"Marcy Learns Something New" (excerpt from short film)

Julia Kennelly

Unaffiliated

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
I have not yet professionally directed, although I have been professionally producing and line producing for the better part of a decade. I have written and directed two short films, and I have a television show in development that I hope to direct someday!

How did you get into directing?
I always loved theatre--my degree is in drama--so writing, performing and directing live performance were a big part of my life growing up (unlikely but true: my first play was a David Mamet piece that is somehow appropriate for children). As I got older, I realized my passion was for film, and after graduating from college I started working in production in order to learn how to direct the camera. As I grew as a producer, I had opportunities to work closely with many different directors, and learned from their methods, wisdom and mistakes.

What is your most recent project?
I am working on a feature version of Marcy Learns Something New. I’m also currently shopping a pilot called RIP Frances about a teenage ghost who believes her unfinished business on earth is to lose her virginity.

What is the best part of being a director?
Seeing all the brilliant things that other people bring to the project. Directing can feel lonely at times, but there is nothing like seeing the ideas in your mind come to life, better than you had ever imagined, because a whole team of people are bringing their magnificent creative brains to it every day.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre--comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?​
I am most passionate about narrative film, whether movies or television. I’m generally drawn to comedy, as it allows me to explore uncomfortable topics in an approachable way – but I often find myself in more of a dramedy space than broad comedy. Although I have yet to direct a commercial, I’ve done a lot of work as a commercial line producer and find the short-form world very exciting creatively as well.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I don’t have a mentor, but I do have a close-knit group of peers that I love and respect. Daisy Zhou, Karine Benzaria and Will Mayo are all dear friends and long-time collaborators--I have learned so much from them, and trust them with the earliest and most moronic drafts of my ideas. It’s very exciting to be at a place where you start to see success for your friends who you’ve been rooting for since the beginning.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Impossible to pick one! A few that I could never get tired of watching: Phantom Thread, The Lobster, Muriel’s Wedding, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Chungking Express, Y Tu Mamá También.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
As I mentioned above, my career outside of writing/directing has been as a producer. Notable credits include The Vow documentary series on HBO, The Neighbors’ Window (won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short at the 2020 Academy Awards), numerous commercials, and over 20 short films that have played at Oscar-qualifying festivals including Tribeca, Aspen Shortsfest, Palm Springs Shortfest, and Outfest among others. I was also a finalist for the 2021 Sundance Creative Producing Lab.

I love producing, and it has greatly informed my growth as a director. I hope to continue to produce my own work throughout my career (although it’s nice to have someone else line producing).

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
The pandemic offered an opportunity to pause and reevaluate what is important in life for everyone…when faced with death, injustice, loneliness and fear, what is worth doing with our time? In the initial lockdown phase in New York, I was inspired by fellow film industry workers who came together to use our production skills to volunteer, organizing thousands of deliveries of food and medication to people who couldn’t access them. Film crews are made up of the some of the most determined and resourceful people in the world, and it’s such a privilege to have that powerful force working on something you’re directing. Halting the churn of working on production after production emphasized that everyone’s work is better when there is time to breathe, rest and think creatively. Although these issues have not been resolved yet, my hope is that the lessons of the pandemic will not be lost; that we will have more people in power recognizing the resources and time that are necessary for good, safe and equitable creative work.

Contact

Unaffiliated with commercial production companies or talent agency. Contact Julia Kennelly via email
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Managed for literary & film/television directing by Sydney Blanke/Jon Huddle at Fourth Wall Management: Contact via email
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