A Journey Through My Lens
My journey with Local Cinema Studios (LCS) began when I was in college. I was very involved with theater and the theater related activities outside of school. An event was coming up: The Southeastern Theater Conference (SETC) and our theater instructing coordinator, Jaclyn, wanted us to go. So, we managed to get funding and took a flight out to
Louisville, Kentucky for 4 days for SETC. This is where I was introduced to Jaclyn’s friends from college. One of whom being the current Director of LCS, Dustin Whitehead. We had a conversation at dinner regarding film and what I was interested in doing within it. He asked me if I had made anything or had any experience, which I did not, but I had made a short film that I wasn’t overly proud of because it was certainly a “student film”. We discussed any fields I would be interested in learning more about and what my goals and aspirations were long term in the film world. Though I felt unprepared and anxious to be forced into the conversation, it was for the better.
Fast forward months later, Jaclyn reaches out to me regarding a possible opportunity through Dustin at LCS. We got connected and he talked to me about an upcoming LCS project in Asheville, NC that I could potentially be involved in if I were interested. I was certainly ready to do whatever whenever. He put me in contact with the other students they placed on the project who were all in leadership roles and after a couple meetings first getting myself acquainted and discussing the plans for the shoot, we set out for Asheville. This was my first time having any sort of set experience or exposure, but everyone was very friendly and helpful, so the experience was a great one.
Once that project concluded, I had a connection to people who were in the business of making films and I had a script. It wasn’t a script I thought was particularly exceptional, but I figured why not? I asked if I could pitch to them, and they were eager to hear what I had. I did the pitch, and they were interested and took it to give it a read. A little while later, I heard back and even though they ultimately decided to pass on it, they saw some potential in my writing abilities and wanted to hire me on to co-write a feature screenplay for them combining elements of my own script and the co-writer’s script. I was down to do it and we set up meetings and I got connected with the other writer. Over the course of a month or so, an outline was drawn up and we got to writing. Doing 10 pages a week. Within a month, we finished the first draft of the script. I eagerly awaited the next steps, but it was a while before I heard anything. I reached out a few times to see where things would go next. Eventually, they got back to me and wanted to talk with me about something else, kicking the script to the side for now. They wanted to offer me a position of Executive Assistant with LCS’ sister company Iris Indie International (“Iris for short”), a for profit film production company based in the southeast and growing rapidly. And so began my work for the company I am currently employed at now in the field I want to work in.
At the time of writing this, I have been employed under them for almost a year. It has been experience-gaining, rewarding, and enriching in many aspects even through the stressful times. One of the great aspects about my job, other than working in an industry I’m passionate about, is I do have a lot of time to dedicate myself to personal projects. An Executive Assistant by day, a screenwriter by night, I continue to hone and grow my screenwriting skills in my spare time. Throughout the year under this company’s banner, I have been able to pump out multiple screenplays. Two features and a whole television concept with a pilot and various other episode scripts with the previously mentioned co-writer, Chrishuan and my significant other, Kelsey. Along with that work already written, I have a slew of other ideas on my “to do” list that I am eager to get to. Throughout my creative work, I found myself being interested in building world captivating worlds.
Being the nerd that I am, stories that have fun, interesting, and in-depth lore in their world building have always easily roped me in and inspire me to build out these either epic sci-fi fantasy worlds or more grounded ones, but with a slight spice to them. Once my brain randomly conjures up an idea in my day to day, I start thinking about the world, then I visualize “scenes” in my head playing out how I’d see them in this hypothetical movie. I start thinking about characters and what roles I want them to play, challenges to face, journeys to go on, their demeanor, how they look and carry themselves. Finally, I do a very rough outline of jotting story beats either on my phone in my notes or plotting it out on my whiteboard in my home. And when I’m fully fueled on excited adrenaline, I know it’s time to put my hands to the keys.
Having the room to be able to work in the field I adore and still being able to express creatively on the side has been vital to my personal life. Most people don’t get to say they love the things they do or enjoy their work period, but I can say that I certainly do. Just thinking back to years ago when I was a sophomore in college and took that first film class where I realized my passion for filmmaking and how I ended up where I am now with all the steps in between along the journey is truly amazing. I never thought I’d be here; I never knew if any of it would work out, yet here I am. I am thankful for the people in college who helped guide me along the way. I am thankful for Jaclyn forcing me to talk to Dustin at that dinner. I am thankful to Dustin, LCS, and Iris for taking a chance on me and allowing me to grow and do what I do today, for the company and for myself. I could only hope that soon my personal work will find value to the Iris and LCS too.