Kiki & the Ghost

When a timid young girl accompanies her librarian mother to work, she is terrified of her discovery of a ghost. That night when her mother tucks her into bed, Kiki sees the ghost in her front yard on her swing, and decides to face her fear to meet him. After talking, she discovers that he is not a ghost, but in fact a scared little boy looking for companionship. The two play together and teach each other the values of friendship and family.

  • Mavi Mercan
  • Jiwon Lee
    Call for Cassie (2022)
  • Evie Masters
  • Kayla Anjali
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 39 seconds
  • Production Budget:
    8,800 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - USC
Director Biography - Mavi Mercan

"I want to show you cities and landscapes and teach you how to look at things in new ways and how to get along in places you don't already know inside out,” said Tove Jansson beautifully. I want to show you the mountains of despair, rivers of love, forests of hope. Every single mind on this planet has a different story waiting to be told, a reflection in the mirror unlike anybody else's. So I want to show you mine and the minds that I have seen, heard, felt, or empathize with. I want to show you the life of a woman in the Middle East, an immigrant’s journey of adaptation and assimilation, a kid becoming an adult.

I’m a Turkish writer, director, and producer. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Film and TV Production from the University of Southern California. I love writing scripts about familial relationships and stories I can bring from home. In the future, I can see myself having founded a film production company that is dedicated to producing films that amplify stories of Middle Eastern families and the voices of women.

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Director Statement

As most of us can relate, I’ve seen so many of my wounds disappear and heal with the touch of a friend’s help. So many of us might be wounded, one way or another, and the one thing that cures it is sharing it with the people who care about you and love you. Especially when you’re kids, your priority as a friend is not the problem itself, but how you can have fun and make your friend feel better. This is what drew me to “Kiki & the Ghost”. The script captured it so well, and I wanted to make it a reality. The overall themes I wanted to emphasize were overcoming your fears, looking beneath covers, remembering the childhood innocence you might have forgotten, and the value of being vulnerable.

I knew I had to find a more fun and effective way to cast kids since their attention spans were shorter, and because I wanted to understand their compatibility with the characters. After doing a read-through, we had games and questions for them to answer. We asked them how they were with their friends, and what they would do if their friends were sad. And I believe we cast right because we really got to meet who they are as children.

Directing children requires special care throughout the entire production. With the subject of abuse in the script, I found it necessary to handle the topic with care and intention with all of the actors on set, especially the kids. I decided, from the beginning, that I would not incorporate the subject of abuse when directing the children, and instead gave them different scenarios that they could empathize with to deliver a more powerful performance. A scenario that they most likely knew and understood more.

One of the things that I fought confidently for was the focus to be on the two kids. I wanted the film to capture Kiki and Joe, and I didn't want to see adults. Kiki & the Ghost, as it is in the title, is a story about two kids and their friendship at its core. Every other story, every other character is a supporting character and supporting story. That is why we don't see them or sometimes we don't even hear them. I believe that if we had shown the adults, and the parents, as the audience we would have tried to empathize with the moms, and not focus on the kids' stories. So it was very important to me, throughout the production, to focus on Kiki and Joe.