Karen is known for her work on Gravity, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Stratton, The Conjuring 2, The Old Guard, Cursed, The Great and much more. Photo credit: @BlowUpPhotography.
I am better than Google.
WHERE ARE YOU BASED AND HOW DOES THIS PLAY INTO THE WORK THAT YOU DO?
I am based in the UK. I am also a journalist, writer and broadcaster. Research is the better half of journalism.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A RESEARCHER?
A friend asked me if I wanted to help out on a film. That film was Gravity.
HAS MENTORSHIP PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR CAREER AND TO WHAT EXTENT?
I have an MBA in film finance and have produced a few shorts. I’ve also worked in development, screenwriting. For research early on, I learned from creatives who knew what was needed on all possible levels and who automatically anticipated problems. Good production designers, art directors and concept artists; creatives in development, screenwriters, producers, directors, set dec, wardrobe, graphic artists, scenic artists and assistant art directors are all huge sources of experience and knowledge, not forgetting construction, props, action vehicles and model making. I don’t think anyone can do this job well without having done the job already, if that makes any sense.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
That I am better than Google.
ARE THERE ANY WOMEN WHO YOU PARTICULARLY LOOK UP TO OR WHOSE WORK YOU HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED BY?
I am a fan of the work - and the work ethic - of production designer Francesca Di Mottola. I’d love to work with Gemma Jackson. I also really like Catrin Meredydd, Julie Berghoff and Lilli Lea Abraham. Celia Barnett has defined what a researcher is. I have massive respect for her.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOURSELF WHEN STARTING OUT?
Get two monitors. No chair is comfortable for 14 hours of research a day. Get up. Move around. Come back.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR JOB/ GETTING WORK EASIER?
THE TIME'S UP MOVEMENT IS NOW IN ITS SECOND YEAR. HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES SINCE IT STARTED?
I think people are a little more aware of sexism now, yes.
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIALS THAT YOU TAKE TO WORK WITH YOU?
Laptop, monitors, phone. Noise-cancellers.
WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF YOUR GREATEST SUCCESSES SO FAR?
To get nuclear codes for a graphic in 24: Live Another Day, I was told to call a guy in a particular pub at a certain time. Along with the designers mentioned previously, working with Mark Scuton and Rick Heinrichs was good.
WHAT IS YOUR BEHIND THE SCENES PASSION OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I still write and broadcast, for Monocle, BBC, Wired etc. I have a wine column at the on-line magazine Civilian Global. But when I'm working on a film, that's my total focus.
TELL US SOMETHING NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU.
I ride sidesaddle.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE OR MANTRA?
“Do or not do, there is no try.”