by Erin Armstrong
The days of partying, sleeping in and skipping class are closing in for many young University and College students as they inch closer to graduation day. A reality for many, especially in the creative field, becomes the daunting question “what do I do now?” In a world filled with competition it is sometimes hard to figure out what to do with your life, let alone get noticed. Kelly Armstrong is a 23-year-old Canadian film editor, who like many, had the same concerns starting out. She now lives in London, England and works with some of the hottest names in film, music and fashion. This is Kelly’s story on the successes and failures that it takes to making it on your own.
Madly Juicy: Lets first rewind to the earlier years, what was University like for you? Did you always know what you wanted to do?
Kelly Armstrong: I found University was a bit too broad, in the sense it didn’t allow me to specialize in what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I got a job as a production runner for MTV Canada in my final year of University, that I started to see my industry in its full form. I began to meet a lot of people in production and post production, which helped me make the decision that post production was the best idea for my interests.
MJ: What made you decide to up and move to England to pursue a life and career?
K.A.: After moving to London, England to study as an exchange student, I always knew I had to go back. I desperately missed London’s diversity, creativity and culture. I also knew that London was a city that offered a lot of opportunity for my career. Most of my favorite films and directors come from the UK, so I thought I would take a chance and follow in their footsteps. Funnily enough I ended up working on a Mentos gum commercial across the hall from a Danny Boyle film in July. I never got the chance to meet him though!
MJ: When you first arrived in January 2011, what was it like for you, did you jump right into film?
K.A.: No, it took six months of being a waitress and being really persistent, handing out resumes, talking to people and trying to get my foot in the door.
MJ: Was there any point you wanted to give up and move home?
K.A.: There were a few discouraging moments in those six months for sure. I think when you’re trying to break into the professional world straight from university, without any real industry experience, it can be a challenge. However, I knew that if I stayed positive I would eventually be given a chance. I think if you have the mentality that every successful person started from scratch, it can really help you to become more optimistic about the situation.
MJ: Tell me your big break, how did you come to be working where you are now?
K.A.: I made a contact that introduced me to a producer who offered me a one-time, unpaid gig working on a music video. I knew it was a special opportunity so I worked really hard to impress, and basically bombarded him with emails until he gave me consistent work.
MJ: I understand you have worked alongside some great talents in the music and fashion industry?
K.A.: Yes, I’ve been really lucky to have been able to work with some inspiring talents. I worked on set for one of the Kaiser Chiefs most recent videos, where we put the band in a cage and electrocuted their surroundings! I also got to work with one my idols, Kele Okereke (Bloc Party lead singer) on a music video for his recent solo album, The Boxer. I also was given an amazing opportunity to film the “making of” for Swarovski Crystals. The set was really beautiful, where we spent all day hanging 200 crystals from the trees.
MJ: What has been your most defining and proud moment so far?
K.A.: My proudest moment is just getting consistent respect and recognition for my work as a young artist, and meeting new fascinating people every day.
MJ: What advise would you give to young university and college students about to graduate who want to get into film, or any other creative profession starting out?
K.A.: Don’t be discouraged by the daunting idea of time because if you know what you want to do, and your passionate about it people will recognize your determination and give you an opportunity. Half the battle is meeting the right person, and the other half is working hard and being willing to learn. I’m no guru, I’m still learning!
Check out the Harrods, Swarovski video: