Whistles women: Kinga Burza

Kinga Burza has led a nomadic lifestyle so far. The Polish-born photographer and filmmaker grew up in Melbourne, and later Sydney, where she discovered her penchant for making films by offering to film and edit music videos for friends in bands. In 2006, ambition drew Kinga to London where she was promptly signed by major music video production company Partizan. Since then, her career has taken her to New York and LA before settling in Paris, where she now lives with her husband.

Kinga's directorial triumphs to date include music videos for Katy Perry, Calvin Harris, Ladyhawke, Kate Nash and Peaches as well as a string of fashion-focused projects and a short film for the BBC entitled 'Candy', which has now gained cult status. Her video for 'Foundations' by Kate Nash won the Best Pop Video Award at the UK Music Video Awards in 2008 and her first US video for Katy Perry's number 1 hit 'I Kissed a Girl' received five nominations at the MTV VMA awards. Kinga's formidable skill set is fuelled by relentless determination - her ability to achieve personal and professional goals is a true inspiration.  

We meet at a time when Kinga is revelling in the new-found stability of a permanent dwelling, though evidence of her lifelong wanderlust is showcased all around, on the surfaces and walls of her light and airy apartment in the form of indigenous souvenirs. When we visited earlier this month, bright sunlight penetrated the floor to ceiling windows, illuminating carefully curated corners and a beaming Kinga, who is soon to be a mother for the first time.

You have lived all over the world - what triggers that decision process for you to move again?

I guess I've always in some way felt like an outsider in the all the cities I've lived - even in Australia, having been born to first generation immigrants from Poland so settling in to a foreign city has always rather felt effortless, but you know, nowadays with a family on the way it may not be as easy to move around, like it was before and perhaps that's a nice thing, for a change. 

Where do you go for inspiration when your first given a brief for a new film?

It depends, sometimes things you see in your spare time influence you so much they creep into your work without you realising it and other times, you really need to go out and find the right idea for the brief - so you devour through photo books, or fashion magazines or films or an exhibition or a fashion collection - it can really be whatever works.  When I get asked to pitch on a music video the turnaround time is often pretty quick, so you have to act fast so I think it's important for me to to be inspired regularly so that I can tap into what inspires me on call.

You have a unique collection of furniture and objects in your home – what's your most precious piece?

I often collect ceramics from the cities I visit - a have hand painted bowls from Krakow, plates from Tokyo, tiles from Istanbul, lots of little pots and a vintage Mexican wrestler money bank from Oaxaca and a tiny blue horse from Pays Basque but my most precious piece is the deep green bust I received later in secret after spotting it in Rome. 

What’s your idea of a perfect night in?

A balmy night with wine and good food on the terrace with a few friends over to make it even the more merrier.

Are there any other places you’d love to live?

Somewhere warmer. The winters in Paris can be a drag but really, I think I'd love to live near a beach in Sydney again one day because it really is the idyllic lifestyle, if only it weren't so, so far away!

Describe your workspace at home.

It's pretty minimalist. A small desk with enough room for a notebook, a tea and a laptop. It's all I need really.

What makes you feel at home?

After 3 years of sublets and airbnbs before moving in here, I can tell you nothing feels like home, until you've got all your things around you. I don't mean material things, but those possessions and home furnishings that are personal, sentimental and make you who you are. I often work from home so I spend a lot of time here and it's really important to me that my domestic place feels cosy, clean and personal.  I love home so much now that when I travel, I get a little homesick after a week and I don't remember feeling like that since I was a kid. There's something very comforting to me knowing that should I fancy picking up a particular possession, say a photograph, a book, a piece of jewellery - whatever, I can easily access it and it's not locked up in storage.

Your artistic direction is evident in your home – what’s the most important thing to get right for you in your space?

Colour palette - I like that the furnishings and decoration all blends in seamlessly so that's easy on the eye and the light colours lend themselves to a smaller space. While it's very comforting to have personal objects around, I don't like things to feel too cluttered so I'm wary on putting too much on the walls or getting a rug because I'm very aware the space is not huge so I'm enjoying keeping it airy and bright.

Has the city inspired the interior of your apartment in anyway?

Probably a little, subconsciously…just because of what's available around me, but I never really thought about it.  Our apartment is not typically Parisian like say a Haussmannian, so there was nothing in this space suggesting it should feel French except for the choosing of some of the flowers - I remember getting the roses and thinking they would very much go with the Parisian rooftops. 

Do you have any rituals for when you are working on a set and at home?

Being as organised and prepared as possible because working on set is always full of surprises and there's never a second chance! At home, I always have lots of tea and snacks and little breaks but I'm pretty good with deadlines - I'm almost always on time. 

At what time of day do you enjoy your apartment the most?

When it's warm enough I sleep with the balcony door open and I just love waking up in the summer to the sunshine coming through and sunbathing my legs. It's an incredibly relaxing feeling. 

What films have been the most influential to you?

Oh gosh, so many- where to even start, but watching Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours: Blue is what made me first decide I wanted to be a director.

What did you most look forward to about living in Paris?

After living 6 months in Los Angeles and so many years in London, it was nice to live in a city where you can walk everywhere again. Paris often feels to me like a much quieter, calmer version of New York and while I loved New York, I was ready for something a little calmer (with the walking bit). 

The cluster of plant pots on your terrace is beautiful. Would you say you have green fingers?

Thank you! The flowers are coming to the end of the season unfortunately. It's really mainly my husbands doing. I believe he finds it therapeutic but I'll buy seeds, water, pots from flea markets and suggest what to plant, but really we're novices. We're still learning how it all works.

What can you see from your balcony?

Lots of grey rooftops and terracotta chimneys - it's a typical Parisan view really…

Watch some of Kinga's filmmaking here and browse her inspiring photography and daily musings on her blog here