Nutmeg Gazette: "Starting Out in the Film Industry" - Melinda Nanassy
I like to describe my entrance into the film industry as coming full circle. My father has worked in the industry for a few decades now fixing electronic equipment. I find this ironic as I never thought I would work in the relatively same field as him. Turns out you never quite know where life will take you.
I’m currently finishing up two bachelor degrees in communication with a film production concentration and marketing at the University of New Haven. It’s only been about two years since I started working in the film industry with others. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there’s always more to learn. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive many great opportunities and make connections with a lot of amazing people on my path so far. Through all the wonderful people I’ve met, I have gotten the opportunity to work on a lot of projects.
I started off doing makeup and special effects in the industry. I had become interested in it back in high school and learned by buying supplies and practicing on myself whenever I had the chance. This included incorporating it into any school projects I could. The first at length special effects project I took on was to craft a character for each of the seven deadly sins and turn myself into it. Some of those came out great while others flopped, but I learned an incredible amount through it. The next biggest undertaking I had was creating a music video from scratch where I also became the character. At this point, I learned that making something related to music or film is not a solo venture. Thankfully, I had some great friends at the time who were willing to help out (shout out to Jess and Diane).
The first film I worked on was called Men’s Room produced by the communication department and students at the University of New Haven. I was given the responsibility of planning and executing all the beauty and special effects makeup. This production was a blast as I got to dress the set and fling fake blood everywhere. This project, along with my continuing education, made me realize I wanted to be more involved in the planning aspects of film making.
Since that film, I have worked on another short film called Television, a 48 hour film festival submission titled Suspicion, a promotional video for a series seeking funding called The King’s Horsemen, commercials for the Connecticut Beardsley Zoo, and live performance/music videos for a Connecticut based band called Mandala. I had also helped start a film production company entitled Pathological Films LLC. Most of the work I did centered around legal filings and behind the scenes marketing. I recently chose to leave for a variety of reasons but it’s an experience I’ll never forget. Working with some of my coworkers, Dan and Jack, was such a great creative experience and we all still keep in touch as friends and for future projects. Each of these projects had their own lessons and struggles. The main thing is I made many new connections through working on them and gained valuable knowledge.
Festivals are an integral part of the film community and great for comradery. I’ve attended Cannes Film Festival in France and Lighthouse Film Festival in New Jersey this past year. Both have been such wonderful and very different experiences. Cannes is much more about business and the glamour of the film industry. Lighthouse had a very family feel to it where everyone was ready to help each other out and stay in touch for the future. During Cannes, I was interning for Lionsgate’s international marketing and sales team. I met a beautiful, helpful woman there who put me in touch with the people running Lighthouse and asked if I wanted to go down and help volunteer. I learned so much about virtual reality that weekend and made even more new friends. I would highly recommend taking the time to volunteer at festivals not only for the connections you make but also the fun you can have.
Currently, I’m preparing for another busy academic year and writing scripts that I have plans to produce soon. I always keep busy working on one thing or another. The advice I would offer to anyone trying to really get involved in the film industry are mostly things applicable to life in general. Stay humble because nobody likes to work with a cocky know-it-all and never put yourself above anyone. Would you want to be stuck on a set with someone for 12 hours who doesn’t appreciate what you do and berates you instead? Always continue educating yourself no matter where you are in life. To me, a director should know how every job on set works because how can you direct people if you don’t understand what they’re doing. The film industry is evolving with the world and I plan on helping it along now and in the future.
- Melinda Nanassy
Melinda is Make-up and Special Effects Artist, a founding producer of Pathological Films and a student at the University of New Haven.