagram.


Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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