Keva Peters Jr. views the world through a different lens – and he’s refining the talent that allows others to see his point of view as well.
Peters, a Destrehan High alum and also a graduate of Dillard, is studying film as a graduate student at Florida State. He has big dreams, and even early on, his work produced some acclaim. His documentary “The Bigger Picture: African American Representation in Film” earned Most Outstanding Entry among Louisiana high school students in the 2018 National History Day competition, which he said really sparked a desire to fully commit to the artform.
In 2022, he released the short film “Free Game” that he produced. Peters also interned on set for the Edward Buckles directed film “Katrina Babies,” a documentary streaming on HBO Max that delves into the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the youth of New Orleans.
Currently, Peters’ eyes are set on his next project, a short film inspired by his experiences with COVID-19. Peters contracted the illness twice, but the film is more focused on how the introduction of COVID affected the world and how people reacted day-to-day to the situation.
“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a horror film, but I’m going to shoot it like one,” Peters said. “Just human interactions when it first happened – how people would you after a simple cough or sneeze.”
Peters, 22, said he was fortunate that his two bouts with COVID didn’t materialize past relatively mild symptoms. But as was the case with so many others, his college experience was altered due to the many measures necessitated by the illness.
“The message behind that film is that life is short, and it’s important to be thankful for what you have,” Peters said. “It’s about dealing with grief, and communication. So much happens because people don’t know how to communicate their feelings when they’re angry. The issue escalates, but a simple conversation can solve so much,” he said.
Peters said that creating the film, which can be viewed currently on YouTube, was one of the truly exciting experiences of his life.
“It sounds cliché, but that was a case where I felt I had this story burning inside me and I just had to get it out,” Peters said. “People seemed to really like it – the people who watched it and the people who worked on it enjoyed it, and it was something I enjoyed. Just a great learning experience, and that film kind of solidified the fact that I wanted to further my education in this.”
Peters applied to several film schools following Dillard, and initially he seemed destined for USC, which he called his dream school.
Ultimately, however, Florida State proved to make more sense – as a conservatory program, it allowed him to choose his own discipline – in this case, to study to become a film director.
He said that since that first documentary he filmed while at Destrehan, he’s grown greatly as a filmmaker. In fact, he said the craft itself has also lent to his own personal growth.
“I understand my voice and what I want to say,” Peters said. “As you continue to do this, of course the technical aspects are going to improve. But if you don’t know how to use those tools, what good are they? I know now, more than any other point, what I want to say and what I want to create – I know myself better, so I have a clear understanding of my artistic identity.”
He has high ambitions for the future, but that doesn’t distract him from his love of the grind and the journey to get there.
“Filmmaking gives me the opportunity to continue learning more about myself and more about the world,” he said. “I’m able to express myself and communicate that. It’s art. I love being a part of that sense of community with people, being able to have people who gravitate toward things I create. I love it and I don’t see that ever changing.”