Keith Kopp has always been fascinated with film. Born in southern California and raised on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, he spent much of his young adulthood sitting in front of the big screen taking in the “magic” of film.

“We lived close to a three-dollar cinema and my parents would take me there every weekend,” Kopp tells Celtic Life International via email. “Sometimes we would see as many as three films over two or three days.”

In high school, Kopp – who is of Scottish and German descent – began performing on his own, first through an improv troupe and later in drama class. It was also at that time that he would get his hands on his first camera.

“It started to feel like a calling as much as a passion,” he notes.

Now an award-winning film director, Kopp splits his time between Bath, U.K. and Carmarthenshire, Wales.

And while the reasons he first fell in love with film still hold true, today he has a better understanding of the kinds of stories that he wants to tell – intimate, gritty, and small in scale.

“Films about humans that feel real,” he says, citing Ingmar Bergman, John Cassavetes, and Noah Baumbach as his biggest inspirations.

Over the course of his career, Kopp has worked as film director on a number of shorts, including his 2014 release Gage. It was during the production of Gage that Kopp acquired personal mentorship from American filmmaker Gus Van Sant, whose directorial career has brought audiences several cinematic powerhouses, including Good Will Hunting (1997) and Elephant (2003).

And though he has earned an array of awards, Kopp insists that the biggest reward remains the art of filmmaking itself.

“The creative endeavor allows me to fulfill something that is hard to articulate and yet speaks to the soul.

“To see my story on the big screen brings a real sense of creative satisfaction. I also get to meet other people who tell wildly different stories and yet have the same impulse to entertain people. Finally, films take me, and audiences, to places that they or I would never get to know otherwise. I mean, I have been to a nightclub in the basement of the Zimbabwean Embassy, opulent English manor homes, and houseless camps in the Pacific Northwest just to name a few experiences.”

Kopp recently released his debut feature length film Translations. Described as a Welsh romance drama, the story explores the complex love between two people – Stef, an agoraphobe and translator, and Evan, the best friend of her late brother – as they each wrestle with mental health issues.

“A lot of my work is about how people deal with, and are affected by, trauma. Translations ask the question about what your mental health is worth to you? I made this film because I have experienced isolation and captivity like the character Stef. She must decide to either allow her fear to consume her or to come to terms with it.”

Kopp worked on Translations with writer, Laurence Guy. The story became fully realized once the pair met Welsh actor Kate Morgan-Jones (who plays Stef), a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Drama and Music.

“When I first came to the United Kingdom, I was really quite taken by Wales,” says Kopp. “The culture, landscape, language – and the kindness of the people – made me fall in love with the country. I knew that one day, the right film would be set here. I find it interesting how Irish and Scottish cultures are highlighted elsewhere around the world and how little Wales is mentioned. I thought it would be cool to bring Wales to these places.”

So far, response to the film has been positive.

“People sense how genuine our little romance drama film is, and some have really gone out of their way to help us.”

Kopp says that he has no plans of slowing down. With the U.K. theatrical release of Translations only just gearing up, he already has a number of projects on the horizon.

“I am developing a thriller TV series set in Wales that I am planning on pitching, and I have two other feature films on the go as well: a drama and modern western that are at different stages.”