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Kristin Mann / Film Producer

Mann produced What Happens Later, a romantic comedy directed by Meg Ryan starring Ryan and David Duchovny, which was entirely filmed in Northwest Arkansas. She has contributed to films such as Mud, Midnight Special and Voyage of Time. In addition, Mann independently produced Poor Boy, a feature that premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, followed by To The Stars a feature film she premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Most recently, Mann joined Pacific Standard Sound, the Emmy-winning sound design company behind Stranger Things, as Head of Production.

📷: Cover photo on set of THE QUARRY

📷: Getting thrown in front of the camera on film TO THE STARS
Where do you reside? 

Bentonville, AR with frequent travel to Los Angeles

Where are you from originally? Tell us about the journey. 

I was born and raised in Little Rock / Maumelle, AR. I went to college in Conway, AR, and left soon after to pursue work in NYC and Los Angeles. After living in L.A. for a while I moved back to Little Rock around 2009 and was toying with the idea of whether I wanted to stay in the film industry or go a different direction when production for the film Mud came to town and hired me. After that wrapped, I was offered a position assisting the producer and director, which took me to Austin, TX. I eventually stepped out on my own to start producing my own films, and I went back and forth between Austin and L.A. for years until moving to Bentonville in 2021. I made my most recent film, What Happens Later directed by and starring Meg Ryan, in Bentonville.

What are some of your favorite things about the region?

I love the trails, and I don’t mean as a mountain biker. I appreciate them for biking too, but I’m more of an everyday walker/hiker, and the web of trails here brings me a lot of joy. I love that I can start my day this way fully enveloped in nature. It’s really helped me with managing a high-stress career and helps calm my nervous system. I’m also sort of obsessed with Airship coffee, Conifer restaurant and very much appreciate the access to art via Crystal Bridges and OZ Art, etc.

Someone that has never been to the region is coming for 24 hours, what should they do, where should they go?

They should explore the trails, grab a coffee at Airship Pumphouse on A Street, visit Crystal Bridges, grab brunch at Hail Fellow Well Met, dinner at Conifer, have a drink at The Momentary Tower Bar, get a day pass to Blake St. House and check out Ledger. There are other things, but these are the immediates that surface for me.

📷: Bentonville trails
📷: Paul (Newman) 🐾
What do you do in your free time?

What free time? LOL. I’m a workaholic, but I do start every day with a walk outside – usually on the trails. I really enjoy dinners with friends, going to the gym, catching sunsets, dreaming about and planning for buying a home/property here and I read a lot of books.

Tell us something about yourself folks might not know.

I have dreams of writing books and starting a dog rescue one day whenever I retire from full-time filmmaking. I think too many of us think we’re just supposed to pick one career or purpose, but I believe we can and sometimes should look at reinventing ourselves every now and then.

What causes are you passionate about? What inspires you?

Growing the film industry in NWA and helping people understand how impactful it could be to the area. Dogs and animal rescues. Women’s right to choose what they do with their bodies. Accessibility to books and education for children.

Describe Northwest Arkansas in three words.

Beautiful, Evolving, Innovative

What are you most proud of in your professional career? What have been the coolest experiences?

I grew up without a lot of money or resources, but I’ve always known I wanted to tell stories onscreen and make a living in filmmaking. It’s not exactly the easiest path or safest career choice to make. I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked, my tenacity and ability to overcome the obstacles I’ve encountered over the years. I’ve had a lot of dreams come true, but having my film To the Stars in competition at Sundance Film Festival is a highlight. I’ll never forget sitting in the audience at the world premiere and watching a huge crowd of people experience it after having spent several years making the film. Most recently, getting to partner with Meg Ryan to make What Happens Later in Bentonville and getting a wide theatrical release for the film is a pretty cool experience!

Any projects or initiatives you’re currently working on that you would like to tell us about?

I have 2 films in development, and one is a hilarious comedy that I plan to film in Northwest Arkansas. The script was just finished, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. I’m super excited about it. We’re currently in the stage of trying to find the right director and lead actor and raising money.

I want to see Bentonville and NWA offer a film incentive for projects filming in the area. This type of initiative would align with a lot of efforts being made here to draw talent and professionals to live in, work in and experience the area.

📷: Meg, David & Kristin from set of WHAT HAPPENS LATER
📷: Filming WHAT HAPPENS LATER in XNA airport
What is your hope for the future of filmmaking in the region?

My hope is that we can improve the state’s tax incentive (specifically a rebate) for film overall so that it’s more competitive with surrounding states that have seen the benefit of and are wisely prioritizing this. I want to see an additional tax incentive for filming in NWA and more infrastructure built here specifically that makes it easier for producers, investors and filmmakers to bring their projects here. This keeps our local crew working, creates jobs and brings in a ton of money and resources that are currently going to states like Oklahoma and Georgia. Not to mention the exposure this brings to the area. What Happens Later was filmed here because I’m a producer that happens to live here and this was my project I was able to advocate making here, but this area is missing huge opportunities to bring in bigger projects and outside producers and filmmakers. I could go on and on about this…

Finally, how would you describe living in Northwest Arkansas? What advice would you have for someone relocating here?

It’s a uniquely supportive community that encourages innovative thinking. It has the charm of small-town living but with a lot of big-city amenities. Lean into what it has to offer. Take advantage of the easy access to nature.

Follow Kristin (@wilde_woman_) on Instagram