Filmmaker Kevin Smith Inspires Student Elise Tonnessen at Careers in Film Summit
Elise Tonnessen, a student in the Entertainment Set Design & Decoration (ESDD) program, was recently invited to attend the 5th Annual Careers in Film Summit, hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. In a series of panels, Academy members and filmmakers discussed their professions, shared advice, and addressed the skills that a career in film requires. The topics included production design, costume design, songwriting and composing, sound, editing, visual effects, and animation.
We caught up with Elise to find out more about her experience at the film industry event.
Tell us about your experience at the Careers in Film Summit: The panelists were very inspiring, and sort of took turns giving mini motivational speeches. They shared their life stories—how they got to where they are now, who inspired them, and what they worked on before their careers took off in the entertainment industry.
Director Kevin Smith told us, “Everyone in this room is a unique content generator. You’re all here today because you’re all makers.” He then went on to share his story about a conversation he had with his older sister when he was 21 years old. He said that he’d just seen a film he liked and he told her he wanted to be a filmmaker. And she responded to him, “You are a filmmaker, you just haven’t made a film yet.” It was profound! You could see the passion in his eyes when he told the story. These people who have been in the industry for decades, still have the fire in their eyes; it was so very inspiring! If anyone walked in without inspiration, they would surely be passionate filmmakers walking out.
Tell us a little about yourself: I was born and raised in Orange County, an hour away from the mesmerizing Los Angeles. Since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to live in LA, and now here I am, studying at FIDM. I love watching movies, traveling and trying new foods, and can’t wait to do all these things in this city.
How did you hear about FIDM and what made you decide to go here? I googled set design programs in California and FIDM was number one on the list. I decided to go to FIDM because of their reputation, great curriculum, and their long list of successful alumni.
What are your career goals and how is FIDM helping you get there? My goal is to become a production designer for film. FIDM is helping me get there by educating me on all things film related by industry professionals and taking tours of sets, including the study tour to New York City.