OCEANSIDE — All little girls are impressionable at some point in their lives and KOCT Executive Director Carly Starr Brullo Niles remembers the first time she became enamored with film and cameras.
At age 9, Starr was at the rest home her parents owned in Escondido and came face to face with Ann Forrest, a movie star from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
“When I was a little girl, I noticed this silent screen star that lived there,” she recalled. “She had the nicest old things, the biggest room and wore fancy robes. She would sit and look outside her window gazing at the flowers.
“I brought her water one day and she asked me to step on a stool and get down a box for her from a closet. It was filled with magazines with her on all these covers. We looked at those magazines every day, I’d change her bedding while working there after school with my sisters.
“That woman would talk about Hollywood — she would ask what I was interested in and I would tell her I liked to tell stories. She said I could write stories, and movies if I wanted to in Hollywood. She literally opened my mind up at 9 years old to the idea.”
And so, her journey began.
At 12, Starr started buying cameras and remembered: “Men would look and ask why I was buying a camera. They’d say, ‘You don’t get to hold the camera … ’ that powerful woman let me know that I could, and she was a very modern woman.”
KOCT and Hollywood
Fast forward and after years of success in Hollywood on major motion pictures, independent features and network TV, Starr started Love Machine Films in Oceanside to make a difference in the world.
The company is a full production house founded on the ethos that “Love Can Conquer All,” according to Starr.
“Film and media is the only job I have ever had,” she said. “It’s all I have ever loved.”
Starr said she returned from Hollywood to San Diego County at the height of her career for family reasons.
“KOCT was one of my first jobs about 30 years ago when I did camera and directed in a heavily male occupied world, it was fun,” she said. “I went to Palomar College before KOCT; I eventually went to Hollywood and worked there for a long time and got pregnant with a miracle baby.”
For Starr, the ability to tell a story has always been deep in her heart.
“What’s interesting about my journey is it was all I ever wanted to do; I had no other dream other than to hold a camera, make movies and tell a story,” Starr said. “What’s rare was there wasn’t many female directors; I liked writer S.E. Hinton and I related to her. I had a camera in my hands all the time and bought a camera when I was young.”
Changes at KOCT
Since Starr has been at the helm of KOCT, she has made some positive changes at the station.
On this specific day she was preparing the green screen, working with various local business leaders to produce shows, and talking to 1980s-1990s actor Jack Scalia, about his upcoming TV show.
“It’s very exciting what Jack is doing; it’s going to be a terrific show for and about veterans,” she said. “My goal is to do a lot of new programs for the community. I’d say we are one of the last of the Mohicans and we’re an important jewel here in North County. I think people should support channels like us as local programming is one of the last freedom of speeches that you can have.
“Besides putting in a new green screen, we have a really impressive wireless media truck,” she said. “I want to get that truck out into the community more and inform the citizens and shed a light on this city. We are the voice of North County and not just in Oceanside.”
Starr is also responsible for creative branding, direction and production behind hundreds of projects, for mainstream and nonprofit organizations.
Starr’s efforts have helped raise millions of dollars for various national and international causes including The Mission San Luis Rey, American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and countless others.
As a director, she filmed the award-winning feature graffiti doc, “The Nasty Terrible TKID-170,” along with “Love is the Answer,” which swiftly placed in festivals all around the world.
Starr was recognized by the San Diego film community for her career efforts after receiving The Women in Film Award.
As for the future of KOCT, she said she isn’t going to stop until people tune into KOCT all throughout North County.
“I am moving us into the modern world of media and want to get all cities in North County to have access to us,” she said. “I love TV and don’t think it should ever go away. And, most importantly, we are working hard to bring our viewers to KOCT.org.”