KALA MANDRAKE has been working in television and film since 2005. She has been writer/producer and video editor for HBO, Cinemax and BBC America during the past 5 years and has worked on various shorts and full-feature films, including Hollywood director Doug Liman’s movie Fair Game. She produced, directed and edited the Behind-the-Scenes movie for world-known burlesque artist and singer Melody Sweets’ music video. In February 2011, she officially launched Kala Mandrake Underground Media Productions (KMUMP) while producing promotional shows for the first season of HBO’s original series Game of Thrones.
KALA MANDRAKE UNDERGROUND MEDIA PRODUCTIONS provides edgy, fresh, uninhibited PHOTOGRAPHY and VIDEO promotional packages for musicians, performers and artists of all kinds, including up-and-coming and established businesses entrepreneurs. KMUMP also specializes in creating documentaries, shorts and full-feature films.
Born and raised in New York, Käla Mandrake has been documenting the underground art and music scene since she was 15 years old. As a teenager, she hung out in squats and underground venues on the Lower East Side, befriending and photographing punk bands, squatters and the homeless. She frequented such places as non-profit organizations ABC NoRio and The Collective Unconscious. She attended punk shows at these places as well as Tompkins Square Park, the Gas Station on Ave C, local community gardens, and the basement of C Squat off 8th Street. At 17 years old she spent a year playing keyboards in a girl-fronted glam-rock band which introduced her into the exciting world of girl bands. Photographing women rockers brought her into the underworld of lesbian culture, which still remained somewhat private and protected at that time. It is through all of these early experiences that Käla learned what it truly means to carve out your own unique path in life. Staying true to her vision of the underground, Käla has always sought out venues and galleries for her photography exhibitions that are artist owned and operated, or are simply part of the New York underground scene.
In 2001, VelvetPark magazine wrote that Käla’s portraits “are spontaneous, yet capture a unique sense of conflict, a stark reality about her subject. She captures on film what Jungians refer to as the ‘shadow.’ She has an uncanny ability, in her photos, to bring to life the repressed, darker, and hidden side of a person’s nature. She is able to illuminate something about the person’s being which may make her audience, and her subject, feel less than comfortable.”
She began her own photography business providing for local musicians and performing artists, most of which were women. Remaining part of the avant garde scene meant being a starving artist so she also worked for some established commercial photographers to support her photography habit through her twenties. During that time, she went back to school at New York’s School of Visual Arts and became a Teacher Assistant for black and white darkroom students at the International Center of Photography.
Käla’s first published photography book UNDERGROUND is now available in bookstores worldwide. The book depicts a truly intimate look into some of the unique and brave souls of New York City’s underground scene.
Käla is the granddaughter of the legendary stage performer, Mandrake the Magician. Contemporary to the 1930′s comic superhero of the same name, Leon Mandrake began his career in Vaudeville and went on to perform and invent magic acts on the road with Käla’s grandmother, Velvet for over 50 years. They had their 4 children on the road, including Käla’s father, a New York musician. Käla’s mother is a multi-media artist and political activist, and her great-grandparents worked in Vaudeville as musicians.
After going back to school, she began writing her first fiction book, FICTION STORY, which was published in the Spring of 2010.